April the 23rd, 17 fished.
Today’s Hall Green Home Guard A.C. match was to be held on Tunnel Barn Farm, Extension Pool. The weather looked great for late April: 17 degrees, a light breeze – perfect.
The previous day’s Open contest had been held on Extension (and New) and it had fished brilliantly, with several weights over the ton. Whilst this gave us hope that the fish were finally having a munch after a long winter, it also made us think that it might not fish well for two consecutive days.
Before the match I said I didn’t fancy pegs 17 or 33 to produce, but would be happy with 21, 22 or 9. Into the manky hat of dreams and I pulled out 21. A lovely peg by anyone’s reckoning. So, to the echoed shouts of “lucky sod”, “drawbag” and a few other things I shouldn’t repeat, I made my way to my home for the next five hours.
Peg 21 has an island at 16.5m, a lovely, long reed-lined left edge, and an expanse of slightly deeper open water, also to the left. My plan was to start long to the island with pellets while I fired casters 12-13m into the open water; I’d have a few on pellets, then a shed-full on caster, before finally going down to my left and catching two shed-fulls in record time… easy! (Not quite).
For the anoraks out there – those who appreciate the minutiae – rigs for the day were as follows:
– 15m, slope, Hillbilly Grizzly .3, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– 16m, just off island, Hillbilly Grizzly .2, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– caster shallow, deeper rig, Hillbilly Rat-catcher 2, 18 B911 – .11, band
– caster shallow, MW Cookie, 18 B911 – .11, band
– short pole, Malman Roob 4 x 14, 18 B911 – .11 lasso
– edge rig, Hillbilly Edge Hog .3, 18 B911 – .13
On my side tray I had a pint of 4mm pellets, a pint of micros, some worms and 4 pints of caster. I also had some Worm Fishmeal groundbait which I planned to feed in small balls along the margin to my left.
You will also see that I have a shabby, paint-splattered radio on my side-tray. This was my late father’s work radio; just turning it on, hearing the crackle and fizz of the analogue frequencies reminds me of him, the warm buzz of his Brummie voice. I hoped that it might bring me some luck as I listened to today’s 2nd city derby but alas, the Villa won 1-0 and left us peering over the brink. We’re playing rubbish football, if Dad hadn’t been cremated he’d be turning in his grave – I suppose he’ll have to turn in his urn.
10.15 and the “all in” was called. I shipped-out to 15m and tapped a few 4mm’s onto my slope rig. A couple of lift-and-drops and my float shot under – nothing. I catapulted a few 4mm’s over the same line and again the float shot under – nothing. 3rd time the float disappears and it’s “fish on”, unfortunately this one is foul-hooked. I then decided to venture over into shallower water at 16m, this was definitely better but still I was pricking as many fish as I hooked cleanly. In hindsight I should’ve either put on a dolly butt and gone into the shallowest water, or flicked over the odd 6mm at 16m, as the 4mm’s were bringing too many fish into the peg. This was the first mistake I made of many on the day, as I fished long to the island for over an hour for just 10lb of fish. In this time, Ian Gibson on 22 had put around 30lb in the net fishing steadily at 2 + 2 in 5ft of water (I didn’t expect them to be so deep).
A change was called for at this point as, although it was early days, my match was slipping away. Over on peg 9 Jo Wood was having a few slapping and tapping pellets to the pots. I decided to fish pellets on just a top kit while I pinged a shallow caster line at 13m. This proved to be a good move; I caught 4 or 5 f1s in a twenty minute spell, all the while priming my caster line. When I went out with the caster rig I caught steadily, if not spectacularly, until there was an hour to go. The MW Cookie being the best float for the job.
All match I had fed the left hand edge with little nuggets of groundbait laced with chopped worm, and the odd handful of caster. I finally went on it with an hour to go, immediately catching fish – they were obviously there in great numbers as the float was pulling this way and that and going round in little circles. Inevitably, foul-hooking fish again became a problem. I felt that the 3ft I had there was too deep, so I took the decision to fish shallow down the edge with caster. The last 45 minutes went by in a blur of white elastic. With half an hour to go I set myself a challenge of catching 8 fish – I actually managed 16 for 20/25lb. It was one of those days when it felt like the “all out” was called too soon.
I packed my gear away and followed the scales around, helping out with the weighing in. There were two 50lb plus weights in the high 30’s, then Jo Wood took the lead with a very respectable 68lb. Up the dodgy, narrow arm there was a 37lb and a 44lb. When the scales got to me I managed 97lb – I knew I should’ve caught a lot more. I understand that commercial fishery weights are often unrealistic, I mean 97lb is almost 7 stone – the weight of a fat kid, or a skinny adult. I just felt that a “proper” angler would have caught 140-150lb from the peg in those conditions. I got so much wrong: I should have gone on the margin line much earlier (mid-match, perhaps), I should have started on a top kit, the 15-16m lines should have been somewhere to go if all else failed.
As it stood, my 97lb was enough to win the match. Next door Ian Gibson put 72lb on the scales for 2nd place. He later informed me that this was his new match PB, this surprised me as he’s a tidy angler, if he hadn’t suffered a quiet spell mid-match there would have been little between us. If he keeps fishing like that he’ll soon do the ton.
Today’s Man of the Match award goes to “Dangerous” Dave Law with 44lb from unfancied peg 17, well done mate!
Funniest moment of the day has to be Moggy, still half-cut from a heavy Saturday night, unknowingly casting his feeder up a tree, waiting patiently for not so much as a nibble from a squirrel.
A lovely fishing contest today, spent in good company. We returned an average weight of 49lb per man. This may not sound like much, but to continue an earlier theme, that’s almost 3 and a half stone, which is an obese four-year-old, or a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Or just a lovely bag of golden f1s.
Until next time…