October the 22nd, 15 fished.
A healthy turn out of fifteen anglers for this Hall Green Home Guard AC contest at Elmbridge Fishery, in Worcestershire. Today we would be fishing Heron, a pool capable of producing colossal nets of fish, but with it being late autumn I felt a modest weight would be enough to take the spoils.
Speaking to Steve Wheeler in the week leading up to the contest, it was clear that he disagreed, believing a big weight might still be on the cards. An opinion evidenced during an impromptu game of ‘Fishing Deal or No Deal’ where I, The Banker, offered Steve a very generous pre-match 61lb, which he refused, finally settling on a paltry 79lb.
“It’s late October Steve, you blanked on your last contest, 61lb is a good offer. So, deal… or no deal?…
I had been feeling under-the-weather in the week leading up to this one, so my preperations were a little half-cocked: I tied a few hooklengths and threw some bait into my bag, but otherwise things were left to chance.
Organisation on the day was also a little hap-hazard; because I have some knowledge of the venue I had been assigned pegging-out duties, but after a heavy night on the lash Joe arrived late to pick me up, so I didn’t make it in time to carry out the task. As we were running behind schedule, Steve Wheeler took up the reins.
When I arrived at the fishery I joined him on a stroll around the pool, a trip that started with a pertinent question “So, have you made a pigs ear of pegging out then, you knob-head?” Steve’s response was unequivocal…
At 9am we gathered in the car park to draw, I had no huge preference as far as pegs were concerned, but given the choice would avoid the farthest end of the pool, which can be a little patchy. I needn’t have worried as I drew peg 1 (permanent peg 2), the first peg on the left hand side of the pool. I felt happy with this – but not as happy as Carl appeared to be with his draw…
I arrived at my peg and first impression was that it looked lovely, with an island that could be reached with the long pole, an inviting-looking right-hand edge, some open water to the left and an empty pallet to the left. So, plenty of options.
I decided to keep everything simple, feed tidily and feel my way in. For bait I would fish corn, pellets and dead maggots. I also had a few slices of bread for dobbing or using on the bomb, in case the day proved difficult.
I planned on starting my match long towards the island, either dobbing or feeding small amounts through a toss-pot, but this plan was abandoned as soon as I plumbed-up, when I found less than six inches of water against the island (if you look at the picture below you can see a white line across the reeds, the level the water should be at). I could only find the 3ft I was looking for a good 3 meters away from the island, and the deepest area of my peg was a mere 4ft. For this reason rigs were very simple today: I assembled a .2g Hillbilly Thick Chump for fishing four spots in my peg where I found around 3ft of water, a 4 x 12 Malman Roob for fishing hard pellets at 6m in 4ft of water, and a pellet feeder for throwing down the end bank. I also set up a dobbing rig, but this didn’t earn any appearance money.
For company today I was flanked by club stalwarts: to my left the unswerving presence of our trusty chairman, Bob Warwick…
To my right, pegged on the Dam Wall, “Magic” Mike Fellows, armed with the mid-match beverage of champions: a Fruit Shoot.
At 10.15 the all in was called – now for any non-angling readers of the blog (so, about three of you), the all-in is the beginning of the contest, like the kick-off in football, or tip-off in basketball. The reason I feel the need to clarify is that I have a friend who reads the blog, he isn’t an angler, so when he hears the phrase ‘the all-in was called’ he imagines a whistle is blown then we all stand up and kick our fishing equipment into the lake, after this we head off and do something more purposeful than catching a few carp, weighing them, then putting them back – a worthwhile pursuit such as cross-stitching or making crank phone calls, perhaps.
So, at 10.15 the all in was called, and rather than launch my expensive angling apparatus into the pool, I sensibly slipped a 6mm expander pellet onto the hook and shipped out 13m to the island slope. It took a while to get my first bite of the day, but within ten minutes my float dipped and a fish was landed: a carp of around 4lb. No other bites were forthcoming on this line, so I took the opportunity to have an early look down my right-hand margin. I fed a few grains of corn and a dozen pellets down here, after a short while I hooked a 3lb carp clean in the tail, and was fortunate enough to land it. I ended the first hour on just two fish, but over on the dam wall Mike Fellows was already on five, all caught on the maggot feeder; an option I hadn’t even considered for this match.
Into the second hour of the contest and already I was beginning to run out of ideas. With the island out in front being so shallow, the peg didn’t really afford me many options, so I plopped a pellet feeder down to the reeds along my right-hand bank. I managed to snare two small carp down here in an hour of casting around, slow going; the only exciting thing that happened in the second hour of the contest was hooking a top kit – rig and all – as I reeled in my pellet feeder. And what a rig it was: a small stick float on 12lb line with a size 10 gaff attached – it makes you wonder how anybody could hook a fish on such crude apparatus.
