Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sunday 07/10/1980 - South West Winter League - Bristol Avon - Christian Malford

I had a great job for a single man which I was told I had for life. Alas I wasn’t single and had two sons aged seven and four so in 1980 I decided to change jobs for something more office bound. The advantages were being able to spend more time with the family and perhaps get more fishing matches in. Disadvantage I lost the company car so purchased a Beetle which was to serve me well for many years.

I was still fishing for the Golden Carp winter league team and I had an opportunity to fish the SWWL being pegged on the Bristol Avon at Christian Malford a venue I had only visited a couple of times so was looking forward to it, it had some flow and stories of plenty of big Roach.

I cant remember where what my peg number was but do remember having to drive through a farm yard and park in a field full of cattle just before he M4 motorway bridge. I soon found my peg and recognised it from the many times I had driven east up the M4 always having a quick look over at the river. I was one peg above the deep bend I can’t remember who was on this supposed flyer – more above water than under. Matey Ray Sims was one peg up stream of me (GEarth picture right X’s showing the three pegs mine in the middle).

It was an easy peg to access and fish requiring just a 4BB Ivan Marks Pacemaker (great floats), with a new type fine wire 16 hook to 1.5 Maxima hook length and 2lb main line, ABU 607 reel and Shakespeare President 13 foot rod. Bait wise it was Hemp, Casters (home cooked) and maggots.

Ray was quite close upstream so I fed down the peg casters shorter than the hemp. Single caster on the hook and I was soon catching quality Roach to 12oz. This was short lived as I was getting Pike trouble which resulted in me lifting Roach out as quickly as I could. The Pike were jumping clear of the water trying to snatch them. And this is where the chose of hook failed me the fine wire was bending resulting in lost fish, so I changed back to the Gold Mustad hook. It didn’t stop the Pike but I didn’t loose as many. Ray Sims came down to find out what all the splashing was. He watched for a while and was amazed how many Pike were in the swim Ray had just one Roach! Unsurprisingly half way through the match the swim completely died. With an hour to go it was my turn to go to Ray’s swim again attracted by splashing.  The Roach shoal had moved upstream to Ray and he was catching well and managed 6lb before the end, plus a few lost Pike!

I finished the match with 13lb 14oz. I promised myself I would go back to the swim and pleasure fish it, but never have.

Godfrey Hargreaves (pictured right) won the match with 29-13-08 of Roach on bronze maggot from a downstream peg somewhere near the Church. Godfrey then owned the House of Angling shop in Swindon and passed away in 2013 aged 65.

The angler on the bend had a 3lb I think.

Arriving back at the car I was worried when I saw lots of Bullocks surrounding my car, as I got closer I could see them licking it. The penny dropped I had polished my pride and joy the day before and they had taken a liking to the polish. I got a bank stick out and managed to get in the car and back to the results with the paintwork in tack.

Full Result:

  1. Godfrey Hargreaves  29-13-08
  2. Mike Nicholls 13-14-0
  3. Mike Farr 11-02-0
  4. Dave Clutterbuck  9-11-08
  5. Chris Copper 8-06-08
  6. Trevor Gunning 8-01-08
Media Reports:

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Thursday - 26/11/2015 - Harescombe Fishery - Cost Cutter - Match lake

I was talking to a fellow Angler (I was going to say an old guy) a couple of weeks ago whilst waiting for the draw. He said he rarely wins any pools money and looks on the day as an “Expensive Day Ticket”. This got me thinking and I concluded that it’s much, much more than that. Pleasure fishing tends to be catching nothing and go home early, catch loads and go home early. What you get in a match irrespective of the number of competitors is the camaraderie in the cafĂ© before the draw and good company during the match, keeping you there until the end just in case. Plus you always have the possibility of landing on a few fish to compensate for your value for money day ticket.

Uneventful drive followed by a breakie and a chat about what’s going on in the angling world – e.g. Stafford Moor draining Pines Lake.

