February the 18th, 16 fished.
A good turn out today for this, the first match of the Hall Green Home Guard AC season, at Alvechurch Fisheries in rural Worcestershire. Today we would be fishing the Colmic Canal, a brilliant 27 peg water positively brimming with roach, rudd, barbel, ide and hard-fighting little ‘stockie’ carp.
The weather forecast for this one was encouraging; so after many weeks of wind, rain, sleet and sub-zero temperatures (quite often all occurring in a single afternoon) we all hoped the meteorologist’s predictions were correct, and that the mercury would rise to a giddy nine degrees in the afternoon. For this reason, before I donned my thermals this morning, I applied a little factor thirty – just in case.
After losing a few members at the end of last season, it was nice to welcome some familiar faces back into the club as Dan Lunn, Paul Sumner and Andy “Power” re-joined. Also, a big HG welcome goes out to Dan Drust, fishing his first contest with us today. A common theme amongst the club’s new members are the “unusual smelling” cigarettes they smoke, it’s a very specific odour and one I first came across as a boy when I went for a trip in my friend’s father’s car. Basil was a 40 year old Rastafarian and I remember fondly how he smoked several smelly cigarettes that day, driving eleven miles an hour through the streets of Birmingham, Peter Tosh booming from the car stereo, as oncoming vehicles mounted the pavement to avoid him.
… and talking of being wasted, it was strangely comforting to see that Dicky had turned up for this contest in his standard state of inebriation. He was so drunk still, so stoically pissed in fact, that I actually felt proud that this man had clawed his way out of his comfortable bed to spend the day with us…
At 9am we gathered in the car park to draw. Due to last year’s debacle at this venue, where several club members congregated around peg one, gawping into the water and creating a lot of disturbance pre-match, a memo was put out asking that we all remain in the car park until the draw is completed. Most of the anglers present heeded this sensible advice, with one notable exception, this angler will remain nameless (but we’ll refer to him henceforth as Steven Wheeler, from Halesowen.)
Before we were allowed to venture into the draw bag, we all received a five minute brief from fishery manager Phil relating to keepnet-limits, bait restrictions and general fishery rules. We all gathered around the net trailer, enthusiastically pretending to listen as we mentally bagsied the best nets: those with no broken thread fixings or snapped rings.
I fancied a draw up the far end of the pool today, preferably along the left-hand bank, as this has been the most consistent area all winter. Well, I only went and drew myself peg 11 – exactly where I hoped to be. It was suggested to me that I should be ashamed of myself and I’m inclined to agree. I really ought to be ashamed… but I’m not.
Somebody seemingly not-so-enamoured with his draw was club piss-can, Dicky…
On arrival at my peg it was apparent that my approach would be based entirely around fishing either across to the island or in the deeper water down the track, as the water in the margins was gin-clear. Plan of attack was to fish either pellets or maggots in three little holes across to the island, maggots would be fished down the track. If the match should prove difficult I would be left with no other choice than to fish a method I rarely enjoy: dobbing bread. Rigs were based around Shippy Maggots and Wilkie Slims in various sizes, all fished to B911 F1 hooks and .10 bottoms.
For company today I had workmate and new club member Dan Drust on peg 12…
Over on peg 9 I had a returnee for company, in the shape of Paul Sumner. Any contest fished alongside Paul is guaranteed to be an entertaining affair as he sings/whistles/hums anywhere between 15 and 100 songs per hour, going at it like a deranged Jive Bunny on LSD.
Now, Rather than describe the very minutiae of my contest, I’ll be doing something a little different today. See, I’d like to talk you through my thought processes as my match progresses. For those of you who read Match Fishing Magazine, you’ll see that I’ve presented this in a kind of ‘stop-watch’ fashion. If this format should prove popular, I’ll be sure to use it in future blogs:
10.15 – All in! I wonder which method will be the most productive today. I’m looking forward to this.
10.16 – I’ll start on pellets to the extreme right of my peg. Best to leave plenty of room to explore the far bank as the contest progresses.
