Cefn Mably

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Usual post-match fatigue Monday, Tuesday was disrupted by a hospital appointment (hooray!!   More tablets, DVT this time) so Wednesday was next foray.  Obvious choice, as I was sitting on a fair bit of B&J, would have been to fish the Glossie.  I even got as far as tanking up the car and getting some advice off Nigel wrt target pegs.  But all along I had a nagging worry about the forecast weather conditions and the rather ominous warning triangles being posted, 50 mph gusts/heavy rain etc.etc.  So essentially I bottled out and opted for a 12 minute drive to Mably instead.

Peg 33 so in an area I would normally fancy for some silvers.  In anticipation of the end of the world at around 2pm I opted for a 7m and a 11m line, and kicked off by balling in 6 tangerines on the 7m line then cupping 100mL of Polish joker in double leam.   Initial response was worryingly slow (as in no response) but after about 20 minutes I started to get a few indications and then more solid bites and started picking up small Roach and Skimmers.  And Gudgeon…….and more Gudgeon……..and even more Gudgeon.  Not usually a good sign.  So I mixed some caster/dead pinkie/chopped worm and 100ML of Russian Joker into groundbait and cupped 3 balls long at 11m.  Dropped back inside for a while (caught Gudgeon) and then dropped in long with bloodworm.  Took a couple of small silvers quickly but then it slowed.  And the light conditions combined with the ripple made it a nightmare trying to read the float.

So I canned that and dropped back inside and ended up repeating a well worn pattern, 2 or 3 small silvers followed by Gudgeon.  A couple more sorties long were marred by the horrible light, I did manage a couple of slightly better Skimmers on dendra but it was short-lived.  And the last 20 minutes or so passed without me being able to get a bite short (so I must have caught all the Gudgeon!!).  4-0-0, not a lot of enjoyment to be honest, didn’t even pick up silvers pool which went for 6-8-0.   Strange session but that’s fishing I guess.  I almost certainly overfed both lines first time around, but that still doesn’t explain the non-appearance of the proper Skimmers.

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SW WL – K&A Canal

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Sixth and final round, and I think probably my first appearance for the team (!!!!!)  Draw put me on D4, downstream of the George Pub.  D5 was on the white post which is so famous in Bath match circles that even I have heard of it.  So I thought there might be a few fish around.

I set up 2 Breadpunch rigs, 18 B511 to 0.07 dead depth, and 22 B511 to 0.07 2″ off bottom, 2 Bloodworm rigs, both on 0.4g floats, one with a 24 Gamakatsu to 0.06, the other with a 18 B511 to 0.08 (aka the bagging rig!!!!).  And finally I set up a worm rig, 15 B711 to 0.14 under a 0.4g float, and a ‘squat’ rig with a 24 Gamakatsu to 0.06.  Despite the fact that we had plenty of time to set up and my groundbait was pre-mixed etc., I still managed to be just .not quite ready at the 10.30 all-in.

I cupped in a golfball of lickieon 5 sections, then dropped a potful of Canal Black across at 11m, and came back inside with a 5mm bread pellet on the dead depth rig.  Float slides away, elastic comes out, and after a bit of a tussle I slide the net under a 1 Lb+ Bream.  Good start, textbook lower K&A stuff.  I was fairly confident of a repeat performance and, sure enough, when I dropped in again exactly the same, float slides away, brief tussle, slightly larger Bream.  I didn’t actually expect a hat-trick and I was right, next bite was from a Roach.  I then spent the next 90 minutes or so catching mainly Roach (I had one decent Hybrid) and took about 24 fish in this period.  A Dutch Barge came through and slowed things a bit, but I persevered and was still picking up the odd fish at the 2 hour mark, when a second Dutch Barge was a bit too much and the swim switched off.

An early look at a choppie line down the track had been unsuccessful, so I fed some more GB and 3 balls of double leam and joker across at 11m, and started loose feeding pinkie over my initial bread line.  This eventually got me a decent Roach, but it wasn’t happening so I dropped in long for the first time.  Instant response so I switched to pinkie on the hook and took a run of small Roach.  After a while I’d exhausted the pinkie option and was full-on B&J, plenty of bites but quality was an issue.  As the match progressed fish size became more of an issue and I started to pick up Ruffe, which I considered a bad sign.  But a second look on the choppie line was just as unsuccessful as the first, so I persevered across and even managed a little excitement 15 minutes before the end when my single bloodworm was snaffled by a decent Perch.  When I first hit the bite I thought I might have snagged another Bream, but then it became obvious what was happening, and I had No.1 elastic stretched all over the canal.  But eventually I gobbed it and managed to get it over my landing net.