Draw time and we let Stewart Graham draw first as he has spent so many matches on flyer peg 29! He broke his run picking peg 10. In I went and came back with peg 6. Wrong end I was thinking. Arriving at the peg I was disappointed to find that there was little to no bank side vegetation for margin cover. Plumbing around I found the margin shallow and flat until it fell off to full depth – not good for the way I feed and present. I set up the two rigs a 4x14 Jolly which was heavier than I would have liked, but the peg was an inbetweener with the 4x12 being a tad bit light. This rig was to be fished down wind just down the inside shelf at top-set plus half. The other rig was the usual 4x10 Yoof for both baron margins. Bait tray I had caster, maggot, semi hard 4’s, meat and soaked pellet – a lot for me.

All ready for the all in - see video below for the Duck call all in.

I fed the LH margin with soaked pellet and the RH with caster and the Jolly line with soaked pellet with a smidgen on 6mm diced meat. I started well catching five decent F1’s before the swim completely died; it wasn’t even a question of the F1’s moving up in the water. As expected the margins were difficult especially the RH as it was up-wind and blowing through too much. The caster margin produced nothing. Decision made I switch the Jolly to top-set plus two and switching to live maggot feed and ditto on the hook. This brought some bites even though it was from Skimmers and Ronnie’s. This kept me busy and interested. Unfortunately this only produced a couple of F1’s. Alan Oram and Stewart Graham were catching well short on maggot, so conclusion was that there wasn’t the numbers of F1’s in my swim. Having thrown in the towel for coin I decided to experiment. So set up 13 metres and had a go with pellet and meat, I did catch a few F1’s over but it wasn’t long before the Silvers were nibbling the meat. Perhaps I should have started over there – who knows.

I finished the match with 32lb 8oz for nowhere, nonetheless an enjoyable day.

The match was won by Stuart Graham (pictured right with his catch) with 69lb 2oz from peg 10. Stewart caught most of his F1’s at 4 metres using maggot hook bait over loose fed maggot.

Full Result:

  1. Stuart Graham 69-02-0 peg 10
  2. Martin Hook 48-04-0 peg 24
  3. Alan Oram 47-14-0 peg 8
Weigh Sheet:

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday 22/11/2015 - Windmill Fishery Open - Match Lake

Went out to the car early to pack, no frost or ice on the car windows, packed the car, had a cuppa back to the car and the glass iced up in 20 minutes!! I filled the kettle with warm water and washed the windows. That said we were promised a less windy day and warmer day the yesterday.

Bela was working this weekend to catch up on last weeks rained off work, so it was the Beefeater for breakfast on my lonesome.

I just managed to be first to the fishery, beating fifteen others for the 08:30 draw. I was about fifth to draw and out came peg 18, which didn’t mean a lot to me except I was told it was the shallow end and was likely to be Carp free this time of year. Not an issue for me.

OK the winter has suddenly been thrown at us, so need to change the approach? I decided to start where I finished the last match which meant setting up the 4x12 Jolly for semi-hard over soaked pellet to be fished at full depth at top-set plus two. As back-up I set up a 4x10 Ronnie rig.

I started on the semi-hard and had a bite immediately a 1oz Skimmer, for the next 45 minutes I stayed on this with a 4oz Skimmer the biggest fish to grace the keep-net. I was getting plenty of indications from these small fish but they were too small to pull the float down. I had been loose feeding caster both sides so tried the Ronnie rig and had a few Ronnie’s but I was missing too may bites. I decided to mix some GB in the anticipation that I might get the Skimmers close in on the Ronnie rig. This didn’t work so I added caster to the GB and caught Ronnie’s averaging 2oz, which was much quicker than trying to catch the micro Skimmers further out. I converted the Jolly line to meat but trying it a few times found that the tiny Skimmers were converting a cube of meat into a sphere. This was soon abandoned to fish for the Ronnie’s for the rest of the match. Absolutely no sign of a Carp except a late welcome addition of a 1lb Crucian.

My net of Silvers (pictured right) weighed 14lb 3oz for first in the Silvers – just.

The match was won by John Osborne (pictured right with the Silvers winner) with 51lb 2oz from peg 23. John caught at 15 metres up the far shelf using either 6mm expander over 6 mm feed pellets or maggot over maggot. Well done matey.

