Sunday, 31 January 2010

31/01/2010 - Hillview Open

I was struggling to find a match this weekend and it crossed my mind to fish the last Commercial House on the K&A Canal. However, after hearing:
  • The top framing weights were all dominated by Pike - all from the same section at Darlington.
  • Paul Barnfield was arrested for swearing because he lost a Pike – I would have been bang-up for swearing because I hooked one!!

  • Steve Hutchinson had his number 6 section ran over by a cyclist, who didn’t even bother to stop (Drennan Icon pole – irreplaceable). I have seen groups of Mountain Bikers reaching speeds of 25 mph along the K&A Canal!
  • Dave Haines was pegged so close to the back of a boat that he couldn’t unship along the canal (to avoid the heavy public traffic) – hang on who’s told Dave about adding sections and un-shipping!
  • Tim Ford wrote that the “John Rennie” is still allowed to travel the K&A even though the Canal wasn’t designed for this size of vessel. Come on British Waterways sort this out, won’t be long before this vessel burst the bank along one of the higher sections of Canal due to the high water pressure.
  • It amazes me how much doggy do do’s you have to negotiate around each and every peg. Nothing worse than dipping you butt section in a bit of soft stuff – I have re-named the sections between Darlington Wharf and Bathampton Bay - Dog Shit Alley.
  • Then there is the high number of end pegs that often wins coin – irrespective of the angler fishing them.
  • Then there is the “Crusty’s” and their Junk Boats, what a bloody eye sore on the Avon Valley – Then there’s the wood chopping, engine running etc, etc... Apparently because the Canal has been frozen over, there is plenty of evidence as to where they dispose of their sewage!!
  • The bait bill might be as much as £20 – that done it.

  • All of the above soon knocked some sense in to me. Bela and I decided to go to Hillview Fishery complete with my £2 worth of bait. Mr Rixon - no bank walkers allowed here during a match!!

    Well as expected the bloody ice was back with vengeance. Considering the weather Keith has been getting a good turn out and that was the case today. Keith decided that Canals 1, 2 & 3 would be the best bet. So after one of the best breakfasts for many a Sunday it was with tradition at Hillview that all competitors go out and break the ice before the draw using a Paddle boat as the ice breaker. The boat is pulled down each side with a follow up team breaking the marginal ice (The very short video – bottom shows how it’s done, you can't see me as I was managing the whole affair). Apparently when the venue first froze over Keith put son Dave in one of the paddle boats and towed him with his 4x4. Unfortunately this didn’t work too well with boat turning over and Dave having to quickly get to the bank before he froze.

    I drew peg 59 on the second Canal, which is middle bias to the far end. I do like this Canal but would have preferred to be at one of the ends today. I soon cleared the remnants of the ice and could fish the entire swim (it helps when you can walk round to the far bank). After making a few enquiries on the current methods, it was Terry Homer that put me “nearly right”. I set up two rigs - one set at 2ft 6inches for the far bank, this depth put the rig about 2 foot off the far bank (as recommended by Terry). I also set up a 0.3 g Jean Desque through wire float for down the track at 6 metres at 11-0-clock. I changed both hook lengths to 0.1mm to 20 Tubertini 808. I started by feeding some micro (not wetted as it’s not allowed on this venue) with 6 Maggots’ over and the same down the track. Starting down the track with red Maggot I had a 4oz Fantail first put in. I caught small Crucians, Fantails, Goldfish and small Carp steady for the first hour – none were bigger than 12oz. When it slowed I switched to 3mm pellet which kept the small fish coming. I then had a 2lb Carp. I tried over to the far bank a couple of times but had only three bites with one turning in to an 8oz Carp. In the last hour I decide to stick to the track swim, which was very slow so I opened a can of corn (22p). As usual I cut my finger on the tin. The swim came alive again and I caught steady to the end during the last 45 minutes. This venue is renowned for a tight frame with one fish usually separating the top six, so I was cursing that I didn’t swop to corn earlier and thought this might have cost me – and it did. I weighed 24lb dead which put me 6th overall and ounced out of the money. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the match and will be back there soon with Bela who also had a good match weighing 20lb 10oz, all maggot caught fish.

