January the 14th, 31 fished.
An excellent turn out for this Kings Heath Angling contest at Lower Park Fishery, in rural Worcestershire. This would be the first match of the Tony Corbett-organised mini-league, fished over four rounds; the primary aim of every angler competing today would be to win his section, as this would ensure qualification for a final in early March.
After a heavy Saturday night out with my wife in Brum, I woke late and a little worse-for-wear for this one. Added to this the fact that the weather was absolutely Baltic and it’s fair to say I wasn’t exactly “feeling it”. To compound my abject lack of enthusiasm, on the Friday prior to this contest Tony held a knock-up at the venue; it fished terribly: just 12lb took the spoils, 8lb managed second place and Tony blanked.
Being the sensitive sort, Jim Smith took it upon himself to console Tony pre-draw with what can only be described as a side-splitting (like appendicitis), seventeen minute stand-up routine, the content of which related to Mr.Corbett’s recent angling failure. It was a privilege to hear a legendary comedian from the 1970’s in full flow, and I’m proud to confirm that Jim can now be hired for Weddings, functions and Bar Mitvahs. If you’re interested in booking him he works under the pseudonym ‘Des Lawson’, but before you do so, some advice: don’t pay him by the word.
As expected, Tony took this good-natured banter well and was even willing to pose for a shot with Jim’s consolation gifts of a dummy and a copy of the Angling Times – proving that although Dry January has spread to his keepnets, he still has a sense of humour.
At 9am we gathered in the cafe to draw, general opinion was that the middle of any pool would be favourable, as that is where the fish seem to have balled-up for the winter. Lowland Pool was much sought-after following a recent re-stocking but failing this Highland Pool would be the place to be.
Into the bag of dreams and I pulled out 5 on Willow, a peg too close to the end bank of the pool to be an encouraging draw. I felt disappointed but at least I was in good company, as Graham Greene had drawn the undesirable Spring peg 3.
Plan of attack today was to set up my fishing apparatus initially, then pack away after an hour to visit The Village Inn for a wee livener, possibly a pint of Estrella, with a bowl of chips – or even cheesy chips. Then I would head home to watch the Liverpool v Man City game, accompanied by another beer, probably a San Miguel. Unfortunately, I decided against this sensible arrangement at the final minute, finding myself sat out in frost-bitten Beoley for a full five hours: hungover, hungry and dithering.
For company today I had Jason Cooper on peg 7…
Over on end peg 3 I had Simon Shaw. I believed I recognised this name from somewhere and a brief conversation confirmed my suspicion; Simon is a member of online fishing forum http://www.talkangling.co.uk, where he goes by his real name. I go by the user-name ‘Pingu’, a nom de plume I chose because I like to ping pellets. I believe that the best thing about fishing, other than catching fish, is the fact that it is the only setting where it is completely acceptable for a grown man to go all Dennis the Menace and own a selection of sling-shots. Anyway, Simon has previously given me venue advice on TalkAngling, so it was nice to put a face to a name, or name to a face (I never get that one right.)
I wanted to try hard pellets on the long pole today, my thinking being that if there were stock fish present, then a hard pellet is the most natural-seeming bait to them. Also, on many local venues (Manor Farm, Larford) hard pellets are fished all year round – so why should Lower Park be any different? Other than this I would fish maggots off at angles of 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, a micro banjo feeder and a waggler three quarters of the way across.
Rigs were very simple for this contest:
– Hard Pellet: 1g Hillbilly Thick Chump, 18 B911 – .11, lasso
– Maggot: 4 x 16 Malman Roob, 20 B911 f1 – .10
– Waggler: MAP Parabolix 11ft waggler, MAP ACS 4000, 3g crystal wag, 18 B911 – .12
– Tip: Preston Mini Carp 9ft, MAP ACS 4000, Home-made banjo feeder, 18 QM1 – .13
Bait for the occasion would be pellets: 6mm, 4mm, micros and expanders; corn; maggots; pinkies and bread.
At 10.15 the all in was called, I decided my opening ploy would be to throw the banjo feeder three quarters of the way across, in case the fish had backed-off due to all of the bankside disturbance. I would ping the odd 6mm pellet over this line, just two or three every few minutes, in the hope that this would draw some fish in.
On my third cast on the banjo, around half an hour into the contest, my tip went round and the first fish of the day was on. Unfortunately, we parted company underneath the rod tip and two further casts yielded nothing.
At this point I reached for the waggler rod. It appeared that our pool was fishing incredibly hard, so picking up an early fish could be all-important come the end of the contest. I couldn’t get the waggler to present properly though, so over an hour into the match, freezing and fishless, I reached for the pole.
The long pole was also tough going, but around ninety minutes into the contest my float dipped under and the first fish of the day came to the net: an f1 of around 12oz. I’d like to say that I went on a strong run after this, but it wasn’t to be. I chopped and changed lines, introduced micros, added a pole section, played around with my shotting, all for no reward. Until, on the two hour mark of the contest, I hooked something more substantial. I played this fish gingerly, knowing that a bonus of any type could prove significant come the all out, it plodded around between my keepnets for a good two minutes until eventually, when I felt that it had tired, I cautiously lifted my pole tip. It was an f1 of around two pounds, foul-hooked in the flank, as I went to scoop it my hook pulled and the air turned blue.