So decent days fishing (possibly my best K&A match weight) and I was feeling pretty good until Andy Britt on D3 weighed 7-14-0, because my 7-10-0 fell a little short, and then shorter still when Andy Cranson weighed in a big 12 Lbs off the white post.  To be fair, good peg yes, but he nailed it on the day.

Canal fished well, 16 Lbs winner, 12 Lbs required to frame.  Nomads had a decent team sheet and came 2nd on the day, 3rd overall in the series.  Mark Williams has done a tremendous job in keeping it all lined up thriugh 6 rounds, and I told him so.

Avon Midweek League – Melksham

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Round 2 but my first appearance due to the clash with round 6 of the Severn Float Champs.  Perfect looking river and still mild, so high expectations for a few fish.  Reality was a bit different!!!

Drew peg 3 about 150m up from the footbridge.  Peg plumbed up reasonably well although residual weed was clearly an issue.  I had a very fixed (and incorrect) picture of how the match would fish.  I was going to roll in some GB at 3m then fish over that with a range of rigs – 2g to ease through, 3g to edge through and a 3g flattie to nail it.  I was also going to put in a choppie line on 6 pieces down to my right.   Simples……

I kicked off as per plan.  Rigs were working well in 6′ or so of water, the occasional snag up on weed was a bit annoying but I could live with it.  But response was slow.   Very slow!   Extremely slow in fact!!   About 20 minutes in I strangled a small Roach on the 2g rig, and a while later I dropped off something similar on the flattie.  My keenly tuned match fishing brain was starting to tell me that maybe the pole wasn’t the answer.  Never mind, try the second part of Plan A and move on to plan B (i.e. as in make up a Plan B).  I droppered some choppie in to my right, got a waggler rig out of the ready bag and assembled it, then dropped in with my trusty 2g choppie rig.  Nothing, not so much as a rattle.  So that was Plan A dead and buried, and probably a good 2 hours wasted.

So, Plan B, waggler across.   Well, either it was shallow and weedy, or just plain weedy, because I struggled to run the waggler at anything much deeper than 30″.  And the light was terrible, white water except for a tree shadow dead in the area where I’d expect to catch, so bite detection was a bit random.  I eventually managed to strangle a very small Dace on this, and get a few nipped maggots.  So, Plans A and B blown out, and I was now 3 hours in, with all of an ounce in the net (1 Roach, 1 Dace and 1 Minnow).  I’d just about lost the will to live, seriously considered going walk-about, which is totally unlike me, but decided instead to assemble a stick float rod and at least fish out the match doing something I enjoy.  So out came the 15′ Acolyte and I started loose feeding maggot just off my rod end.   And, to my surprise, I started getting a few bites, pretty obviously off Bleak or small Dace, but at least there was some response.  Then I managed tto catch a couple of small Roach, so it started to get a bit more interesting.  The initial rig, a 4 x No.4 shouldered lignum, was too heavy so I scaled back to a 2 x No.4 JD and a light set up, and picked off the odd Bleak, Dace and a few more Roach over the final 2 hours, to end up with 1-15-0.

So, on a positive note, I managed to save a few points (12) on the poorer section on a tough river, on a less positive note I could probably have doubled my weight if I’d sussed it out earlier, which would have given me 3rd in section plus a small amount of coin by double default.  So must try harder!!! (and think a bit more!!!!!)

As a Postscript, I’d been forced to bin off Round 6 of the Severn Float Champs.  In hindsight, although I’d missed out on a potentially lucrative 50 pegger, albeit on a tough and peggy river, my assessment that an overall league pick-up was beyond my reach was spot on, my maximum achievable points total of 195 points would have put me 15th or so and just short of an overall framing slot.  So I ended up 26th overall.  Some mixed feelings about the series.  Overall very well run, good attendance and pay-outs, reasonable pegging etc.  But I wasn’t convinced about the lack of section money, it was still a little bit about Barbel rather than just silvers, and the overall series felt as if it was dragged out over too long a timeframe, which meant that the last couple of rounds were very early draws given 2 hours travelling time.  I also struggled with the return journey as a day trip, possibly as a result of my heart condition or maybe just the ongoing onset of old age.  So a possible but not a definite for next year.

