October the 7th, 15 fished.
A decent turn out of 15 anglers today, all prepared to brave the year’s first proper frost in the hope of catching a few fish. For this Hall Green Home Guard contest we would be fishing Little Geary’s, at the beautiful Packington Somers complex.
Recent weights on this pool had been poor, on the weekend prior to our visit a contest attended by some excellent anglers was won with just 32lb, and midweek weights were no better. For this reason fishery manager John Burchell let us pay for just the pegs we used on the day, rather than the price for the entire pool; a very generous gesture. After recent troublesome visits to Ockeridge and Solhampton, it makes you all the more grateful to be dealing with somebody as hospitable and uncomplicated as John.
After a short lay-off it was great to be both back on the bank and back blogging. It was also good to be amongst friends again; I was particularly pleased to see Dave Coyne, who has recently retired from being a unicorn.
I must apologise to Dave here as he explicitly instructed me not to put pictures of him on the net. Whilst I understand that I have completely disregarded this reasonable request for the sake of a cheap gag, what Dave fails to understand is that this blog is only read by eleven people – and three of them are Trevor Faulkener.
It was also strangely reassuring to see Dicky on form for this contest. “Form” for Dicky involves staying out until 3am, washing down his magic medication with approximately thirteen pints of Stella. The thing is, the more monged Dicky is when he fishes, the better he seems to perform – in fact, if he developed a full-blown crack cocaine addiction I’m sure he would join Alan Scotthorne and co in representing England.
At 9am we gathered outside the fishery cafe to draw. I’m not generally one to protest pre-emptively about draws, as this is self-defeatist behaviour; I’d much rather approach my peg with an open-mind and see what it might offer. Today though, I was desperate to avoid the top end of the pool, from peg 19 round to 23, as this is an area that rarely throws-up a weight.
Into the bag of doom and out pops – 11. Not a brilliant area, but by no means a bad one – and I could feel relieved to have avoided the pegs up the farthest end of the pool.
Moggy had plucked number 7 from the bag: a peg of such high-standing in match fishing circles that it is ranked up there with peg 6 on Island Pool at Manor Farm Leisure and the famous peg 16 Twin Oaks at Whiteacres.
Other draw-bags worth mentioning include Tony Newbold on dolly peg 5, Brian Fowler on 27 and this man, Joe Wood…
Plan of attack today was to feed a ball of groundbait at 13 meters – Sonubaits’ F1 Dark, if you were wondering – and fish maggots over this. I would also ‘ping’ maggots over the top of this line in the hope of catching through the depths.
If the maggot and groundbait line failed to produce I had a proper kitchen sink job at my disposal: I set up a pellet feeder for across, a waggler for the same line, a maggot feeder for three-quarters of the way over, an edge rig, shallow rigs from eighteen inches to mid-depth, a can of Thatchers Gold and a mini harpoon.
For company today I had Malvern’s finest to my right, in the shape of Dan Lunn…
To my left I had Mark “Method Man” Seaborn on peg 13.
At 10.15 the all in was called; I placed a firm ball of groundbait and around 50 maggots into a pole cup and plopped it in at 13 meters. I then threaded two red maggots onto a size 18 b911 and placed my rig over where I had fed. Before I had the chance to pick up my catapult there were signs on my float, little dips and sideways movements. It was encouraging to see that the fish had homed-in on my bait so quickly – especially with it being such a bitterly cold morning.
After several lift-and-drops and some missed indications, I finally snared my first fish of the day: an f1 of a pound. I then placed around twenty maggots into a cad pot and shipped back out to 13 meters, also feeding this line by catapult in the hope of drawing a few of my neighbours’ fish in.
I was still suffering false-indications, I felt like they were caused by either “nuisance” fish or by larger specimens sitting just off bottom. After another small f1 on the deck rig, I foul-hooked a fish on-the-drop, taking this as my cue to try up-in-the-water. I started off on the deepest of my three shallow rigs, set at 3 foot.
With it being so cold, I can’t say that I expected shallow fishing to work. But after five minutes of laying in a dinky 4 x 10 Des Shipp f1, my float dipped, I lifted my pole and yards of elastic poured from my top kit. It was lovely.
I stuck with fishing shallow for the following hour. It was by no means hectic, but every ten minutes or so I would snare an f1, and with little being caught around the pool at this point I was just happy to be putting something in the net.
After a while though, bites dried up on the shallow line, despite me altering depths and playing around with my feeding. Realising it was probably time to fish hard on the deck again, I let out a tiny pathetic whimper, as it dawned on me that these fish would almost certainly be the last caught shallow of the year.
