September the 17th, 14 fished.
Back to Woodland View Fishery in rural Worcestershire today, for this, the penultimate contest of the Wythall Royal British Legion AC season. Things at the top of the aggregate table were very close going into this one, with just a single point separating me, Tony Corbett and Graham Green.
For the second time this season we would be fishing sibling pools, Hay and Barley. I was desperate to avoid a draw on the low numbers of Hay, not solely due to it being a poor area, but because I fancied a change of scenery having been on peg 4 once and peg 2 twice in my previous three visits.
Unusually for me, preparation was a little lax for this contest, I tied a dozen hooklengths and a couple of edge rigs one evening, but everything else was left to chance – to the extent that I actually arrived at the fishery with no bait. So, as soon as I parked up I made my way to the onsite tackle shop, ‘Peg 1’, to buy a bag each of 2mm, 4mm and 6mm pellets and a couple of tins of corn. Graham Green was already in the shop, picking the brains of sales assistant and open regular, Tony Whitcher. I stood by with eager ears, as Graham was given the following information: start on the tip; try the short pole; draw in the middle of a pool – preferably Hay; don’t go down the edges too early. Sound advice.
At 9am we met in the cafe to draw, I found myself at the back of the queue because I had been chatting to an old friend. As I made my way to the front of the line, lots of anglers were coming back with low-numbered disks; I was happy they were out of the box before it was my turn.
Pete Holtham came back down the line grinning, he had drawn the same peg for the 3rd consecutive year – and a good one at that in Hay 20.
Once it was my turn for a dip, I plucked Hay 11 from the box; very happy with that, the right area on the right pool. On arrival at my home for the next five hours I was happier still, as I had two spare pegs either side of mine.
Plan of attack today was to gently feel my way into the match, not committing to anything foolish feeding-wise following the first cold nights of autumn. I gave myself a target of 50-60lb, believing that this would secure me a top 4 finish. I hoped to go into the final contest of the season at Packington Somers still in touch with Graham and Tony at the top of the table.
For company today I had Steve Siddell to my left on peg 14…
On peg 8, to my right, was ‘Big’ Trevor Faulkner. I draw next to this man with extraordinary frequency, an occurrence so irregularly regular it goes beyond mere statistical improbability. I believe gravitational pull brings us into this infinite juxtaposition; I’m like a dwarf planet caught in the orbit of a great gas giant…
The last time I drew next to Steve and Trevor, I was on the wrong end of a sound beating, if I was to exact any kind of revenge today I knew I would have to fish well.
Rigs for the task were as follows (a proper kitchen sink job):
– Pellet feeder; Preston 10ft Mini Carp, Map ACS 4000, 25g Preston in-line pellet feeder, .QM1 18 – .17 lasso
– Bomb; Preston 10ft Mini Carp, Map ACS 4000, 1/3 oz lead, QM1 16 – .19 band
– Waggler; Map Parabolix 11ft, Map ACS 3000, 4g Preston Durawag, PR36 18 – .15 band
– Short pole; MW Slim 10 x 11, B911 18 – .15
– Long pole deck; Malman Roob 4 x 14, B911 18 – .15 lasso
– Long pole shallow; MW Cookie, B911 18 – .15 lasso
– Edge 1 (left); Hillbilly Grizzly .1, B911 16 – .15
– Edge 2 (right); Hillbilly Grizzly .2, Kaizen 14 – .17
As I assembled the above rigs I found it hard to concentrate, as Wythall Amateur Horticultural Society set to work around me. Basically, this involves Graham Green and Dave Richards hacking away any bit of foliage, fauna and plant-life in their vicinity, until their pegs resemble a moonscape. Not content with clearing his margins of all attractive-looking greenery, Graham set to work on the far-bank, where a little hole was hacked for him to cast in a pellet feeder.
For a change, I was tackled-up and ready early for this one, and as I sat waiting for the match to begin, Graham Greene came down for a chat. Noting how much room I had and how fishy the peg looked, he remarked that “you’d have to be a complete twat to fuck it up from here.” Although I was well aware of an element of gamesmanship at play, as Greeny attempted to apply some pre-match pressure, I also knew that he was right, I’d drawn ‘cock-on’ and if I failed to compete it would be nobody’s fault but my own.
At 10.30 the all-in was called, I shipped out to top kit plus one to see if there were any early mug fish to be had. I fed just half-a-dozen pellets though a cad pot and lowered a 4mm expander in amongst them. Within 20 seconds my float dipped sharply and I was into my first fish of the day – a carp of around 2lb. Three similar-sized fish followed in a fifteen minute spell before bites dried up, but with an early 8lb in the net my contest was underway.
I then gave the pellet feeder a go, throwing a little 25g Preston ‘shovel’ tight to the far bank. Sport was steady, I would wait a little longer than is ideal for a bite, but kept adding odd fish to my net. Rather than a stand-out bait, a 4mm fishery pellet presented in a lasso accounted for most of the bites on this set-up.