    The match was won by Dave Huggins (picture right – apologies for the quality, but the camera was extremely cold) from peg 47 (first Canal) with an incredible 71lb. Dave caught all his fish on sweet corn over Kinder potted sweet corn.
    Full Result:
    1. Dave Huggins 71-0-0 peg 47
    2. Garry Clark 37-06-0 peg 70
    3. Andy Fry 25-0-0 peg 72
    4. Nigel Seabright 24-12-0 peg 56
    5. Terry Homer 24-03-0 peg 53
    6. Mike Nicholls 24-0-0 peg 59

    Wednesday, 27 January 2010

    Wednesday 27/01/2010 - Avon Angling Open - Bowd Valley Lake

    The Director of Public Prosecutions has defended bringing charges against the mother who was cleared of trying to kill her severely ill daughter. Bridget Kathleen Gilderdale, 55, of East Sussex, was cleared of attempted murder at Lewes Crown Court. Mr. Justice Bean questioned if the prosecution should have been brought as she had previously admitted assisting her daughter's suicide. Keir Starmer QC said the prosecution was "in the public interest". Can Keir Starmer please explain to the public why it was in their interest – bet he can’t! This man should be sacked for wasting public money!!! Also this week Lisa Hayden-Johnson was jailed for JUST three years and three months after putting her son through years of unnecessary medical treatment. Judges appear to be out of touch with reality. It’s time the Government reviewed how prosecutors and judges are selected. I can’t believe a job centre has been criticised this week for refusing to display an advert for a 'reliable workers' - because it discriminated against unreliable applicants. The world is gone mad – can some political party please now step in to the void. That feels better.

    Now back to the fishing and back to Boyd Valley (or as I now call it Red-Mire), this time in the Avon Angling Open. Apparently there was a waiting list to fish this match. I am not surprised as it is not only a great venue; it’s also close to home (in my case 5 minutes). At the draw Bob Price had his new tackle box on show. Bob duly mounted it on his power trolley only for one of his bungees to slip and catch Bob in his left eye (see picture right – “Bob the Bread gets Bungeed on the Brow). I bet it's blacker tomorrow!

    I didn’t really mind where I drew, but my preference would be pegs 2 to 10. I was delighted when I pulled peg 3. I set up a 3 metre whip (which didn’t get used - in earnest). My usual to hand Ronnie rig for use with the caster. Finally I set up a Skimmer rig at 6 metres (when I say 6 metres I mean number 6 section, which is more like 5.5 metres) for the 3mm expander pellet. I started by potting in some wetted micro at 6 metres and loosing feeding caster on the Ronnie’s line, where I started. It took 15 minutes before I got a bite. I then had a run of Ronnie’s to 6oz. However it was very slow and from what I could see it appeared to be the case around the lake. I then hooked a small Carp (1lb 8oz) which ran me a merry dance. After landing it I was sure the swim would have died so out on the pellet line with 3mm expander. After 15 minutes I had only one small Skimmer to show for it. Back on the Ronnie line with caster, this resulted in a couple more, but very slow – I had hit the wall. So I decided to go back out on the 6 metre line using single red maggot hook bait (the only choice left on my bait tray). This was one of my better decisions as for the second half of the match I kept both Skimmers and Ronnie’s coming. However, Chris Davis was catching very well on peg 2 and was ahead of me, he was catching decent Skimmers on chopped worm (can’t believed this worked today). However, with thirty minutes to go I had three Carp inconsecutive put-ins which changed the balance of play. I weighed 26lb 1oz for first overall and a pick up of £60. As expected Chris Davis was runner up with 23lb 1oz of mainly Skimmers to 1lb.

    Full Result:

    1. Mike Nicholls 26-01-0 peg 3
    2. Chris Davis 23-01-0 peg 2
    3. John (retired) Smith 14-10-0 peg 10
    4. Tony Rixon 13-08-0 peg 6
    5. Pete Sivell 10-02-0 peg 9
    6. Dean Malin 8-14-0 peg 7

    Sunday, 24 January 2010

    Sunday 24/02/2010 - Landsend Individual League - Round Three

    Extreme Fishing is back with a new series (Channel 5 – Thursday’s 9pm). I must say I did enjoy last year’s series, judging from the first programme, this year is going to be just as good – apparently 1.3 million watched it. To use Robson Greens own words “Lucky little Geordie get” – I agree. As I don't have the time, I do think he is the right man for the job, but can someone please teach him how to cast – as every time he does so, I cringe – each time I visualise him casting (sorry throwing) his rod in the drink (if this hasn’t already been edited out).

