August the 19th, 17 fished.
Back to Manor Farm this week, not for the open this time, but a Wythall Royal British Legion contest – and it was good to see a healthy showing of seventeen anglers after recent turn-outs of just eleven and twelve.
Regular followers of my blog will be aware that I fished Island Pool on the Wednesday open a couple of weeks before this one, taking the spoils with 197lb of mainly bomb-caught fish. Although I learnt a lot that day, I’m still no big fan of practicing. I’m simply not a skilled or consistent enough angler to regularly put in good performances, so if I do well in a warm-up match, I feel that I have already ‘used up’ my best effort.
Former England and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer is of the same mind. During his illustrious playing career, Alan refused to take shots in the pre-match warm-up, his thinking being that if he rattled in too many pearlers there would be nothing left for the main event. So, pleased as I was with my open win, it probably equated to Super Al belting in thirty yarders in front of half-a-dozen adoring, pie-eating Geordies – leaving nothing in reserve for when the match gets underway.
Preperation for this contest had been good – up until a couple of days before the match that is, when a routine check of my shallow rigs revealed that they had all, well… melted.
I’m aware that this doesn’t sound feasible, but see for yourself.
Saying this, I can count myself lucky to have any fishing tackle at all. A few days before the contest, I gave my gear the once-over before leaving for a night shift. I became distracted, rushed off to work and left my tackle out in the garden overnight.
This is how I found it when I returned home at 7am…
I arrived at the fishery early for this one, as I was on pegging-out duties. Walking around the pool with Joe it was clear there were a lot of fish showing between pegs 14 and 18; a warm wind was blowing into that bank and the edges were already full of big, mooching carp. Obviously a bung-hole around this area would be nice, but I would be pleased with anything between 6 and 23 – where the bigger fish seem to patrol.
So, I went over to the cafe and paid my pools. At least I attempted to pay my pools – the issue being the means of payment I chose. There was a suggestion that I kept hold of this Scottish note for no other reason than to see how deeply I could offend Nelly with mere currency; of course he rose to the occasion, racistly refusing to take my money. He balked at my protestations of “it’s sterling mate” and “it’s legal tender” on the grounds of…
At 9am I shuffled to the back of the draw queue. Straight away some good pegs came out of the bag: Pete Holtham took 23, Tony Corbett peg 20 and notably Dave Richards, who would be a danger from peg 14. When it was my turn to have a dip there were just two pegs remaining, and Graham Green was left with 32 as I plucked out the far more desirable peg 12.
I felt happy with my draw: there was a warm wind blowing into our bank, I had one empty peg to my left and two to my right, also there was a gap in the thick, island foliage for me to throw a feeder into – plenty of options.
I intended to base my match around the methods that had worked for me on the Wednesday open. Primarily I would try to get the bomb and short pole to work, but would set up edge rigs and a chucking rod as back up. With the wind hacking into our bank though, I felt convinced it would be a bomb day. I even went to the on-site tackle shop to buy four more pints of 8mm pellets, in case the eight pints I brought with me ran out.
For company today I had Danny ‘ham-fisted’ Hamilton on peg 9. Dan recently began a one man mission to test the tensile resistance of carbon, attempting to disprove studies that claim by weight-to-strength ratio, the mechanical properties of this material make it amongst the strongest in nature.
What I’m saying is, Dan breaks a lot of pole sections – and if he can’t get a section to break, he simply throws it into the lake.
On neighbouring peg 14 I had Dave Richards for company. Being aware that Dave is a tidy angler and would be difficult to beat from a good area, I attempted to lull him into a false sense of security. I did this by pretending I had no angling skill whatsoever as I clipped-up to the island. Firstly, I wanged my feeder out with such force that my terminal tackle in its entirety ‘cracked off.’ Next cast, I loosened the quiver tip of my rod and sent this hurtling towards the island. Still not satisfied that Dave would deem me an incompetent non-competitor, I loosened off the entire end section of my rod, sending 6 feet of carbon out in to the drink. At this point Dave turned to me and said ‘you really are a useless twat” – and I felt overjoyed that my tactical ploy had worked.
At 10.15 the all in was called, I decided I would follow my instincts and start on the bomb, feeding this line heavily in an attempt to draw in some of my competitor’s fish. I fed 8mm pellets with a Guru Incredible Pult – this isn’t the most accurate catapult on the market, but is great for getting lots of bait out quickly due to its large pouch. In fact, in the first hour of the contest alone I managed to rain in over four pints of pellets.
The opening period of my contest went reasonably well, as I put two carp and two f1s in the net for around 20lb. A good start, but I expected this pinging line to get stronger as the contest went on. I would cut back on pellets after my initial barrage, my thinking being that the first hour should be spent drawing as many fish as possible into the swim before feeding just odd pellets in order to create competition.
Into the second hour of the match and the straight lead line slowed up – which probably wasn’t such a bad thing. I mean, I’d rather not fish this mind-numbing method, never mind write two-thousand words about it. Tell me, who in their right mind would want to read a blog about fishing the bomb? Come to think of it, why would anybody read a blog about match fishing? There’s a whole internet out there with images of cats that look like Hitler and hilarious videos of fat kids falling off bicycles, yet you’re sat there drinking tea, reading this. I hope you feel suitably ashamed of yourselves.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, the bomb line went iffy, so I decided it was time to chuck long. On neighbouring peg 14 Dave Richards had snared a few fishing a rod-length away from the island, moving ahead of me now on weight. Also, Brian Cartridge on peg 17 had put a decent run of fish together, fishing a feeder three-quarters of the way across.
So I loaded a Guru hybrid feeder with 3mm pellets, sent it behind me, then launched it out, only for the thing to inexplicably fall a good fifteen yards short of the island. I then repeated the process, only this time I gave it more ‘welly’ (technical term.) Not only did this cast fail to make it to the island but, for the second time in the contest, my entire rig ‘cracked off’ – bugger.
Not one to be put off by my own display of sloppy angling, I tackled back up. This time refusing to let a simple cast defeat me. I sent the rod back behind me, put the blank under maximum compression and sent it forward with a… CRACK!
Now, it’s hard to describe just how poor this period of the contest was for me, so perhaps it’s apt that we return to the Alan Shearer analogy, because I was starting to believe I had ruined my chances by ‘shooting in the warm up.’
It was like the match was underway and Newcastle had been awarded a penalty, so Big Al steps up to take it. The Toon Army watch on as the balding goal machine waits, hands-on-hips, for the referee’s whistle. It blows, and as he takes the first step of his run-up, he farts and follows through. There’s shit everywhere – but Super Al is determined to score for the Geordie masses. He strikes the ball but connects poorly, sending it flying over the crossbar and into the disabled enclosure, where it crashes into the head of a young wheelchair-bound supporter as he’s about to take a sip of Bovril.
This heartbroken young fan is soaked in tears and scalding, beefy liquid. Almost instantaneously, a chorus of boos rings around the stadium. Then the furious, Gallowgate End faithful break into a chant of ‘Alan Shearer, what a wanker, what a wanker.’
Being a club legend, Big Al makes his way over to console this young fan, intending to give him a signed photo and a voucher for a crate of Newcastle Brown Ale. But, as the self-defecating number nine steps over the advertising hoardings, somebody launches a fifty-pence-piece at him, slicing his head wide open.
If you stayed with me through that analogy, please accept my gratitude and congratulations; what I’m attempting to convey is that I fished like an absolute moron, wasting the best part of an hour, breaking expensive items of tackle and ultimately, putting nothing in the keepnet.
With one less option open to me, I decided it was time to get back on the straight lead. A crumb of consolation being that while I had my mid-match melt down, nobody had built up a big lead. If I could find a few fish I would be back in the running.
First chuck on the bomb and the tip flew ‘round. Next cast, the same. Next cast, you’ve guessed it… I was annoyed at myself for having wasted so much time chucking to the island.
Looking around, I couldn’t see a great deal being caught; the lads drawn in the 30’s were obscured by the island, but I felt that I was now in with a chance against the anglers on my side of the pool.
As we entered the final hour and a quarter of the contest, I set myself a target of 30lb, believing that this would give me a finishing total of around 80lb. I actually put close to 50lb in the net in this period – as predicted, the bomb line just got better as the contest wore on.
I class myself as a lucky-unlucky type of angler, by which I mean I draw my fair share of good pegs, land foul-hooked fish and occasionally scoop those that ping off at the landing net. The flip-side to this is that I fall in with an alarming regularity, break a lot of gear and, as mentioned earlier, recently had a tray of pole floats somehow melt.
I tell you this because there was a big, lean common I landed today which fell firmly into the ‘lucky’ category. We’ve all heard the saying “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.” Well, here’s the blind carp who found an 8mm pellet.
If you’d like to draw an ‘x’ where you think his eye should be, send the image in – because it’s competition time!
The winner will receive their choice of either a 12ft Matrix Carpmaster Method feeder rod or a selection of pole floats. *Note: these items may not be in ‘perfect’ condition.
Good luck, guys!
At 3.15 the all out was called; I was pleased with how my day had gone – or rather, I was pleased with what I managed to put in the net. I felt that I had fished an effective match, albeit one which could never be described as ‘composed.’ Okay, I was an absolute shambles but managed to catch a few – but, better to be lucky than good.
Aside from two large f1s snared “properly” on the waggler, I had caught all of my fish on the straight lead: a method I employed for around two thirds of the contest. The scales would decide if coming off this line had been a mistake.
We started the weigh in at peg 3, where Lee Westwood recorded a DNW. In fairness to Lee, peg 3 was one of two I wouldn’t have fancied on the day, the other being 27. We then weighed in pegs 4 and 6, where Nelly Palmer and John Bushell chipped-in with 36lb and 45lb respectively.
Danny Hamilton was next up from peg 9, his weight of 62lb proving that it had definitely been a bomb day. The majority of Dan’s fish were caught in the final two hours of the contest, throwing a lead 3/4 of the way across.
After this it was my turn to weigh. My first net going 55lb and my second 62lb, giving me a total of 117lb. Pleased as I was with this outcome, I couldn’t help but think what might have been had I concentrated my efforts on the straight lead. I believe my peg was worth in excess of 150lb.
The next three weights were very close, with Dave Richards’ 50lb 8oz just bettered by Steve Siddell’s 51lb 11oz – which in turn was narrowly overtaken by Brian Cartridge’s 54lb.
Next angler to weigh in was this week’s Man of the Match, Trevor Faulkner, who found a few early on the feeder before enjoying a good last hour fishing the short pole.
The back bank of the pool hadn’t fished well – aside from Pete Holtham’s return of 63lb from peg 23. So we made our way around to the pegs in the thirties, where the two leaders in this season’s aggregate were pegged. Both anglers had fished similar matches, topping up their nets of carp and f1s with silver fish. Graham Green tipped 62lb on the scales, closely followed by Eddie Swann with 59lb – both returning skimmer bags of around 30lb; impressive angling.
Aside from adding to the tackle graveyard that is my shed, it had been a thoroughly enjoyable day spent in great company. Finished off, as is customary, with a pint or two in The Vineyard pub.
I don’t know if it was the drink talking, or perhaps I was just thinking aloud, but in the van on the way home, as I discussed the day’s events with Joe, I said to him “…it’s a bit like Shearer has scored a few decent goals in practice, then in the match he gets a penalty… okay, he shits himself a bit, but he still puts the ball in the net. Do you know what I mean?”
Joe replied with “No, I don’t. What the fuck are you taking about?”
So I said “Super Al – he didn’t hit the disabled lad, did he!”
Quite sensibly, Joe chose not to speak after that.
Until next time…