August the 1st, 11 fished.
A bit of a change today, as I fished the Wednesday open at Drennan Manor Farm Leisure with Joe Wood. It’s not a change for me to fish an open, I do this quite regularly – it’s just unusual for me to write home about it. Generally, there’s little in the way of banter on the open circuit, everybody is focused and super-serious so humour is seen as an unwelcome distraction; therefore I have little subject matter for the blog.
Being Joe’s 40th Birthday, this was his choice of venue – although it was a close call between Manor Farm and Lower Park. Either Fishery was fine by me, but after a few visits to Lower Park in recent weeks, I was looking forward to some rod and line work.
On arrival at the fishery we bumped into Sammy Round and Les Ayers. It was great to see this pair of older campaigners on the bank, particularly Sammy who has recently overcome some health issues. Speaking to both anglers, it seemed that pegs 6 and 16 were most sought-after, failing this peg 23 where Neil McKinnon caught over 230lb on the Sunday open – although there were only five fishing that day.
Into the bag of doom and I pulled out 16, an absolute rocket of a peg and one I’ve always wanted to draw. Top local rod Steve Rich had drawn peg 6, much touted as “The Best Peg in Europe”; although this is a great area, I had a quiet preference for my home for the day.
For the record, Birthday boy Joe Wood found himself on (distinctly average) peg 4.
As I had drawn such a flyer, I decided to keep things really simple, setting up three rods: one each for the bomb, waggler and hybrid feeder. I also assembled two rigs, a slapping job and my favoured Malman Roob for the short pole.
Bait for the day was pellets, pellets and more pellets. I believe there’s little point in taking any other bait to Manor Farm, unless it’s for feeding down the edge.
At 10.30 the all in was called… actually that’s untrue, nobody physically calls “all in” at Manor Farm, instead there is an eerie, ghost train siren to signal the beginning of the contest. Once I had overcome the psychological damage this sound causes, I pinged a few 8mm pellets towards an aerator at 25 meters and chucked the bomb over the top.
I fed this line quite heavily, in the hope of drawing in some fish, and after five minutes there were tell-tale little ‘plucks’ on the tip, which soon developed into proper pull rounds. When Steve Wheeler called me an hour into the match to congratulate me on drawing this much sought-after peg (his words being “I don’t know how you do it – you jammy little c#?t!”), I already had five f1s and a lumpy mirror carp of around 17lb to my name. The f1s in Island Pool are now big old dogs, so five of these added to my munter gave me over 30lb – a fantastic start.
Into the second hour of the match and the tip continued to go round frequently, which is a good job as when I’m chucking the straight lead my overbearing thought is “can I reel in now, please.” I concede that there is a skill to bomb fishing – there must be as those that have the knack make it work so regularly – but given the choice, I’d take fishing shallow on the long pole or dropping a little feeder into a rat-hole any day.
Fishing the bomb is so derided in the Midlands in fact, that it is often referred to as “The Paedo”, a name given to this particular method because it is favoured by dirty old men who ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Into the third hour of the contest, with around 70lb in the net, I had my first quiet spell on the bomb. I thought this might be my big chance to reel in and do something enjoyable, but a not-so-genius tactical tweak of casting just past my feed actually made the fishing better. I was catching less frequently, but instead of f1s most of my fish were now proper carp in the 4-6lb bracket, with the odd fatty thrown in for good measure.
Looking around the pool – or as far round as I could see, so pegs 4 to 23 – I felt that I was in pole-position, although Steve Rich was catching well on peg 6. Over on peg 4 Joe had already ventured down the edge, which lead me to believe things weren’t going too well for him.
As we entered the final two hours of the contest, I started to suffer with lots of liners on the bomb – if I sat on my hands I’ve no doubt these false-indications would transfer into proper bites, but I took this opportunity to try another tactic. The pellet waggler is no longer the method it once was, but I can think of no more enjoyable way of catching fish, so if there is even a half-chance the wagg’ will go under, I chuck it.
Fortunately this was a waggler day, as I had a steady half an hour picking-off large f1s and small carp on this tactic until the wind rendered it un-fishable (is that even a word?) Rather than wang a bomb back over this line though, I decided I would have a little look on my short pole line, which I had primed with 6mm pellets since the contest began. This swim was also very productive, as I landed several good f1s here – and a double-figure mirror carp foul-hooked in the eye. Ouch!
Into the last hour of the contest and I spent my time rotating the bomb, waggler and short pole lines. If I’m being completely honest, there was little skill involved – my swim was absolutely solid. This led next-peg neighbour Les to dryly observe, “is there anywhere in that peg where you won’t catch a fucking fish?” My honest answer: probably not.
At 3.30, when the ghoulish air-raid siren signalled the end of the contest, I knew that it had been a red letter day. I hadn’t used a clicker, but was convinced I had over 150lb.
It doesn’t take long to find out at Manor Farm, as Dave Byrd and his assistant promptly begin the weigh-in. When they arrived at my peg, Steve Rich was leading the way with 126lb and Joe was sitting in second position with a weight of 83lb.
I had split my carp and f1s all contest, and decided to weigh my carp first. There were several very large mirror carp in the net, along with some nice ghosties and commons. After a few weighs, my carp total was given as 120lb. I knew that I had less f1s than this, but there were still plenty of them – 77lb in fact. Giving me a match winning, personal best total of 197lb.
Aside from boredly emptying it on the bomb for three hours, I had absolutely loved my day’s fishing. I felt a bit guilt-stricken that I had beat my lovely pal Joe on his big Birthday (I think they call it ”sorry-not-sorry”), but at least I bought him Rattlers cider and crisps on the way home with my winnings.
As a point of interest, although we had a brilliant day at Manor Farm Leisure, catching the best part of 300lb between us, our other venue-of-choice had also fished well. Fellow Wythall Royal British Legion angler Graham Green had chosen to fish the Lower Park open, breaking the fishery record with a superb 204lb of f1s – well done, mate.
Before I sign-off, I’ll pre-warn you that it might be necessary for me to change the name of the blog in the near future. See, once I had weighed-in, Dave Byrd asked me who I fish for, so that he could include the names of any sponsors I may have when posting the match result online. I said “… it would be great to give my fishing blog a little promotion, so ‘Deep hyphen Shallow’ if you don’t mind, Dave.”
There was a short pause, then Dave’s assistant, in a thick West County accent, muttered “Deep Shaaaallow, whassa fuck’s thaaat mean?” Before slowly thrusting his hips back-and-forth to the rhythm of, “Deeeep… Shallowww… Deeeep… Shallowww… Deeeep… Shallowww..”
Actions so disturbing they might be enough to put you off fishing – and sex – forever.
Until next time…