Bewdley Festival

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Day 1

Positivity is now my keyword, so I shall start by listing the numerous positive aspects of the day.  I drew peg 47, so…..

  1. I didn’t have to pay to park, not one penny, free, gratis, etc………
  2. I didn’t have far to walk, in fact one of the easiset pegs to access
  3. It was quite a comfortable peg, no wading etc.
  4. It’s a good Winter peg……………

Yes, I am struggling a bit now.  In the interests of balance, a few ‘less positives’…

  1. I didn’t catch very much (see later)
  2. Most of what I caught were Bleak
  3. I got battered off the next peg (see even later)

Overall, nothing about the day went anywhere near compensating me for not being able to attend my daughter’s birthday bash (NB not actually her birthday though)

Peg 47 (and the couple of pegs upstream) bear no resemblance to Bewdley as a whole.  47 is 9′ deep on the pole line (did I mention that it’s a good Winter peg?) but shallowing up across and down   I was a bit at a loss as to how to approach it so I opted to worm dangle over choppie at 9m using a 3g flattie, a 1.5g whip rig at 7m to hand over the same line, and a groundbait feeder with worm at mid-river.  I kicked off with half a dozen feederfuls down the middle than 4 bait droppers of worm and caster at 9m, and dropped in with a worm.  Nothing!!   I actually sat this out for 25 minutes, which is was above my normal maximum, before deciding that it was a non-starter.

Next gambit was to chuck out with triple red maggot on the feeder.  The first few casts all produced knocks and a single smashed maggot.  I eventually nailed a Gudgeon, so I switched to worm which produced a proper cock Dace and a couple of bumblebees, and then it died !!!!!??????   I was now 90 minutes in, so I tried the whip over my earlier choppie line.  Third or fourth run through the float slid away and I was playing an angry Perch!!  Fortunately a decent rig and an elasticated whip allowed me to net the fish, and I then reverted to the flattie and worm approach.   Nothing!!!!  So I went back on the whip and started picking up the odd hold-up from Bleak, and then the float buried again and I found myself playing an even angrier fish.  At the time I suspected a bigger Perch but small Barbel is a possibility, but I’ll never know because I hook-pulled.   But if a Perch, why go for a single maggot but ignore a juicy worm???

By now Bleak were becoming more dominant and I set up a shallower rig at 6m to hand and started picking off some fairly decent specimens.  In fact, I’d just about accepted that bleaking might be my best option for the remaining two or so hours when they dried up!!  I then spent the dregs of the match switching between flattie, whip and feeder with- out adding anything to my total which was, I think, 3-4-0.  In my defence, 4 -6 Lbs was the target weight for the peg in good conditions, and my lost Perch (?) would have brought me in line with that.

In the meantime, I’d been acutely aware that the angler downstream on peg 48 was having a better day.  He was fishing a light blockend feeder rig and had been netting decent fish (but obviously not Barbel or dog Chub) fairly regularly early on and again at the death.  He had also been plagued by Pike issues.  I was fairly certain that he wasn’t on a maggot feeder as he wasn’t getting bitted out, so I deduced (correctly) that he was fishing a light pellet rig.  This turned out to be correct, 6mm hook pellet with 4mm feed, and 12 Lbs+ of lovely dog Roach plus a few mini-Barbel.  Nice!!

So I had a shit day and was battered off the next peg, even if he was fishing a bait/method which is totally alien to me.  That Roach on pellet approach, which I have seen other Severn anglers experimenting with, just adds another layer of complexity to the range of options.

Overall the river has fished poorly which means that my low weight today may not be cyanide, so hooray for weight-based festivals, if it was points I’d be stuffed now!!!  But today’s events did provoke a period of deep contemplation.  Not for the first time, I have come to the conclusion that I am tending to match fish too much at the expense of not practicing for the matches I should be fishing.  That is, in part, a consequence of living so far away from any practice venues, i.e. practicing is a major and expensive event, not simply a case of popping a few miles down to my local river for a few hours.  What happens then is that I turn up at an event like today’s with an (arrogant or foolish?) assumption that I’ll draw reasonable silvers pegs and put together a framing cumulative total fishing methods and baits with which I am familiar.  The reality is a little different, as Bewdley in late July is not the silvers venue that it becomes in October.  It is dominated by the pellet, boith for Barbel and, as I saw today, Roach.  And how much time have I spent practicing on the pellet?   Exactly none, I haven’t used one for a year.  What brought this home was looking at the overall results from today, with peg 72A throwing up a 31Lb+ weight.  I had that peg Day 1 last year, threw out on the pellet, caught a net Roach first chuck then nothing, bottled out oafter 40 minutes and whipped my way to high single figures of, mainly, Gudgeon.  Won my section by default.   Hooray!!  Opportunity missed, but I had little or no confidence in or expertise with the pellet, so I ‘fished to my strengths’, i.e. I committed suicide.

