Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sunday 28/01/2018 - Windmill Sweep - Carp Lake

There were five of us in the car park debating where to fish. The Match Lake didn’t look that appetizing due to the wind with only three or four pegs with any shelter. We had a look at the Carp Lake where we found enough pegs out of the wind. After a vote 3 to 2 the Carp Lake it was. Terry kindly reduced the peg fee to £5 for us.

None of us knew what to expect due to Terry adding some Silvers recently. In to the hat and out comes Peg 22. A reasonable walk hindered by the heavy mud. Two of us on this part me and Paul Elmes who really struggled to get his trolley to his peg. I was nearly set-up by time he got there.

I set up the one 4x12 rig to fish in four foot of water at top-set plus two, where I decided to fish maggot over kindered maggot and micro. It wasn’t long before I was playing a 1lb Carp. I had a good couple of hours but found that it was catch two followed by a longish wait. I did have my first Silver fish on this lake, a Rudd and two small Hybrids. The swim gradually petered out. It wasn’t until the last twenty minutes that I started to fish on the drop that I started to catch again – bugger, some more hindsight for the ever decreasing memory box.

I weighed 23lb 12oz for a nice days fishing - all the fish being in excellent condition. I really enjoyed today especially the mild weather. I think this lake will become more popular in time.

The match was a tight affair with just a couple of fish separating everyone. With Shaun Townsend (pictured right with Paul Elmes seen over his right shoulder still struggling back with his kit) coming out on top with 28lb15oz from peg 14. Shaun also double bubbled with a Silvers weight of 1lb 6oz. Shaun fished at 16 metres using the same tactics me.

Full Result:

  1. Shaun Townsend 28-15-0 peg 14
  2. John Osborne 24-12-0 peg 13
  3. Mike Nicholls 23-12-0 peg 22

  1. Shaun Townsend 1-06-0 peg 14
Weigh Sheet:

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Saturday 24/08/1991 - The John Smith Individual Match - Warwickshire Avon -Evesham

Some say Angling is a sport participated by idiots and spectated by the lunatics.

The only match that I have spectated has been the John Smiths Individual event fished on the August Bank Holiday Saturday at Evesham - Hampton Ferry. This match was one of the true classic angling events. The match was conceived and expertly organised for many years by Husband and Wife Dick and Carol Derrington (both pictured upper right), really nice couple and well respected by all the top UK anglers. Dick was the first to get a big sponsorship deal outside angling from the mighty Courage Brewery.

I usually travelled there with Andy Floyd and/or Ian Spriggs. We also liked a stroll around the fishing stalls looking for a bargain. I always fancied fishing one of these finals, and although I had fished the Warwickshire Avon six times mainly in team matches all of which were fished under difficult conditions with the river being either gin clear or in flood. I really hadn’t really done that well, not coming to terms with the river. So I never fancied fishing any of the Warwickshire Avon - John Smiths Qualifiers. So in 1991 when a qualifier was announced for the Bristol Avon at Newbridge/Saltford I decided to enter under my Local pub The Crown and Horseshoe, they even sold John Smiths (bloody awful drink).

The draw was on a Saturday at the Bird in Hand – Kelston. My then friendly tackle dealer Tony Rixon had run out of casters but promised to bring some to the draw and handed them over in the pub’s back gardens. They were definitely the scrapings from the bottom of the sieve. Tony thought they were spot on. The garden had a small Goldfish pond with a good few fish. To prove a point I took out a perfect looking caster and Tony a black smelly skin (the one’s that leave your hand smelling for hours after). I fed mine first and it just fell to the bottom and sat there with no prospects of being eaten. Tony was up next and fed his skin and blimey it didn’t get to the bottom before it was being fought over by the fish. No option now but to pay for them. Nowadays, we all have come to realise how effective dead smelly maggots can be especially for Carp.

The way to qualification was to win one of the three sections of 40 anglers. However, all the talk was about drawing peg 54 at Newbridge - the Bream Hole. Early into the draw box and out came peg 124 Saltford Trees. Dick Derrington seen my disappointment and tried consoling me saying the Bream might not feed. Ian Spriggs drew the Bream Hole so was that match over? – will they feed indeed! I knew I could forget Bream and Chub on my peg which left fishing for small fish.

I had been fishing this part of the river quite a lot (I live just minutes from the venue) and had come to realise that at the start of the match I would catch well, then it would slow down becoming very hard. That was until the flow changed which was primarily due to the Bath flood prevention weir at Weston lock. The weir was controlled by level probes so it was impossible to time or predict when they operated. The change of flow was easy enough to spot with some water on (debris/leaves moving with the flow) but with normal summer levels it was more difficult so it was a question of keep running the float through until the fish came back on the feed. So my plan was to fish as quickly as possible through theses productive times. So I started to experiment with 7 to 9 metre pole to “Hand Rigs”. I liked the look of the Drennan Pole Sticks (pictured right) so set up a 1.5 gram with a Olivette bulk and the other a 1 gram with strung out number 10’s for the hard periods all on 2lb Maxima line. I fished 1lb Maxima bottoms to 22 B520 micro barbed hooks. I fished a couple of matches with these and found that I was doing much better than anglers around me and great for those important team points. So I prepared a few of these rigs for this match.