Full Result:

  1. John Osborne 51-02-0 peg 23
  2. Mike Wilson 42-10-0 peg 26
  3. James White 27-13-0 peg 22
  4. Gary Walsh 19-07-0 peg 30
  5. Mark Summer 17-0-0 peg 2
  6. Bob Price 16-0-0 peg 20
Top Silvers:

  1. Mike Nicholls 14-03-0 peg 18
  2. Steve Dawson 11-12-0 peg 11
Weigh Sheet:

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Thursday 19/11/2015 - Harescombe - Cost Cutter - Match Lake

It looks like Two Pots and paste have gone into hibernation. The chest virus is all but gone but didn’t want to get wet so unusually put the brolley in the car as it promised to be persistent rain for most of the day brightening up around 3 o clock. And that how it transpired, except the temperature dropped once the rain stopped.

After a breakie I was first into the draw bag and out came peg 20. Happy with this as I reckon at the mo you need to draw middle - up, plus I fished it three weeks ago and had a good day next to Rich Heatley who we haven’t seen since – missing you matey come back up.

Found myself pegged opposite Tony Rixon (pictured right trying out his new Drennan Carp pole) but only for a few minutes because he had set up in the wrong peg!!

I was able to park behind the peg plus due to light winds able to put the brolley up. Last time on the peg I initially caught down the shelf then over to the far bank at 13 metres but due to the conditions I only set up the one top set, leaving the rest of the pole in the car. I attached a 4x10 Yoof to fish in both margins, the RH margin caster over caster and meat over pellet in the LH margin, so not much on the bait tray. I did feel naked not having set up the Jolly.

During the first two hours I was beginning to believe I had made a big mistake as Chris Fox was catching over and Martin Hook was catching short down the shelf with maggot (where I would have fished the Jolly). However, I was putting the occasional F1 in the net from both margins. Come mid match the fishing got better but it was hard to keep the fish coming. I then spotted the RH margin colouring up thinking it was Carp, alas not it was due the persistent rain running down the hill into the Lake. The caster was a bit disappointing adding only five F1’s plus my usual Barbel and a bonus 12oz Roach. The meat margin was working
best and into the fourth hour I started to catch steady anticipating a good last hour which I felt I needed to catch up Chris and Martin. Unfortunately the opposite was true – it slowed. However, during the last 10 minutes I put five F1’s in the net all averaging 2lb with one going 3lb.

I weighed 63lb 2oz which is a lot more than I thought for a narrow match win over Chris Fox (pictured right with the match winner)


  1. Mike Nicholls 63-02-0 peg 20
  2. Chris Fox 60-06-0 peg 14
  3. Tony Rixon 52-10-0 peg 8 & 9
Weigh Sheet held by "Gordon blew-it Chef":

Monday, 16 November 2015

Sunday 19/08/1979 – Portcullis Open – Warleigh – Bristol Avon

I hadn't been fishing for some time due to work and family commitments so it was nice to sneak a match in. The match scene was much better organised than today, with all the clubs getting together to sort a annual match calendar and would publish forth coming events (typically shown right). So I choose to fish the Portcullis match at Warleigh. The match was being organised by Rich Croker (yet to be of Scotts Tackle fame). I chose this venue because Dad favoured fast running venues so took me here regularly pleasure fishing. The match stretch was up and down stream from the Warleigh Aqueduct – on the far bank, the draw being underneath the Aqueduct. This meant carrying the one rod and the six legged (latest addition) wicker fishing basket from the car park on the A36 down to the K&A Canal over the Aqueduct and down the side to the river bank for which a number of steps had to be negotiated which were of all different sizes, a final jump off the wall at the end! Other than the fishing a comment that has stuck in my mind ever since which was made by the eloquent Rich Croker – “These steps are like men’s pricks, all different”.

