Hemp Roach had featured well in the previous weekend’s Soar Cassic, and it was noticeable that two very good hemp angers had made the main list despite fairly average draws.  None of his was surprising given the scorching hot weather and a low, clear river.  But it did highlight to me that I needed to sort out my seed fishing.  Although I caught on the seed on the Sunday, that was all on the tare, and as a general rule I have been tending to concentrate on the tare rather than the hemp.  Which is all well and good, but sometimes the hemp is better, so I decided that I needed a session on the hemp and tare to sort out a few rigs and other aspects.

The obvious venue was Staverton, so I drove down aong the meadow checking out which pegs had the best flow.   By the time I’d driven to peg 1 I realised that the answer was…………… ‘none of them’.  Even the pegs which normally have some movement were almost dead still.  so I drove back up and set up on peg 63 which at least had the advantage of being fairly comfortable.  I initially set up 3 rigs:  a 1g bodied olivette rig, a 0.8g pencil float with strung out No.11 splotz, and a 4×12 Chianti with strung out styles.  I fed hemp and casteer at 11m and dropped in with caster under the 1g rig.  An early Chublet was folowed by a Roach, then the Bleak moved in.  As a response, I rigged up a 4g Guillaume whip float.  This prroduced a few more Chublets and a solitary Roach pretty much straight off, but then I was struggling with the Bleak and missing bites.

So, about 2 hours in, I hooked a tare on the 1g rig and run it through.  This produced a decent Roach, so I quickly swapped over to the 0.8g rig and picked off a few more, plus the odd Chublet.  In line witht the objectives of the day, I picked off a few fish on hemp, although on the day tare was just as good anyway and faster.  The shallower lighter hemp rig also produced  few fish, but the best option overall was the 0.8g rig fished about 8″ off the bottom.

After a lot of chopping and changing, which was totally in line with the objective of working on my seed fishing he swim finally became solid in the last hour, and I ended up tipping back about 7 or 8Lbs of Roach and Chublets plus a couple of small Hybrids.  So not fabulous fishing, but all the rivers are struggling now due to the lack of rain over the past couple of months.  And I caught on all three rigs, and on hemp as well as on tare, so job done in that respect.


Chippenham Evening Series


5th and final round.  Very disappointing turn-out for this final leg, 6 total, so match was  pegged out from 13 to 22.  I had parked up close to peg 13, so obviously I drew peg 22 at the other end!!   Doh!!!  I hadn’t been quite sure what to expect of the peg so I took my match pole, whips and waggler rods.  But when I saw the peg, I opted for worm dangling with the long pole.

I fed a dropperful of chopped worm at 13m and fired out a couple of pouchfuls of caster over the top, and dropped in with dendra on a size 15 B711 to 0.14 under a 2 g bubble flatfloat.  Fairly quick response, started picking up hand-sized Chublets most drops in.  After my 3rd or 4th Chublet I started to wonder what response a lobbie might get, so I changed bait, dropped in, and was treated to a brief tour of the numerous weed beds.  Proper Chub, but it did me in the cabbages and lily pads to my left!!  No further excitement after that except for two very angry Perch alongside more Chublets.  The swim died down in the second hour but then two dropperfuls of choppie seemed to revive it, and I was catching well up to the final whistle.  My two Perch and numerous Chublets weighed 6-3-0 which was good enough for 2nd on the night, with Gary E the runaway winner, 11bs+ off peg 13.  Whilst Gary has undoubtedly fished well this series, he has also drawn well!  Peg 13 (twice), peg 26, peg 40 and peg 54.

1st and 2nd overall in the series was a straight fight between Gary and Kevin, and Gary obviously won, taking the overall league title with 79 points out of 80.  Kevin had 76 points, then yours truly had 71 points for 3rd and, yes you’ve guessed, fastest loser (they paid first 2 in the overall league).   In retrospect, a bizzare episode with a 120M cost me 3rd or 2nd in the first match.  Match 2 was OK.  I did lose a decent Perch at the net, but that probably that didn’t do me any damage.  Match 3 was a disaster, peg 50 just didn’t deliver.  Match 4 was spoilt by a Pike, cost me 2nd on the night.   So it could have been 75 points off my pegs, i.e. still not good enough.  But progress from 2 years ago, as I do now basically have a feel for the venue and how best to approach the different stretches.  So just must try harder next time!!!