So, a note or reminder to myself.  In 2015 I’d had a reasonable Festival, default section Day 1 silvers bashing, right approach.  Section win Day 2 with Barbel, peg 15 so a ‘when in Rome situation’.  Then 4th overall on Day 3 when I almost accidentally discovered the Perch potential of the stretch.  2016 was less successful, default Section Day 1 as above, high single figures off 112 on Day 2 but fell short of Section, wipe out Day 3 when I wasn’t geared up to extract those Munter Barbel from peg 15.  And immediately post-Festival my initial thoughts were that I wouldn’t look to compete on such different terms again, but I ascribed that to my bitter disappointment over Day 3.  But I think that I was essentially right in my thought processes.  So I should only enter next year’s Festival if I am confident that I can build up sufficient expertise and confidence in the pellet to allow me to adopt that approach where necessary.

Newbridge – Riverfest Qualifier

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Good looking river with a tinge of colour and a bit more flow than last week.  The favoured pegs were pretty much written in tablets of stone, so when I drew 76 I knew that I was unlikely to be getting a refund from the AT.  I’d caught Bream off it last November, and I’ve also known it chuck up decent weights of Hybrids and Chub, but again, later in the year.

I knew I’d be short of flow inside so I left my pole in the car and took a couple of feeder rods and waggler rods.  I kicked off at mid-river with 6 big feederfuls, then spent the next 30 minutes sat with bunches of red maggot on a size 12 Tubertini series 8 to 0.14.  I strangled a small Roach first chuck, then two more plus a small Perch, but after 30 minutes I decided that I would have nailed a Bream if any were present, so switched to the waggler.  I’d been loose feeding hemp and caster from the start anyway.  I set up in initially at about 8′ deep.  Nothing at first so I deepend off gradually and started to get bites at around 11′, which I recckon was still a good 3′ off the bottom.  A couple of Chublets first, then a more solid resistance which proved to be a 1Lb+ Skimmer, shortly followed by a decent Roach and then a neatly lassoo’d Hybrid.  Just as I was starting to get a bit excited about this the bites dried up!!

The next couple of hours were a real struggle, reverting to the feeder was pointless, another look on the waggler produed a quick bite on the drop and one further down the swim.  Shallowing up didn’t improve matters, and eventually I was resigned to fishing out the match on the tip, and suddenly in the last 40 minutees or so I started to get bites on this method.  A small Skimmer, a couple of Chublets, and then about 10 minutes befor the end another decent Skimmer.

Overall, I scaled 5-5-0 for exactly nowhere in a zone which was dominated by a 39Lb Bream weight off 50.  My section went for a Bream assisted 13Lbs odd.  A zone threw up two 30LB+ weights, off pegs 3 and 36, B zone the afore-mentioned 39 Lbs plus a 22Lbs and a19Lbs.  The only surprise/shock was the 8Lbs+ winning weight for zone C, odd Bream showing but nobody putting a few together.

Must try harder.

Staverton – midweek Open

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Peg 21 this week.  Basically, 25m of dead slack water with some flow well over, so didn’t seem too promising.  But I set to my task with a 1.5g DH11 rig on a 7m Airity whip, a 0.5g version of the same rig half-depth on a 6m whip, and a 2.5AAA waggler.

Kicked off with caster/hemp/pinkie in groundbait and dropped in over with a maggot.  Plenty of early interest but also some predictable Bleak noise, so set up a 4g bodied float whip rig which was, in all honesty, too lumpy for the job and resulted in a string of missed bites.  A quick look on the seed was fruitless so I persevered with the caster and had a good spell going into the 3rd hour, net Roach followed by a 12oz Perch, probably catching at 4 Lbs/hour rate briefly, and thought i probably had about 5Lbs by then, so slightly behind on a target weight of 12Lbs, plus the swim was dying off.

So I had a quick look at the wag, which was horrible, even though I did catch a few fish.  The combination of upstream wind over the slack water made it (literally) a non-runner.  Then I had a look at the shallow rig for Bleak.  Again a few fish but not really working. so then I reverted to the pole but decided that the presentation was wrong because of the impact of the upstreamer on nearly slack water, i.e. it was plain ugly!!!  So I set up a 1.5g rig to fish on my top 5 at 9m, which caught a couple of quick Roach but Bleak were an issue.  I then ended up back on the 1.5g whip rig but Bleak were now an issue, possibly because I’d loose fed when I was trying for them, so I picked up the heavier rig again and, with a bit of perseverence, started to pick up Roach and Pommies etc. on the caster, so I stuck with this to the end.  The overall fruits of my labours was 9-7-0 which was just not enough to pick up, 10-8-0 for my section, 10-14-0 for 2nd, but both weights were within range if I’d had a better rig setup.  Ironically, I knew exactly what float I needed but only had them set up for heavy whip work so they were back in the garage.

