September the 10th, 20 fished.
We all headed off to Landsend Fishery today for this, the third contest of the festival, that is without the company of one notable absentee: Don Finley had a fair scoop in the Somerset and Dorset on Saturday night and had to be carried home by Dave Richards and Paul Timms. We drew Don a peg and gave him a call pre-match, but he was already back out in Burnham-on-Sea, enjoying a wee livener.
My Saturday evening was very tame in comparison; I met everybody at the pub but sat nursing the same pint for almost three hours, unable to face any more booze after Friday evening’s excesses. Joe felt similarly weak-stomached and managed a mighty two pints, so on Sunday morning we travelled to Landsend Fishery feeling remarkably fresh.
Driving through the beautiful Somersetian countryside, we entered the village of Blackford, where we saw this place…
If I may interrupt the angling here for a brief history lesson: Hugh Sexey was an auditor of the exchequer for Queen Elizabeth the 1st and later King James the 1st, after his death his estate was bequeathed to the local community and Sexey’s hospital and school were built with the proceeds. It is a little known fact though that Hugh had an Oedipus complex, often engaging in sexual acts with his Mum, and was thus the inspiration for Prince’s hit ‘Hugh Sexey – Mother fucker’. (As a note of interest, Hot Chocolate’s ‘Hugh Sexey Thing’ had nothing whatsoever to do with the 16th century West Country pervert.)
Back to today’s events: after breakfast I had a walk around the pools with Joe, pointing out a couple of pegs we fancied and discussing tactics. Anyway, we must have been gone for quite some time as when we got back to the car park the draw was almost complete. There were just 4 pegs left in the hat, one each for me, Joe, Ollie and Tony – and when we arrived at them we were in a line on the near-side of Specimen Lake (somebody didn’t shake the hat!)
I was in a ‘section of doom’ today, in the centre of the bank, sandwiched between the two festival leaders, with a further two anglers from A section occupying the end pegs – but I was looking forward to the challenge.
Having only fished the venue once before, on a day when it had been a struggle for most, I had little to go on, but I remembered that large carp patrolled the far bank. These fish were big, wise ghost carp and proved incredibly difficult to catch. Still, I felt that going for them was the safest bet for good section points so assembled three rigs for across: a Hillbilly Grizzly .1 for fishing lassoed pellets in two holes; a Hillbilly Grizzly .2 for fishing slightly down the slope; a Hillbilly Edge Hog .3 for fishing worms on a size 14 Kaizen hook, over groundbait. I also set up a couple of edge rigs, but didn’t really expect to catch here as it was a little deep.
Through the gaps in the trees on the island, I could see both Nellie Palmer and Trevor Faulkner. I intended to use Trev as a far-bank marker, the flaw in this plan was that my bait would be spread over a 4ft area, such is the size of the man.
I’m not saying Trev is fat, but his favourite animal is a Freddo…
At 11.30 the all-in was called, I put seven or eight 6mm pellets in a cad pot, a pellet of the same size into a lasso, and shipped over to the island. Joe shipped out without a pole-mounted pot, intending to start the match feeding by catapult. Ollie set his stall out to mug an early fish. It would be interesting to see which approach worked best.
Within two minutes Joe had hooked a fish, and I wasn’t too far behind; eventually we both landed good-sized carp, but it was a real struggle. See, Landsend Fishery is poorly thought-out: there’s not enough water in the pools, the platforms are ridiculously high and the fish are just too big for a snake lake. You are forced to land hard-fighting 4lb – 15lb carp from 5ft off the water, so quite often you will scoop a fish two or three times, then fill the air with expletives as it darts out of the landing net.
Joe soon hooked his second carp, then a third, both of which were foul-hooked, and predictably he lost them as he shipped-back. I too foul-hooked fish, but just the odd one, perhaps because I was pushing my rig really tight into the far bank. Joe was definitely getting more indications though, fishing in slightly deeper water – so a proper Catch-22 situation. By now Ollie had abandoned the mugging rig and had joined us fishing across, it was real nip and tuck stuff, and at the end of the first hour we all had somewhere between 25lb and 30lb.
