July the 23rd, 14 fished.
Today’s Hall Green Home Guard AC contest was to be held at bagging Mecca Boddington Reservoir, in Northamptonshire. Fifteen anglers made the trip down the M40 for this, our sixth match of the season, and the quarter final of the club knockout. 5 anglers were left in the competition, 4 of whom would make it through to the next round at Elmbridge fishery – we all hoped to avoid suffering the indignity of being the one angler dumped out at the quarter final stage.
In the weeks leading up to the match, weights had been consistently high at the water, so we were all anticipating a good day’s fishing. I believed that the club record (139lb) would be bettered today, and the biggest fish of the season prize would probably go too (11lb 6oz, so far). It was also likely that one or two of the 14 fishing would set new pb’s as, according to the Fisheries.co.uk Boddington page, ‘every angler is virtually guaranteed to weigh in with 70lbs.’ (We’ll see about that.)
Travelling partner Jo Wood picked me up for this one, which was a good job as I was a little worse-for-wear after a brilliant (but heavy) drinking session with my wife on the Saturday evening. Before we embarked on our 35 mile trip we visited The Stables in Illshaw Heath for a spot of breakfast, where we met up with Moggy and Kev ‘Dicky’ Dickinson. If I thought I was suffering after my boozy session, I needn’t have worried, as Dicky was in some state. Following the old adage of ‘what makes you bad makes you better’, he stoically ordered himself a pint of cider to go with his full English breakfast. This was at 7am!
A delicious breakfast was promptly despatched, then we set off to Boddington Res’. It’s a good idea to arrive early when fishing Boddy, particularly if you have booked the high numbers as it’s a fair walk – today we had 80 all the way around to 108, up in The Sanctuary. Also, there’s a steep slope to contend with leading up to the pathway, it’s best to go up it as a team-of-three, like so…
With 14 fishing and 28 of the best pegs on the Reservoir to choose from, I didn’t really mind where I drew today. I felt that Mark Seaborn and Steve Wheeler would be the men to beat; Mark does a lot of specimen hunting and intended to attack his peg with a ‘spod’; Steve likes his pinging/bomb fishing and has a knack of making it work.
At 9.15 we gathered to draw, into the bag and I pulled out 4, permanent peg 87. I was happy enough with that… and happier still when I was told it was the golden peg! When Steve Wheeler drew end peg 81 and Mark Seaborn drew the opposite end peg 105, I felt we were all up against it.
For company today I had Waggler Man and all round good bloke Carl Inman, to my left. To my right I had Old Christmas Face himself, the legendary Brian Fowler. If the fishing was poor, at least I would spend my day in good company.
Plan of attack today was to start on a Guru hybrid feeder over a pinging line, if this failed to produce I would switch between a waggler, feeder and bomb for the first hour. If this also failed to give up any fish, I would be left with no option than to chuck long.
The pole was left at home for this contest and it was a 4 rod job, I tackled-up the following:
– Hybrid/Method, 10ft Mini Carp, 4000 MAP ACS reel, 28g Hybrid feeder, 12 QM1 – .22, bayonet
– Bomb, 10ft Mini Carp, 4000 MAP ACS reel, 2/3oz bomb, various hooklengths tied to – .22
– Pellet Waggler, 11ft Middy 4G Baggin’ Waggler, MAP ACS 4000 reel, various wagglers, 14 Super MWG – .22 lasso
– Long range bomb, 12ft Matrix Carpmaster Method, 5000 Preston PCR reel, 1oz bomb, 12 QM1 – .22 bayonet
Bait for the day was very simple: some 2mm pellets and groundbait for the method, an assortment of wafters, boilies and pellets for the hook and 15 pints of 8mm Coppens pellets to catapult in. I like to feed heavily on larger venues, and at 65 acres Boddington fits that description. I believe that on big bodies of water the carp move around like a huge herd of cows, grazing on pellets. If you feed heavily, at some point the fish will come to you, if there’s a bit of bait there they will more than likely stay put. Also, if your neighbouring anglers aren’t as busy with the catapult as you are, you can draw their fish in. Just in case fishing became difficult, I also brought some PVA bags, filled with pellets and crushed boilies; if it came to it, I could attach a bag to a lead and throw it half way to the horizon.
At 10.30 the all-in was called, I catapulted 3 pouches of 8mm’s to around 25m and chucked my hybrid feeder and washed-out yellow wafter combo over the top. Around five minutes later my tip slowly pulled around and, after a brief battle, a 6/7lb carp made its way to my net. My next cast proved fruitless, but I kept pinging away and threw the lead over the same line, but had no bites on this either. 30 minutes in and with one fish in the net, I decided to give the waggler a go – down on peg 95 Jo Wood was already playing his 4th fish, all caught on the wagg’. It took a bit of work, casting and twitching, but I soon caught my second fish of the day, a bigger sample of around 9lb.
Into the second hour and it was proving difficult to hook a fish, there were lots of big carp coming through 25/30m out, often with their backs out of the water. I tried various depths, different types of float, casting in and around my feed, but none of it worked. On neighbouring peg 85 Carl Inman was having a torrid time, inexplicably losing fish as he brought them back and cracking-off on the strike.