And the other issue on the night was hooking a Pike 8 times (same fish).  Overall I think we drew.  She took 3 fish and bit me off once.  I rescued 3 fish and had a 4th which I was able to net after the she spat it out.  But the overall disruption was not helpful to the cause.

Must try harder!

River Taff – Nomads Tuesday Series

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Chilled out during the day following the late return home of the previous evening, then popped down to Sophia Gardens for the Taff diddler.  Peg 3 (3rd week in a row!!!), putting me on the Culvert.  So I set up my platform mid-river and set up to fish a 3AAA wga with mag across.

A very slow start eventually saw me land a small Grayling, and then CB below me started to pick up the odd Dace and I had one well down, then a few more as the evening wore on ending up with 6 Dace and a solitary Grayling for 2-7-0, a couple of fish short of 2nd place but well short of CB’s 8Lbs+ off the end peg.  But the stretch continues to frustrate!!!

Chippenham Evening Series

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5th and final round.  Pegged back up the top end, so I drew 29.  If I remember rightly its not classed as being in ‘The Shallows’, so its relatively deep, i.e. 30″ or so LOL.  I set up 2 Airity whips to fish 7m to hand, both with a 0.75g DH11, one with a size 19 Sensas 3405 to 0.10, the other with a size 16 B560 to 0.12 (i.e. a worm rig!!).

Kicked off with maggot over loose fed caster and hemp and had a fairly brisk start, 12 proper fish (Dace/Chublets/Roach) plus a few shitters in the first 30 minutes, so heading for 2 Lbs or so at that point.  But then I had a 30/40 minute spell where it got a bit trickier, missed bites were an issue (probably Bleak and Minnows), and I had a few run throughs with a worm to no effect.  So I knuckled down and after a bit of switching to and fro settled on caster as the main hookbait and started to pick up decent fish again, mainly Roach uo to about 5 oz.

A good run of slightly better Roach sent me into the final hour with about 5 Lbs or thereabouts which seemed to be competitive on the night, and a final push for the last hour got that up to 7-4-8, which picked up 3rd in the superpool and the section.  I was some way off the winner (9 Lbs plus) but within reach of 2nd which was 7-13-0, and I would have been close with the fish I’d bumped throughout the session.  On the other hand I didn’t drop a fish, so swings and roundabouts.   I’d kept trying the seed up until 8.30 pm then given up in favour of the caster, especially as the light was poor for the last 30 minutes.

So, overall, a much better series than last year!!  A lost Perch possibly cost me a section in round 2, series best winning weight in round 3, another lost Perch probably cost me a framing slot in round 4 and then tonight.  I missed round 1 so I wasn’t entered in the league, which Kevin Rowles won with 73 points, so of course I then had an excellent series ending up with 65 points for 5th, with 67 points claiming 3rd overall.  I’ll take that against that level of competition on their home waters.

Newbridge – Riverfest Practice Open

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Lowish turn-out, about 16, so only pegged from 16 down to 56.  I drew 30, comfortable enough peg but when I got set up I was horrified at how little flow I had (to be exact, none).  So my plan for a running through rig, a holding back rig and a laying on rig transformed into a maggot rig and a slightly heavier worm rig.

Kicked off by cupping 6 balls of feed then catapulting 12 balls of a different mix, with chopped worm, 2/3rds over for my feeder line.  Dropping in on the pole produced bites straight off but the combination of a strong upstreamer against minimal flow was making life awkward.  But I’d taken a few Roach and Perch when I hooked into a better fish on the caster.  So much better that my resident Pike decided to have a snack attack and my 8oz Skimmer ended up between her jaws.  easy double figure so the outcome was a formality, bye bye Skimmer and sorry!

But I decided that if there were Skimmers about I might as well target them so I cupped in some choppie and switched to worm on the hook.  This did produce a flurry of Perch and a couple more small Skimmers before it died.  Topping up regenerated some brief interest but then it died again, andd it was pretty obvious that this was a dead end.  So I chucked out on the feeder and managed all of one bite, and that was probably a Bleak.  Coming back inside after topping up with groundbait produced a short run of small silvcer Bream on the worm, and then in the last half hour a small Roach a chuck, but of course by then I needed somwething a bit more substantial so I was fishing double dendra and double caster etc.

The sum of my efforts came to 3-7-0 whch comfortably beat both pegs to my left, but Andy Power on peg 28 did manage 9Lbs+ of Perch and small Skimmers etc.  He’d balled it in big time so that’s probably one of the two things I actually learnt from the practice.  The other thing was not to draw the straight!!!!!!  Kev Dicks won with some late Bream off 50, pipping Tim Ford who’d caught earlier off 56.  Next weight was Hadraian Whittle who caught 14 Lbs+ of decent silvers off 16.

Mut try harder, honest!!!