    For those that follow Ken Rayners blog (which I’m one) I bet many of you wonder how Ken is able to record the exact weather conditions, the secret is out. He has a dash board set up on his pole sock comprising a digital temperature recorder etc…See picture right (note the trailing leads – I am assured that this isn’t to shock him every time he has a bite)!!

    After another boring week being a couch spud watching B&W movies it was a struggle getting up at 05:45. After the shock it was great to be back out again. Bela is always spot on time. It was also good to be back to Shipham cafĂ© – nothing to moan about for me this week – the black pudding was apparently a bit over done.

    Smurf was first to draw and pulled peg 33 on Specimen – great he thinks – half hour later – redraw and he's on peg 28 – Ahhh. Not to worry Smurf, Alan Oram made good use of the re-draw. Re-draws shouldn’t be taken lightly, and should be avoided at any cost!! As it was my turn to fish Match Lake (I don’t understand why anglers turn their noses up at this lake). I pulled out peg 19, at last on the far bank, plus the match was won from this peg the day before by the fishery owner Mike Duckett with 27lb. I thought that all the coin would go to the anglers on this bank - I was right, especially when Tommy Thick arrived on next peg 21. After a quick word with Mike, who informed me that he caught on double maggot, plus in the knowledge that the Wednesday match was also won on maggot with no one catching on pellet, I decide to have just the two lines, a pellet rig at 11-0-clock at 13 metres (the deepest part of my swim) and a maggot swim at 11.5 metres at 1-0-clock – that’s it. I fed the 13 metre line with about 30 pieces of wetted micro. I followed this up with a dozen or so red maggot on the11.5 metre line, where I started with a single red maggot. I noticed that first cast Tommy caught and landed a Carp using pellet on “Girls” elastic, Umm. For the first 15 minutes I didn’t have a bite. I then hooked and landed an 8lb Carp on the drop. I quickly rearranged my shotting pattern to fish the drop a bit better. Next cast another 8lb Carp in the net – got it cracked!! Not another bite for half an hour then a lost foul hooker. As Tommy Thick appeared to be bagging on the pellet, I thought it time to try it myself. First cast a 1lb F1 in the net. I had another two before I hooked another Carp which I played to the net only to lose it – bollocks. Next cast I hooked and landed another 8lb Carp. Back on the maggot line and bang on schedule at 13:15 the Ronnie’s switched on and it was a 1oz to 2oz Ronnie a cast. By this time Tommy had five carp to my three so I made the decision to switch back to the pellet. This resulted in a couple of small Skimmers – one missing the keep net as it stuck to my hand. Whilst fishing the pellet I had this gnawing doubt that I should spend the last couple of hours on the Ronnie’s, however, I persevered with the pellet for little to no return. At the whistle I thought Tommy had beaten me easily. The three Carp weighed 24lb 4oz and with my Silvers weighing 5lb 7oz my total was 29lb 11oz. This put me second on the lake and another brown envelope containing £55. As expected I was beaten by Tommy, but only by 1lb! Not one of my better decisions not to fish for those Ronnie’s, I am sure I would have won the lake and perhaps the Silvers had I done so. Shows how important it is to know what is exactly going on around you.

    The match overall was one by Vince Shipp (pictured right) with 78lb 3oz from un-fancied peg 62 on John Walters Lake. Vince fished 6mm expander over potted micro with a smidgen of 4 mm pellet. Vince to some extent lives in the shadow of brother Des, but have no doubt about it, Vince is a great angler and a real Gentlemen with it and makes a great cup of tea (why is it that all builders make great tea). Well done matey.

