July the 29th, 13 fished.
A Hall Green Home Guard contest today, at Woodland View fishery in Worcestershire, where we would be fishing Ghost – arguably the most prolific pool on the complex. Saying this, the entire venue had been fishing brilliantly for weeks, with 200lb bags seemingly commonplace and plenty of back-up weights in excess of 100lb.
I received some good info for this contest; on the week leading up to our visit, good friend and Woodland View regular Andy Stone had won the Wednesday open on Arles pool. He informed me that it was all edge and short pole fishing. He also advised me to concentrate on fishing pellets: large expanders over beds of micro’s and 4mm’s or banded hard pellets.
I arrived at the fishery early, as I pegged the pool out with Mark Seaborn. We both fancied it to be an excellent contest, there were no bad pegs as such – of course certain areas would fish better than others, but every angler had a bit of room and a decent edge, so should be guaranteed a day’s sport at least.
My only concern was that the weather might affect the quality of the fishing. After many weeks of glorious sunshine, we were faced with a typical English Summer’s day: dark-skied, wet and windy. In fact, on the day of the contest I went for a dawn run (somebody didn’t drink on Saturday evening!) and returned home absolutely soaked through.
At 8.45 we gathered in the cafe in readiness for the draw. Most anglers seemed keen on a peg on the car park side of the pool, not only is this a consistent area but today those anglers fortunate enough to draw there would have the wind off their backs. Anybody drawn from peg 13 down to 21 would have an uncomfortable contest, as the wind was hacking fiercely into that bank.
At 8.55 there were just 11 anglers waiting to draw, as we were holding on for Paul Sumner and Dan Lunn to arrive from Worcester. I’m never a fan of simply taking pegs from the hat in the event of a no-show, as somebody will invariably end up with too much room – I much prefer to rejig the pegging. But, just when I thought I would have to re-peg the entire pool, our handsome twosome arrived and did what any latecomer should do: order a full English breakfast.
Once the draw got underway, it was clear that some good pegs were being taken by capable anglers: Ian Gibson on 11, Moggy and Dicky on pegs 4 and 3 respectively, and Dan Drust on 13. Once it was my turn to have a dip I pulled peg 17 from the hat, bang in the middle of the wind-battered bank – an area I didn’t fancy one bit.
Although I wasn’t best pleased with my draw, I tried to find some positives: the surface ripple might provide me with cover for fishing my edges. Also, the sheer strength of the gusts might force me to fish short – a style of fishing I don’t particularly enjoy but which had been a deadly tactic at the fishery recently.
Bait for the occasion was a simple selection of two pints of dead maggots, one tin of corn and fishery pellets in every available size – I even went back to the on-site tackle shop to buy some 8mms for the bomb.
With it being so blustery (have I mentioned the wind yet?) rigs were all short pole and edge affairs:
– 6 Meter Line: .6 Hillbilly Thick Chump, 18 KKMB – .15 band
– 3 Meter Line: 4 x 14 Malman Roob, 16 B911 – .17
– Right Edge: 4 x 14 Shippy Island, 14 Kaizen – .17
– Left Edge: 4 x 14 Shippy Island, 12 Kaizen – .17
– Shallow: 4 x 12 Shippy Shallow, 18 KKMB – .15 band
I also assembled a bomb rod and a pellet feeder, something to fall back on in case the fish were beyond pole range.
For company today I had Paul Sumner on peg 15 – no matter how bad the fishing is, you’re always guaranteed a day’s entertainment with Paul due to his diagnosis of late-onset musical Tourette’s…
To my right I had club chairman Sir Bob Warwick-Parkway. I seem to draw next to him quite frequently – if I’m being honest, I think he just likes to appear in the blog. The thing about Bob is, if you can prize him away from his model train set, he’s a bloody decent angler…
At 10.15 the “all in” was called – or, after recent escapades, I think I should probably call it the “fall in” (see what I did there!) I decided I would kick off at six meters, feeding just a dozen 6mm pellets through a cad pot and fishing the same in a band. It took a little while to tempt my first fish of the contest, a common carp of around 4lb. In this time, Moggy Downing pegged opposite already had three fish, all caught on the pellet feeder.
Looking around the pool, a few fish were being caught but nobody was “emptying it”. So I persevered with the six meter line for the first hour of the contest, catching five fish for just over twenty pounds.
Some anglers started the match by going straight in down the edge, and although they were tempting odd fish, nobody was catching quickly enough to convince me I should look down there so early on. In most circumstances, I prefer to give my edge lines some time to settle.
Whilst fishing the short line, I had regularly catapulted 8mm pellets in threes and fours towards the middle of the pool. After a period of inactivity on the short pole, I decided it was time to give the bomb a try. I fully expected it to go ‘round, but after twenty minutes and a couple of casts it went where all bomb rods belong: up the bank, where it stayed for the remainder of the afternoon.
After this non-event of lead launching it was time to do some proper fishing, so I took a look back on my six meter line. I was now suffering with liners, probably because I had fed this swim by hand whilst I fished the tip – loose-fed pellets invariably bring fish face-upwards. On the opposite bank, Richard Caswell had snared 3 decent carp in as many chucks fishing up-in-the-water, so I followed suit and went in with my shallow rig.