I parked up at the Stothert and Pitt Rugby club then under the Arch and turn left. The river looked in good trim so I set up two 9 metre “To Hand” rigs and a ground bait Drennan feeder in case. My feed was brown crumb/Sensas Roach/Sensas River laced with a few casters (plus skins), bronze maggots and squatts. I choose Squatts because I found that some very small fish could still be caught during the harder periods. I started the match by putting in a decent ball which I would top up regularly with golf ball size – all hand fed. The target was Roach, Perch and Dace - well anything. With the small hook I could switch from Caster, Maggot and a bunch of Squatts.

My match was going much as expected when with an hour to go Dick came along and had a chat. He reported that the Bream were indeed not feeding and it was fishing very hard. This news encouraged me to fish that much harder to the end of the match. My net of small fish weighed 8lb 1oz which was enough for that important section win and qualification, but only just, beating Kevin Dicks by just 1oz! I enjoyed hearing that one. The slightly down side I was forced to drink a can of John Smith’s!

My job and family commitments meant I couldn’t get any practice on the venue at all, not that I fancied it much. All I could do was read match results which weren’t that good with bloodworm being used widely to get bites. Then one week before the final I was told I would have to go and work in CaliforniaSan Diego and would miss the match. The project was a joint supply with a company called SAIC for a large Scanner for the English Channel crossing that HGV’s could be driven into enabling SAIC’s advance technology to detect drugs, people, weapons and explosives, etc… whist the HGV was moved on large pallets.  We were to provide the mechanical handling equipment. However, I spoke to my opposite number at SAIC agreeing that if we did some preparatory work over the phone we could delay my visit until the Bank Holiday Sunday and a 10 o clock flight from Heathrow. – The day after the match.

With two teenage boys both keen anglers and not seeing them or the “Special One” for a while I decided to take them with me plus the Mother-In-Law! Ian Spriggs was also there to do a bit of bank running – don’t think I have see Ian run or in fact move at any speed.

It was early into the draw queue, until Mark Downs decided he would push in the front, exclaiming that “who ever are first into draw is sure to get the choice of the winning peg”. Not sure what Mark drew. My turn in to the draw bag and out comes peg 23 which was right in front of the draw and all the angling stalls. The peg had a high bank well above the river with access down some steps so the family could sit at the top without a problem. I found myself pegged between Dave Harrell peg 24 and Kevin Ashhurst peg 22. A quick chat with both and the predictions weren’t good. There might be a Chub or two over to the opposite trees. So with the family settled, I realised I had a loud speaker set-up above my swim on a pole which was extremely loud and irritating, but later to cause me much amusement.

Because of my lack of knowledge, plus I had plenty of time I set everything up. Ian suggested I start on a small maggot feeder over, which I did. Kevin started on the pole at 13 metres and stayed on it all match whilst Dave was fishing the waggler over and feeding maggot very heavily down his peg. After 30 minutes and one Gudgeon Ian went for a walk so I switched to the waggler and maggot casting as far towards Dave as permitted with bronze maggot hook bait. For this match I had switched form a 1 ½ lb hook length which I normally used on the running line to 1lb due to the belief that it would make a difference and it did! After ten or so casts I hooked a decent fish which I thought at the time was a big Chub, which unfortunately broke the hook length. Some time later I was wondering whether in fact it might have been a Barbel – and still do! I couldn’t get a bite on any of the running line rods I had set-up. Hardly anything had been caught around me.

Dave Harrell who was the pre-match favourite and England International Kevin Ashhurst were some of the bigger names fishing so both attracting large galleries. With the family behind me this acted as gallery “ground bait” and on a couple of occasions I had a bigger gallery than both of them, all thinking I was catching. The Mother-in-law didn’t help telling them I was catching (referring to the one Gudgeon). On one occasion it came over the speaker that peg 23 was catching. This made me laugh – a lot. My fifteen minutes of fame.

Halfway through and I decided to fish my “to hand” light rig exactly the same as I did in the qualifier. It wasn’t long before I was catching fry and Gudgeon on double Squatt. At least it was bites and started to enjoy myself. The Mother-in –law taking delight in telling everyone that passed I was catching fish – bless her. It was clear from the speaker announcements that Jeff Perrin on peg 11 (next to the town bridge – pictured right) was catching Skimmers and was ahead in the match.

