July the 30th, 15 fished.
Today’s Wythall Royal British Legion AC contest was to be held at Lower Broadheath fishery, in Worcestershire, a venue more commonly known as The Jam Factory (because, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s located behind… a Jam Factory.) Lower Broadheath is very old as commercial fisheries go, I first heard about it in the early 90’s. At that time my angling life consisted of scratching around for blade roach on the Brum-Worcs canal, fishing Earlswood for bream and occasionally visiting Lifford Reservoir (to have my tackle stolen by glue-sniffers.) The prospect of snaring a fish that actually pulled-back, captured in idyllic surroundings, was exciting. So I persuaded my Mum to take me to the far side of Worcester – a three bus journey from Kings Norton – in search of my first ‘proper’ fish. I only caught one that day, a mirror carp of around 10lb – I can still hear Mum’s cheer as I eased this huge fish into my landing net.
Having not fished the venue for a decade, I spent much of the week leading up to the match searching for advice; trawling the Internet forums, sending out texts to friends, asking questions at the local tackle shop. I got very little back, other than that the pool is deep and the fish are big and can be moody. I couldn’t even get any concrete information regarding rules, and a text exchange with Tony Corbett did little to improve this situation…
A word of advice to any of you who might be planning a visit to The Jam Factory, as I found out today the postcode provided on the fisheries.co.uk website (WR2 6RQ) takes you to a dead-end, on a council estate in the back of Broadheath. Instead, you need to head for the Martley Road, keeping a look out for a food factory. Pull into the grounds and it’s still not straight-forward, navigating your way around fork-lift trucks and overall-clad staff earning their Sunday overtime. Keep a keen eye open when driving around the plant, I’m no Columbo, but even I spotted the odd visual clue to guide me on my way…
At 9am we gathered to draw, according to those in the know, the pegs closest to the car park are the least desirable, and the fishing should steadily improve the further down the pool you draw. Into the bag and I pulled out… 23. One out of the corner, at the wrong end of the pool; still, I’d give it a go. There were a number of fish giving themselves away when I arrived at my peg, so I didn’t feel too concerned about my draw.
For company today I had Dave Richards to my left, and ‘Big’ Trev Faulkner to my right. Calling Trev ‘Big’ is one of those ludicrous understatements, like saying Usain Bolt is quite fast or Jamie Oliver is a bit of a twat. I seem to draw next to Trevor with uncanny regularity and can only put this down to one thing: gravitational pull.
Plan of attack today was to begin my match fishing hard pellets at top kit plus one, at angles of 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock. Whilst fishing this I would ping casters out to 14m, where I had assembled 3 shallow rigs for fishing through the depths in 10ft of water. I imagined that at some point in the contest I would come back short, before spending the final hour or two fishing in the margins.
Yawn rigs for today were yawn as follows:
– Shallow 1, MW Cookie, PR36 size 18 – .15 band
– Shallow 2, 4 x 10 Preston Des Shipp dibber, PR36 size 18 – .15 band
– Deep/shallow, 4 x 12 Preston Des Shipp Maggot, PR36 size 18 – .15 band
– Short Pole, 4 x 12 Malman Rob, Super MWG size 18 – .15 lasso
– Edge rig, .3 Hillbilly Edge Hog, Kaizen size 14 – .17 (plus duplicate edge rig.)
That’s the rigs explained, you can wake up now.
For bait today I had the following: 5 pints of casters; a tub of dead maggots/2mm pellets mixed together; 6mm Coppens pellets; some worms and corn for the hook.
At 10.15 the all-in was called, I put a dozen pellets into a cad pot and shipped out onto the short pole line, a couple of lift and drops and I was soon playing my first fish of the day, a 5lb carp. Now, please forgive me for this spoiler alert, but this blog should be titled “How Not To Fish Lower Broadheath, Ash Pool”, because, after the opening five minutes of the match, I fished like an absolute moron for a full four hours and fifty-five minutes. As planned, I loose-fed casters on the long pole line whilst fishing short and within twenty minutes I saw the occasional swirl out there. I was still getting the odd indication at top kit plus one, but I couldn’t connect these into bites. At this point, I should have changed my short line bait to corn or worm, or had a play-around with my shotting – anything to give the long pole line time to settle. Instead, I slipped a caster into a band and shipped out to 14m. The swirling fish I spotted earlier turned out to be 4-6oz roach and rudd, and all I could catch despite trying depths from 1ft right down to 5ft, in a bid to see if some big fish were sitting below the feed. Bringing these small fish back a full 14m and breaking the pole down because of the fence behind me, was far from ideal. I simply wasn’t putting enough in the net, especially as Lee opposite and Trev next door were catching carp. At this point I should have either come back short or fed the long line heavier to feed-off the silvers, instead I changed the 14m line over from casters to pellets, making all the bait I’d fed redundant.