No draw tin, hat nor bag, Rich just threw the swim cards up in the air for a free for all. One landed by my toe so picked that one up peg 12. Where was that? Smack where I was standing on the wall under the Aqueduct. No walk and a wall to sit on with the basket by my side. The swim was high off the water with a three foot wide weed bed in front, so if a decent Chub was hooked I was going to struggle to net it. As was usual with this stretch of the Avon it suffered a down stream wind, which today was quite strong. I set up a top and bottom float (home made) with strung out number 4 shot with a number 16 gold spade Mustad hook. All lines 2 and 1 ½ lb Maxima. I fed casters and had single on the hook after half hour and one small Dace I knew I had to change to a waggler. So I re-set the rod with a 2AA waggler, smaller than usual because I had also decided to fish close in just off the weed bed again with caster feed, caster hook bait. The presentation was much better and caught small Roach, Chub and Dace not loosing any in the weeds as they were small enough to swing.

I couldn’t see any other angler and once the scales reached me I was surprised to find that my 6lb 4oz was winning the match, but there were better swims to be weighed. Luckily it had fished hard so with no one beating my weight I was pleased to take the spoils. I suspect the weather conditions didn’t help the weights.

A right to do getting  up the side of the Aqueduct followed.

Full Result:

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Sunday 15/11/2015 - Windmill Fishery Open - Match Lake

I woke early this morning by the gusting winds and with a sore throat and chesty cough. Bela has it also to be clear he started it! Packing the van the wind didn't too cold. After a fill up at the Beefeater it was on to Windmill Fishery where the wind appeared to be worse and colder. It looked to me as if the near end and part of the far bank was float fishable (see video below). Both Bela and I agreed to not fish but return home. I think Tim Ford was planning to fish so see his blog for any remainders!

Wonder why it's called Windmill?

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Thursday 12/11/2015 - Harescombe Fishery - Cost Cutter - Match Lake

On the way to the venue there was a serious accident on the M5 just after Junction 12 - south bound, loads of police directing traffic off the motorway back to J12. Luckily I just made it off in time. The South bound carriageway was closed for most of the day which meant on the way home I had to go around the back roads to Stroud and get on at J13 to avoid hold-ups.

There was a cold wind blowing down into the valley with it flat calm the near end and rippling the far end as pictured right.

I guess the traffic may have deterred some anglers as only eight of us made it.

In to the draw bag and out comes peg 2. The peg Tony Rixon wanted last match – god knows why as he struggled. That said at least I was, to some, degree out of the wind, in fact I parked the car closer to peg 1 to get some extra shelter.

I set up the usual rigs but found the margins shallower and flatter than other pegs I have fished, which was a bit disappointing. Out at top-set plus one I had about 4 foot. The plan was top fish caster in the RH down-wind margin and meat in the LH margin and dead reds out in front on the Jolly.

After the initial feeding of all three lines I started on double dead reds and soon had a 1lb Barbel ripping the elastic out. After missing a few bites from tiny fish I foul hooked an F1 which I lost followed by a couple more foulers not reaching the net. An hour gone and still the one fish in the keep net. So it was time to try the margins. The upshot was I could catch an F1 from one margin then having to switch margins to catch another and that how the match developed. Throughout the day and unusual for the venue and me I lost a total of 11 F1’s either foulers or lightly hooked. The impression I got was there wasn’t the head of fish in this peg at the moment as they all seem to have migrated to the other wind covered end.

I weighed 33lb 2oz which although only got me third I was satisfied with how I fished.

The match was won by Brian Duckett (pictured right with his catch) with 45lb 6oz from peg 10. Brian fished the Jigga with hair Rigga banded pellet, feeding hard 4’s over the top. Umm.


  1. Brian Duckett 45-06-0 peg 10
  2. Martin Hook 43-12-0 peg 6
  3. Mike Nicholls 33-02-0 peg 2
Weigh Sheet:

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Sunday 08/11/2015 - Tony Rixon Open - Harescombe Fishery - Fields Lake

I was back travelling with Bela even though I was risking catching his Man Flu. First stop, the Beefeater for a scrummy breakfast.

Both of us were looking forward to fishing a new venue the Fields Lake at Harescombe with the promise of lots of big Carp but most importantly for me big Ronnie’s, which was to be my focus for the day.

I think we were all hoping to draw the near end where the Lake was the widest. In to the draw bag and out comes peg 4 which put me half way along the left hand bank, reasonably happy with this. However, because there wasn’t much structure to the parking I had to walk from the van.