An hour to go and the speaker started to announce the following. “Jeff Perrin has left his peg, where’s he going, looks like he’s heading for the car park. We have sent a runner over to find out. Jeff’s gone to fetch some more ground bait from his car, now seen running back to his peg”

I had no idea how Dave had done but I knew Kevin had two decent Eels. When the scales arrived I was told Dave had weighed 1lb 1oz. On to the scales went my white bait and a weight of 1lb 1oz 8drms was recorded. Kevin‘s Eels weighed just over 2lb. No coin for any of us. The match was indeed won by Jeff Perrin with just over 11lb of Skimmers. Jeff fished maggot over ground bait.

It was a great family day out even though the fishing was poor.

I decided to take the family for a meal in Evesham Town and was surprised to find that we were sitting on a table next to Kevin Ashhurst a little bit of commiseration followed.

Up very early the next morning to travel to Heathrow. Got to the book in desk and found our company’s travel secretary had managed to get me upgraded to first class (a big thank you followed). So on to the Virgin Atlantic 747 Jumbo and turn left. In many ways I had a very rewarding trip. We got a proposal together which the UK government liked and wanted to pursue. Margaret Thatcher the then PM was insistent that it was to be built on the French side of the Channel Port in Calais. Unfortunately the French were persistent with NON, but OUI for it to be built in the UK side. Needless to say the project was scrapped. But how forward thinking the British Government were back then inconsideration of the issues we have nowadays with immigrants etc…in Calais. We did build a prototype for the Chinese that was intended to police white goods coming into China from Taiwan.

Since this match I have only fished the Warwickshire Avon once which was in an Angling Times Winter League final. I drew in Stratford Town Park a section below the theatre. This was the most rewarding match I fished on this river struggling for three hours then I switched to 10 metres to hand light rig fishing caster over hemp/caster loose feed and started to catch quality Roach which boosted me up the section.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Thursday 25/01/2018 - Bathampton AA Open - Bridge Pool

It was back to Bridge Pool for the Bathampton Open. I arrived in plenty of time to have a walk around and have a look at the new Withy Pool Bridge (pictured right) a good job I thought.

Hoping for a peg where I could fish the waggler and when I drew peg 14 I thought I had one. Arriving at the peg I soon realised I was sat in a Parrot cage with over hanging trees above me, which are gradually leaning over due to their proximity to the edge of the back bank. I did a survey and reckoned if I did a very accurate side swipe cast I might be able to use the waggler which I subsequently set up. I had few practice casts and only once hit the tree. The only other rig was a yellow topped 4x16 to fish at 10 metres, which was the furthest I could fish without breaking down.

After feeding a big ball of GB laced with maggot and catapulting some LR’s over I started on the pole and had three Skimmers before it died. So I re-fed and picked up the waggler with double live reds fished over loose fed LR’s. The wind was problematical for both presentation and feeding. Catapult elastic pulled back and just on launch the wind would veer. I was doing alright catching small Perch, Chub and the occasional decent Ronnie. The problem was if I lost focus on the cast I would end up in the tree which happened four times, only having to set up again once. That was until loss of concentration and gusting wind I went up the tree again alas for the last time because I broke a bit off the top of my rod – bugger. I went for a Banana walk and a moan. Ray Beazley loaned me his waggler rod which I tried only to find I couldn’t cast that well with it, only reaching middle. After a few casts and further inspection I found that Ray had clipped it up. So clip off and another cast where I have a similar problem and found Ray had clipped it up twice!! It wasn’t long before
I lost Ray’s hook in the tree, so gave the rod back. I wasted the rest of the match on the pole catching the odd small Ronnie. I did hook and lose a 1lb plus Perch, as we do. It was a shame about the trees as I am convinced that I would have picked up some coin if I could actually fish the peg properly.

I weighed 4lb 14oz for 6th in the Silvers.
The match was won by Chris Rolfe (pictured upper right with his two important Carp) with 18lb 10oz from peg 15. Chris caught a few silvers on the pole then in the last twenty minutes caught two Carp on the straight lead over t0 the island on 10mm meat.

The Silvers was won by Tony Rixon (pictured right with the match winner) with 16lb 9oz from peg 24. Tony caught……see his blog for details.

Full Result:

  1. Chris Rolfe 18-10-0 peg 15
  2. Tony Rixon 16-09-0 peg 24
  3. Jim Norris 9-14-0 peg 26
Top Silvers:

  1. Tony Rixon 16-09-0 peg 24
  2. John Smith 7-09-0 peg 30
  3. Jim Norris 6-14-0 peg 26
Weigh Sheets:

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Thursday 18/01/2018 - Silverfox Open - Boyd Valley Lakes

I haven't fished this lake for a number of years, not because of the fishing but due to the lack of anyone willing to organise anything. I have had some great days fishing here. I regularly walk from home to Boyd Valley Lake throughout the year and have been impressed with how it has fished during the summer. My Grandchildren fished there in October and had a nice net of Roach. So with nothing on locally I booked the venue for the Thursday Coffin Dodgers. I was surprised in the interest and ended up with 16 fishing. I now think the venue can take 18/19 with a bit of pruning.

