August the 20th, 15 fished.
Today’s Wythall Royal British Legion AC contest was to be held at Tunnel Barn Farm, in the picturesque village of Shrewley, near Warwick. For this match we found ourselves on Club, which is a little different to the other pools on the complex as it holds a large head of proper carp; mirrors in the 2-5lb bracket. Those of you who have been to the venue will know that it is ‘f1 soup’ and that true carp (cyprinus carpio) are few and far between.
I had made a bit of an administrative error for today’s match. I book the venues for both of the clubs I fish in and somehow, I had arranged for both sets of anglers to be at Tunnel Barn Farm on the same day. Because I had made a good start to the season with the Hall Green HG Club (three wins, three thirds), I chose to fish with Wythall RBL today, as I had some ground to make up on Tony Corbett and Graham Green at the top of the league. It was a bit of a lose-lose situation really, as I expected a fair amount of stick from the members of whichever club I decided to ‘abandon’.
With 15 fishing today I expected the pool to be a little pressured, and for weights to be affected accordingly. I felt that 60lb would be a good target and likely to produce a top 3 finish, 80lb would be there or thereabouts to win the contest (although the right angler on the right peg could record a far bigger weight.)
The only pegs I didn’t fancy occupying for this one were the three lowest numbered: 1, 3 and 4. One of the corner pegs at the top of the pool would be favourable, or failing this somewhere in the 20’s.
So, at 9 o’clock we gathered in the café to draw; I held up the bag as this motley band of rogues and malcontents made their way to have a dip…
Some good anglers had found themselves on strong pegs for this one: Joe Wood on 11, Graham Green on 20 and Jim Smith on 23, to name 3. It was soon my turn to have a go and peg 17 came out of the bag – not a brilliant area but I was happy to be drawn on the wider side of the pool, with a bit more water to go at.
I was in good company for today’s contest: on neighbouring peg 16 I had painter and decorator and club tannoy, Eddie Swann; on 19 I had retired dustbin man and international playboy, Danny Hamilton.
Plan of attack today was to begin the match fishing pellets across to the far-bank reeds, while fishing this I would prime a track line with maggots – I’d brought a gallon with me in the hope of drawing in other angler’s fish. I also plumbed up two pellet lines on just a topkit and set up a rig for fishing corn over pellet down the left hand edge.
Rigs for the occasion were as follows:
– Pellet deck rig, Malman Roob 4 x 12, B911 18 – .13 lasso
– Tapping/slapping rig, Korum Blob, B911 18 – .13 lasso
– Maggot deck rig, Des Shipp Maggot 4 x 12, B911 18 – .13
– Maggot mid-depth, Des Shipp f1 shallow 4 x 10, B911 18 – .13 band
– Maggot shallow, Des Shipp dibber 4 x 10, B911 18 – .13 band
– Jigger, Preston Jigga, B911 18 – .13 band
– Edge rig, Hillbilly Grizzly .2, B911 16 – .13
At 10.15 the all-in was called, I potted in a small amount of maggots down the track and threw a couple of handfuls over the top to find my range. I then shipped out with the tapping rig, found a likely looking hole in the far bank vegetation and proceeded to slap and tap the water’s surface bringing it into a bubbly froth. Within two minutes I snared my first fish of the day, a mirror carp of around 3lb. The opening period of the match continued in much the same manner, pushing my rig into rat-holes or tight to the reeds. I finished the opening hour with 6 carp and 3 f1s for around 25lb.
Because I was catching steadily across, I thought it made perfect sense to continue with this, giving the fish time to gain confidence over the loose-fed maggot line – but one small carp and one f1 in the following half an hour left me reaching for the maggot deck rig.
I was convinced that the track line would be solid, I had accurately fed around two pints of maggots on it since the match began, but despite trying various rigs through the depths, one f1 was all I had to show for my efforts. In fact, I was so convinced that the fish would be queueing-up over the maggots that I re-plumbed my rig (Tony Corbett had messed around with my floats pre-match) and was amazed to find that it was spot-on. As I shipped back after plumbing-up, I became a little distracted watching Eddie fishing up the far shelf, I swung the plumb-it into me, took my eye off it, and it cracked me in the teeth. It was bloody sore, but fortunately my Washwood Heath are all intact – lesson learned.
My next port of call was a brief look fishing pellets on the short pole, but this produced nothing, so it was back over to the reeds to tap and slap my life away…
Although tapping was nowhere near as productive as it had been in the opening hour of the match, it kept me ticking over, and I added around 10lb to my tally, giving me approximately 40lb with two hours of the contest remaining.