Into the third hour and I was seriously considering going for a nap in the car, that is until I entered a welcome purple patch. I abandoned my two maggot lines for a while as all they produced were dumpy little two-to-the-ounce roach; also any f1s I hooked on the maggot were foul-hooked, it felt like I was pricking fish just off bottom, but taking a few inches off the rig produced no indications. So, I added a section and fished hard pellet out in front. I fed a few micros and four 4mm pellets every put in and if I didn’t get a response I picked up the catapult and fed just two 4mm pellets over the top; this worked well and in the space of an hour I put a mighty 4 f1s in the net.
The hard pellet line died when I lost two fish in the space of ten minutes, the first of which was definitely hooked somewhere other than in the mouth, the second fish I parted company with because my elastic didn’t pull from the pole properly. So, I went into the final ninety minutes of the contest cold and utterly despondent. I couldn’t help but question the sanity of all of the anglers present, and wondered if 31 people could be sectioned under the mental health act simultaneously. I’m of the opinion that anybody who claims to prefer winter fishing over summer fishing is either:
A: A liar.
B: Desperate to get away from ‘er indoors.
C: A bit thick.
D: A masochist: def: a person who enjoys an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.
I’ll put my hands up, it’s a trick question, anybody who claims to prefer winter angling over summer angling is in fact all of the above – and a twat to boot.
Somebody far more sound of mind than the rest of us was Danny Hamilton, who took this opportunity to say his goodbyes because, in his words, he was “freezing his effin bollocks off.” I think this was a bit of an overstatement, but at least Dan let me get a snap of him before he got going…
Aside from a brief, fish-less stint dobbing bread all over my peg, I pretty much admitted defeat going into the final hour of the contest. So, I decided to call it a day and throw the banjo feeder half way across as I slowly packed my kit away. As I was placing a rig on to a winder, my tip walloped around and I just about saved my rod from going into the pool as I snared my last, and biggest, fish of the contest: an f1 of around two pound.
No other fish followed, and at 3.15 the whistle blew to call time on what can only be described as a horrible experience. I can blame the hangover or bleat about the elements as much as I like, but the truth is I got it horribly wrong on the day. I should have fished 16 meters, searching around the extremes of my peg, and waited patiently for bites.
As there were 6 pools in today, Fred Reynolds took charge of weighing in Lowland and Swan, meanwhile I would weigh in Abbey, Willow, Spring and Highland. We kicked things off on Abbey Pool where Nelly Palmer placed 6lb on to the scales, next along Steve Siddell weighed-in 3lb from a horrible-looking peg 56, before Pete Bampton absolutely stormed the section with 15lb of proper carp.
Next up it was our turn, we started off with neighbour Simon who had fished a tidy match from a bad area, his f1s and silvers went 10lb 5oz. Next up it was my turn: I just pipped Simon, placing 10lb 9oz onto the scales. Jason to my left then took the lead with 13lb – helped along by a last-gasp three-pounder, until super Steve Foxall won the pool with 16lb, ensuring his qualification for the league final.
Over to Spring pool and sport was far better, ‘Cov’ Carl Inman leading the way with 15lb until we reached peg 5, where it was “Arise Sir Alan Higgs” and a superb weight of 28lb.
Lastly we got to Highland Pool, the four remaining anglers on there had all caught a few, so it would be interesting. First up Rob Moon managed a decent 23lb, beating neighbour Eddie by 4lb. Then we made our way around to the other side of the pool where Tony Corbett placed a hard-earned 25lb 4oz onto the scales, with only his son Ollie to weigh. As Ollie placed his fish into the weigh-sling I knew it would be close, and it sure was, as the young pretender beat his Father by 6oz, taking the section win, qualification to the final and 3rd place overall in the process.
After the contest we filtered into The Village Inn – and I think we all felt relieved to finally be in the warm. We got the results in from Lowland and Swan and it appeared there had been some controversy, Chis Constable had set himself up on the wrong peg, fishing peg 13 rather than the peg he had drawn: 12. I’d be interested to hear what any readers think about Chris’s disqualification, which ultimately cost him the match win. My contact details are on the home-page of the blog if you’d like to share your thoughts.
This week’s match winner was Paul Gartshore, with 31lb from Swan peg 6. Sir Alan Higgs took second spot with his bag of feeder-caught lumps from Spring Pool. We were reliably informed that this contest’s one-two have a combined age of over 150, an impressive figure… until you remember that Sir Alan is 108 years old.
Another old-timer who did the business today was this week’s Man of the Match, Pete Brampton, his 15lb net beating the combined weight of the anglers in the rest of his section…
I can’t go today without making a plea. See, we’re very concerned about a good friend of ours; we arrived at peg 12 on Lowland and it appeared that Dave Richards had simply vanished. This sense of worry was heightened further when I went grocery shopping and saw this…
If you have any information as to Dave’s whereabouts please contact Jim Smith – he’d be lost without his lift.
Until next time…