10.25- A few missed indications – I’ll try the same line fishing maggot hook-bait over micro-pellet feed.
10.38 – No joy, and I thought the maggot would work. I’ll count to 100 and if I don’t get a bite, I’ll feed again. I wonder if anybody else counts up to an arbitrary number whilst fishing, and determines their in-match decisions based on this.
10.49 – I thought I would have caught one by now – Joe opposite has two.
10.55 – It’s a bit bloody cold.
11.09 – Let’s try maggot off to the left, before that I’ll feed some bait down the track.
11.16 – I’ve hooked one but it feels foul-hooked. It is foul-hooked – but I’ve landed it. They all count and I’m off the mark.
11.22 – It feels even colder now, and windy too – I hate winter.
11.30 – No more bites over that line, let’s look out in front where Dave “the glove” is my far bank marker – If you’re wondering why we call him Dave “the glove” it’s because he wears a single, leather glove whilst fishing. Why, you may ask? Because he doesn’t want his wife to know that he smokes while he’s out on the bank.
11.42 – Nothing doing over there, this is desperate – and it really is fuckin’ cold.
11.51 – I wonder if the sun will ever come out again, or if we’re slowly becoming stuck in this relentless, dreary, eternal Winter, watching on as the sun slowly dies, the colour running out of it like a giant, fading egg yolk in the sky. I wonder if that will happen, because that’s how it feels…
11.53 – Bloody hell, that was a bit deep. I’ll just put on another jacket.
11.55 – A quick look down the track. An ide!
11.58 – … followed by another.
12.03 – Next put in, carp on. Foul-hooked again?
12.04 – Yes, but it’s in the net, and a decent fish.
12.07 – No more bites down the track, possibly because of all the disturbance caused whilst playing that foul-hooked fish.
12.08 – Joe is in again. And Dan is catching next door.
12.10 – Time to dob bread along the far bank; I hate dobbing bread but it might be the best method today. God I’m bored.
12.12 – I hope somebody falls in, that would be funny. I don’t mind who falls in – even if it’s me.
12.13 – Perhaps I should jump in.
12.16 – Still dobbing bread – yaaaawn.
12.20 – I wonder, do fish have nightmares?
12.22 – Joe is catching down the track now. Dan is snaring the odd one next door – dropping a feeder down the middle. Dan’s cigarette smells “unusual.”
12.30 – I wonder what happened to Basil?
12.32 – I’ve caught my dobbing rig in some far bank vegetation. That’s it trashed. Perhaps I made this “mistake” subconsciously, so that I can give up dobbing – you know, I caught my rig in some brambles accidentally on purpose.
12.41 – Another ide caught across, it’s a good size, perhaps 10oz. I wonder, would a fish survive in milk?
12.44 – … and do fish get thirsty?
12.48 – Not a lot happening, I’ll eat my Snickers, it’s one of those doubler ones, lovely. The float’s gone under though and I’ve spat chocolate everywhere – fish on.
12.50 – Fish landed, a carp of around 3lb, hooked under the pectoral fin. I wonder if I’ll hook one in the gob any time soon.
12.55 – Joe is still catching. I’m getting a bit sick of seeing his green Preston Dura 10 elastic streaming from the pole tip.
12.58 – Is Paul whistling a ‘Bros’ song next door?
12.59 – Yes, I’ve worked it out and it is a ‘Bros’ number, it’s “I Owe You Nothing.”
13.00 – Maybe I should pack away now and go for a pint, that would be nice.
13.01 – … actually, it would be better than nice, it would be absolutely properly lovely. I’d get some chips too.
13.10 – A quick look back down the track. Nothing. I’ll ping a few casters across in an attempt at drawing a few fish into my peg. I still hope somebody falls in.
13.23 – I wonder, who invented pole-vaulting? And why?
13.26 – How much would I get if I sold all of my fishing gear?
13.31 – I bet Dicky is feeling rough. Perhaps he’ll join me at the pub if I pack away.