I kick-started the full-depth line with another generous ball of groundbait, again shipping-out and fishing straight over it. Some fish settled over this feed almost instantaneously, leading me to conclude that it was definitely the groundbait that was creating interest in my peg. This was further evidenced whenever I tried to top my swim up with a nugget of groundbait rather than a big ball, as invariably bites became hard to come by.
As all match anglers do, I was trying to visualise what might be happening under the water. Of course this involves a great deal more speculation than judgment, but I came to the conclusion that when I fed a ball of groundbait a number of fish were rushing in for a munch – probably small roach and skimmers to begin with, which would explain the iffy bites. Then, as the amount of groundbait in the swim diminished, the fish would spook, eventually backing off. Therefore, I could only catch one or two before it was necessary to re-feed.
A mid-match telephone call with Tony Newbold confirmed that it was fishing rock-hard for most; just four or five f1s was the best return down his end of the pool. I was owning up to a dozen at this point, so I decided to flog the long pole line for as long as I could before fishing down my edges late on.
The long pole line produced odd fish until the final ninety minutes of the contest – bites usually coming just as the float settled, making laying the rig in very important. I had pushed this swim all day, feeding around a kilo of groundbait and two pints of maggots, so it was little surprise when I was forced to look elsewhere for a bite.
I decided I would top up my edges first then have a few exploratory chucks out with the waggler. The left hand edge had been drip-fed with maggots all contest, so it was a case of feeding a larger amount of grubs here through a big pot to concentrate the fish. The right hand edge was treated to a big ball of groundbait – and if the long pole was any kind of indicator, this would be the more productive line of the two.
I gave the waggler fifteen minutes, but after a few dips and dinks that lead to nothing it went up the bank and I took my first look down the edge.
My edge rig was set at three foot; I believe that when the weather dips, it’s important to find a depth f1s feel comfortable to feed in, whereas proper carp are still comfortable to patrol against features in shallower water. For whatever reason, I felt that today three foot would be the optimum depth.
Float choice for this line was a 6 x 11 (meaning it takes six number 11 Stotz) Mick Wilkinson Slim. I don’t buy into pole float snobbery, as many shop-bought patterns I use are equal to handmade designs I own. But, I’m yet to find another float that does what the MW Slim does: it shots beautifully, sits perfectly, is super-sensitive, easy to read – and when it goes under it is UNDER (anyone who has used these amazing little floats will know exactly what I mean.)
The edge fishing was steady – and as suspected the groundbait line was certainly the stronger of the two. In fact, I only caught silver fish from my left-hand, loose-fed swim. At times I felt that a number of fish were in the right-hand margin, grubbing amongst the groundbait. A suspicion confirmed when I pricked a fish and it bolted out of the swim, a disturbance followed by several vortexes as the other fish present took this as their cue to disperse.
I put a further six f1s in the net in the final hour of the contest; these edge fish were a noticeably bigger stamp than those I had caught out in open water. I managed to snare a couple of stunning samples around the three pound mark; decent, but nowhere near the size of f1 this pool is capable of producing. I have witnessed a carp-crucian hybrid of over seven pounds being weighed after a contest on Little Geary’s, and I am told there are even bigger specimens in there.
When the all out was called at 3.15, I was sad that my day’s fishing had to come to an end. Not only was it the most enjoyable match I had fished with the Home Guard all season, but the best contest I had fished all year. It felt like one of those days when every fish had to be truly caught.
As I packed my gear away the fishery staff began the weigh-in, and by the time I caught up with the scalesman, Joe Wood was leading the way with a hard-earned 24lb from peg 1. On (flyer) peg 7, Moggy tipped 17lb 8oz into the sling, tying with Richard Caswell on peg 3.
The scales soon made their way along to me, my net of f1s going 44lb. This put me into the lead, a position I was assured I would retain as the pool had fished incredibly hard. I had no idea just how poor sport had been though until I followed the scales around from peg 13 to 23, an area where just 8lb was top weight.
For the gruesome details of the day’s non-events, see below…
Before I sign off, I feel that I ought to address a few complaints I’ve received recently, criticisms voiced at me so vehemently that I almost ditched Deep-Shallow for good. Apparently, I’m incapable of writing a blog without referring to somebody as “grossly overweight” or “a sex offender.”
Which brings me nicely to this week’s Man of the Match, Steve Wheeler…
I had thoroughly enjoyed my contest, catching beautiful f1s on a bright, frost-bitten day. It was eerily quiet around the pool for a Hall Green contest; Paul didn’t bother to belt out a hundred eighties classics, Brian forgot to tell every passer-by the tale of the day he fell into Barston Lakes, and most surprisingly, as I had my picture taken with my match-winning catch, nobody turned up to jeer and gesticulate.
Which suited me fine.
Until next time…