I really didn’t know how it was going to fish especially with the overnight weather of gale force winds. My expectation was low for Carp but higher for Silvers. How wrong this was.

I wanted a peg with double digits. Unfortunately I let Harry Muir draw for me and handed me peg 1. I did have a good look in case he accidently tore off the second digit, alas not. This is the last and only last time Harry touches a swim card of mine. The wind has been gusting into the peg for many days so my expectation wasn’t high. So serve Harry’s right when he arrived on peg 2.

First things first happy birthday to peg 13.

I set a 4x14 to fish down the inside shelf in 6 foot of water at top-set plus three to fish maggot over GB laced with a few of the same, two 4x10 Speedy’s, one to fish to my right with Pinkie and the other to fish caster to my left. The upshot was after three hours I didn’t have a bite on the positive rigs, so went for the Banana walk. Glenn Bailey was doing the best with four Carp and Paul Barnfield best in the Silvers with three fry Roach. I went back and spent the rest of the match fishing on the Pinkie line inside the reed bed, managing 33 bites catching only seven tiny Roach.

I weighed 3oz for joint third in the Silvers with Birthday boy who thankfully finished second in the match, so I didn’t have to split the coin.

The match was won by Glenn “No Pots” Bailey (pictured upper right with some of his catch) with 54lb 6oz from peg 11. Glenn caught of various methods – Pole with soft pellet and DR’s. And the lead over to the sedges on DR’s and bread. Glenn also caught a decent Skimmer - Hybrid on the pole which landed him the double bubble. Glenn pictured right with the default Silvers winner.

I must say all the Carp caught toady were in excellent condition. 

A special well done to Mike Jones for his third overall catch of two decent Carp on his preferred Daiwa whip set-up (not for the faint hearted).

Overall it was a good day especially with the expected rain not putting in an appearance, plus it was back to the Holly Bush with the usual suspects.

Full Result:

  1. Glenn Bailey 54-06-0 peg 11
  2. Tony Rixon 17-11-0 peg 13
  3. Mike Jones 17-01-0 peg 5
  4. Ryan Jordon 16-06-0 peg 6

  1. Glenn Bailey 1-10-0 peg 11
  2. Paul Barnfield 1-01-0 peg 9
  3. Hughie Evans 0-12-0 peg 8
  4. Mike Nicholls and Tony Rixon 0-03-0 pegs 1 and 13
Weigh Sheet:

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Kennet and Avon Canal

The first time I fished the Kennet and Avon Canal (K and A) was in 1961 at the age of twelve. Dad took me and my school mate Christopher Williams to Limpley Stoke. Chris had borrowed his Granddads rod (vintage even then). We travelled by bus to Bristol Temple Meads GWR then train to Freshford. Dad couldn’t drive. I think Dad had originally planned to fish the river at Limpley Stoke but finding the river in flood took us on the Canal fifty yards down from the road bridge towards Bath (pictured upper right). Back then there were parts of the Canal around Bath that were un-navigational, with some parts completely dry, so no powered boat traffic,
rendering the Canal gin clear and very weedy. I remember catching at least one Roach on bread that day. Chris didn’t catch anything; in fact Dad had to get in the Canal to retrieve his Granddads rod top joint. Subsequently, Dad and I had a few visits to the Canal catching quality Roach on bread around the George at Bathampton. However, we needed to rove along the Canal as it was a case of one fish per swim. The best way to catch them was in between gaps in the weeds. On the way to the river at Claverton I would often stand on the Bridge over the Canal (pictured right) watching the shoals of Tench. Dad would always say “If you can see them, they can see you”. Of course Dad was right I tried a few times to catch one but always failed, with them disappearing within a few minutes.

During the late sixties/seventies the Kennet and Avon Trust started refurbishing the Canal around Bath starting with the various locks. Anglers weren’t sure about the impact this would have on catches but as we now know the increase boat traffic improved it immensely.

My first match on the Canal was circa 1975 when the Bathampton AA Christmas match was transferred from the highly flooded river. I remember drawing next to Chris Rolfe just above the George Public House back towards Bath and because of the numbers fishing around 350 we were pegged about eight foot apart! Neither Chris nor I took a prize home, both blanking.

In the early Seventies Mike Jones then Match Secretary of Bathampton AA started running evening matches at Darlington just up from the Wharf (pictured right). Mike won most of these three hour matches using punched bread with around 6lb of small Roach. He showed me how to feed white bread in brown crumb - take off the crust from the white bread, put water in the GB bowl and swish up the white bread into small particles, drain some of the water, and add brown crumb and mix together, very quick and easy. This worked well and was the forerunner to liquidised bread – or rather Liquidisers.