13.46 – I’ve not had a bite for almost an hour now, this is depressing. Dan is catching well next door – perhaps I should get some smelly cigarettes.
13.48 – Go on float, stop being a prick, go under.
13.55 – I’ve completely run out of ideas. Apart from weird ones, like ‘can a fish survive in milk?’
13.56 – … of course a fish can survive in milk. Idiot.
14.00 – I’m gonna feed a large amount of maggots across with a big pot. Nothing to lose.
14.04 – It’s still bloody cold. “Here fishy-fishy, here fishy-fishy.”
14.05 – Nothing whatsoever happening, so bored, I’ll count to 100 then change lines.
14.06 … 76-77-78-carp on! Hooked out in front. And in the mouth!
14.17 – Nowt else happening – for me at least. Dan and Joe are still snaring a few.
14.23 – Another ide caught down the track. ‘You can’t ide from me’ I whisper to it, hoping that nobody is listening.
14.25 – Nothing doing on the line where I fed the big pot of maggots – not that I really expected a response.
14.27 – I’m gonna go for a piss. I don’t need one, I’m just checking if my penis is still there or if it has frozen and snapped off.
14.33 – Not long to go now. I think I’ll spend the remainder of my contest fishing down the track – nice and comfortable.
14.38 – Another ide: ‘I had no ide-ea you liked maggots so much’ I shout at it, not caring this time if anybody hears.
14.51 – It’s getting colder. I’m beginning to shiver. I’m seriously contemplating asking somebody for a hug, just to warm me up.
14.59 – I hate winter.
15.00 – I mean I really fucking hate it.
15.03 – Another ide, I’m not speaking to this one, it’s not a deserving recipient of my untamed wit.
15.08 – I wonder if anybody will read my blog again after this nonsense?
15.09 – Does anybody want to buy some fishing gear?
15.11 – Quick Google search, “… pole-vaulting has existed since the days of the ancient Greeks, when it was used to surmount obstacles such as enemy walls or to vault over or onto animals such as bulls and horses.” Of course it was.
15.13 – Can we go to the pub now?
15.14 – Nobody reads my blog anyway.
15.15 All out! Thank fuck for that!
Now, the more astute readers of this blog will notice that through the duration of the match I lost three things: initially I lost concentration, then I lost my mind, until ultimately, in the latter stages of the contest, I completely lost the will to live.
As I solemnly packed my gear away I asked myself the question any keen angler ought to ask themselves after a difficult day on the bank: ‘what could I have done differently?’ My answer was a simple and emphatic one: I would have stayed in bloody bed.
I followed the scales around from peg 1 where Bob Warwick put 15lb in the weigh-sling, closely followed by Dave Law with 12lb from peg 3. Next up, still-drunk Dicky proved that you don’t need to be able to walk straight, talk coherently or actually see to catch a great bag of fish, as he weighed in an excellent 40lb. The next three weights after this were dismal though, with three anglers sharing just 5lb of fish, proving that the middle of the pool wasn’t the place to be today. After this it was my turn, my four carp and some ide going 18lb, a lot more than I’d expected but still way short of the 27lb Dan Drust managed next door. We arrived at Joe’s peg with great anticipation as we knew it would be close between him and Dicky, and so it proved as Joe put 37lb on the scales. There were no other weights of note along this bank, even End Peg Steve hadn’t managed to winkle a few out.
I was very fortunate to scrape a 4th place today, having landed 3 foul-hooked carp and just one hooked in the mouth, still as the old saying goes “better to be lucky than good… you juicy little twat.”
Somebody more good than lucky is this week’s Man of the Match: Dicky. I could quite easily have given the award to Dan Drust or Joe, who both fished excellent matches, but Dirty Dicky is making a habit of turning up three sheets to the wind and storming the first contest of the season – well done mate.
A bit of a woeful event this week, but it was nice to be back out on the bank with the lads. As you’ll see from the weigh-sheet below, it was a difficult day for many… but onwards and upwards.
Until next time…