2018 started well with the first two opens - Bathampton AA and Windmill being double bubbles - Silvers and overall.
The next open match I organised at Boyd Valley Lake. It was soon obvious that the Silvers were shaking nervously in the reeds trying their best to avoid predators - primarily Cormorants. Luckily enough I caught eight fry Ronnie's to weigh 3 oz for a pick-up by default! The Carp caught were in excellent condition. I took my two 12 year old Granddaughters down there in the summer and it was quality Ronnies every put in for them.
During February I visited Plantation for two of Chris Rolfes open matches. It's a great venue especially for Silvers, coming second in the silvers with 28 lb is great fishing.
I have been going on and off to Hillview in Tewkesbury since it opened. I'm not so keen on the current summer Carp slaying, preferring instead to visit in the dead of winter when its sensible fishing. Only the one trip which through a good draw I won with a sensible 63 lb. Matey Dave Willmott was a close second. I will be back again in 2019. Keith is building another Lake behind the fourth Canal so that will be interesting - can't have too many Lakes.
Started fishing the Shiplate Thursday matches with Geoff Francis. We both enjoy fishing it's such a nice clean place to fish. Well managed by the Game Keeper "I've only got one cartridge so don't expect a warning shot" and Goldie Locks "who ate my porridge". We always stopped on the way home for a meal, mostly Brent House carvery.
April and it was time for the Todber King of the Manor Silvers final. I was in two minds whether to go. I was glad I did as I won it, beating Tony Rixon by a couple of ounces. I'm still not sure which was better the £825 pick-up or beating Tony by such an excruciating margin?
It was a question of either Huntstrete, Windmill and Shiplate for a good few matches. I then decided to fish the Todber Manor three Dayer. I felt I did well from the peg 23 at White Post, but didn't get it right for the next two days. The subsequent learning has encouraged me to try again in 2019. What a venue, suitable for the Carp Slayers and Silvers anglers - right balance of both. John Candy has got it right, then there is his pre-draw wit.
Come June Bela and I had a few trips to Ivy House fishing the two Canals. I really enjoyed fishing these, it's where I caught my two heaviest Silvers weights. Andy Lloyd has got the pools right - if you win both Silvers and overall you pick up both. Andy has constructed a new Lake named Heron and has been stocking it with various types and size of Carp - opening in April I think. Baggy always catches a few on his favoured paste or corn.
Early June is our group holiday at Viaduct. I spent the holiday chasing the Silvers which I failed miserably, often getting beat by Two Pots with his accidentals fishing paste. We are down there again this year but have another four coming taking us to ten, will miss Podge. Should be interesting trying to get ten of us in the local curry house. May have to leave the "bring our own" outside.
June also sees the start of Tony Rixons short pole and float only matches. Todber Manor was a welcome addition to both his leagues. I did well in the Short Pole picking up in every match - mainly Silvers, but did have my heaviest weight in this league nearly 200 lb. However, due to family commitments I missed three matches in the float only league, fishing three and picked up section in two, so okay. Thanks to the three anglers that stood in for me. It would be nice to actually fish them all in 2019, but already guessing the Special One is making plans for Michael.
Geoff and I had a few trips to Harescombe match Lake. We did okay, but thought the weights were down and found it a bit peggy. Still will be back in 2019, even if it's to have one of Pricey's breakfast, plus I have ran out of reading material. Then there's the friendly regulars.
I stayed local for a while fishing Ivy House, Windmill, Hunstrete and Shiplate until the Todber pairs started which I was to fish with Bela. However, due to the matches being on a Saturday Bela had too much work on, so Martin McMahan stepped in. I Did well in the first two but couldn't fish the last two because I got a bacterial infection and spent five days in hospital. The Doctors tried very hard to find out the cause but so far have failed. They are still taking blood for analysis. They even sent some to Porton Down!! As soon as the Special One agreed I was out fishing in time for the Viaduct Silvers league.
I never seem to get a decent start in this Silvers league and it was the same this year. I drew three time on Lodge and managed on one pick-up for second in section and once on Campbell for another section second. Again I has two surprise family commitments so missed two matches and blow me both reserves won their sections!
It seems that anglers are wanting to stay local especially in the winter, which is having the effect of reducing the size of matches. However, the numbers fishing matches in the South West have stayed consistent. During 2018 I have been weighing more Carp with the Silvers appearing to be reducing. I hope this is not the case.