In the eighties the Canal became more popular for matches still normally as a reserve venue for a flooded Bristol River Avon and not a first choice. I fished a number of matches between Bath and Avoncliffe organised by the Commercial House League, Angling Times South West Winter League, Fry’s AA, The Silver Dace, King William, Golden Carp and Bathampton AA. These matches attracted between 60 and 140 anglers. During this period I was framing in a good number of theses matches.

During the late Eighties I started to fish Canal Opens where ever I could mostly Saturdays on the Beehive section (up and down from the Pub) at Trowbridge ran by Bradford AA, which were well attended by the likes of Mike Stone, Nicky Collins, Richard Chave (Rigsby) and Terry Bruton… to name but a few. At one of these matches I was chatting to Rich Coles who got me worked up talking about the Devizes AA Carnival Cup, especially the bit about the anglers who framed getting a kiss from the Carnival Queen. These matches were very popular and well attended with 250 + anglers and fished on the Devizes AA controlled K and A from Semington Bridge to Wilcot, some 15 miles of Canal. Rich also mentioned fishing some of the Devizes AA Honeystreet opens as it was fishing well for Skimmers and Bream. This I tried and loved the place learning squatt fishing for big Skimmers from great anglers like Jimmy Norris. During these matches I developed a fishing style that was to later win me some big Canal matches.

On the 2nd February 1990 the Angling Times South West Winter League was fished on the Canal from Bathampton to Limpley stoke accommodating 156 anglers. A match I won comfortably (result pictured right). This persuaded me to concentrate my open match fishing on the K and A Canal not just because of this result but finding I could do well from most pegs as opposed to what the river Avon was currently offering. I had found my niche.

One match that I remember well was the Devizes Open at Seend Park - Bowerhill, my peg being just above where a young lad was later to be badly electrocuted touching his pole on overhead power lines. I had done well enough to hope for either a frame placing or a section win catching Crucian Carp and Tench on a small home made Peacock waggler on running line over to the far bank with double red maggot. Because of the size of these matches and with limited number of scales it was customary to pass scales along sections. Your swim card clearly explained what your role would be. So after packing up knowing my section would be last to weigh I wasn’t initially worried that it was taking so long for the scales to arrive. It wasn’t long before anglers around me who I had beat were throwing back and going home. I walked along and found Rich Coles who also had also done well and agreed if I kept and eye on his kit he would walk back to HQ - The Three Magpies and get some scales. Two hours after all out we finally weighed ourselves in, plus the few others that remained. I weighed 10lb, with Rich beating me with 12lb. Glad we stayed both sneaking in the frame. Apparently we were told that a guy named Steve Jackson should have weighed us in but had packed in early leaving before the end of the match and not bothering to pass his weighing duties to the next angler! The organisers and anglers weren’t amused because all had to wait for our return. Because of the long wait I do believe the organiser may have had a couple of ciders too many.

On the 24th June 1990 I fished my first Devizes Carnival Open Match. The Devizes AA Match Secretary back then was Terry Fell who was later to become President of the NFA and is still active today with the Angling Trust. Terry fished many of the matches but never the big ones as it took a lot of effort working the results especially the team matches. In to the draw with 240 other anglers and out comes a peg which was three pounds down from the access stile at Bowerhill, a very good area for Tench and Skimmers. I had bought myself a 13 metre Trianna Grandslam Pole which was then the bees knees, very stiff – not seen anything stiffer since, strong but heavy enough to sit on when fishing long. I thought the waggler float gave the better presentation rather than the top and bottom floats on the pole so had bought some Billy Makin Canal Greys – Balsa wagglers taking 2, 3 and 4BB. The reason I found the waggler best was because of presentation during specific feeding patterns of the Tench and Skimmer/Bream. The fish feeding patterns were significantly influenced by the boat movement all along the Canal. Primarily the opening and closing of locks both up and down stream. The Canal therefore towed either from Bath or to Bath. When the Canal was still it probably would have been better to have adopted the top and bottom float, however, during these periods I only caught the odd Tench and small Skimmers. When the Canal towed from Bath which gave the most flow the fishing was the most prolific. It was best to fish over tight to the far side which was most effected by the tow, so with the waggler set well over depth and dragging through slowly (not laying on) I would catch well. When the Canal flowed towards Bath the flow wasn’t as great but could still pick off the odd Tench and Skimmer. I weighed 19lb for second overall picking up a month’s salary and that promised kiss from the carnival Queen. Nicky “The Stick” Iles got in the frame and queue expectant of a kiss from the Carnival Queen, however, she took one look at his, let’s say sugar affected teeth and offered her cheek instead!

However, I felt that Billy’s floats were a little too long, so looked initially to shorten them, not easy with balsa wood, they always ended hairy and subsequently hard to paint smooth. I then thought of using the small pieces of peacock quill we had been using with the curly line on the Bristol Avon to catch Dace off the top. So I started making my own Canal floats (pictured right), simple shotting of 2 no10’s down and the rest at the float. Main line 2lb maxima and 1 ½ lb maxima hook length to a no 20 B520 micro barbed hook. Hook baits were either single caster or more often double red maggot fished over loose fed squatts and casters – half a pint of each was always sufficient. This worked really well. Soon after I fished an open match on the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal and found myself next to Kevin Ashhurst who was using a similar float but top and bottom and no insert – just a piece of unpainted Peacock Quill.