At this point I had a little brainwave, on previous matches I’ve seen fish cruising close to the surface but shying-away from the waggler – presumably because so much of the float is submerged. So, I attached a candle to my bomb rod and gave this a chuck: two good fish in as many casts followed, making me think that I had it cracked and that I might be on for a big weight, but a biteless fifteen minutes left me clipping the bomb back on.
Sport on the bomb was steady but unspectacular, I managed 3 fish in an hour: one on double pellet and two fishing an orange wafter and PVA bag just past my feed. I didn’t get liners between bites, or any signs there were fish present, one minute my tip would be completely still, the next it would wallop around.
Into the second half of the match now, and with seven carp in the net all was to play for. I was still a couple of fish behind Jo Wood, and Steve Wheeler was three in front. I felt that if I continued to feed heavily and kept things simple, at some point I would have a good spell.
On peg 85 Carl Inman was now catching a few on the waggler, and next door Brian Fowler snared his first fish of the day, a 10lb common. Well, it was 10lb when he hooked it, but when he landed the poor thing 42 minutes later it had lost a considerable amount of weight.
I decided to spend the next hour pinging pellets and swapping between the waggler and the bomb, there were enough fish being caught at close quarters to make me convinced that I didn’t need to chuck long. Although I had no problem hooking fish in this period, getting them out was another matter. I lost 4 of 7 fish hooked in this hour, although the ones I landed were a fair size. Experience tells me that it’s quite normal to lose fish when they are such a size; with double-figure fish that are often hooked lightly, the occasional hook-pull is inevitable. When you lose two or three on the bounce it’s important to keep your head and concentrate on hooking the next one.
With 90 minutes of the contest remaining I had caught up with Jo Wood, but ‘End Peg’ Wheeler was now pulling away from the chasing pack, doing what he does best: masterfully bollocking pellets all over his swim with a catapult, waiting for his rod to be dragged in. I managed a couple of decent fish in the next half an hour, one on the bomb and one on the waggler, taking me into the final hour of the contest on 12 carp for around 80/85lb.
With an hour to go, I felt that there were a lot of fish present in my peg that I wasn’t catching, so a switch back to the waggler was in order. Ian Gibson on peg 83 was having a great spell on this method, so it only seemed sensible to follow suit. This proved to be a great decision; I managed 5 carp in the final hour of the match, 4 of which were double figure fish.
As the final whistle blew, I couldn’t be sure what weight I had, I reckoned on around 16 fish at 8lb each, so somewhere between 125lb and 130lb. I imagined that this would be there or thereabouts, but when I called up to Steve to see how he’d fared and he replied with ‘I lost count’, I was left hoping for 2nd place.
I’d thoroughly enjoyed my match, it was a change to catch such big fish in a lovely environment. Although the fish aren’t ‘wild’ as such, as they were stocked to be fished for, they have freedom and can move away from angling pressure should they wish to do so. I also enjoyed ringing the changes today, doing those little things that can earn you another indication, which is important when you’re only looking for three or four bites an hour.
I packed my gear away (easy with just the 4 rods) and made my way to the weigh-in. The first few anglers had already plonked their fish on the scales, and club stalwart Dave Coyne was leading the way with 69lb. Surprisingly, Mark Seaborn posted a DNW, although he was the first to admit that he got it wrong tactically and that at just 3ft, his peg was probably too shallow for ‘spodding’. Next up was Jo Wood, after a lightning start his bites dried up for him and he finished with 63lb. After this there were two weights in the 50’s until Brian next door managed 39lb. Now it was my turn, I got my first-half-of-the-match net out: 7 carp for 52lb. I got my next net out and it was noticeably heavier, some of the waggler fish were absolute lumps, after a few weighs my total was given as 143lb. On 85, Carl Inman placed 67lb on the scales – it would have been so different had he not lost his first 6 fish. Round to Ian Gibson on peg 83, who came agonisingly close to his first ever ton with 98lb (it’s only a matter of time, mate). Lastly it was The Pinger, Mr. Wheeler: I gave him a hand up with his net and it was clear that he had caught plenty, but his fish were quite a small stamp. His first weigh went just over 50lb, and his second just under 50lb, giving him 100lb 8oz and second place in the match. I was happy to have won (from the golden peg) and relieved to have made it through the knockout. Also, my predictions were correct: the club record was beaten by 4lb and the biggest fish of the season was captured, Dave Coyne landing a 14lb 4oz specimen.
Today’s Man of the Match award goes to Dave Coyne, if I could give him two awards I would. He easily navigated his way through to the semi-final of the knockout, beating the anglers either side of him and finishing 4th on the day, all of this despite breaking his landing net pole mid-match and using a telescopic bank-stick instead. What a guy!
I was so convinced I hadn’t won today, I didn’t bother with a catch-shot. Me and Dave had a picture taken with a few of Steve’s fish instead…
Today’s funniest moment came at the weigh-in, as we arrived at Steve Wheeler’s peg Mark Seaborn noticed that he was wearing flip-flops and announced that ‘you want to weigh those big toes in Steve mate, they’re fucking huge!’ Apparently, it was the first time he’d worn flip-flops; I can see why – and let’s hope it’s the last. They only cost him 99 pence – Steve, if you’re reading this I’ll give you £1 to put your flip-flops in the bin. I’m not saying his feet are ugly but… okay, I am saying that, see for yourself.
A cracking day today, sat out by a lovely big reservoir, hungover and happy…
Until next time…