July the 28th, 16 fished.
A Wythall Royal British Legion AC contest today, at Woodland View fishery, in rural Worcestershire. For this, the seventh club match of the season, we would be fishing Ghost. I always look forward to matches on this pool because it is, in my opinion, one of the very best in the midlands.
I hoped that my win at Ockeridge on Saturday would prepare me well for this contest, especially with both the fishing and stamp of fish being similar at each venue. Tactically, a simple contest of short pole, shallow and edges ought to be the order of the day, so I packed rigs and bait to cover these options.
After breakfast in the fishery cafe, I took a wander up to the pool with Joe. Here we were “greeted” by an outfit of crooked characters, who had been doing a kind of unhelpful, reverse pegging out. This involves skulking around the pool, pointing and grumbling about which pegs shouldn’t be put in the draw bag, so that in the eventuality that one of this gruesome foursome should draw such an area, they could sit and complain all day that “ … this peg shouldn’t even be fuckin’ in” or “little twat couldn’t peg washing!”
Walking around Ghost, it was clear that the windward end of the pool would be the place to draw. From peg 7 round to 13 there was a thin film of scum on the surface of the water, and a lot of fish were giving themselves away.
With sixteen anglers present – the most you would want fishing Ghost – pegging should be reasonably simple: seven anglers along each bank and one on each end. The issue we were faced with though, was that an aerator was roiling away directly in front of near-end peg 24, and although a lot of fish were happily moving through the oxygenated water, it would be impossible to present a rig.
Fishery owner Mike Mason instructed us to leave this peg out, claiming that anybody “who knows what he’s doing” could win from the area, but if it was drawn by a less-capable angler, they may have grounds for complaint.
We heeded this advice, leaving out 24 and placing corner pegs 1 and 22 into the bag; swims that should suffer less water-disturbance caused by the nearby bubbler.
But, as we were tackling up, Mike arrived at Ghost pool in a golf buggy and turned the aerator off. Why he did this, after advising us to leave the peg out merely an hour before, beggars belief.
Deep-shallow is a serious blog (kind of), so under normal circumstances I would never use an emoji. But, if I were to use one to sum-up Mike’s actions today, it would be that bloke in the blue jumper, palms raised to the sky, with a confounded look on his face that says, quite simply, Why!?
At 9am we gathered in the car park to draw, and to cut a long story short, I drew an absolute rocket in eleven. Not only is this the best peg on the venue, but it is arguably the best peg in Droitwich. Perhaps in Worcestershire. In the Midlands even. With confidence high after a day’s edge fishing at Ockeridge, I fancied a positive contest and relished the prospect of a big weight.
Arriving at my home for the day, it became instantly clear why peg 11 is so sought-after. Situated on the end bank, I would be fishing into the middle of the pool on the long pole. Also, the margins were roomy and looked very inviting.
I wouldn’t have it all my own way today though, as my neighbouring anglers were Trevor Faulkner, who had drawn corner peg 9 and Graham Green, on opposite corner 13; both of whom are adept at short pole/edge fishing, so would be difficult to beat.
At 10.10, just before the all in was called, Graham Green called across to me, asking if I’d like a small gift. Thinking it was a leaving present from the lads in the club following my recent move to Scotland, I accepted his kind offer.
Graham arrived at my peg seconds later, with an enormous grin on his face, carrying the ‘generous present’ of a dead duckling. I have no idea how this poor creature met its premature end, and far be it from me to idly speculate, but Graham has previous in the untimely extermination of waterfowl.
At 10.15 the all in was called and I went in with a 6mm expander, feeding a few 4mm’s. It took me a long time to get a bite, but after fifteen minutes of feeding, re-feeding, lifting and dropping, I caught my first fish of the contest: a lovely, golden f1 of around 2lb.
After half an hour of missed indications, I changed the expander pellet over to a hard pellet, but still, I struggled to make something happen. In hindsight (that wonderful thing), I probably set up my short pole line in too much water; it was almost 5ft at 5/6 meters and the fish would not settle in this depth.