    Full Result (overall):

    1. Vince Shipp 78-03-0 peg 62
    2. Alan Oram 56-15-0 peg 33
    3. Nicky Collier 55-14-0 peg 94
    4. Martin Lenaghan 53-13-0 peg 83
    5. Tony Rixon 44-04-0 peg 81
    6. John (practice makes perfect) Bradford 42-01-0 peg

    Top Silvers: (overall):

    1. Dale Howson 10-03-0 peg 19
    2. Paul Elms 10-10-0 peg 41

    Sunday, 17 January 2010

    Sunday 17/01/2010 - Queens Head Open - Boyd Valley Lake

    Bela and I decided to forgo the Viaduct winter league for this year because of too many clashes with the Landsend Individual League for which we had already committed. The calshes are primarily due to cancellations because of the bad weather. Also, unless you can find a substitute, Landsend charge a no show pools fee of £25. This would have meant we could have been £75 out of pocket each – lesson learnt for next year we think. So I was expecting another Sunday home with the Special One. That was until I had a phone call from Martyn Rayet on Friday night asking if I wanted to fish an open down at Boyd Valley Lake. I told him it would be iced over. However, he guaranteed that it would all be thawed out by Sunday - "skating on thin ice" saying this! I disagreed with him him, but said I would go anyway. To be truthful I couldn’t wait to get back on the bank again for my first match of 2010.

    “Luck favours the prepared” I arrived at the lake to find that – well see for yourself picture top left - t
    old you so! However, I was the only angler with an ice breaker, and as luck would have it I was one of three anglers that drew an ice free swim!! But, Tim Ford made good use of it – Tim you need to put on some more weight to swing the breaker far enough.

    I drew peg 4 which I was well pleased with. I set up the usual Ronnie rig and a Skimmer rig for 5 metres. I decide to fish positive, even though the weather was induicating otherwise. I decide to put three big cups of GB in at 5 metres and loose fed caster on the Ronnie line. I started after the Ronnie’s and started catching 1oz fish straight off. However, due to the lake being flat calm combined with bright sun light I was missing a lot of bites. I switched to maggot over caster which resulted in more bites but even more missed bites, so back on the caster and lucky enough the wind picked up giving the fish a bit of a canopy allowing me a good run of Ronnie’s up to 12oz. The wind died so I switched to the Skimmer line with 3mm pellet and caught a few Skimmers to 12oz. Unlike the Ronnie’s the Skimmers would not run with the bait so deciding on when to strike was arbitrary to some extent. The bites were much more positive when the float was towing or moving with the wingd - basically the float was pulling against the fish! Anyway, I managed to keep fish coming through out the match by switching between the two lines, topping up the 5 metre line with GB in between. I weighed 21lb 10oz of mainly Ronnie’s for first overall and my first pick up the year of £40 – were off!

    Runner up was Mike Ferris (pictured right - courtesy of Roy Garland) - Bill’s brother) who caught 12lb 15oz of Skimmers to 1lb using pellet over micro pellet from peg 5. Mike caught all his fish at 10 metres.

    Full Result:

    1. Mike Nicholls 21-10-0 peg 4
    2. Mike Ferris 12-15-0 peg 5
    3. Tim Ford 9-07-0 peg 10
    4. John Clark 8-06-0 peg 7
    5. Leighton Palmer 7-13-0 peg 9
    6. Shaun Townsend 7-12-0 peg 8

    Thursday, 14 January 2010

    Hook Lengths and Knots - Commercial Fisheries

    I recently had an email enquiry about hook lengths etc... So in response I have put together this short piece. However, I must say that the following is based on "My way" of fishing and it might not suit every one's approach. I should also add that from my perspective this only applies to Commercial fisheries and not River and Canal fishing as I approach them totally differently - well use to!

    LINES: I use Gamakatsu G-Line (dark blue spools) for all my Commercial fishing. I carry 100 metre spools from 0.1 to 0.22 mm in increments of 0.1 mm. I must say that line preference is similar to women - we all have our tastes. The important aspect of line choice is to make sure you get experienced with it and understand its capabilities. Unlike most women the G-Line has low memory so straightens readily once taken from the rig winder with just a little pressure from the top-set elastic. My match fishing is currently focused on Silver fishing, however, the venues I fish contain some high double figure Carp which can lead to a change of focus during a match. So after many frustrating hours I have concluded that the best compromise hook length is 0.14 mm. I can catch everything on this line, from 8 oz Ronnie's (not the easiest fish to catch and always subject to the correct presentation) up to 20 lb Common Carp (I would like to add double figure Grass Carp but can't - yet). So 99% of my rigs are tied with 0.14 mm - Summer and Winter. The 0.14 mm is tied to 0.18 mm main line. I can already hear some saying too heavy... but as I say it suits "My Way" and here is why:

    • On average I fish one hundred matches a year - a minimum of two matches a week and therefore do not have much time to re-tie too many rigs, therefore the main line needs to be over sized and durable.
    • To aid bite detection I need a stiff mainline which will keep the line as perfectly straight as possible (I will expand on this if I get round to writing about shotting patterns).
    • The main line has little to no interface with the fish.
    • 0.18 line is the thickest line I can secure a no 11 shot on.
    HOOK LENGTHS: The length of the hook length is unimportant so long as it is between 10 inches to a full rig length (straight through). The important element is that the "tell-tell" shot can be moved anywhere from right next to the spade of the hook to 10 inches above the hook. This is irrespective of the depth of water. On all my hook lengths I use a no 11 ZLT lead shot. This is as much as anything to do with age - I always know what shot to use if I lose one!!

    KNOTS: My first choice would be to fish straight through without any knots. However, as explained above 0.14 straight through isn't durable enough for me. I do fish 0.16 to 0.22 straight through when fishing the paste. I tie all my hooks by hand whether at home tying them to rigs or on the bank during a match. I do not carry any pre-tied hooks. I will start with my hook knot, which is a simple seven turn "whipping knot", which every match angler knows well. I understand that the minimum number of turns is five, however, I do add two for luck (not that I am superstitious). Some I know add more for "good looks" at the determent of weight I think!! So that's the spade end hook on - or should be. As I do little, to no banded pellet fishing I do not intend to discuss the "knotless" knot - I will leave that to the Carp Slayers. Now the important bit as far as I am concerned is tying the hook length to the main line. There are many anglers that use the loop to loop method, which is the method I utilise when I first started fishing Commercials. However, when my main focus changed away from Carp fishing to the Silvers I got obsessed (and still am) with bite detection. Since retiring I

    have had time to analyse my tackle and the loop to loop method left me concerned with amount of potential "lost motion" between the hook and the float. If you look at the picture on the right you will see a loop to loop knot (top). I have really stretched this knot and you can still some potential for "lost motion". I recognise that loop to loop is a very convenient way of connecting hook lengths especially on the bank. I have tried various other methods such as the full blood knot, which is quite complex and not really suitable in match conditions. However, I have found a single knot that is nearly as quick as the loop to loop and extremely strong. But, the knot does not leave the two lines dead straight and in-line and is therefore a compromise to the full blood knot. The knot is a form of "Water Knot" but with only two turns. The picture right shows this knot tied adjacent to the loop to loop. The knot is known as the Surgeons Knot - see tying method lower right. Next time you use the loop to loop have a look at the potential "lost motion" - decide which is best for you.

    I also use the Surgeons Knot for tying addition line to the top of my rigs (to fish deeper). I have never had an issue.

    Curtesy of matey Martyn Woodington:

    Thursday, 7 January 2010

    Found It!

    Due to the freezing weather I have now missed three matches and with no immediate promise of a thaw I am expecting to miss at least another two. I am fed up with sitting around at home and need a fishing fix soon. So I decided to venture out today and walk to my local lake to see if it was fishable!!! On the way I bumped in to Paul Barnes who has recently retired. Paul worked with me as a Subcontractor on and off for over thirty years. Paul never seems to age and can still talk for England.

    On arrival at the Lake I noticed that only one car had been in the car park since the snow fall. Who ever they were they hadn't fished and left a right mess with their MacDonald's rubbish. I soon noticed that there was a small part of the lake clear of ice. It was just left of peg 3. On inspection it was due to water running in to the lake off the hills behind. It was clear out to about five metres, just enough for me to fish (see picture top left). I wish I had my tackle as it was a beautiful sunny day. However, it wasn't long before I was being pestered by the local bird life - looking for some casters I suspect (see picture right).

    Away from the clear patch of water the ice was approximately 3 inches thick - unbreakable with the usual ice breaking tools I think (see picture right).

    So if I can't get a match soon and the weather stays the same I might do a spot of pleasure fishing, that is if the swim isn't taken now that I have let the Cat out of the bag! I suspect Martyn McMahon will get there before me.