For company I had Kev Moulton to my right and Alan Oram to my left – good company then.

The pegs I really fancied were pegs 10 and 11. These were taken by Bela and Tony Rixon (pictured above).

My bait tray was made up as shown right.

I set up three rigs – a 4x16 Jolly to fish at top-set plus one at 12- o clock where I would be fishing in five foot of water some 2 foot up the inside shelf. The Ronnie rig and a margin paste rig for the down wind margin in 3 foot of water.

I started by feeding a pot of micro with 10 pieces of 6mm meat out on the Jolly line and started to loose feed caster on the Ronnie line. First put in on the Ronnie rig with single caster I hooked and landed a 4lb Common Carp. The writing was on the wall I should have forgotten the Ronnie’s and changed to Carp fishing. I didn’t because I was still expecting to catch some big Ronnie’s. I did catch a few but it was really slow and they were only 3oz fish. The wind wasn’t right for this rig dragging it through too fast. I changed to the Jolly with 6mm meat but that produced nothing. I decided to change this line to caster with a dash of worm. I tried a piece of worm but didn’t have a bite switching to double caster was producing bites on the drop which I couldn’t hit. So I set up the 4 metres Drennan whip with a small waggler, set to full depth but fished on the drop with just 5x12 shot droppers. This initially worked better but if I loose fed I would hook a Carp. So I had to sneak the caster feed in by pot, it wasn’t idea but kept the odd Ronnie coming. I did hook 10 Carp on the flick tipped whip loosing 7 hooks and landing 3 Carp on 0.1 G-line! I had been feeding hard 4’s down the RH margin so rested the Ronnie’s and tried the  paste and had two Carp. The wind dropped in the last hour so I went back on the Ronnie rig and had a good 15 minutes catching Ronnie’s to 6oz. However, they were soon being disrupted by Carp landing another two before the all out.

I finished with a disappointing 11lb 8oz of Silvers putting me second in the Silvers and my Carp weighed a surprising 41lb 8oz fro a match third with 53lb.

The Match was won by Tony Rixon (pictured right with some of his catch) with 114lb from peg 9. See his blog on how he thrashed around shallow long on the pole.

The Silvers was won by Stewart Graham (pictured right a bit hazy with the match winner – unfortunately he couldn’t keep still!) with 12lb 2oz from peg 8. Stewart caught short using worm and caster.

Today was a bit of a trial match and I think we all concurred that although it’s a great pleasure fishing Lake it isn’t a Match Lake. That said the day was very enjoyable, especially as both Bela and me picked up some coin – double bubble again.

Bela decided to take a "Long Cut" Home around Yate - Duh!

Full Result:

  1. Tony Rixon 114-0-0 peg 9
  2. Bela Bakos 84-03-0 peg 10
  3. Mike Nicholls 53-0-0 peg 4
Top Silvers:

  1. Stewart Graham 12-02-0 peg 8
  2. Mike Nicholls 11-08-0 peg 4
 Weigh Sheet: (4 DNW's)

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Thursday 05/11/2015 - Harescombe Cost Cutter - Match Lake

Tony Rixon is running a match at Harescombe on Sunday this time on Field Lake shown right. Plus at the bottom of the page is a video starring Andy Price explaining the match rules.

The weather forecast wasn’t good with rain more or less all day. However, the temperature was well up n the teens, plus the rain was fairly light at least until the last hour.
Into the draw bag with only three counters left and out comes peg 21. Not pulled the same peg yet! The peg is ¾ up the far bank. No emotions. For company on my left I had Stuart Barnett the other side was Jon Fuidge.

Setting up I realised I had left my roller home; luckily Rod Wotton came to the rescue. Thanks matey. Also luckily I had a spare pair of glasses!

The water looked clear so I wasn’t expecting a very high winning weight, so decided to take it steady with the feed. On the bait tray was half pint casters (last weeks), half pint of meat, half pint of wetted micro, Corn and semi-hard pellets, more than usual. However, the rigs were the same – 4x10 Yoof for margins and over to the far bank if needs be and the 4x14 jolly to fish at top-set plus one out in front.