The interesting thing I found fishing across was that feeding any bait was counter-productive, the trick was to make a lot of noise and attempt to antagonise a fish into taking the solitary pellet.
After spotting a few swirls on the maggot line, I had a twenty minute stint fishing shallow there. Again, this line was poor, producing just one fish. I begrudged giving them any more freebies and anyhow it was obvious that negative feeding was the way to approach today’s match, so my remaining 4 pints of maggots were poured back into a bag, ready to be frozen.
Down on peg 14, club aggregate leader Tony Corbett was now catching well – and things seemed to be close between Eddie Swann, me, Danny Hamilton and Graham Green, all pegged in a line. I needed to make things happen if I wanted to get ahead, so I resorted to something I quite often do in this situation: I gave each of my lines/methods a timed ten minutes. Catch a fish on a method though and it ‘earns’ itself a further ten minutes. The first tactic I would employ would be hard pellet at full-depth to the far-bank cover. I was a little reluctant to fish this way, as Eddie had foul-hooked a lot of carp fishing in a similar manner. I felt that if I could keep my feeding steady though and leave the catapult on the side-tray, I might be okay. This proved correct to some extent, as I managed a few extra fish to add to the tally (with only one foul-hooker), giving me around 50lb with an hour remaining.
At this point I fed my left hand margin with a third of a pot of micro pellets and a few grains of corn.
Into the final hour of the contest and I managed to keep a few fish coming by rotating lines. As it had been all match, tapping to the far bank was a safe bet, and a further couple were snared down the margin on corn. The edge fish were incredible spooky; they would come in, feel my shot or line rub against them and bow-wave out of the swim.
On neighbouring peg 19, Danny Hamilton was having a productive spell, but on 20 Greeny had slowed up a little after a fantastic start to the contest. On peg 16 Eddie was now beginning to bore a few onto the hook, this is a method he has perfected over many seasons on the bank and involves describing the finest details of a rig he used 3 years ago in a monotone Brummie accent until all of the fish in his peg literally lose the will to live and float to the surface. Then, Eddie will scoop the fish into his waiting landing net. Once in the net he will complain that either A: they’re too small, or B: they turned up too late.
At 3.15 the all-out was called, I was fairly happy with how my match had gone. I definitely would have caught a few more fish if I had concentrated my efforts fishing to the far bank, but I felt it was necessary to explore my other lines. I believed that I had a little more in the net than my immediate neighbours and had probably achieved my pre-match 60lb target.
I packed my gear away and made my way around to the weigh-in, already some good weights had been recorded. On peg 9 Pete Holtham returned 50lb dead, on peg 11 Joe Wood managed 66lb, many of which were caught on the tip.
Next weight of note came from peg 14 where Tony Corbett plonked 63lb on the scales, most of his fish were caught in the latter half of the match. Along to Eddie Swann who was owning up to 48lb on the clicker and around 5lb of silvers, his nets went exactly 53lb – good estimating, Ed! Next up it was my turn, my first net went 38lb and my next net also went 38lb, giving me 76lb to take the lead on the day. My weight was more than I’d imagined it would be, probably due to my net containing a lot of mirror carp, in fact I probably had 50lb of these fish and just 26lb of f1s. Onto peg 19 and Danny Hamilton weighed 42lb; next along though was top angler and dark horse Graham Green. Although he assured me I had caught more than him, I had a suspicion it would be close, and so it proved, Graham’s fish went 74lb, giving me the lead by just under 2lb. I was told there wouldn’t now be a weight to trouble mine and this was correct, 59lb being the next best net, albeit from a poor area.
Today’s Man of the Match award goes to Ollie “Ronnie” Corbett, with 59lb from peg 4 – he was owning up to just 25lb. Although I agree with Dave Richard’s sentiments when he read the scales and called to Ollie ‘you couldn’t lie straight in bed, you little twat’, there’s no denying it was a good performance from a poor peg. Well done, mate.
I had to laugh as we weighed-in Danny Hamilton today. See, Dan is what you’d call a little ham-fisted, he’s broken several number 4 sections and a number 7 on his Daiwa G50 in recent weeks, it’s now a proper ‘Trigger’s broom’ of a fishing pole. Somebody called over to Dan, ‘Broken anything today mate?’ and, as he lifted his keepnet out of the water he proudly called back ‘no, nothing whatsoever’, then the bottom ring of his net snapped clean in two. Poor Dan!
A cracking day out in the late-Summer sunshine today – and a few fish caught by all.
Before I go, here’s a shot of this week’s lucky winner…
Until next time…