On the 15th July 1990 I was eager to fish the Devizes Teams of Four and Steve Hutchinson and I got two teams together our team included Steve’s brother Dave Lewis. Eighty teams of four had entered 320 anglers. By now I was really confident of doing well as I had been framing on most of the Devizes mid week and Sunday matches so didn’t mind where I drew. I was drawn at Seend Park just round the bend from behind the farm, some ten pegs above the flyer everyone wanted on the outfall just above Seend Lock. I was happy because although it was narrow I was opposite a weed bed which the Tench liked to back into. Luckily there was plenty of water movement to and fro without seeing too many boats. I was soon catching Tench to 3 ½ lb and Skimmers to 2 lb. A day’s fishing never to be forgotten. Back to the Three Magpies for the result to find I had won the match with 30lb 9oz (my catch pictured right) and Team mate Dave Lewis coming second with 26lb 8oz which included a 6 lb Carp first dobbin (no change here). The Team sneaked in sixth and last in the team payout with 237 points. Two things I remember whilst waiting for the result, first I tripped over a metal tent peg and cut my shin, secondly an angler named Steve Jackson poured a bucket of water over his travelling partner Pepe Luxa (I think that’s how you spell his name) who subsequently chased Jacko around the fields with another bucket but didn’t catch him.

The following year we entered again under the City of Bristol banner and had a reasonable team draw but no likely framers. However, the match was all about the team result. I drew a peg up the lane by the side of the Three Magpies,about eight pegs up from the bridge by the bunker. A few Carp had been coming out along this part of the Canal but I choose to fish squatt and Sensa Magic GB down the track and had an enjoyable day catching small Skimmers on and off for most of the match. I weighed 8lb 4oz for mega section points. I think my catch was helped by all around me fishing over using big baits for Carp. All the team did well accumulating 208 points and were unlucky not to win instead having to settle for runners up missing the win by just 2 points!

My Son Steve and I fished a Devizes AA midweek match which was well attended and found ourselves one peg apart behind the Farm at Semington with Lee Nutland in between us. As Steve didn’t have a long enough pole to reach the far side I suggested he use the waggler and straight lead. The match proved to be very much a Bream match with the species feeding really well for half the match – I had only the one Tench in my weight of 19lb 3oz beaten into third place by Steve who was runner up with 22lb 1oz. But more important to me Lee Nutland was battered both sides by the Nicholls’s. As Steve was a poor student I sponsored his pools. Steve won just over £100 which he spent on a nice leather jacket.

 Another placing at Semington

One match that lives in my memory is one fished at Honeystreet. It was another decent size match with well over 100 fishing. I travelled to the match with then travelling partner Andy Floyd. I drew between the Chicken Sheds and the Barge Inn (pictured right). The Chicken Sheds use to hold a large shoal of Bream, but had recently moved off to pastures new. The bank was such I could get the box down into the water, which at times was essential for a 13 metre pole, but found during the match the box gradually started to sink but by adjusting my weight could keep the box level. After the match I found it hard pulling the box up from the mud and with every action there is a reaction so I sank into the mud. Finally having retrieved my box and with my back to the bank I swivelled around and put the box on the bank. A sudden pain in my lower back ensued and with my feet now well and truly stuck I had to get help from some of the drinkers from the pub to get me out. I managed to get to the pub and purchase some Aspirins which I swilled down with four quick pints of ale. This did nothing for the pain. Luckily Andy Floyd arrived and got my kit and drove me home. I sat upright for most of the night and went to the doctors first thing Monday morning. The Doctor sent me to a specialist friend of his. I just managed to get there and within 10 minutes of treatment the sever pain had gone to be replaced by a satisfying dull ache. Apparently I had dislocated my Pelvis which was put back in place with a quick wrench. The best £35 I will ever spend.

Since 1993 the K&A has gradually declined with regards the big Bream and Tench, most probably due to the increase in boat traffic and building of Marinas. However, there is still plenty of small fish to be caught especially around Bath, BUT the boat mooring is becoming a big problem for match organisers pegging a match the day before only to find boats have moved. It’s on the cards that the K&A around Bath will soon be a no go for matches due to not being to able to find enough pegs between boats. I’ve not fished the Canal since 2000 due to Dog Shit, Speeding Bikers, Walkers and inconsiderate boat owners. If the Canal fished like it did in the late 80’s and 90’s I would be first to book in.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sunday 14/01/2018 - Windmill Open - Match Lake

A friend of mine passed way last week. I will always remember our visits Trout fishing down Chew Valley. His double hauling classic fly casting always impressed me, as did his cooking. He loved his food, we always started the days fly fishing on a full breakfast cooked on a primus in the back of his van, the best I ever had, and a curry on the way home washed down with a few pints. RIP gentle giant will miss our stupid chats after a few and you driving home with one eye shut.

Less of the sentiment back to today’s fishing. A nice breakfast devoured in the company of Geoff Francis at Wetherspoons – Staple Hill. Disappointing that only seven fishing, but not surprising as the Viaduct Winter League started today – up the Silverfox’s. I went in last and pulled peg 23, happy with this as I was on the right side of the Lake. Geoff drew peg 27 AGAIN, this time he had the addition of the curse of the golden peg. Terry and his band of merry men have done a good job on refurbing some of the pegs - mine pictured right. 

With the wind near nonexistent (not a good omen here) I set up the waggler in the anticipation of catching an early Carp, a 4x16 to fish down the shelf at top-set plus three and a 4x12 to fish the margin. I fed the margin and just down the shelf both with GB laced with maggot but started on the waggler over loose fed LR’s which presented itself very well. The upshot of all these lines I didn’t have a bite. After 2 hours I walked the Lake and found three had caught with Geoff leading the charge with four Skimmers. I now regret telling geoff it would fish well today! Back in the saddle and after reflecting on a possible blank with a cup of tea, after which I dropped the cup in the maggots – end of my drinking today then. I decided to start the match again adding two more sections – two swims one at 10-o-clock to fish maggot over potted micro and maggot and one out in front at the same distance with GB laced with maggot. Another hour passed before I had my first bite a 6 oz Skimmer which shed the hook on the way back due to poor angling. Yet more poor angling ensued losing two more. After a period of calming I changed to very light elastic. This did the trick and by swapping between the two lines added the odd Skimmer and one 6oz Roach to the net.

I weighed 7lb 7oz for first overall and first in the Silver. Another double bubble and a decent pickup considering the attendance and pleasurably received from the queen of the weigh board (pictured upper right – eat your heart out Geoff, Martin and uncle Tom Cobbly…)


  1. Mike Nicholls 7-07-0 peg 23
  2. John Osborne 6-08-0 peg 25

  1. Mike Nicholls 7-07-0 peg 23
  2. John Osborne 6-08-0 peg 25
Weigh Sheet:

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Thursday 11/01/2018 - Bathampton AA Open - Bridge Pool

My first match was supposed to be Windmill Fishery last Sunday. I arrived at the fishery (driveway has been repaired - yippy) and walked up to the Lake and found that the NE wind was excruciating. Four more anglers arrive and I went home.

So today was my first match, the Bathampton AA Open Match at Hunstrete on Bridge Pool. I wasn’t surprised to see only 14 anglers booked in because the fishery is fishing so badly. Everyone knows why except the custodians. We can apparently now use micro barbed hooks, but with no limit on hook size I think is a retrograde step. It’s the big barbed hooks that does the damage. Having used barbless hooks for 20 years it was no change for me.

We all like to start the New Year with a good’un so in to the draw bag and out came counter 30. All I really wanted was a peg I could use the waggler on and this was one of them. For company I had Paul Barnfield who was on end peg 31 and Hughie Evans on 29.

Set up the waggler to fish over to the island where I anticipated I would catch some Carp and a 4x16 to fish at 11.5 metres with maggot over GB and maggot for Skimmers.

After feeding the pole line with maggots in GB and feeding DR’s over I started on the waggler with double LR’s, second cast I had a 1 ½ lb Perch, quickly followed by another. Some more feed and within seconds I had a small Carp, then a small Perch. More feed and another small scale perfect Common Carp. The swim seemed to die so tried the pole and had two decent Skimmers, before going back out on the wag. Another small Carp and a couple of big Skimmers before I went over the re-fed pole line and another big Skimmer before I lost one half way back. Even though I kept trying the pole that’s was it not another bite so stayed on the waggler and had another decent Perch, another small Carp and last cast a 10 lb beautiful Common Carp which tired me out some.

My six Carp weighed 27lb 8oz and my Silvers 11lb 14oz (5lb of this was three Perch) giving me a very welcome first match double bubble with a winning weight of 39lb 6oz. Me pictured right with my Carp net.

 Full Result:

  1. Mike Nicholls 39-06-0 peg 30
  2. Paul Barnfield 10-08-0 peg 31
  3. Chris Ollis 10-03-0 peg 10

  1. Mike Nicholls 11-14-0 peg 31
  2. Paul Barnfield 10-08-0 peg 31
  3. Chris Ollis 10-03-0 peg 10
Weigh Sheets:

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Review of 2017

With sixteen matches where I was OOO (One Out Of) picking up I thought it was going to be an indifferent year. However, it proved to be another typical year, had I managed to convert these OOO’s it would have been an exceptional year, missing out a few times by ounces. One I won’t forget is losing out to Dave Wride at Shiplate Farm by one ounce my 30lb 9oz of Roach to Dave’s 30lb 10oz of Skimmers on adjacent pegs. I did get revenge. No blanks or DNW’s this year.