I tried the pellet line at various depths, I experimented with feeding and not feeding, slapping and laying the rig in naturally, but I entered the hour and forty-five minute stage of the match on one carp and a few measly silvers. At this point I made my next big mistake of the match: as there was some fizzing on the long line, I got up off my box and assembled a 10ft rig. I did manage to hook a few on this, so to some extent my thinking was right, but playing large fish with elastic pouring from the pole tip and 10ft of line isn’t ideal. In a 30 minute spell on the to-depth rig I hooked four, inevitably I lost more than I got out, 3-1 in favour of the carp. The final fish I hooked lead me on a merry dance, just as I got it close enough to net, lifting the pole tip to land it, my rig broke off by the elastic connector. I tackled-up another 10ft rig and hooked a couple more long, but it just wasn’t right – I was obviously foul-hooking fish over the silty bottom. So, with half of my match gone, and around 10lb in the net, I gave it up as a bad job. In hindsight, I should have chucked a lead or a little pellet feeder over this line, as there were obviously fish willing to feed on the bottom.
As lots of anglers were now catching down the edge, I took this opportunity to have a brief recce down my own margins. On my bank everybody but me had caught edge fish, on the opposite side Lee and Jim were snaring a few. Further along the far bank, Eddie Swann was struggling to catch down his inside and was now embarking on his weekly sponsored complain-athon “we’re on the wrong side of the pool”, “I’m getting neck ache”, “there’s no depth down my edges” and so on… There’s a famous Chinese proverb that goes “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Apply this to our Ed and it would go “give Eddie Swann a fish and he will eat for a day, teach Eddie Swann to fish and he’ll moan like fuck about every peg that he draws, every week, forever…” Anyway, the look down the edge proved unsuccessful, despite trying different hookbaits and experimenting with my feeding. Even if I went in with two big pieces of worm as a stand-out hookbait, I came back with a tiny silver fish, this led me to believe there were no carp present yet.
So, with just two hours of the contest remaining, and still 10lb in the net, I ventured back out long shallow. Twenty minutes of whipping the pole around like Zorro with Tourette’s yielded nothing, so I entered the final 90 minutes of the match staring at an embarrassing DNW. To my left, Dave was catching steadily, to my right Trevor was enjoying a great run of fish (is there a sound more soul-destroying in match fishing than the loud splashes of carp being played by your fellow anglers, when you can’t buy a bite?)
So, I took this opportunity to sit calmly for a moment, reflect on my match so far and do the only sensible thing in the circumstances: take a picture of myself having a big cry…
Into the final 90 minutes of the contest and, would you believe it, I caught a couple of fish (emphasis on ‘couple’.) I went back on the short pole and managed some small carp on hard pellet; another huge error made today, why didn’t I keep trying the short line? And surely meat would have been worth a go short, on one line at least.
Moving into the final hour now, and with a colossal 18lb in the net, I decided I would absolutely fill in my right margin, at just a top kit. I lashed in pellets, casters, corn and dead maggots, to hopefully replicate an angler packing away. I can’t claim that this was successful, but I did actually catch a decent fish down there, a common carp of around 6lb. I also caught a smaller fish down my left hand edge and two more on the short pole, to give me a finishing weight of around 25lb/30lb.
The final whistle blew and I felt relieved that the worst match I had fished in years had been brought to an end. I probably have a spell when I fish in this poor manner on every match I enter, such is the standard of my angling. Usually though, I counterbalance this with a period where I fish well, so it averages out. Today I fished like a compete numpty, from beginning to end, in what was a copy-book display of shoddy angling.
I hastily packed my gear away, tucked my tail between my legs, and helped Pete Holtham with the weigh in. First up was Dave Richards with a very respectable 66lb, from a poor area. After this I placed onto the scales a very-not-so-respectable 32lb, from a better area. Then we made our way around to Big Trev, who tipped 93lb on to the scales, leaving me well and truly chip-shop-sausaged – battered both sides. Pete Holtham then topped this with a great net of meat-caught carp that went 120lb. There were plenty of other decent weights, but nothing over the ton, until we got to Jim Smith who weighed in 106lb for 2nd on the day.
Today’s Man of the Match award goes to next door neighbour, BIG Trev Faulkner. A cracking display, he caught steadily all match and properly showed me how it’s done. Top angling mate!
Today’s funniest moment came mid-match, Trevor called out “I haven’t seen one of those in years” and quick-as-a-flash Smithy called back “is it your feet?” A comment full of humour and no small amount of irony, as Smithy is quite a big chap himself. Incidentally, for those of you who might be wondering what Trev “hadn’t seen in years”, it was a lovely fan-tailed carp.
A great match today, plenty of good fish caught for most on the pool and some brilliant laughs. My recent good run of form came to a crashing end – but that’s fishing.
Before I go, here’s a picture of this week’s winner, Pete ‘the meat’, top work Mr.Holtham…
Until next time…