Around a quarter of the match in, bites began to dry-up on the pellet feeder. I had been pinging 6mm pellets on a line off to my left, tight to the far bank. I threw the lead and this was no good – not even producing a liner, so I reached for the waggler rod. I had a pleasant forty-five minute spell on this; it was incredibly hard to present right, but when the float was cast in such a way that it landed gently, tight-in to the reeds, I was almost guaranteed an indication of some sort. I added five fish to my total on this method, only giving it up because good presentation was so difficult to achieve.
Into the third hour of the contest and word on the bank was that it was fishing hard, with many anglers owning up to just 3 or 4 fish – there was even a suggestion that people might be struggling because Dave the Ghost Carp had been captured (see ‘Landsend – Day 3 of Festival’ blog). At this point in the match I fed a small amount of 4mm pellets onto my 13m line, then threw the pellet feeder back out. I snared two fish in ten minutes on the tip, then took the opportunity to have a look on the long pole. This line was surprisingly good; by fishing a lassoed 6mm pellet amongst a dozen kinder-potted 4mms, I never waited long for a bite, adding ten small carp/f1s to my net in a 45 minute period.
Because I had suffered with a few false indications on the long pole, I made the decision to have a ten minute look shallow. Before doing this I fed a quarter of a pot of 2mm pellets down the tempting-looking margin to my left. I caught nothing shallow, despite playing around with depths and laying the rig in either naturally or with a ‘slap’. Looking down my left hand edge I noticed the water had muddied-up. There were no swirls or tail-patterns, but something had definitely been in for a munch.
I put a 6mm expander pellet onto the lighter of my two margin rigs, a few micros into a cad pot, and went for a recce down my left edge. Within a minute I lifted into a little ‘dink’ on my float and the first margin fish of the day was subdued, a mirror carp of around 4lb. I stayed on this line for much of the following hour, feeding micros and fishing either a 6mm expander, double 4mm expander, or double dead maggot over the top. I got into a lovely little rhythm, feeding just enough to draw a couple of fish in at a time, without creating ‘carnage’ in my peg. I felt like I was fishing and feeding this line well, the polar opposite to my customary mid-match melt-down; my performance was so polished in fact, that I was tempted to get up off my box and watch myself (okay, it wasn’t that good.)
Into the final forty-five minutes of the contest and I had my first quiet spell, having waited a while for a bite down the left edge, I pushed my peg, feeding half a pot of micros. This killed the swim; I tried my right hand edge, fishing a heavier rig over larger quantities of feed, but this was far slower than the margin I had fed frugally. Still, I managed a couple more fish from each edge line in the final period of the contest, giving me a fitting end to a really lovely day’s fishing.
It was hard to estimate my weight as I had caught small ‘bursts’ of fish all day, but I was confident I had more than the 50-60lb I set myself as a target. As I chatted to my fellow anglers whilst packing away, it was clear it had been a lot harder than previous club matches on Hay and Barley, with many anglers owning up to just 25lb-30lb.
We started the weigh in on Hay peg 3, where Chris Chance put 14lb on the scales, closely followed by Greeny’s 4 carp for 19lb. Next along was my neighbour, Trevor Faulkner with 49lb. It was soon my turn, and my first net bottomed the scales out, going just over 50lb, this tallied up with my following two weighs gave me 108lb – a lot more than I’d anticipated. On peg 14, Steve Siddell tipped 56lb on to the scales, then the next weight of note was Pete Holtham’s 68lb from his 2nd home, peg 20.
On the adjacent Barley, it had fished harder than Hay; Dave Richards winning the pool with 54lb, beating next door neighbour Danny Hamilton’s 49lb. Club aggregate opponent Tony Corbett managed just 7 fish for 38lb. Tony does very well on Hay and Barley, usually winning or framing, I think his weight is a good indication of how the venue had switched-off following the recent cold-snap.
So, with a great draw and a bit of good-fortune, I’d won the contest – with a little bit to spare.
Now, for the anoraks among you, here’s the weigh-sheet in full…
This week’s Man of the Match award goes to… me. Of course it doesn’t – it goes to this fine man, Danny Hamilton, well done mate.
A cracking match this week, the most enjoyable I’ve had in a long time. Of course it helps if you draw on a few fish, and I’ve been lucky in that respect.
As is customary, we finished the day off with a couple of drinks in The Robin Hood, where Peter Holtham and Nellie Palmer kept us “entertained.” This involved them bickering about the organisation of the fishing club circa 1972, a vague disagreement regarding past members, a game of ‘who is/isn’t dead?’ and several other barked declarations and blind assertions. The fact that both parties were completely unencumbered by facts only served to make it more hilarious.
Until next time…