I look to get about 100 matches in per year and managed that with 101. The number of anglers match fishing in my circuit has once again remained stable. It was comforting to read a report by the Environment Agency that the sell of Junior fishing licences has increased by 25% this year. Let’s hope they all haven’t had their competitive instincts taken from them at school by the “Do Gooders”

This year matches have been seriously affected by high winds. My best Silvers weight of 57lb 13oz would have been greater had the wind been less. It’s hard work presenting the Ronnie rig in gale force winds. Needless to say that my highest weight of 150lb at Windmill was also wind affected, this was on my first match on the Carp Lake, my cath made up of 1lb 8oz small Carp. This is currently the Lake record.

My average weight per match has reduced directly due to me fishing more for Silvers this year, which I will continue with next year

Started off the year fishing Ivy House the attraction being the refurbished and restocked “Old Canal” renamed Kingfisher, a venue that would suit both me and Bela. I could do my short pole thing with soft pellet/maggot catching the small stock Carp and Silvers and Bela could fish long with pellet catching the bigger Carp. One thing I soon realised was that you had to fish out the small Carp before the big Skimmers would put in an appearance, making the Silvers a late in the match affair unless your peg didn’t have too many of these tiny Carp. The van had a few double bubbles, and of course the one Sunday the van broke down resulted in a very uncomfortable ride back in the tow truck, both Bela and I had bad backs for days.

Chris Rolfe ran the Bathampton AA/Veals Thursday Silvers individual league at Hunstrete on Bridge pool, which was a very strong league of 24 which included two England Internationals proving to be a very tight league. I finished the league second overall with a little more luck on the last match I might have won it. That said I was very happy with all my draws. I drew peg 19 which I thought was going to be very hard but proved to produce the best weight of the league. Unfortunately due to the silvers fishing being so poor in the latter part of this year no one wants to fish the league next year. The fishery is a shadow of its formal self. Bathampton Committee needs to be much more commercially minded if the club is to survive.

Fished Tony Rixon’s Float only and Short pole leagues. Unfortunately due to Son Mark and Inger his German partner marrying twice (Bath Registry Office and in Nord Friesland) I couldn’t fish two of the matches but if both reserves results had counted WE would have framed. On the Short pole match in the first one I had a poor draw Carp wise, so with little chance of catching up in the overall league I fished for Silvers and picked up in all the matches. I can’t speak highly enough of Tony and he effort he puts in to these popular matches, where would match fishing be without anglers like him. Also I have to thank Steve Evans for being his scribe, amazing handwriting considering his health issues. Tony won his short pole match with Craig Edmonds aka Trig winning the float only. “Some say that he is half Russian and designed the Mosella bag-in-a-bag-in-a-bag- in-a……All I know that he catches a lot of fish.” Tony has some different venues for these leagues next year.

We had our yearly holiday at Viaduct in one of the Lodges during which I ran a Saturday 13 metre only and a Wednesday Short pole match. This year will be the same with the added addition of a float only open on the Tuesday at Avalon. I will give priority to those that fished the previous years. Dates will be published nearer the time. We all had a great time with the weather being kind. I suppose I will have to endure another of their cheese parties next year. However, Geoff Francis will I think be steering clear of “Stan” – It was funny seeing him dribble his curry down his front – matron would have been annoyed. No Tim Ford next year being replaced by Podge. Good to see Mark Tanner put in an appearance.
As per usual I fished the Viaduct Silvers league which is very popular with 52 booked in. The first couple of matches are impacted by the Carp but come the last few matches the fishing becomes harder with more traditional methods coming into play. I was satisfied with my result of 12th overall. The league was won again by “The Trig” -  “Some say that he can speak Braille and that he once stared at an orange juice box for an hour because on it was the word “concentrate”, all I know that he only drinks from cup holders”.

Todber Manor Hillview, Ash and Home Ground were new venues for me this year. I was very impressed with the whole venue, loads of Silvers and Carp. I just wish the venue was closer. Bela and I fished the pairs here this year and will be back next. I must say I had organiser Mark Poppleton in my section throughout and was impressed with his results. However, these matches need more than two sets of scales as its pitch black come the last person. The Bristol area desperately needs a decent Match venue.

Another new venue for me was Farleigh Woods a strange place and ideal setting for a Blair Witch film. The Lake holds plenty of tiny Skimmers 2-3oz with the odd 1 pounder. However, not many Carp in comparison to other fisheries. My Saturday PM drinking partner Geoff Francis has really got into commercial match fishing, and has improved significantly over this year. He certainly had Farleigh Woods carp sorted.

2018 will be Bela and my Tenth Anniversary of travelling together.

The Facts and Figures