After forty-five minutes on the short pole, with little more than 5lb in the onion bag, I decided to have my first look shallow. Sport was quiet around the pool at this point, with fish coming out in ones and twos, so I felt no need to panic.
My twenty-five minute spell shallow gave up just one bite, and a beautiful-looking fantailed f1. A stunning little fish, but unfortunately there are no prizes awarded for how attractive your catch is.
Over on peg eight, Joe had already gone down the edge, catching a carp of around 8lb; going on to prove this was no fluke fish by following up with a similar specimen ten minutes later. On peg sixteen Dave Brain was also fishing a steady match, catching some quality fish on the short pole.
I felt it was still a little soon to venture down my edges, so I came back in on the short pole while priming a swim with casters at twelve meters.
Again, the short pole wasn’t particularly productive, giving up a portly little mirror of around 3lb. While fishing this line, I had spotted the odd carp flashing through my catapulted casters, so I slipped a dark shell into a band and shipped out.
Again, this line produced a solitary carp; it felt like wherever I placed my rig, the best I could expect was a single, friendless fish. There was no pattern whatsoever to my contest, and I was starting to suspect I had been too single-minded in my approach. I regretted having not set-up a rig for long pole on the deck – perhaps a little pellet feeder even.
My match was not going well at all – a little embarrassing considering I was sat on such a noted peg. But, if things were not going to plan for me, I had to spare a thought for Trevor Faulkner over on peg nine. Not only was he situated beside the contest’s two front runners: Joe Wood on 8 and Pete Holtham on 7, who were both catching lumps down their edges. But, to compound Trev’s misery, his first bite of the day came some two hours in and resulted in a strange, wobbly sensation travelling through his pole elastic.
Somehow, Trevor had managed to hook a full tin of corn – straight through the ring-pull. Although the big man was somewhat underwhelmed by his surprise catch, I believe turning a single grain of corn into a full tin of corn is a miraculous feat – an almost Jesus-like act in fact.
Tony Corbett on peg 5 had an interesting theory as to how this rogue tin ended up in the pool. He suggested that a Yam Yam (somebody from the Black Country) had been on the peg the day before, and had strictly followed the advice that “You’ll need to feed a whole tin of corn to do any good.” Sounds feasible to me.
As we approached the mid-way point of the contest, I decided it was time to take a look down the edge. As all of my other lines had been unproductive up to this point, this was no great gamble. Added to this the fact that margin fish were now coming out all over the pool, and a recce down my edge was a no-brainer.
I kicked-off my right hand swim with half a pot of micros before going in down the left. Although this edge plumbed-up perfectly and looked good for a few bites, I sat staring at a motionless pole float tip for around ten minutes before filling the air with expletives and venturing down to the right.
I had a welcome little run down the right hand margin, catching two f1s, a stocky carp and a big mirror of around 9lb. Still, I had some way to go if I wanted to catch Joe Wood and Pete Holtham; it seemed like one – or both – of these anglers was busy playing a fish every time I looked up.
Basically, my edges didn’t really kick-off until the final forty-five minutes of the contest. Up to this point I could only catch in short bursts, before the fish spooked and I would be left waiting impatiently for an indication.
Rather than it being something I was doing wrong, I genuinely believe there weren’t many fish coming into the end bank, as Graham was struggling fishing into the corner of Peg 13 and Trevor was catching barely anything on peg 9.
Into the final forty-five minutes of the contest though and my margins were suddenly stuffed with fish; I couldn’t get a rig in quick enough. I caught carp from 2lb to 10lb, in a frantic closing spell when I put around 50lb in the net. I enjoyed finally getting my elastic stretched, but it was a case of too little, too late.
At 3.15 Pete Holtham called the all out, and as we packed away, all of the talk was of how it had been a great peg-to-peg battle between Joe and Pete. Both anglers had caught well down their edges – which was surprising if you consider that Trevor (9), Joe (8) and Pete (7) were the only anglers on the pool pegged in a line of three.
We ran a little sweep on the winning total, and it was generally agreed that Joe was a few fish ahead of Pete, with a weight of around 150lb.