Belmont

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Monday rest day, then Tuesday I once again toyed with a trip over to Chippenham but decided that the bridge toll savings plus a surplus of lovely caster made the Wye a better option.  By the time I rolled up at about 11am the Asda bank was a bit busy.  Lots of people practicing for the knock-up on the following Saturday and Sunday!!  I walked up from 93 hoping to drop in somewhere in the trees but realised that it was full pretty much all the way to the railway bridge.  Walked back down to look at 94/95/96 but didn’t fancy them at 0.9m on.  So walked back up again and dropped in on the first vacant peg which was peg 80.  I might have to get a fitbit just to understand the impact of that level of indicisiveness.  On the plus side, I was forced to fish a peg which I think I’ve probably avoided in the past,

Lovely looking stickfloat line at that river level so no persuasion required, 10 x No.4 shouldered WS stick on a 15′ Acolyte, double red maggot over loose fed caster and hemp.  The first two hours built nicely and I was bagging on decent Dace with the occasional cock specimen.  Then suddenly they switched off and I had a spell of catching only little shitter Dace.  They then, in turn,  shut down and I was actually able to catch a couple of decent Roach before it all began to pick up again and, with the exception of the off Chublet and a 2Lb+ Perch, I was back catching decent Dace to the death.  One run in with a double figure Pike (took a small Dace!?) and a few other half-hearted strikes.  Nice 20Lbs plus and all on the stick over loose feed, so much more refined than all that noisy bolo and groundbait nonsense and exactly what I wanted to do on the day.

And, as luck would have it, the bottom end of the Asda bank fished poorly, in part due to serious issues with Bleak.  Serendipity!

Bristol Avon – Poppy Match

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Late choice during the week in favour of a Belmont Open, looked like a good choice too comparing a decent looking Avon with a 6′ on Wye.  Drew peeg 47 on the day, permanent peg 140 in the trees at Saltford, so fancied it as a possible for a few Bream.

Fair trek down from the Rugby Club plus limited set-up time made it an easy decision to just take feeder gear, so once I got to my peg I quickly assembled a feeder rod, chucked out with an ounce bomb to plumb up and mixed some groundbait just in time for the all-in.  I stuck 6 large feederfuls of GB and caster in just past mid-river, then tied a size 12 Tubertini series 18 to 0.14 Yuki and attached a 30″ hooklength.  I concentrated on triple red maggot over caster for the first hour or so, which produced a handful of Roach, two Perch and an Eel.  At the hour mark I switched to tipped dendra with chopped worm added to the feed, and took a small hybrid followed shortly after by a 1.5Lb Skimmer.   More like it!!!   So I concentrated on the worm, taking a couple more net Skimmers, a couple of blades, the odd Roach and a few more Eels.

But if I thought those Skimmers were a prelude to some proper Bream I was wrong, and the river seemed to switch off for the last 90 minutes or so, with me picking up a few more Eels towards the end.  I dropped 7-2-0 on the scales but missed out on the section which went for 10-13-0 off peg 142, more Roach and blades than I had, taken on maggot or caster rather than worm.  But pegs 124 and 126 both threw up 2 Bream apiece so I felt justified in pursuing a Bream agenda even though I knew that I was on more of a Roach peg.  59 Lb winner off Newbridge 54, then weights dropped off with most of the frame coming from the top end of Newbridge.  Great match as always with the post-match raffle and associated banter.

Wye Festival

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Weekend off and always anticipated next outing would be the Wednesday.  Only surprise was that, following a phone call Monday, I ended up fishing the Wye Festival, filling in for Deron Harper.

Day 1  Red Zone, peg 48.  Fancied that, CB had done 25Lbs off it on the Sunday and there had been a lot of fish in the half-dozen or so pegs above the bridge.  I set up a 6g Bolo with a size 12 Matrix to fish bread, a 4g Bolo with a size 14 B512 to fish maggot, and a 10 x No.4 big lignum stick to fish down the inside.  I mixed up 8 Pints of GB with 3 Pints each of Caster and Hemp, and kicked off on the maggot bolo 1/3rd across over balls of groundbait whilee I loose fed inside.

I was well prepared for the possibility that it might be a slow start, but not as slow as it turned out, a few decent Dace but right down the peg, so I switched to the stick for a spell but only managed to nail a few Bleak, so I reverted to the bolo and basically stuck with it until the end.  There were a couple of instances when I saw some encouraging signs.  I eventually managed to get a few bites and fish up on my feed.  Late in the match I had a short run of Chublets.  But overall it was a bit of a struggle for bites, the last 90 minutes were particularly hard, and I was quite surprised when I dropped 9-7-0 on the scales because I didn’t think I had anywhere near that.  On reflection, the 6g bolo handled better and I should have gone with a pair of those, and I actually think I overfed the peg, albeit for the right reasons as I knew I had to move fish up from somewhere.

There were better weights further up including an excellent 20Lbs+ from Hadrian Whittle from a very non-descript peg (45).  Slightly better weights down towards the bridge but nowhere near Sunday’s weights, 20Lbs+ below the bridge and off the bottom pegs on the railings.  Also some good weights off 87/86/85 but poor weights in the 90s and lower down on the Rowing Club side.

Day 2  Blue Zone peg 92.  Basic game plan was the same as the previous day, peg was nearly exactly the same depth but flow and colour had dropped with a 12″ drop in level.  I also set up a 4AAA waggler to fish mid-depth, and a 3g bodied rig on the Airity at 7m to hand.  Slightly lighter groundbait mix and less of it (only 8 Pints!!!!).  I ended up using 6 Pints with 1 Pt of hemp and 1.5 Pts of caster, but I only cut back on the feed content because I was intending to loose feed as well as groundbait.  Kicked off with the 6g rig and double 10mm Breadpunch, no sign of a Chub in the first 20 minutes so I switched to the 4g rig with double maggot and started picking up bites straight off.  First few fish looked promising, 2 decent Dace and a net Roach, and I found that the best way to get a bite was to let the float run even though the downstream wind was making it a bit ugly.  Mending the line to get behind the float was a waste of time.  So ugly it was, and there were some decent Dace about, but I struggled to string together a decent run of bites.  I’d pick off 2 maybe 3 fish, then have to wait for my next run.  Or I’d have a brief run-in with Bleak, and have to switch to loose feeding hemp only.  I was desperately hoping that the Chublets would turn up because that would have made the peg viable, but I didn’t actually catch one until 10 minutes or so before the all-out.

So, a slightly frustrating session, reasonable bit of fishing but could have been so much better!   I weighed in 11-8-0 which was some way better than the previous day from that area, but there was a 33Lbs+ off peg 94, (Dace/Chublets on mag and wag), plus a 27Lbs+ (mainly Chub/Chublets) off 96 so my weight was the lowest in my 5 peg half-section and probably 2nd or 3rd lowest in the 10 peg section.  32 Lbs off the middle of the Courts (!!), loads of 20Lb plus weights through the 80s as the river improved in response to a warmer night and a better level and flow.

Day 3   Yellow Zone peg 52.  Just as well because I had a school run first and needed a short walk when I turned up at about 9.15.  As it was, a single rod approach with the 6g bolo meant I was easily ready on time for the 10.30 all-in.   Two early Dace, then three Chublets followed by a long gap before I took two Roach and a further Chublet.  So not brilliant, tipped back 3Lbs odd and I was quite happy to wrap it in at 1.00 pm so I could do the school run pick-up.  Ben Roberts below me weighed in 6Lbs odd with a late run of fish so I was probably level pegging with him when I had to pull stumps.

So, an unexpected and fairly cheap introduction to the Wye Festival (as in £50 of bait and £45 of fuel!!).  I wasn’t able to capitalise on what looked like 3 decent draws, definitely not up to speed on match fishing the venue, haven’t got a handle on the feeding which tends to be more aggresive than anywhere else I can think of.  And there is a clique of real venue experts plus some real class ‘visitors’, and they will bag up given half a chance.  The other thing that was noticeable this week, and possibly a reminder that I’m still waiting to find out what my heart issues are, is that I was absolutely shattered by Friday.  It is a far more physical river than most, I’ve basically spend 12.5 hours lobbing out a biggish bolo and firing out groundbait or loose feed.  And the three early starts and return journeys probably haven’t helped.  So quite a few issues to consider if I were to get offered my own ticket next year.

Belmont

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Again??????   Yes, why not?  I had a suspicion that the Chublets had now moved onto the stretch, so wanted to test the theory.  Opted for peg 82, and kicked off fishing double 10mm breadpunch under a 4g bolo, feeding lickie stiffened with brown crumb.  An hour of this produced zero interest, so I added some GG to the mix, plus casters and hemp, and switched to double maggot.  An hour of feeding this also produced zero interest, but then I started getting the odd bite and managed to nail 3 tiny Dace and a solitary Bleak over the next 30 minutes.

So I was now 2.5 hours in and had caught all of 2 oz!!!!   But then the float buried and I had a better fish, a decent Chublet.  Followed straaight off by a decent Dace, then another Chublet.  So out of interest I switched back to a bigger hook and double breadpunch, and took a string of mainly decent sized Chublets.  This spell, which lasted about 45 minutes to an hour, must have produced 8 – 10 lbs of fish.  But then the decent bites dried up and I started getting ‘bites’ on the bread which I could only put down to nuisance fish.  A switch to maggot proved the point, small Dace and Bleak, so I reverted to punch or breadflake without too much success except for one further decent Chublet late on.

So, to recap, nothing much for 2.5 hours, an hour or less of Chublet bashing, then nothing much again.  Strange session, but not totally unexpected with the stretch running very low and clear at the moment.   Needs rain!!