Soar Classic


39 brave souls turned out to risk the likely carnage of a Tony Beech run Festival.  But in the event, Tony Marshall stepped up and some sense of normality was restored, and the Festival went off on time and as planned.

Day 1  Deeps peg 6.  Nice looking peg, although Steve Hemingray warned me that we were probably in trouble.  I set out to fish a feeder mid-river, plus maggot etc. over groundbait at 13m and choppie just over the pandocks.  At the all in I had a speculative cast with the feeder and was rewarded with a reasonable Skimmer straight off.  Game on!!  But then I never had another bite on the feeder.  I dropped in on the 13m line expecting to pick up Skimmers but all I could catch were very small Roach, Pommies and Perch.  Caster and worm head failed tto produce any bites, so I kept on trying (and failing!!) to catch a few bonus fish.  Ended up with -12-0, almost certainly last in section.  The only good thing about blowing out on Day  is that it is slightly less disappointing than blowing out on Day 2!!!  I was reliably informed that my peg was ‘good with 2′ on’, and ‘better if there’s colour.  For the benefit of any future readers, at the time of the Festival there had been a 2 month plus heatwave and absolutely no rain!!!

Day 2  Birstall peg 2.  A total parrot cage, only fishable because the canalised stretch of the river was no more than 4′ deep and I was fishing with 4×14 and 4×10 canal rigs on a top kit.  I fed griunbait and pinkie at 6m and hemp at 9m.  Starting inside, my first 4 fish were Roach but then Perch and Gudgeon started to show, and the swim was dying off after 45 minutes.  Dropping in with tare at 9m produced a decent run of Roach including some better stamp, but again, even though I nursed his line, it was a struggle after the mid-match point.  Fishing past my hemp feed at 11m produced a quick flurry of Roach to the tare but this was very short-lived.  The inside line revived a bit in the last hour, and pinkie over hemp produced a further smattering of Perch and Gudgeon plus a few more smallish Roach.  I weighed 5-3-0 which was a reasonabe weight in the section but not top 2.

Disappointing overall, poor peg in a good section on day 1 put paid to any chances of picking up overall.  Day 2 was better and at one point I thought I wwas on for double figures but I couldn’t hold the fish in such a shallow swim.   Excellent Festival, river fished OK considering the conditions, but local knowledge really counted on the tougher river.  Must try harder!!!

Evesham – Wychavon Qualifier


Well attended midweek match, 46 pegger.  I drew a challenging peg, 65 in the Cafe Meadow.  Not a framing peg unless something exceptional happens, but I set out to fish positively, groundbait line at 13m, maggot line at 9m and a choppie line next to the pandocks to my right.

Kicked off on the 9m maggot line which wasn’t exceptional, although it would have been better if I hadn’t dropped off 4 Perch, i.e. as many as I landed!!  (yes, I did change the hook!!!!), and b.   So I gave up on that, had a quick look on the 13m line with no resut, so I cupped some choppie inside and dropped in with a dendra.  Instant result, chunky Perch, followed by 4 or 5 smaller examples.  Then I started to get some strange bites on the worm, instant takes once the float had settled, either fast or steady pulls.  I was just starting to think Eel when, sure enough, I hooked a decent snake.  The NG 13 hollow proved useful in keeping it away from trouble, so a decent result from this part of the swim, although it was pretty much dead after 45 minutes or so.

Going back out long on a 1g running through rig produced a solitary Perch and a small Roach on the maggot, so I switched to a 2g Nautilis rig and worm, and when this failed with maggot.  This eventually nailed a small Eel which promptly bit me off, so after a bit more persistence I set up a heavier 4g flattie rig which produced a solitary Eel to the worm with about 15 minutes to go.