    Friday, 1 January 2010

    Review of 2009

    The weather again was against us in 2009 with a really wet spring and summer. So much so I was driven to forking out for some decent Gore-tex clothing from Halkon Hunt as the Preston stuff is rubbish. However, the upside to a wet summer is that my garden looked pretty good (see photo right of some of our back garden). I was hoping with the promise of warmer wetter winters due to “Climate Change” that I wouldn’t be breaking ice in 2009, but it wasn’t to be. I don’t mind the exercise that comes with ice breaking, but find it limits fishing options which I find frustrating.

    I have many fond memories of 2009, but if I had to select the most memorable match it would be the Maver Pairs fished at Viaduct with matey Bela Bakos. The memories will not be for the second overall placing I had, but for the last twenty minutes of the match when I caught 33lb of Silvers. I will never forget how manic and exciting it was - it got the old ticker back up to speed. I have never experienced Tench and Bream taking corn so furiously. Of course I came away thinking “what if” I had fished for the Silvers earlier and what weight I might have done – we will never know - I might have got it right anyway
    I reckon I had as many days getting the fishing wrong as I did getting it right. Every match I fish my initial plan is to try and win both the overall and Silvers (coin - insurance policy). I have managed six matches this year where I have achieved this goal. However, there were two memorable matches where I believe I got it right. The first was the Carps AC match at Bullocks Farm where I drew peg 15. I caught 37lb of Crucians which helped me to first in both. Crucian fishing is without doubt the best in the Silvers category as they are dam difficult to catch and fight better than most fish for their size. The other match was another Carps AC match at Cider Farm – Yarlington Mill. This venue at the time was considered an out and out Carp venue. However, Carps AC Wednesday rules mean that they always have pools for the Silvers (one of the reasons I and others support Carps AC). I drew peg 25 and had a brilliant day catching good size Skimmers and Ronnie’s for my highest Silvers weight of 2009 of 44lb 7oz. I weighed in a total of 130lb 9 oz which was only good enough for third. Had I fished for Carp all match I think I would have probably won – but we wouldn't have known what the Silver potential is at this venue. I am now hoping that Mark Gibson will include a Silvers pool in his Sunday Opens in 2010.

    I fished the Bathampton “Coffin Dodgers” again this year which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was nice to see Mike Jones out fishing again. I just hope Mike stays on the waggler again next year and don’t start fishing the pole. I have been trying to persuade Topper to start fishing them, lets hope we see him in 2010. I know I have the odd moan about Colin Golding’s organisation and pegging of these matches, but what ever is said Colin is always there to run the matches and is consistent in his organisation – Thanks Col. I had a first time event fishing these matches and it was very heart warming. I was early at the draw as usual and a fellow angler (who asked not to be named) approached me putting a £5 note in my hand. He said that he felt he did not deserve to win the same money as I did at the last match, as he had come second and me first. He felt that Colin's wasn’t right paying the second person the same as the first. Handing back the fiver I explained that I thought the way Colin does it is was a very fair. We must bear in mind that the match is for the “Over 55’s and Disabled”, so there is potentially a skill and capability gap over such a wide range of participants. Colin’s payout keeps the interest for all comers. So this angler gets my vote for Sportsman of 2009. Finally will we see Mike Coulson fishing these matches next year - doubt it!!

    My photo of the year was one from the Carps AC match at Tockenham Reservoir – (see right). Colin said afterwards that he "needn't have a bath now for another month" - he is always true to his word. It was nice to see the Harris tweed jacket had nearly dried out by the next day's match!! What on earth was Tom Thick doing?
    I keep contemporary records of all my matches so I have put together the following statistics of my match fishing results for 2009:

    Total Number of Matches Fished
    Total Number of Anglers fished the Matches
    Average Number of Anglers per Match
    Number of Different Fisheries Fished
    Total Carp Weight
    2,470lb 15oz
    Total Silvers Weight
    1,161lb 3oz
    Overall Weight
    3,632lb 2oz
    Highest Overall Weight
    210lb 14oz
    Highest Silvers Weight
    44lb 7oz
    Heaviest Carp
    18lb 14oz
    Average Weight per Match
    36lb 11oz
    Number of Times in top 6 Overall
    Number of Times in top 3 Silvers
    Number of Times won Both
    Number of Pick-ups
    Strike Rate