The second hour followed a similar pattern, we all hooked fish, but we lost a frustrating amount too. I had a particularly dispiriting battle with a huge ghost carp: a big, lean fish of around 15lb. I had him in the landing net twice, only to see him escape and tear off at a rate of knots. Just when I thought I had him subdued, wallowing gently on the surface, he spotted a log in my left hand margin and made a rapid, and ultimately unstoppable dash for it, shearing my line off just above the hooklength.
I entered the mid-way point of the contest with seven carp in the net, all decent fish so I had just over 40lb. Things were still tight between the three of us pegged in a row, but Ollie was probably just sneaking ahead.
Now, Ollie is an excellent all round angler: good on the tip, the waggler, long pole shallow, margin fishing, everything, his game is water-tight – apart from catapulting. His 6mm pellets were going all over the place: 4ft short, 5ft to the left, onto the island. He’s about as handy with a catapult as he is with a set of darts. If you had seen everybody run for cover as he stepped up to the oche on Friday evening, you would know exactly what I mean.
Into the second half of the contest and it became hard work for all of us, it was as if a switch had been flicked and the carp were suddenly unwilling to feed. When the fish shut-up-shop in this manner, people generally put it down to a drop in temperature, or a change of air pressure, or some other sudden meteorological occurrence. I have my own theory on this phenomenon; I believe the fish are a lot more canny than we give them credit for, and under the water a conversation like this often takes place:
– Did you hear about Dave?
– Who’s Dave?
– You know, big ghost carp? Lives around peg 8? Small dorsal fin?
– Oh yeh, Dave!
– So, did you hear?
– He was over by the elderberry bush on peg 9, god knows what he was doing there, that’s by-the-by. Anyway, he’s eaten a pellet and——
– What’s a pellet?
– You know, those tasty brown things, appear in the water from nowhere?
– Ahhhh, a pellet
– Yeh, so he’s eaten a pellet. Next thing, poor sod’s got a hook sticking out of his head, swimming around screaming, yards of elastic attached to him. Somebody’s only trying to pull him out of the water!
– No! Why would they do that?
– Trying to put him in a net of some description.
– A fucking net! Why?
– Because they’re sick bastards. So listen, be careful.
– Oh, I will.
– ………. Sorry, tell me again, why do I need to be careful?
– Because of Dave!
– Who’s Dave?
– For fuck’s sake! Ghost carp. Elderberry bush. Ate a pellet.
– (Eating a pellet) What’s a pellet?
Anyway, due to the plight of poor Dave, or the air pressure, or the Moon’s phases, the fishing remained very difficult until the final 45 minutes of the contest. In this spell Joe, me and Olly added a further two carp each to our totals. So Joe finished the match on 11, I ended up on 9 and Ollie was owning up to 11 (so, somewhere between 13 and 42.)
I packed my gear away and made my way around to Match Lake, where we started the weigh-in with the runaway match-winner: Eddie Swann stayed in on Saturday night, and judging by this performance he should make Match of the Day and a mug of Horlicks a regular thing.
Following the scales around Match Lake, it was clear it had fished patchy; the only weights of note being Dave Richards’ and Gary Butler’s 74lb and 72lb respectively, followed by Steve Siddell’s 68lb from a poor area.
Onto our bank of Specimen Lake and first to weigh was Tony Corbett, placing 40lb onto the scales. Next up his son, Ollie, managed a level 87lb. My 9 carp were all on the big side, weighing a surprising 64lb, beating Jody off the next peg by 4lbs. I felt for him as he had caught more fish than me, only they were a smaller stamp, there’s quite often nothing you can do about that. Still, he was breathing down the neck of our young festival leader, finishing the day on 5 points to Ollie’s perfect score of 3. Game on.
The next performance of note goes to Trevor, pegged on the poorer side of Specimen Lake. He blitzed his half of the pool, doubling the weight of the next best angler, catching all of his 60lb 4oz on meat at 2 + 2.
But today’s Man of the Match award goes to this man, Papa Timms. Val managed a fantastic weight of 56lb 4oz, well done!
Back to the beautiful Shiplate Farm tomorrow for the climax of the festival; a rover draw and plenty still to play for. It’s all very exciting…
I can’t go though without mentioning this; as we weighed in today, there was the most eerie site at Nellie Palmer’s peg…
If anybody has any clues as to Nellie’s whereabouts, please be in touch, we’re all very concerned about the moaning twat.
Until next time…