My ugly fish totalled 2-3-0, section (defaut) went for 3-11-0 off 66, mainly Eels, peg 62 kicked up 11Lbs+ of Bream plus bits.   Most of the feature pegs (1, 2, 35, 36, 42, 52 etc.) produced at least reasonable weights, I just happened to draw the worst section.  And on reflection my decision this year to do Staverton straight off rather than as a follow-on to Evesham has beeen a mistake, because It’s not as enjoyable early season and turn-outs have been poor in the conditions.  But sometimes you just have to find out by doing!


Chippenham Evening Series


Round 4.  Pegged from 28 to 43 today, not helped by a disappointing turn-out of 7.  I drew the top end peg, i.e 28.  ast peg on the shallows, and despite the obvious clue in the name and the fact that I’ve had 27 previously, I was still a bit shocked by the realisation that I had no more than 18″ of water to work with.

I set up a 2xNo4 shallow water stick, a 0.5g whip rig at 5m to hand, and a waggler rig.  A few tentative casts etc. with the running line rigs showed that shallow meant shallow, 18″ everywhere across.   So I kicked off with the stick, feeding small balls of groundbait and loose feeding hemp.  Initial response was OK, a Bleak followed by a Pommie and then a Chublet, but pretty soon I found myself catching minnows.  I’d switched to the whip anyway as I was catching within range, so I switched to the caster.  This was an immediate improvement, I was now catching bigger minnows.  But I did start to pick off the odd Roach and Chublet, and feeding caster seemed to help choke off the minnows, but for some reason, even though I knew in advance how shallow the peg was, I was still uncomfortable with the set-up.  At one point I even re-arrranged my bait waiter, because I just couldn’t seem to settle in properly.  But moving through the second hour I started to put together a better run of dumpy Roach on the caster.

With an hour to go I was in decent shape with something like 4bs in the net and I was now picking up decent Roach and odd Chublets on the tare, and they were lining up in front of me.  But then the resident Pike woke up and decided to join the party.  A few follows and missed takes initially, then a proper take on a decent Roach.  I tried bullying and scooping it but it was too big, and next thing I know I’d pinged out and put the rig up in a tree.  Attempts to recover the rig were a disaster, I just snapped the elastic, so I set that aside and switched back to the stick.  However, it didn’t look/feel right and I was very conscious that any hooked Roach would immediately trigger the attentions of the Pike.  Plus I then missed a bite and managed to trash the rig.  So I was forced to grab another top 2 and re-rig.  I eventually ended up with a slightly heavier version of the original rig.  Of course this didn’t work quite as well, but the main issue for the last 40 minutes or so was that every fish I hooked triggered an attack, so it was impossible to settle them down over the feed.

End result was 4-14-0 for 4th on the night when a Pike free last hour would definitely have seen me hit 7 or 8 bs and a clear second overall.  But, based on last year’s experience, I don’t suppose that’s the last time I’ll be cursing Pike this season.

POSTSCRIPT  During the match I’d checked off my stick foat rig depth and it was slightly shorter than the handle on my Acolyte.  So out of curiosity I measured said handle.  It is 23″ long.  Therefore peg 28 is actually 22″ deep, and from now on will be referred to a part of the mid-depths.

Clanfield Open


Some Top Tips for my loyal readers…………

Top Tip #1  Worms like to be kept in at a constant cool temperature.  So if you forget to take your cool bag out of the car after a match on Wednesday, and ambient temperatures are 30 Celsius as they are at the moment, don’t be surprised to find that your Kilo plus of Dendras and pack of Lobbies have basically boiled in their own juices.  What a f**king smell.  Fortunately where the highly aromatic worm juice had leaked from the cool bag it had all colected in the central well on my riggers platform, so a quick hose down solved most of the issues.  And a bit of running around on Saturday managed to secure me a replacement Kilo, but they weren’t cheap!!

Top Tip #2  If you are visiting a venue which often fishes well on the whip, you might find it useful to actually remember to pack your Airitys and Bleak whips.