We soon started the weigh in and it was clear it had been a typically busy day on Ghost pool, with everybody catching over 50lb of fish. Top weight until we reached peg seven was Brian ‘Boop-Be-Doop’ Cartridge, with a great weight of 107lb from peg four.
We then made our way along to Pete Holtham, who had fished a tidy match, predominantly down his edges, weighing in a level 142lb.
As next angler along Joe reached for his nets, he said “this is gonna be close!” – and it certainly was, as he pipped Pete by one small fish (or half of a decent fish) with a great weight of 144lb.
We then made our way past Big Trev, who recorded a surprise DNW, before we arrived at the best peg in the Midlands. In Britain. In The Entire Fucking U-ni-verse: Ghost 11, where I sheepishly plonked 104lb on to the scales – a total only made respectable by some last-gasp sacking-up down the edge.
As we moved along the caravan bank of the pool, it was clear that sport had been incredibly good. Again, every angler tipped over 50lb onto the scales, but Dave Brain was clear top weight with a skilfully amassed 122lb, from peg 16.
Without wishing to undervalue Brainy’s performance, this week’s Man of the Match also came from the caravan bank of Ghost, in the shape of Val Timms.
When Val shouted up to ask if anybody had a spare keepnet – this is with an entire hour of the contest remaining, you understand – I quipped “Bloody hell, he doesn’t usually need one!” Admittedly, not the kindest remark ever made, and one which led to Dave Richards (of all people) calling me a “Nasty Scottish Twat.”
But, if I may add some context to this mean-spirited comment, Val once fished two whole matches in Somerset without catching a carp, a feat akin to entering the Holte End at three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon without bumping into a complete dick-head.
So, this week’s Man of the Match, with a net-bulging 70lb, all caught on an elasticated method feeder, covered in bread paste and Robin Red pellets, fished on braid, with a size 8 micro-barbed hook and a fluro pop-up, none other than Val ‘What-Rules?’ Timms!
A fantastic contest this week; Ghost pool never lets us down. I can’t sign-off without saying a big well done to Joe on the match win, his third of the season, leaving him in a strong position in the club aggregate.
After an exhausting day of dead ducklings and impaling fish in the mouth with hooks, we continued the animal cruelty in The Robin Hood pub. Here, Dave Richards masterfully coaxed several wasps into an upturned beer glass – if only he could guide fish into his keepnets with this level of skill!
On the long drive home to Glasgow I zoned-out to the radio, while reflecting on an enjoyable weekend’s fishing. I considered the many things I could have done better – and the few things I did right.
As I made my meandering way through the Lake District, and the sun sank slowly behind the Cumbrian hills, a song came blasting across the airways, a country number – and one I’d never heard before, “The Ballad of Big Trev” by Johnny Cash. It goes…
“This is a story ‘bout the man Big Trevor – Who goes out fishin’ in any ol’ weather
Any weather that is ‘cept the winter months – ‘Cause fishin’ in the winter’s for stupid c…
Trevor has a pole that they say’s some length – That they say’s some size and say’s some strength
But I never did see this mighty erection – Because Trevor sits a’holdin’ his number four section
We went out fishin’ to Woodland View – And Trevor he was fishin’ his two plus two
And he started out lookin’ kinda sad-forlorn – When he caught a tin o’ corn with a single grain o’ corn
I say he caught a tin o’ corn with a single grain o’ corn
This ‘ere’s the story of that man big Trevor – He been catchin’ fish for as long as forever
An’ some folks say he weigh thirty-three stone – But other folks say that’s one leg alone
An’ his seams they scream an’ his buttons all pop – As he serves up bait in the tackle shop
He’s a smokin’ fishin’ big bad dude – He’ll eat your wife and f*#k your food
Yeh we went out fishin’ to Woodland View – And Trevor he was fishin’ his two plus two
And he started out a lookin’ full o’ fire and scorn – When he caught a tin o’ corn with a single grain o’ corn
Oh he caught a tin o’ corn with a single grain o’ corn…”
Until next time…