I managed a decent mirror carp shallow but found it increasingly hard to group my pellets when feeding by hand, so I got a couple of sections out of the bag, picked up the catapult and battled the wind at eleven meters. I could now get my pellets to group nicely, but my pole was being blown this way and that. I clamped-down hard but it was an impossible task.
One angler who seemed to be coping admirably with the wind though was Paul Sumner, who greeted each sharp gust with a shout of “Ha, you call that wind, c’mon, is that all you’ve got!”
Into the third hour now and I needed to make something happen fast – the second hour of my contest had been a minor disaster, as I only added around 6lb to my total. Meanwhile, Moggy was catching steadily on the tip, Ian Gibson was tempting the odd one short and Dicky was beginning to catch down the edge.
So, I decided to follow Dicky’s lead and venture down my margins. I fed half a big pot of micros and 4mm’s down to my right and started short to the left, where I had drip-fed pellets by hand since the all-in. The left hand edge wasn’t particularly productive, I landed one small carp and pricked another. So, when I spotted a tail-vortex down to my right, I couldn’t get a rig in quick enough.
I filled a medium sized cad-pot with micros and 4mm’s, then hurriedly shipped along the inviting-looking right-hand margin. The float had been in the water for a matter of seconds when it flew under and a lovely carp of around 8lb made its way to my net.
This welcome edge fish was soon followed by two of his siblings, as I almost doubled my tally in a fifteen minute purple patch. In fact, the right hand edge is where I spent the majority of the following hour, picking off fish steadily, only laying a rig into the left hand margin when I felt I needed to give my right edge a rest.
A problem I encountered was that the left hand line was nowhere near as strong as the right, so I took the decision to start a new swim directly out in front, at just top kit and a short four from the bank. I kick-started this with a full pot of maggots and micro pellets, before I indulged in another recce down to the right.
To cut a long story short (that’s not like you, Dan), this is how I spent the final ninety minutes of my contest, swapping between the short pole and the right hand margin – abandoning the left edge completely. It was lovely fishing, never frantic but steady, and when the float shot under you didn’t know what you were about to catch: be it a plump f1, a skimmer, a ghost carp or a margin munter.
In the latter stages of the contest the fishing seemed to have picked up for everybody: next door Paul Sumner was catching – and occasionally losing – some big fish; Mark Seaborn was now snaring a few on corner peg 9; Rich Caswell had found some edge fish – there was elastic streaming out all over the place. The fish had obviously thrown caution to the wind and arrived for an afternoon munch. I noticed that the more you fed, the better it got, as I eventually took to feeding the short pole line with a full Guru XL pot of bait, sitting patiently over it until the float sailed away.
When the all out was called at 3.15, I was genuinely gutted that my day’s angling had to end. The fishing was so good in the last hour that I didn’t even notice the howling winds and steady smirr of rainfall. In fact, I was concentrating so hard that I barely even heard Paul’s constant singing next door – although I felt somewhat responsible for this musical barrage. I had borrowed Paul a disgorger mid-match and it set him right off, leading to a rendition of “Dis-gorger, you know say Daddy Snow me I go blame… a licky boom boom down”, an amusing rendition of Canadian rapper Snow’s 1992 hit “Informer” – a reference not lost on anybody who was a teenager in the early nineties.
So, I set to work packing my sodden kit away, ready to help Mark with the weigh in. We started on peg 1 where Dan Lunn placed 44lb on the scales, before moving along to next-peg neighbours and travelling companions (they just can’t get enough of each other) Dicky and Moggy. It was a close run thing between the pair, Dicky’s 72lb of edge fish falling just short of Moggy’s 75lb feeder-caught bag.
Next to weigh was Dave “The Angler Formerly Know As Glove” Coyne with 39lb, before we moved along to Richard Caswell on peg 7. I knew that Rich had snared a few as he was in my eyeline all day, catching on a variety of methods. After two weighs his nets went 81lb – a big well done!
We then made our way along to end peg 9, where Mark had endured a torrid afternoon. Firstly his pole sections stuck solid, then, when they eventually loosened, he dropped his number four section into the pool. He managed to keep his composure though, weighing in a respectable 69lb. So, as predicted, the car park bank had fished very well.
Along to the end bank next where Mr Consistent Ian Gibson tipped 76lb onto the scales, taking him into second place (does he ever fish a bad match?) We then moved around to the caravan bank, where we weighed in Dan Drust and Paul Sumner first, both anglers having struggled in the blustery conditions.
It was my turn to weigh next; although I was admitting to 80lb, I secretly hoped to be closer to the ton. My first net went 76lb and my second net 56lb, giving me a surprising total of 132lb. This also handed me the match win, as the next two anglers on my bank, Bob and Tony, weighed in 36lb and 45lb respectively.
The last angler to weigh receives this week’s Man of the Match award, on end peg 24: John Gibson. He was battered by the wind all afternoon but got on with it admirably, catching a lovely bag of carp, skimmers and ghost f1s – top angling.
So, that’s almost our lot for this week – thank you for taking the time to read my blog. If any of you geeks want a wee look at the weigh sheet, this week’s offering is a thing of beauty…
What a day we enjoyed today; great fishing with awesome people – who gives a damn about the weather. I caught some clonking fish, was thoroughly entertained by Paul Sumner and somehow convinced Bob to get off with a goldfish.
I admit it, I love club angling. The camaraderie. The laughter. How pleased your fellow anglers are for you when you do well…
Until next time…