October the 8th, 17 fished.
A healthy turn-out today, for this Wythall Royal British Legion AC contest, at the picturesque Packington Somers Fishery in Warwickshire. This would be the last match of the club season, and if my calculations were correct I had won the club aggregate with a contest to spare. The standard of angling in the Wythall club is high, many members fish open contests and club matches are always competitive affairs, for this reason I felt pleased to have won the league for a third consecutive year – but, as Dave Richards quite bluntly pointed out, the most I could expect to receive for my efforts was a little kudos, something he wasn’t prepared to dole out willy-nilly:
“What do you get for winning the averages, Dan?”
“… errr, nothing mate.”
“Nothing! That’s what I got for coming 6th – fuck all. Hardly worth winning then, is it?”
“… thanks, Dave.”
I’d been looking forward to this one for quite some time, Little Geary’s being a favourite of mine, but in the week leading up to the contest I heard reports that the venue was fishing hard, with just 41lb winning the pool on the Tuesday veterans match. Also, the Saturday open on Molands was a proper grueller…
I arrived at the fishery in time for a pre-match cuppa, and knowing the pool quite well, assisted Tony Corbett with the pegging. The top end of Little Geary’s is often a tough area, so we gave those pegged there plenty of room. For everybody else it would be a little ‘snug’, as 17 anglers is about the limit for this pool.
At 10.15 we gathered outside the cafe to draw. I held the hat in the air as everybody had a dip, and watched on as many of the better pegs were taken: Val Timms on 7, Eddie Swann on 15, Nellie Palmer on 1. Once they had all had their go I was left with the remaining numbered disk, and it had a little ‘3’ punched into it; I felt quite positive about this draw.
On arriving at my home for the next five hours, I took a little time to formulate a plan. I fancied fishing a pellet feeder across, lassoed hard pellets on the long pole up and down, lassoed hard pellets on the short pole and maggots down both edges. Although the better recent weights at the fishery had been taken on natural baits, I (somewhat pig-headedly) set my stall out to fish pellets in most areas of my peg. I believed it was still too warm for negative winter tactics such as the maggot feeder, or counting small amounts of maggots into a drip-pot.
Bait for the day was based solely around maggots and pellets: 2mm, 4mm and 6mm pellets, 3 pints of red maggots and half a pint of white maggots.
For “company” today I had Nelly Palmer on peg 1. Before the match I went round to congratulate him; it isn’t something he likes to brag about, but he recently earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of Records. See, he hasn’t said anything nice to anyone in almost 31 years, since Christmas Day 1986 in fact, when he received some slippers from an Aunty and mumbled “… they’re lovely”. Since then, Nelly has communicated by no other means than a series of grunts, snarls, the occasional “fuck off” and some select hand gestures. For this reason, he takes up the Guinness Records’ mantle for “Longest Period of Cantankerousness (Male): Eleven Thousand Two Hundred and Forty Days.”
I went round to have a pre-match chat with Nelly and it appears he has every intention of keeping this record going – until it’s absolutely unsurpassable!
Over on peg 5, I had a nice neighbour, in the shape of Paul Timms…
For all you “Rig Junkies” out there, enjoy a bumper fix this week, as this contest was a bit of a ‘kitchen sink’ job.
I set up the following:
– Pellet Feeder, Preston mini carp 9ft, MAP ACS 3000, 25g Preston “Shovel”, 18 QM1 – 15, lasso
– Waggler, MAP Parabolix 11ft waggler, MAP ACS 3000 reel, 4g Preston Durawag, 18 PR36 – .15, band
– Long pole deck, 4 x 16 Malman Roob, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– Long pole deep-shallow, Hillbilly Rat-catcher 3, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– Long Pole Shallow, 3 x 10 Preston Des Shipp Dibber, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– Short Pole, 4 x 14 Malman Roob, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– Right hand edge, 6 x 11 MW Slim, 18 B911 F1 – .11
– Left hand edge, 4 x 10 Preston Des Shipp Maggot, B911 F1 – .11
At 10.30 the all-in was called, I decided not to prime any areas of my swim with bait and instead begin with a few exploratory casts with the pellet feeder. To say this was slow would be an understatement, despite chucking tight-in, dropping short, casting left and right, ringing the changes with hook-baits, I ended the first hour of the contest with a solitary f1 to show for my efforts – and a tiny one at that.
Next up I had a little look on the waggler, despite presentation being good I failed to get an indication on this, so I quickly gave it up as a bad job.
So, an hour and a quarter in and I took my first look on the long pole. Over on peg 30, Tony Corbett had caught a couple fishing long, on neighbouring peg 5, Paul Timms was nicking the odd fish on a maggot feeder (a tactic I had written-off.) Worryingly, the long pole produced nothing, I fully expected to catch the odd fish on it; in hindsight I should have changed my lasso over to a conventional hook-length and cad-potted maggots at 13 meters.
Rather than adapt to the conditions and feed my peg frugally, I went back out on the tip and catapulted pellets at 14m, in an attempt to bring a few fish shallow. I hooked a fish on the tip, but as I wound it back the line went solid, it had somehow snagged me on an underwater obstruction. I pulled for a break and threw the tip rod up the bank, then went out shallow. Again, this was a complete waste of time, I put nothing whatsoever in the net, so I entered the two hour stage of the contest with around 1lb to show for my efforts.
I still felt it was a little early to fish my edges – which I had fed by hand since the match began – so I spent the next while swapping and changing, hoping to pinch the odd fish. First tactic to get an airing was the home-made mini banjo feeder, a method that usually comes out of the bag in deepest winter, on those days when one or two bites will make all of the difference.
… so next up I threw the pellet feeder again, clipped up to a different spot. Then back out on the long pole. Then the short pole. All of this for one more f1, leaving me on two for around 2lb with a couple of hours remaining of the contest.
At this point, I could wait no longer, it was time to look down my edge lines, firstly to the right…
I hooked 3 f1s in this spot in a ten minute spell, landing two. I fed 15 to 20 maggots at regular intervals, all the while keeping the left line topped-up. Whilst fishing to my right, I had Tony Corbett in my eyeline, he had also gone down his right hand margin and was catching well. After hooking and losing my fourth fish, a foul-hooker which led me a merry dance, I decided to rest this line and have a look to my left…
This is how I spent the final two hours of the contest, rotating lines left and right at top kit plus two, feeding maggots quite heavily. I actually hooked 40 f1s in this period – if somebody had told me this would happen mid-match when I was scratching for a bite, I would never have believed them. Of the 40 I hooked though, I lost half – again, if somebody told me I would lose fifty per cent of the fish I hooked, I would never have believed them. Every f1 I landed was lightly pricked just outside the mouth, so it was little wonder I suffered so many hook-pulls. At one point so many fish shed the hook consecutively, I felt afraid to lift the pole tip up and attempt to land one. I tried going up and down a hook size, changing hook patterns, coming off bottom and going slightly over-depth, none of this upped my fish-hooked/fish-landed ratio.
I finally managed to net a few f1s in the final half an hour of the contest, Ollie Corbett was sat behind me and after watching me lose my umpteenth fish, suggested I place all of my shot directly beneath my float in an attempt to catch on-the-drop. Whilst I welcomed his suggestion, I had already tried a strung-out rig and felt it wasn’t the way to go, so instead I went the complete opposite way, bulking all of my shot above my hooklength. I also stopped feeding by hand when my rig was in the water, instead I would feed by cad pot, concentrating my bait. To some extent this worked, as I only lost two of eight fish hooked in the final stages of the contest, a far better fish-loss ratio.
At 3.30 the all-out whistle was blown, calling time on a frustrating end to a great season. Word on the bank was that it had fished very hard, and my 20 small fish might not be such a bad return on a difficult day. While I was packing my gear away, fishery manager John Burchell stopped by to see how we had fared, I told him about my issue with lost fish and he assured me that this had been a common problem at the fishery all week, with the f1s becoming unsettled as temperatures decreased. This information comforted me a little, but deep-down I knew I should have sorted out the fish-loss issue earlier, and taken an awful lot more from my peg.
Once all of my gear was packed away, I followed the scales around, first up Paul Timms weighed in 24lb, all caught on the maggot feeder. The next 3 anglers struggled, then Jim Smith put 28lb 6oz on to the scales from peg 11.
On fancied peg 15 Eddie Swann was indulging in another charity moan-a-thon; he’d had a tough day, bringing just 12lb to the scales. His suggestion was that somebody ought to fill in all of the lakes at Packington Somers and build on it – if we did this to every venue Swanny complained about it would go a long way to solving the affordable housing crisis.
Anyway, he must have had a torrid time, as he wheel-spun off the car park, exiting the fishery sharpish…
Although it was pegged generously, the far end of the pool had fished very hard and there were no weights of note until we reached the back bank, and Graham Green on peg 25. He became the new match leader, pipping Jim Smith by a mere 2oz to weigh 28lb 8oz. This lead was short-lived though, as Andy “Power” Billingham weighed in 30lb on neighbouring peg 27. It soon became clear that this side of the pool was the area to be, when the match lead was surpassed yet again, by Dave Brain’s 38lb 6oz.
Next to weigh was Tony Corbett, with exactly 1lb under Dave’s weight: 37lb 6oz. Nelly Palmer then placed 14lb dead on the scales before it was my turn, my 20 small f1s going 31lb 14oz, giving me third place in the contest.
This week’s Man of the Match award goes to Jim Smith, he won his area of the pool with a bit to spare – well done mate!
As you can see by the weigh-sheet, it was a real toughie today, but we didn’t let that stop us from having some great laughs along the way. In the pub after the match Nelly Palmer continued his impressive run of horribleness, as Andy “Power” stepped up to collect his section prize: “You can afford to get your hair cut now then… you scruffy bastard.” Classic.
Also, it was great to see Eddie turn up for a pint after his expeditious exit from the fishery. “Must have some money to pick up then…”
Until next time…