Top Tip #3  If you are, how shall I put it, a Fat Bastard like me, it might be sensible to check that your platform has reached its final resting position comfortably in advance of the all in.

Anyway, I fancied a change of scenery and this popped up on social media, a Memorial Open on the Thames.  I drew 31, decent looking peg, platform was a bit shagged so I had to get my riggers in and wade around a bit.   I wanted to fish a whip over groundbait so leaving most of my whips behind was a slight impediment.  However, as I am constantly reminding myself what a forgetful fucker I am, I have taken to carrying my 6m Browning Bob Nudd whip in with my match pole.  So I set this up full length with a 0.75g whip rig, a 1g olivette rig to fish short line over the same line, a 2g flattie to potentially fish a worm line at 13m, and two waggler rigs, shallow and full depth.  TBH the whip/pole line didn’t plumb up very well, about 5′ plus on the plummet but with some obvious weed issues which made it impossibe to run through at depth.

About 5 minutes before the all in I lifted myself up onto my box, sat down and experienced a very strange sinking feeling.  The rear left leg had responded to my considerable weight by sinking an exra foot or so into the mud.  I actually thought the whole lot was going over and in but thankfully it stopped just in time for me to be able to get off, rescue my bait before it spilled or got washed away,  and reset the remaining 3 legs so that a level equibrium was restored.  By the time I’d done all that 10 minutes had passed, but at least I was able to start with some confidence that I wasn’t about to go swimming.

Three balls of groundbait laced with caster, hemp and pinkie and then over it with the whip rig.  And straight off I was into Bleak, mostly small but with the odd kipper, I’d guess 50 to the pound.  The range wasn’t helpful but pretty soon I was in some sort of rythym and catching something like 75/hour, so after 2 hours I was looking at potentially 7bs over the full 5 hours allowing for my delayed start and the initial settling down period.   I wasn’t convinced this was enough (I was right!!), so I decided I had to look at the waggler line which I’d been feeding with hemp for over an hour.  Shallow wag with mag was uneventful, and I was just on the point of reverting to the whip when I hought I’d try the deeper wag set-up just for completeness.  Float buries, dumpy Roach.  Next chuck produced a 12oz or so Chublet.  Hmmm, a lot of Bleak (equivalent) in two chucks.  So I decided to stick with the wag, picked up another couple of Roach and then the Bleak woke up.  Now I was catching the same fish on the wag that I’d stopped fishing for on the whip!!  But once I’d committed to the wag I’d blown any chance of amassing a Bleak weight (and having no long Bleak whips was not helpful!!!), so I had to try to maximise the waggler line.  I kept trying the tare to get around the Bleak issue and, eventually, it started to work with a decent run of dumpy Roach and a few more Chublets in the last 90 minutes.

All of the above got me 5-15-0 on a day where 10-12-0 won and 8-8-0 framed, and I was left with the feeling that the peg was worth more.  Should I have just bleaked it?  Should I have gone on the wag an hour earlier?  Should I have tried a worm line instead? (there were definitely some decent Perch in the swim)   So a bit frustrating but, all in all, lots to like.  Great peg access, nice and cool sitting in the river on a platform, some shade from a tree to my right, plenty of bites, some decent fish, especially on the tare.

But, sad footnote, guess what happened to those expensive dendras I bought on Saturday and the 10 lovely Lobbies I got off Colin.  Yep, you got it.  Cooked again!!!  Plus another 1.5 Pints of maggots stretched!!!

Staverton – Midweek Open


Really living the dream at Staverton this year!!  Much reduced turn-out, peg 29, i.e Chub or Bust!  To cut a long story short, it was Bust!  2-8-0 of Chublets and Roach on the wag and mag.   TBF I did prick a proper Chub fairly early on, and hooked another in the last hour but somehow got done down the middle, but even then I’d have struggled to pick up more than a section, with a 11Lbs winning weight off 14 and 9-12-0 second off 44.  Must try harder.  On the plus side, a legitimate opportunity to get rid of some bait, caster mountain is now down to 4 Pints!!