At the beginning of the third hour I really began to struggle, a week of feeling unwell had taken its toll, I felt ghastly, coming down with an attack of shivers and hot sweats. If I had driven myself to the venue I would have packed away and gone home, but as I was with Joe I knew I would have to sit it out. So, I had a brief look on the short pole, catching a carp of around 4lb, then went on a recce, to see if I could scrounge any tablets.
I went for a walk along my bank on my drug-run but nobody could assist me in my time of pharmacological need. I did however gauge how it was fishing, and my five carp appeared to be a fair return. The only person who had caught any more than this along our bank was Steve Ringer… I mean ‘Wheeler’, who was already owning up to a dozen.
I eventually managed to procure some tablets from Dicky, an unlikely source really as I didn’t expect him to have anything non-illicit in his ‘medicine box’. Once he’d rummaged through the class A’s, Rizlas and legal highs, he found, hidden beneath a bong, a little blister pack with ‘Paracetemol’ emblazoned on it – result!
I sat down at my peg, took my tablets and decided to spend the final two-and-a-bit hours of the match concentrating on two lines: short pole and right-hand margin. First of all I tried the short pole, it was by no means prolific but steadily I began to put odd fish in the net. It was best to feed a small amount of pellets though a cad-pot then top-up by hand, the noise definitely brought fish into the swim. My peg was becoming stronger the more I fished it, and by concentrating on getting my feeding spot-on, I felt I could get a bite most put-ins. This unexpected burst of action combined with the effects of Dicky’s Magic Beans, meant that I was finally beginning to enjoy my day.
Usually I don’t take much pleasure from fishing the short pole, it probably has something to do with me being so small, fishing short makes me feel like I’m an actual gnome.
As the final hour of the contest neared, I felt that this short pole purple patch (try saying that after a few drinks) had afforded me a little look down the edge. I kicked this swim off with around a quarter of a pot of dead maggots and 2mm’s, I then gave it five minutes to settle before I went in with double dead maggot on a 16 B911 (I believe that fish have now wised-up to big bunches of maggots on large hooks.) This line was also productive, and by topping-up after each fish with a small cad-pot of maggots/micros, I strung a much-welcome late run of fish together. If the swim showed any signs of weakening, I topped up with a quarter of a big pot, leaving it to settle while I fished the short pole.
During the final half an hour of my match I had a moment of great fortune: whilst shipping out my margin rig I stopped at my no.6 section and threw some 6mms around my pole tip, so I knew that they were in the right area for my short pole line. Even though my rig was only half in the water, a common carp of around 8lb snatched at the dead maggots mid-depth – a welcome bonus!
When the all-out was called I felt relieved to have found a few fish late on, and grateful to Dicky for the ecstasy tablets. Today’s event was definitely one of two halves; the first period being incredibly frustrating, the latter half being quite satisfying.
I had no idea how I’d fared, my 16-18 carp probably going 60lb. Two pegs to my right, Carl Inman had fished a good match, I felt that I had overtaken him on numbers but he had caught some big fish down the edge on worm, so it would be close. On the far bank Roy Reece and Ian Gibson had both caught steadily all day, on our bank Steve Wheeler was the obvious threat.
I didn’t have to wait long for my result, as I was first to weigh; I passed Mark my last-hour-of-the-contest net, it went 28lb, my other net going 45lb for a total weight of 73lb exactly. Next along Chairman Bob placed 28lb on the scales before Carl Inman’s two weighs gave him 64lb – I knew it would be close!
There were no other weights of note until we got to Steve Wheeler, his first net going 31lb. But, I knew he would be holding back his bigger net and so it proved, the second weigh taking the dial round to 36lb, and a total of 69lb. Steve was right to turn down The Banker’s offer of 61lb, but ultimately he didn’t get the 79lb he wished for – still, a great performance nonetheless.
Onto the far bank and it was clear it had fished very well for the time of year: Ian Gibson plonked 64lb onto the scales before Roy Reece produced an excellent 66lb, after this ‘Foxy’ Fowler chipped in with 52lb.
Collectively, we weighed in over 600lb of fish today, a fantastic return for a club match in late October.
I felt very happy to have won this contest, but I’m realistic enough to know that I drew a good peg, got an awful lot wrong and was fortunate enough to have got away with it. Well drawn, Daniel!
In the week they named a severe weather-front after him, who else could win this week’s Man of the Match award but ‘Storm’ Brian Fowler! He fished his usual tidy short pole match, catching a great bag of fish once again. Also, for the eight people in Birmingham that haven’t been told the story, Brian fell into Barston Lake once (but he doesn’t like to talk about it.)
Well done, Christmas Face!
Lastly, here’s a picture of this week’s lucky match winner with some of his fish…
Until next time…