Initially I fed the up wind RH margin with caster which I really didn’t fancy because the presentation wasn’t going to be that good, and the LH down wind margin with pellet my banker. Thirdly I fed micro out in front where I intended to start.

Starting on the Jolly with 6mm meat I had a run of five F1’s before the swim completely died, time to re-feed which didn’t have the impact I was hoping for, just one more F1. I decided to put on an extra section taking me to top-set plus two and re-fed micro. Absolutely no response umm. I persevered with this line trying various baits lined up on my tray – no serious response. In fact I stayed here too long. I tried the banker LH margin with various baits – nothing. Time to fish for anything that swims so on went a single caster in to the RH margin where I had and continued to lightly feed caster. I also kept lightly feeding the LH margin. On the caster I had two big Perch and Barbel plus the occasional F1. Once again I outstayed the margin, because when in the last 45 minutes  I switched to meat over the pellet in the LH margin I started to bag big time, adding half my total weight – bugger (or not) who knows.

I weighed 69lb 2oz for second overall. Could I have got another 6lb, I would like to think so that is if I could develop hindsight.

The match was won by Adrian Jeffery (pictured right) with 74lb 12oz from end peg 15. Adrian caught shallow with 6mm hard pellet fished up towards the end margin.

Full Result:

  1. Adrian Jeffery 74-12-0 peg 15
  2. Mike Nicholls 69-02-0 peg 21
  3. Martin Hook 50-14-0 peg 7
Weigh Sheet:

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sunday 01/11/2015 - Ivy House Open - Both Match Lakes

Talking to Alan Oram at last Thursdays match he told me that Ivy House was starting to fish harder, so time for me to visit again as I like it when it fishes hard as it prevents the worm merchants buying their fish and evens things out a bit more. Bela was also up for it.

At 06:44 this morning I had a text from Bela explaining that he had a text in the early hours informing him that his Dad had been unwell so he naturally had to go and visit with him, on my own again today then.

There was a mist all the way there (venue pictured above right), however, by the time we started the sun was out and all change (pictured right view from my peg) not conducive for Skimmer fishing with it also being flat calm.

The plan was to fish for the Silvers so into the draw tin and out comes ball 17, which put me on the causeway. I had a look at the last six results from the peg and it didn’t look good for Silvers weights. That said you don’t know if the anglers pegged there had fished for them. The area does hold Skimmers.

I set up a 4x16 Jolly to fish initially at 10 metres then later out to 11.5. I also set up a 4 metre whip with a tiny waggler to fish at 5 metres with maggot hook bait over GB. As it happened I didn’t have a bite on this so it was sin binned.

The whole match was spent on the two lines fishing semi-hard 4’s over wetted micro. The shorter line yielding Skimmers and the longer line some Carp including three foul hooked “Stockies”.

I landed two proper Carp and two Stockies for 23lb 12oz and my Silvers weighed 15lb 14oz mostly made up of pounders for second in the Silvers and my total weight of 39lb 10oz put fifth overall.

With 15 minutes to go the venue switched from bright sunshine to a dense mist all within about 2 minutes - amazing.

The match was won by Martin Lenaghan (pictured right playing one of his Carp) with 59lb 10oz from peg 3. Martin caught at 16 metres at ¾ depth using 6mm hair rigged 6mm pellet over loose fed 4’s. He fed about half a pint all match.

Runner up was Smiffy from peg 20 with 51lb 2oz (also pictured right landing one of his Carp).

The Silvers was won by regular Dick Young (pictured right with the match winner) with 21lb 8oz from in form Silvers peg 11.

Very enjoyable day.

Full Result:

  1. Martin Lenaghan 59-10-0 peg 3
  2. Alan Smith (Smiffy)  51-02-0 peg 20
  3. Paul O’Connor (Red) 45-02-0 peg 38
  4. Chris Cottrell 40-14-0 peg 40
  5. Mike Nicholls 39-10-0 peg 17
  6. Dick Young 39-0-0 peg 11
 Top Silvers:

  1. Dick Young 21-08-0 peg 11
  2. Mike Nicholls 15-14-0 peg 17
Weigh Sheet: