Thursday, 11 October 2012

September 2012

6th September 2012

Kirkby-on-Bain Fishery

I sneaked out of the house at around 4.30pm. Having only fished matches in the previous two months I was keen to get out and do a bit of pleasure fishing. Coupled with this Mrs P had bought me a new pole for my birthday that I just couldn't wait any longer to try it. I had set up the elastigate system in one of the top kits and ended up super glueing most of my fingers together. Basically a puller kit, I had never used one but was eager to try it out as soon as I had separated my digits.

I'd been to Kirkby-on-Bain fishery once before and done really well, catching lots of skimmers and also heard stories of some bigger resident bream. Rambler Rob had recently been and caught a couple of five pounders which was encouraging..

Pulling into the car park I was confronted with an impossibly long list of rules. Normally I don't entertain anywhere like this but I suppose the adjoining caravan site necessitates it. Gathering all my gear together I walked up the right hand side of the pond away as far away from everyone else as possible. I still ended up with someone opposite me but he was fishing his margin so he would not be a problem. A bit of a Shimano fan (I only use their reels) I had bought a Technium 13m pole last year. It has been really disappointing. Weak walls and a bit on the heavy side I think they really messed up with this model. Luckily the Beastmaster margin I got for my birthday is a different animal all together and I set it up to fish at about six metres. Shame then that my cupping kit of the Technium didn't fit. Never mind I cupped in four 250ml cups of groundbait and pellets with five sections of my old pole.

To cut a long story short my swim went mental. Bubbles everywhere! I fished paste to try and get the bigger Bream. I ended up catching lots of small skimmers and about six or seven small carp. "Have you stocked this place?" I asked the nice owner lady when she came round for the money. "No, the Carp have just bred naturally," she replied. Not sure if I believe her but she was very pleasant all the same and only charged me £3, which is good value. If you are looking for a few bites then this place could be for you, just don't expect to have it to yourself.
09 September 2012

The Secret River, Lincs
This is one I really wanted to tell you about. My favourite river. I took Mrs P and the Chaos twins over to the coast for a walk around the nearby nature reserve. It wasn't very dog friendly so we popped over to the River. The water was gin clear and the streamer weed glistened in the midday sun. It was everywhere and totally unfishable. The dogs played happily for a while and we decided to get some lunch. We drove down to Saltfleet and The New Inn which I can recommend highly for a Sunday lunch. On the way back I spotted a turning towards the river. We stopped just short of a small bridge and I got out. Mrs P soon joined me and we both peared down into the depths. The River passed under the bridge and it opened out below it. Thick rushes lined both sides and the water was deep. Too deep to see the bottom. I simply had to go back home and get my gear!
A quick trip to ever helpful Eric at Woodlands for some maggots and I was soon back to the spot at about half past five (a forty plus mile round trip). Only another angler would understand this. I eagerly threw a few maggots in and watched them fall through the water column. Something was attacking them about four feet down. I couldn't quite see what so I hurriedly set up a small waggler and made my first cast. The float had barely settled and It rapidly disappeared under the surface film. I struck and a small silver fish flashed as it made a bid for freedom. Bringing it to the surface a big Perch had a go for it. Slightly startled I examined my catch. A small Dace.
A few more micro Dace followed and then I had a rather strange bite. I struck into something more substantial but no fight was forthcoming. To my surprise the culprit turned out to be a crab! Being only about a mile from the Sea I suppose it was not that unusual. Strange to catch coarse fish and crabs in the same spot though. The Dace were becoming a pest and I was pleased when Roach came to hand. Not big but very welcome. A couple more followed and then the biggest shock of the day. The float buried and once again a fish was on. What the hell is this I thought as it careered all over the place. A Sea Trout! Again not very big but my first in over thirty years fishing.
I fished on as the the light faded in the hope of a Perch or two but they didn't show, just loads more Dace. What a fantastic little spot though and I am very much looking forward to going again. I'm not entirely sure what the fishing rights are. I suppose I should find out really!
What next then? Well I have one more match to fish this Sunday. I have a big gap on my bookshelf where the Trophy from my win last year sat so I would really like to get it back. Watch this space.
Till next time

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

June 2012

I had big plans for this months Diary but alas my phone decided to expire. Such a shame because I had some beautiful photos that I had taken with it to show you and now they are lost forever. I'll do my best with words though and I promise you some great images for July provided by my shiny new phone.

Something more positive is that the blog passed a thousand page views this month so I really need to thank you for all your support and interest. Hope you enjoy the latest instalment and tight lines!

Hawthorne Lake, Woodlands Complex, Spilsby, Lincs

Wed 7th June

As I unloaded the luxury sports van I looked down at Hawthorne Lake from the carpark. It had been a while since I last visited and the banks were covered in lush vegetation. A rainbow was visible in the distance after a short downpour. The rest of the sky was looking very moody and I reluctantly packed a big, waterproof jacket into my bag. Another angler was just loading up his car and as I looked over he said, "the owner has just gone out, you might get a free one!". "Oh, right.......great!" I replied.

I wandered down to my favourite perch peg. I wont give you the peg number but think twisted willow tree and you'll be in the right area. Unfortunately it proved a bit fruitless as all I could catch were carp. Small ones up to about five pounds were caught virtually every cast in. Frustrating when I was trying to catch something else but good fun anyway. I stopped for a couple of hours before the threat of rain and the unlikely prospect of any perch saw me retreat back to the van. There was no sign of Eric the owner as I left and the chap proved to be right, a rare freebie.

Rivers Soar and Trent, Leicestershire/Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire

Mon 18th June

I had been working at my parents house putting up a heavy duty fence. It had been warm all day and a majestic summers evening was unfolding. I had it in my mind to go to a spot on the River Soar that I used to fish years ago. In the middle of nowhere access was tricky but the fishing used to be great. Big bream/ Chub and Carp sheltered from the main flow of the river behind a big, long island known as Toones Island. I finished up at the house and headed eagerly down to the river.

Pulling up at the side of the fairly remote country road I opened the big five bar gate and drove my van in and a short distance down the track. I got out and returned to shut the gate. The track is used regularly by a local gun club. I passed a small hut and a bag of spent cartridges. You know those giant bags you get sand or gravel delivered in? There was one of those massive bags brimmed with thousands of cartridges and another half full. There have been wars with less shots fired! Leaving shotgun central behind the track disappeared into the undergrowth.

I pushed on in my poor little van. The grasses and vegetation got taller and eventually I could see very little. The greenery was lashing high up my windows as I flattened all that stood before me. The trees that lined to non existent track narrowed and I stopped and considered reversing out. That was not really an option so I carried on gingerly until I reached the open field next to the river. The grass in the field was still three or four feet high. In the past I had driven right up to the side of the river but I gave the van a break and walked the last couple of hundred yards. The River looked perfect. Plenty of flow and colour. The worst thing about living in Lincolnshire is the dearth of natural, unspoilt rivers. I had missed the old girl.

Walking upstream on the high bank I made my way up to my favourite spot. A large tree was situated on the near bank about twenty yards from the back of the island. The River flowed over some lillies and cabbages with various holes and eddy's. Small fish were topping all over and River looked to be teaming with life. To much really as a big horse fly landed on my arm and bit me! I shuffled around for a while taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. The place was rich in memories having spent so much time here in the past. I looked keenly for somewhere to fish. Nobody had been here for some time. The whole bank was wild. The reality of fishing faded as I walked downstream getting pushed further away from the river by the greenery. I was happy enough just being there. I've dug out a couple of old photos for you- sorry about the quality.

One of my very first fishing memories is a trip to the River Trent. With two of my brothers and their friend. We travelled at break neck speed in my brothers light blue Mk1 Escort. I had never returned to the spot we fished. I remember it fondly. It was over 25 years ago. Fast forward to Toones Island and I checked the map on my phone. Barrow on Trent was half an hour away. I could be there by seven pm! I hurried back to the van and forced my way back to the road. Turning out to be a proper little adventure this.

It was about fifteen miles of expectation and anticipation. Would it be the same? I really hoped so. A couple of missed turnings and I found the right road. It dipped and wound around through the tiny village until the road drew level with the river just as a remembered. The Trent looked fantastic. Powerful and relentless it powered along at a fair old pace. The side of the road was lined with bollards and in the middle of the green was a sign on a big wooden telegraph pole- NO FISHING AND NO PARKING it said bluntly. I stopped briefly and took in the atmosphere and recalled the events that I could remember. Curiosity satisfied I moved on. I went to several other old haunts that night and returned home without having taken my gear from my van. After a days work and a night reminiscing I slept soundly.

Nanpantan Reservoir

Tuesday 19th June

Sound familiar? That's right this is the place I wrote so fondly about in my first looking back post.
I travelled out of town to the tackle shop to get a day ticket. It is also where my old friend and boss works part time. He owned the fishing tackle shop I worked in when I was younger. Alas he wasn't there but I left a blog card in the hope that he might have discovered the Internet. He probably hasn't but I'll say hello anyway.

"Eight pounds fifty?" I exclaimed to the man as he wrote out my ticket. I looked again, yep that was the price on the corner of the ticket. "Two pounds forty when I last bought one" I said. "Crikey that must have been a while ago" the man said. Not kidding I though as I left the shop feeling thoroughly violated.

The place hasn't changed. The banks are still ridiculously steep. Three sets of Carp anglers were fishing. One of them in the first group almost continually spodded randomly to no effect. The two just down from where I settled were smoking large, pungent roll-ups. The other group were noisily chatting. I fished opposite the water tower which looked as if it hadn't been switched on for some time and two ducks had made their home. Strangely and despite being surrounded by idiots it was nice to be back. The sun was shining and it was bouncing off the water with a shimmer.

I set up a method feeder and wondered if I could make it work in fifteen feet of water. It took twenty minutes to find out as the tip sailed round and a Bream of about two pounds came in. They came in spurts but I ended up with about ten bream and a few roach. I saw a couple of people I know walking around and they stopped for a chat. I have another blog which goes into a bit more detail about this day as it ended up being a bit emotional. Be warned it sometimes gets a bit sweary and I haven't actually posted about that particular day yet. It'll be up soon though and you can find it at

Ash Lake, Woodlands complex, Lincs

Wednesday 27th June

Mrs P always takes some persuading to go fishing. I don't know why because she is good, a natural. She never goes for long though and we left the house at around six pm. Pulling up in the carpark we made our way over to the hut bumping into Eric on the way. He looked harassed.  It's a busy time of year for him and the recent weather was conspiring against him. We paid for our tickets and unloaded the van while Eric returned reluctantly to his grass cutting marathon.  Hawthorne Lake would have been my first choice but looked a bit busy so we settled on Ash which we would have to ourselves.

We settled on the near bank with the evening sun on our faces. Mrs P fished the float while I honed my feeder skills. Even fishing corn she was getting pestered by small fish. I soon built my swim up and she ended up sitting with me where she caught a few nice carp. By way of making up for the lack of photos I've uploaded a video of her in action here last year. I hope it's worked!

Toad Hall, Candlesby, Lincs

Evening matches

Thurs 8th June     Peg 6   12lb 6oz for third.
Tues 12th June    Peg 1    9lb 12oz for next to last
Thurs 14th June   Peg 17  DNW last
Thurs 21th June   Peg 2   10lb 1oz for next to last
Thurs 28th June   Peg 16  15lb 4oz For forth

What a disaster! I just couldn't catch anywhere near enough. Never looked close to winning and well of the pace. Put in perspective though the place is fantastic. Catching ten pounds of quality fish in three hours is still a good little session. Many anglers have lost sight of that among all these mega weights of semi- tame Carp you see in the press. The down side is that the pegs seem to change every week. Take Don for example. He's won twice and come last twice in four matches. Must be my turn soon. Ok, ok I won last Thurs but you'll have to wait for next months Diary for that one.

Once again thanks for reading

Till next time

Monday, 4 June 2012

May 2012 part 2


"Why the introduction Phil?" I hear you ask. Well I have something rather weird to try and explain before we continue. I was fishing a match recently and one of the guys rather magnanimously said the following-"I reckon you should take up match fishing seriously Phil cause I think you'd do alright". "I would" I said "but to be honest I don't really like it!"

I fished eight matches last month. Strange for a chap that doesn't really like them. So what is it that keeps drawing me back? Its expensive. You get told where to sit, often in an area you wouldn't have fished if you had a choice. Usually you'll sit enviously watching or at least aware of others catching fish. You can often have fish obviously feeding in your swim only to be told to stop fishing. I could go on. It goes against the grain for me on many levels. Sure, its nice to see and sit round a lake with friends and like minded people. The competition aspect is appealing to some but that's about all it has going for it.

I need to take you back. Five hundred years, a thousand, ten thousand. There is no Morrisons. You have to go out and forage or hunt or fish. Come back to your community or family with a big catch and you are a hero. You feel on top of the world. Worthy. Proud. Winning a match although by no means as important undoubtedly offers a similar set of emotions. It is the only explanation. Like an evolutionary ball and chain that I can't quite shake off

Partney Pit

Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th May

Peg 22- Weighed 3lb odd off peg 22. The old bloke that battered me with Ide at Farlesthorpe in the winter drubbed me off the next peg again. Two of the three Spilsby superstars the other side of me didn't weigh to restore some pride. Who knew the crowquill avon fished shallow was the right method on the day?

Peg 17- Flyer! Got there and the platform was covered in bait, including some casters that were still fresh. Hooked four carp, landed one 4lb 8oz. About seven pound won it. Any of the three I lost would have been enough.

Peg 12- Was one to draw last year, done nothing in the first three this year. Weighed 5lb something for third. Sneaked some skimmers on the method casting right to limits of my swim towards peg 15.

And that was it. Unfortunately the pit is now closed as fish have been dying in alarming numbers. Now I didn't set this blog up to start arguments and god knows Spilsby AC has had more fall outs than one of Judy Finnegan's Bras but I will say this- Firstly a committee should be formed with people of differing views. That way any decisions get thoroughly debated and balanced arguments put forward from many standpoints. If everyone on a committee has the same opinions then it becomes rather pointless and ineffective. Secondly take two superstores, Tesco and B and Q. They are both full of stuff. Put five hundred people in each and see how long they survive. With a bit of ingenuity the people in Tesco's could all live for 10 years +. The people in B and Q would be dead within six months. Just because the weed you pull out of Partney is full of invertebrates etc doesn't mean it is edible. I have a lot more I could say but wont for fear of expulsion from the club or worse- an invite to sit on the committee.

On a positive note so many people care about the club and have so much passion for what they do I'm sure everything will work out fine in the end. Good luck guys, keep plugging away.

Toad Hall

Tuesday 29th May

Thursday 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st May

Peg 16- Weighed 20lb 12oz for fourth. Tony won with 36lb. Caught some decent Roach and Rudd that are now about three to the pound. Fantastic sport. First match and fish very naive.

Peg 16- Again! Weighed 14lb 8oz for forth. Fish had moved and I reluctantly ended up chasing them around the bay catching most in the last hour. Don won with magnificent 46lb of Roach and Rudd.

Peg 19- 17lb odd for forth again! Gareth won with some big fish off peg 16 to make me look like a tit. To be fair they simply weren't there when I drew it and I doubt they will be again in those numbers.

Peg 6- My worst match. 11lb 11oz for next to last. Rapidly losing interest/confidence/will to live.

Peg 6- Drew two days ago. Had little hope although Don and Derek were in tough pegs. "You'll win in tonight Tony," I said as he drew peg 1. I came second with 15lb 9oz! Put my earphones in and got my head down waiting for big fish. Lost none and had them bubbling like crazy in last ten minutes. Enthusiasm restored. Tony won with 17lb odd.

A big thanks must go to the fishery owner Vance who has agreed to take Spilsby matches there on a Tuesday at a ridiculously low price and also for managing a great fishery.


With all these pegs and weights etc I feel like I have cheated you out of the mystery and wonder of my usual fishing exploits. I promise to return to a certain amount of normality next month. I might even squeeze in a trip to somewhere new and I will also be looking back at some rather special catches I had at the end of last year.

Till next time

Thursday, 24 May 2012

May 2012 Part 1

The Forgotten Lakes

I have fished a lot of matches this month. They can wait for the time being because I have something far more exciting to tell you. It all started on April 4th (Lake Hunting). A quest to find two old Lakes that were rarely talked about, hard to get to and held in rather low regard. Ernie calls them The Switchback. Derek knows them as Neals Pits. The banks of both are heavily overgrown and unkempt and after many visits I have yet to see another soul there. The forgotten Lakes.

Wednesday 16th May

It had been dry for a couple of days. This was my chance. I decided to try and drive down to the Lakes. The two entrances to the the track were heavily rutted. I was in no mood to be deterred. As a regular to my diary you'll know I had been walking over the fields to these Lakes for weeks. I forced the van over the grassy verge until I could see the track. It was rough. I stayed on the grass, following the track, criss-crossing it to avoid the worst ruts. After about a quarter of a mile it evened out and I drove around a ridge and descended the steep hillside towards the Lakes. They looked different from this side, bigger somehow and prettier.

Now it was fairly late, around 6pm and I decided to have a go in the bottom Lake. Tony had been telling me how it used to be the better of the two with some big Crucian Carp present. This would be my first port of call and I set up close to the bottom of the hill. I fished for an hour on the feeder and pole with nothing to show for my efforts. My confidence was low and a move to the top Lake was in order. I settled down and cupped in a bit of bait and fished around 5m out. I caught a few small Perch and Rudd but it was slow going. It was fairly warm though and I was just happy to be at the waterside. All of a sudden a big splash startled me and I looked to my left. A large fish had just jumped and was returning to the depths. There was a brief pause then it came clear of the water again, thrashing its tail wildly. Holy cow! It was a Carp. A big one.

A new Lake has recently been dug at a nearby fishery complex. They have stocked it was some impressive looking carp. One forty, two thirties, loads of twenties. I was thinking of having a few goes there. I'm not really a Carp angler but I fancied upping my biggest fish (17lb 12oz in a match). This new place seemed ideal but the sight of the forgotten lake fish focused my attention. I'd rather catch a twenty from an old, overgrown, forgotten lake than a thirty from a hole in the ground. It was twenty pounds, easily. I packed away my gear, despondent at my meagre catch but buoyed by the sighting of the massive Carp.

17th May- 21 May

What the hell is happening?

The sight of that Carp had inspired me. I could catch something from these mysterious Lakes and have something impressive to show you all at the same time. I bought some boilies from the tackle shop and, as ever, bought a few bits and bobs that I didn't really need. The boilies were a fiver. I returned to my van twenty eight pounds poorer! Anyway I got home and split the boilies up into bags of around thirty baits each. I was hatching a plan to snare the massive Carp. Every morning for four days I went down to the Lakes and put a small bag of boilies in along with a small tin of corn. I put all the bait in roughly were I had seen the fish jump out. The common consensus is that high nutritional value baits will be more successful in the long run when pre-baiting. The theory is that the Carp have some inner sense of what is good for them. You and I are the most advanced animals on the planet. With no education we'd eat chips everyday or chocolate. Its just utter nonsense. Then again so are horoscopes but they get taken as verbatim by millions everyday.

On the fifth day (Monday) I heard from Tony that the Tuesday night match at Partney had been cancelled due to some fish deaths. Tony was the only one that I knew had reliably caught anything from the Forgotten Lakes. He had been keen to join me on my on-going adventure at the pits but we could never find a time to go together. With the match cancelled Tuesday would be ideal. I went down to the Lakes, baiting the top Lake with the usual boilies and corn. I also went down to the other Lake to a spot where Tony had mentioned. I balled in a modest amount of dampened pellets and corn. Upon returning to the van I could see fish were already topping over the feed. Excellent.
I phoned Ernie, "Me and Tony are going down the switchback tomorrow Ern if you fancy joining us". "I might do, I might bring Jack when he's finished school." He replied.

Tuesday 22nd May

I went down in the morning, baiting up both Lakes again. When I returned just after 4pm I was brimming with confidence. Setting up a simple rig on my heavy feeder rod I wandered round to the pre-baited spot on the top Lake. I chose the least knackered of my baitrunners. They were still suffering from the effects of the Floridian surf despite my best efforts at flushing and re-greasing them. At least the clutch works I thought as I cast to the hot spot. An hour passed. Nothing. Not even a twitch. I popped my head up to look over the bank just as Ernie's car appeared, trundling down the hill. "Hi Guys" I greeted. "Hello Mr Taylor," replied Ernie. Jack looked happy to be there (one of his favourite places apparently) and we set about moving his Granddad's gear into position for him. I stopped with Ernie for a short time while he raked his swim out. He was going to be fishing mussels for Tench. Jack would be trying to catch anything and everything. Having these two here fishing wildly different methods be a great help in cracking this place I thought as I wandered off.

Packing my stuff away I moved onto the bottom Lake in preparation for Tony's arrival. I settled on the further of the two swims I had pre-baited and cast out a feeder and set up my pole. I started getting indications on the tip straight away. Roach and Rudd were the culprits. Vicious bites too. These fish were hungry! Ignoring the tip for a bit I cupped in some bait on the pole line. It seemed Tony wasn't coming. Jack came round for a chat as his swim was slow going. We chatted and Jack told me about some big Perch in the top Lake. Jack sauntered off back to his peg and about a minute later Tony appeared.

The pole line was solid straight away. Tony came and sat with me as I tried to juggle the two methods. "Bloody Hell!" exclaimed Tony. "Did you see that?" He asked. I certainly had seen it. A massive Crucian Carp had popped its head up right in front of us. "I've had two over four pounds out of here," said Tony. "Plus some massive Perch, pain in the arse they were, biting you off all the time." He added. It was too much to take in. Then Ernie appeared in the distance. "He's never going to walk all the way round here is he?" Said Tony as we watched him walk gingerly around the Lake. With my two methods, two spectators and a head full of specimens I crumbled. Tangles, missed bites, wayward casts the lot. Don't get me wrong though, It was wonderful to have some company after so many solo visits.

Ernie left, shortly followed by Tony who couldn't fish due to work. "I expect to see a picture of a massive Crucian in your Diary, a British record in here you know," was Tony's parting shot. I threw my tip rod up the bank and concentrated on the pole line. Despite my best efforts at buggering it up it was still solid. Decent Roach and Rudd were caught every put in. An hour passed and I was building a big weight. Jack came round again, his swim having died. "Here you go Jack, you have a go". I left Jack with my gear while I went to get my Jacket from the van and see Ernie for a bit. Apart from a rogue Eel he was struggling.

I returned to my peg an Jack was buzzing. he had seen a big Crucian too. His enthusiasm was palpable. He told me of his plans for the lake and how he was going to catch the elusive Crucians. It was fantastic to see him like this. Just like I was when I was his age, probably like you were too. The Lake held some mystery for both of us...............but one of its secrets was about to be revealed.

Jack went back to help his Grandad pack up. I flopped my rig in and it settled nicely. The float rocketed under as if a Rudd had nabbed the bait. I waited for it to shoot back up. It didn't. I lifted the pole tip up and to my surprise the elastic shot out. Blimey, what the hell is this? I saw Jack in the distance and shouted him over. He arrived just as I was netting a Crucian of about two pounds. He was ecstatic. "Wow," Jack exclaimed. Wow indeed. I'd finally caught something to show you I thought. Jack returned to loading the car as I fished on. It wasn't long before I was shouting him over again. "Oh my god!" I said as a massive Crucian surfaced in front of me. I netted it and grabbed the net to lift it clear of the water. It was difficult not to swear with Jack there. It was massive.

Ernie saw it. "Looks like a real one too," he said. Crucians are notorious for hybridising. The British record is 4lb 9oz. Mine was 4lb 10oz. I took a lateral line count and some ray counts before returning her to the depths of this fantastic Lake. Upon returning home it was clear from a bit of research that it was indeed a hybrid. Shame but still a great catch. I was elated.

4lb 10oz

Thursday 24th May

An early morning session. I'll let the pictures tell the tale,

A misty dawn

A decent Roach

The sun appears

The smallest is 2lb 10oz

5lb 4oz, 4lb 15oz, 4lb 2oz!

Oh, don't forget the stone of Roach and Rudd too.


We are all friends here, no secrets. A few people didn't want me to write this blog but I trust you. You know the journey I have been on with these Lakes. I'm sure you wouldn't want to hang on my coat tails. It is so much more satisfying finding your own challenges and adventures. So if I go down there any time soon and the banks are strewn with rubbish and every peg taken then we have a problem. Jack and I will never forgive you. This truly is a magical place. Now for that big Carp......and those Perch.

Till next time

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Looking Back Part 3

Willesley Lake August 25th 2011

I've been struggling a bit recently and its bloody raining again so let me take you back to a balmy summer day last year. Its a warm tale of fish and friendship so make yourself a coffee or something stronger and sit back and relax.

It was a chance purchase. I don't normally buy fishing magazines but somehow Improve your Coarse Fishing found its way into my shopping basket. I returned home and had a quick flick through and saw an article that started an improbable journey.

Steve is a bit older than me. He'll admit to a couple of years but its probably nearer five. Anyway neither of our Dads were much into fishing so in the beginning we were always grateful of any advice or mentoring we could get. Luckily for us a local bloke took us under his wing. Steve first and then me. Every week we would go somewhere together and serve our fishing apprenticeship. With all the paedophile paranoia around now this sounds a bit dodgy but I can assure you it wasn't. It was all about the fishing. Our mentor is no longer with us and his funeral was one of the saddest days of my life and probably Steve's too.

Steve and I didn't know each other until our early twenties. It wasn't until we met that we found out how much we had in common. Our fishing teacher stopped going with us suddenly years apart with the same excuse- "You are getting too competitive". I think what he meant was he had taught us to a pretty good standard and he needed a new challenge. I didn't mind Steve being competitive. That was the least annoying habit he had. I was once playing a big Carp at a local reservoir with Steve looking on. "Bloody hell.......that's shoulders," Steve cried as he caught sight of the biggest fish in the lake on the end of my line. 'Shoulders' was a Carp nearing thirty pounds. Ten seconds later the hook pulled. He still reminds me of this episode now, twenty years on.

Improve Your Coarse Fishing had a four page spread on a Lake I was familiar with- Willesley lake in Leicestershire. I had fished it a few times and Steve and I nearly ended up there in a strop after getting refused a night permit for Nanpanton Reservoir. A hundred year old Lake it nestles in a heavily wooded area of the county. On one side it is bordered by a scout camp. They must have had some national Jamboree there one night as hundreds of kids sang into the small hours round a massive camp fire. They certainly made more noise than my bite alarms. Anyway, according to the magazine Willesley was fishing its head off. Big bream catches were being taken by the handful of non-carpers that had been fishing there.


I read the article again and again. The bloke was catching on the method feeder, something I was becoming very proficient at. I fired a text off to Steve and he too bought the magazine. Now we live a hundred miles apart and Steve has only been fishing a handful of times in the last ten years. Like some of my other friends he has most of his time taken up with his children. Something in the article stirred the inner angler in him though. I knew it would. We arranged a day convenient to us both and I drove the 110 miles to the Lake while Steve had a far shorter Journey. As is always the case it was in a different place to the one in my memory and I only found the entrance to the Lake by a sheer fluke.

Steve was already waiting as I entered the heavily rutted car park. We said our hello's and wandered down to have a look at the Lake. It was bigger than I remembered and we considered where our best chance would be. Apart from the odd Bivvy we were the only ones there so we had about a hundred or so spots to choose between. From the pictures in the magazine we worked out roughly where the chap had been fishing and carried our gear a fair old distance round to the scout camp side. As luck would have it we came across a very large wooden platform jutting out a short way from the bank. We could both fish off that in comfort I thought as we plonked our gear down.

A quick look at Steve's gear revealed that not only had he not been fishing regularly for about fifteen years but also that he hadn't bought any gear in that time either. Luckily I had enough for both of us. He had been to a place called Go Outdoors though. "Are these any good?" Steve thrust a large bag of 15mm halibut pellets under my nose. "Er..........not really," I replied as I dampened a couple of pints of micro pellets mixed with a little groundbait. Keepnets were put in and rod rests and chairs set up as we made ourselves comfortable for the day. The sun came out and shone brightly as I explained to Steve the importance of clipping up and counting reel turns. This proved invaluable as about twenty minutes in he had the biggest tangle I had ever seen.

It took me a while to get going and I swapped over to a normal feeder after getting some iffy bites while Steve stayed on the method. A Cormorant was sunning itself on the Island. It was big bird and had its wings fully extended as it dried them off in the warm summer breeze. He he eaten all the bream I wondered before eventually my tip arched round. Ker.......lunk. My tip rod had a healthy bend in it as I slowly brought in the first Bream of the day. Steve soon joined in on the action and despite jousting with a nearby tree a few times he started catching fairly regularly.

The first couple of hours passed in a blur. Our swims got stronger and stronger. I was even getting the odd fish before the feeder had time to settle. "Blimey, you two are untidy!" said the Lady as she appeared behind us. We had a look round and in the rush to get fishing our stuff was strewn all over the place. This coupled with pellets and groundbait everywhere made our platform look like a child's playpen. We paid the woman for our day tickets and had a quick tidy up while we chatted away, distracting her as best we could.

As the session went on I was catching a little more often than Steve and he was soon on the defensive. "You've mixed my groundbait so it wont stick," he said, searching for an excuse. Truth is he was out of practise. Bit like my match fishing against dedicated match anglers. I find myself off the pace. Anyway it was just a bit of friendly banter as we both caught more than either of us expected. We fished on until late afternoon and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. At the end we had over sixty pounds of Bream between us.

Sitting by a wooded Lake in the sunshine with an old friend is really one of life's great pleasures. I'll leave you with the pictures and if you've got an old mate you used to go fishing with or play golf or whatever, pick up the phone. Memorable days in your life nearly always take a bit of effort.

Till next time.

Monday, 14 May 2012

April 2012 Part 2

Thursday April 19th

Twin Lakes, West Ashby, Lincs 

"It'll  be too wet again for the switchback but we'll go wherever you fancy" said Ernie a couple of days prior to our latest outing. Not only had I promised you a proper trip to the switchback (Neals pits) but I was also champing at the bit to get there. Ernie was right though, it had rained nearly everyday for weeks and although we could have driven down to the switchback we never would have got back up the steep, slippery hill. "How about the smaller lake at West Ashby?" I suggested. Ernie agreed and we arranged to meet at noon again.

It was bang on twelve o'clock when I slithered into the carpark. A quick scan around for Ernie's car revealed he was already by the side of the smaller lake. As I got closer I could see he was already set up, umbrella and all. I really wanted to be round the other side but Ernie can't walk very far and this spot was ideal for him. I opted to fish in the peg next to him as it meant we could fish either side of a small island. It was a drab day but the lake looked quite inviting with trees lining most of the banks. Now details on this lake were a bit patchy to say the least. The chap that stopped for a chat on my last visit to the big lake sounded quite positive - "a lot of Bream but nobody really fishes it."

With Bream in mind I decided to ball some groundbait in about twenty yards out next to the Island. I could hear Ernie having a giggle to himself as I cannon balled a load in. "Bloody hell Mr Taylor". With all these pole cups, pva bags and fan dangled things people aren't used to seeing a good old fashioned bombing session. Anyway I eagerly set up my tip rod with a small groundbait feeder on a short link with a long hook length. Ernie was fishing the pole. Concentrating on his side of the Island he fishing at about nine metres.

My first bite didn't take long. Ten minutes at most and the tip started showing signs of fish. Unfortunately they turned out to be small Roach. Three Roach in three casts and then nothing. Ernie snared a Bream after about half an hour but only a small one of about a pound. An hour passed and neither of us had a bite. I was wondering what to do when Gary the bailiff turned up. "This lake is OK but you tend to get a few then nothing" Gary said, describing exactly what we were experiencing. "Lot of Pike you see, that's the problem." added Gary. Certainly made a bit of sense. Just as all our hopes were slowly ebbing away Ernies' float dipped and then disappeared below the surface film. His elastic shot out and another, slightly bigger Bream was netted. My quiver tip remained motionless.

"Here he is!". Gary pointed towards the car park entrance. A large silver Range Rover was bearing down on us at pace. He hit the edge of the field and snaked alarmingly towards the three of us. It was Sim, the owner. Now it isn't the sort of Range Rover you see on Emmerdale, it's a bling machine like the ones you get in Rap videos. "Yo guys, how you doing?". A quick, surreal chat with Sim ensued before he was off again, flooring his truck in the thick mud. He nearly lost it, the big shiny alloys with rubber band tyres totally unsuitable for the terrain. "He's a nutter" said Gary. Ernie and I nodded in agreement as Gary left shaking his head.

Another biteless hour followed and I decided to have a wander over to the big lake. The nearest point was only about a hundred yards away and it was an area described to me as 'Tench corner' on a previous visit by Gary. Hmmmm. I went back to my gear and wetted about a pint of pellets. I returned to Tench corner and threw the lot in along with some maggots right next to a massive overhanging willow tree. I returned to pack down some gear and put anything I didn't need into the van. Ernie decided to stay put as he he had some bigger Bream in his peg, one came up right next to his float as I watched (probably to tell him he had too much sticking out!).

Tench Corner

Within the first few minutes it was obvious that I had made the right move as I caught a precession of quality Roach on the pole next to the tree. I even had one at range on the tip and corn. Half an hour passed and Ernie came over for a chat. We chatted for a bit and Ernie decided to call it a day. He turned to walk the short distance back to his gear when my elastic shot out alarmingly. I quickly added a couple of sections as I held on for dear life. "Must be a Carp Ern?" I declared as the unseen beast made its bid for freedom. "Nah, its a Tench, male". After a nervous couple of minutes he turned out to be half right. A female Tench of around four pounds was netted. "Knew you'd do alright in the end Mr Taylor" Ernie declared as he he wandered back to his car. The Tench sealed it for me. I was happy and decided to call it a day too.

Tuesday April 24th

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs

I was quite looking forward to the first evening match of the year. Run by Spilsby Angling Club, Partney Pit had been stocked with a lot of Carp over the winter. It has a fairly decent decent stock of Bream, Tench and Roach too. Partney can be a difficult place to fish though. The stocks seem to change year on year. One year I could catch three and four pound Bream regularly. I haven't seen them for a few years now, presumed dead. The same thing happened with the Rudd. Nothing seems to grow very big in there apart from the odd reclusive Pike (I caught one at 23lb a couple of winters ago).

The last to arrive, I found the gateway had been partially blocked by someone. I winced as I aimed my battered van through the gap. Phew, just made it through. Right, draw time. Anywhere will do I thought as I had done zero research or practise. I hadn't even transferred my kit over to my seat box. You'll notice I am making excuses already. I had a look around at draw time and despite my best efforts Ernie had failed to turn up. Some fall out with the committee had seen him stop at home. Shame I thought as I dipped into the draw bag and pulled out peg seven. Not usually too bad.

I set up with a good deal of enthusiasm. A method feeder and short pole were assembled and I mixed a bit of groundbait before the all-in. Six pm came and I cast around twenty yards out with the feeder and clipped up. I had three casts in the next fifteen minutes, all to no avail. I decided to have a look on my short line to see if my hemp feed had attracted anything. A couple of Rudd later and that was it. It died. I struggled on for a while, searching for a bite while the bloke opposite me caught with annoying regularity. I was beginning to get bored when my fellow angler on the next peg had a visitor.

They chatted for a while and I learnt all about taking cats to the vets and that his pole was worth £1650 and various other titbit's. "You caught much then?" the visitor asked my opponent. "A couple of skimmers but thingy over there is bagging," he replied talking about the bloke opposite us. "His first fish was about five pounds" he added as I discarded my pole and threw the feeder out in desperation. "I knew that peg would win" said my fellow competitor. This really struck me. I was pegged near to him on a match last year albeit a different venue and he said much the same thing. It instantaneously killed my remaining enthusiasm. It also made me feel a bit sad. Fishing for me is all about the unknown. A mysterious underwater world that, as anglers, we get the occasional glimpse of. As soon as you bring any degree of certainty into it my interest wanes.

Old matey opposite continued to bag up while my mate next door went for a walk. Fed up of looking at my motionless quiver tip I decided to pack up. Typically after emptying my keep net and packed away my landing net the tip went round and a small carp of around a pound was unhooked in the margins. It was a bit manky. Hope they aren't all like this I thought as it swam off into the depths. A worse thought was that maybe I had fished it wrong and peg seven would win the following week.

I packed all my stuff into the van and went to see Tony for a bit. He was on peg one right in the top corner of the pond. As usual he was plundering the margins. Turns out he had caught a couple of decent carp in the last ten minutes. His float sailed under again and a decent Tench was quickly subdued. This restored my faith in the place a little. Tony hadn't had them in his swim for long enough to win though. He reluctantly called time just as his peg was starting to produce. I strolled back to van wandering whether to return the following week.

Partney Pike

Thursday April 26th

Neals Pits, Old Bollingbrook, Lincs

I hadn't been fishing with Rob for ages. Some people have busy lives. He wont mind me telling you he has three children, various pets and a very high maintenance wife. Rob also does a lot of charity work so opportunities to go fishing are thin on the ground.

Despite Robs' busy philanthropic lifestyle he suggested to me that with his wife in a good mood he may be able to venture out later in the week. We both settled on Thursday evening as I could finish work early and Rob could come over. "Where you taking me?" enquired Rob. "We'll go to the Lakes just up the road, we can take my van cause I'm not really bothered if anyone damages it, in fact I probably wouldn't even notice!" I replied. I knew this would please Rob. He has a very well known TV firm plastered all over his van and whenever he takes that all people do is talk to him and ask him questions all day. Leave the man alone- he's fishing. Not that we would be seeing anyone but |Rob wasn't to know that. "Oh and travel light-we'll be walking for a bit" I added.

Sure enough Thursday arrived and the rain was still falling in fits and starts. Would it ever be dry enough to drive down to these sodding lakes. It had tipped it down shortly before Rob arrived at 5.30. The sky still looked threatening though as various dark looming clouds passed above. Rob gave King Kong's nipple a quick tweak to gain access to his gear and started transferring various items to my van. "Have you got a lighter," Rob asked. "No, I don't smoke," I replied. Rob looked surprised, startled even. "Really? How long have you been given up?" he asked. I looked at my watch meaningfully "Nearly four days," I said proudly. "Oh.....right, you're a non smoker then," said Rob with a thinly veiled dollop of sarcasm. As it turns out I did find a lighter under my seat along with £4.20 in loose change!

With the van loaded up we travelled the short distance to the field entrance. I parked under the usual tree and once again its branches scraped the roof as they moved around in the wind. "Not taking your chair?" Asked Rob as we we unloaded. ", I'll sit on the bank," I replied. I was sure I told him it was going to be a bit of a trek. Still he was in the army I thought so he should be used to wandering over fields laden with equipment.

We set off through the first gate and up and over the first field. Now I had been here the night before with Mrs P and the dogs. I told her I thought I had seen a fox in the distance but couldn't be sure. This time it was more obvious. It was a big one too, perhaps the biggest fox I have ever seen. Incredibly shy though. It caught sight of me and scarpered, its big bushy ginger tail disappearing over the hill. I turned to Rob, expecting to see a look of wonderment on his face. Alas he was too busy having a rather animated argument with his posh chair strap to notice. Some eighteen rated mumbling was going on. "Not far now" I encouraged. Rob gave me a look that spoke only two words. The first was thank.

A glimpse of the bottom Lake lifted both our spirits and we were soon standing next to the water. Rob chose a secluded spot on the top Lake while I would try a spot I had been pre-baiting on the bottom Pond. Having only a float rod I set up a small waggler and plumbed up. It was surprising deep. With the depth and the increasing wind I changed to a bigger float and set it up as a slider . After the first twenty biteless minutes it was obvious I had brought the wrong gear again! A tip rod would have been ideal. The wind was creating such a ripple it was towing my float about all over the place. I laid on for a while to no avail and my confidence was virtually nil.

Putting my bits and bobs back into my tackle bag I wandered off to find Rob. I emerged through the dense bankside undergrowth and onto the path around the top lake. It was like a different world. An oasis of calm compared to where I had been. The Lake was flat calm, no ripple at all and just the gentle swaying of age old willow trees hinting at the surrounding wind. The world raves about High Definition 3D TVs. Your own eyes see in higher definition with a depth of field greater than any TV in the world. Sometimes you just need to stop and appreciate it.

Rob hadn't caught anything on his float fished corn offering so I decided to move around the Lake to another spot. I quickly caught a couple of micro perch on worm before the heavens opened. I scampered round to Rob and took shelter under his brolly. I sat there for a while before clocking how big Robs' swim actually was. "Mind if I have a cast," I asked cheekily. "Be my guest," replied Rob generously. Wonder if he'll let me sit in his chair for a bit too I thought as I cast as far to the left as I could.

So, there we were, sat under a brolly in the middle of nowhere during a flash spring storm. We chatted for a while while the rain bounced off the brolly and dripped off the surrounding leaves and branches. The rain eventually stopped and for a brief moment the sun came came out. Now it wasn't brokeback mountain or anything but it really was pleasant to be there. I was thoroughly enjoying it. Then it got better. Rob's float moved, then dipped before finally disappearing under the surface film. He struck.................nothing. "That could have been a massive Tench or one of the elusive giant Carp that are in here,"  I said, ramping up the tension. Trouble is I made myself a bit nervous as I too missed a bite. We re-cast full of anticipation. This was proper fishing. There was something down there and it was giving us the run around.

Ruddy Hell

In match fishing the fish are everything. The cake and the icing. In pleasure fishing the fish are just the icing. It turns out the sweetcorn robbers were small Rudd. It didn't matter though and we fished on until we couldn't see our floats. The fading light had beaten us.

Rob fought tooth and nail with his chair strap all the way back to the van. A distance of a mile and a half in his head (probably not even a mile in reality). If four days of no cigarettes made me a non smoker then a mile and a half walk makes him a rambler.


I saw Rambler Rob yesterday- "You know when you made me walk two miles to that pond?"He asked. "Yes" I said. "Well a bloke in the tackle shop asked me whether I had been fishing recently and I said yes. Trouble is when he asked where I had been I had to say I didn't really know!"


Till next time

Friday, 20 April 2012

Looking Back- Part 2

Match fishing

"I didn't know there was another match man living in the village?" This was Tony, a local angler just before a match on a nearby pond. Truth is though although I have fished a few matches calling me a match man would be stretching it a little. I went along with it though. Bit of psyching out never hurt anyone in competition.

I've been fishing since the age of about nine. There was a small  tackle shop at the end of my street that I spent many an hour in and eventually worked. It was during my time spent in the shop I became aware of this strange part of the sport/hobby I loved. Let me explain. It's not because fishing is based on luck because it takes skill and experience to catch a lot of fish. The draw for fishing spots or pegs is where the luck comes in. You see, despite fishery owners and match organisers best attempts there are usually better pegs than others on most venues. Imagine playing darts against someone but when it came to your turn all the numbers over 10 were blanked off. That's how some matches are. You draw a bad area and have no chance of winning, you could sit there for five days and still not beat someones' five hour catch.

What is good about match fishing though are the characters.The owner was a match angler and they came in the shop all the time. One of the likely lads, Tom Bedder was a regular. Such a nice chap and sorely missed. I think his was the first funeral I ever went to. He could talk fishing for hours and I was probably only 14 or 15 but he never treated me as if I didn't know what I was talking about. "Carp are like Bream that have had their brains removed" was one of his more memorable statements. The late Ivan Marks and Steve Toone also supplied the shop and came in often. I used to ride my bike for miles watching matches all over the place. Someone recently asked me how come I could lay bricks, "Because I watched somebody do it once" I replied. Just watching those guys in action taught me so much. Pleasure fishing was always my thing though and I sometimes claimed the odd scalp. I remember walking past Andy Finlay at Brooksby Pond. He had a couple of blokes watching him try out some latest technique no doubt. I had a mooch around looking for signs of fish. A few tail patterns gave away some feeding fish and I freelined a worm over the top. It didn't even reach the bottom. "What's he doing" asked one of the blokes as I bent into a hefty carp. "He's stalking," replied Andy.

My first match was the River Soar Junior Championships. I drew smack in the middle of an area called cyanide straight. After catching the one resident gudgeon I proceeded to be bored shitless for the next couple of hours before I packed up and went home. The next year I drew a better area opposite The Boat Pub at Normanton-on-Soar. All was going well and I caught steadily until around 11.30. It was a warm summers day and the boat traffic got heavier and heavier. At one stage they were queueing to get onto the far bank moorings. I may as well have cast my stickfloat in my mates jacuzzi bath. At least I lasted until the end to find out I'd come nowhere. I fished a few more more matches over the next couple of years including some with Frank and Dean Barlow but I never really got into it. I just couldn't get my head around being restricted to one peg for such a long time.

One match that sticks in my memory was at Zouch on the Soar. I once sold all my fishing kit to buy a motorbike and I'd just manged to get back into it at the end of my teens. I arrived at the draw and drew my peg. I didn't know whether it was any good or not cause I'd never even seen that section of the river. The whistle went and I fished across with a waggler, catching steadily right from the off. I had probably four pounds in the net when I started hearing motorbikes. Donnington Park was close by and the bikers were all heading there to watch the British GP. I caught a few more fish before my mind started to wander. Losing my float was the final straw! I was off with a good couple of hours to go. The next day I found out that five pounds had won it. Not the only time I'd tip a winning catch back.

In my early twenties I got sidetracked by all the usual things and fishing took a back seat. When I did fish it would be roaming around trying to catch big Barbel on the river or sneaking down to a disused quarry to plunder its Perch stocks. I didn't fish another match until I moved here. Mill Road Lakes was my favourite venue. Countless times I would pull up and catch carp straight away off the top while all around seemed to struggle. I became friendly with the owner and was encouraged to enter one of the Friday night matches. The following week I turned up and finished second. I fished the candle, which might aswell have been a spacecraft, the looks it got from my competitors. The next Friday I was informed the candle method had been banned.

Determined not to be beaten by these blokes I kept going. They even banned floating baits all together. They all fished with poles while I plugged away with rod and line. "Fucking hell, that's not a carp, its a cow!" exclaimed a bloke opposite as I slipped the net under a mirror (17lb 12oz). It was about my fifth match and I caught fishing the smallest float I could find with double caster about six inches deep. I only had one more fish but that was 12lb 8oz and I had won my first match.

Winning on rod and line meant a lot to me at the time although the report in the Angling Times stated that I had used a pole. This pissed me off. Silly really cause I use a pole a lot now but I did resist using one for a long time. Anyway these night matches really suited me. I didn't have time to get bored or waste a whole day in a bad area. Unfortunately the match report, the constant banning of stuff and the owners obnoxious wife pissing me off on virtually every visit  meant I stopped going to the lakes altogether.

She did provide me with a laugh once though. I went down one evening with my fly rod and soon had a group of fish feeding on the top. The owners wife approached, wildlife running for cover as she did so. Adopting her usual tone she tried to put me straight- "Oh no, you wont catch anything like that, its been tried before". Here's your four quid, stick it up your arse I thought as I handed over my money in silence. Just as she had turned to walk away the biggest Carp in the group engulfed my bait. I knew the lake quite well at the time and the fish was nearing 30lbs. I struck and almost instantly I knew I was seriously under gunned. My fly rod bent to the butt and beyond, flexing wildly as the Carp went nuts. Its fortunate that a short while later the hook pulled cause I would probably still be playing it now.

Those matches were around 2002. They still have matches there now and I often see the results in The Angling Times. Its still the same people fishing them. Ten years, one venue, catching the same fish. Not for me I'm afraid. It still provided me with my first match victory though and the place still holds some fond memories.

It wasn't until 2010 that I really thought about match fishing again. A trip to my local pond with Mrs P one Tuesday night saw us squeezing in the only empty peg during a match. It was a balmy evening and Mrs P fell asleep while I eyed the match men intently. Nobody seemed to be catching much. I could beat this lot I thought as the time passed oblivious to the fact that I too was struggling.The next week I turned up to the draw and fished my little socks off. I came second with over ten pounds of Roach and Rudd. I continued to fish the matches, even notching up a couple of victories. By my reckoning I could catch 4/5 pounds of bits from any peg which would be a good weight if the Tench and Bream didn't feed. The other guys all fished for bonus fish so if my method was right I had nobody to beat cause I'd be the only one fishing that way. That's Ivan Marks logic. With the summer season fast approaching I had to knock the matches on the head in favour of work. I was really impressed with the other guys though. A great bunch that brought back memories of some of the characters that used to come in the shop. Very welcoming and willing to tell you anything I vowed to return the following year with the thought in the back of my mind that I could win the whole series.

2011 started of ok at the local pond. I scored a couple of seconds and a third in the first three matches. I was dealt a bit of a blow on the series front though. The series would not only be decided on placings but also total weight. This was a disaster for me. My 4/5 lb had gone out of the window. My results got progressively worse as I chased bigger weights. A couple of bad draws finished me off and my interest waned. The fire, however, was far from out.

Toad Hall was an old Trout fishery up the road that had recently been converted into a coarse fishery. Matches were due to start running on Thursday evenings in May. The first match was eagerly anticipated by myself and I was a bit disappointed when only six others turned up. As it turned out it was a fantastic place though. A bite could result in a five pound Tench or Carp or Bream or Chub! F1's, Roach, Rudd and Perch were also in abundance. I came second with nearly 17lb. As the weeks went by the numbers gradually dwindled but the fishing just got better. I still can't understand why the matches weren't more popular. I even managed three or four victories and it was great to learn a venue with the others as it was not only a level playing field but also a bit of a journey of discovery. Just what fishing should be, I can't wait for them to start again.

Woodlands is less than two miles from my home. I had never been though the gates. "We're having a charity match at Woodlands Phil, you fancy it?". I sure did even though I'd never even seen the place. Apparently I drew ok and I got down to my peg and set up about four different outfits as John Wilson would call them. I had never fished the method feeder and started off on this. Ten seconds into the match I was playing my first Carp! It came off as did the next two while I got to grips with the method. To cut a long story short I came nowhere but learnt more in that five hours than I had for months. If I fished the same match again I'd come second, no shadow of a doubt. Also in that match a bloke caught a big perch. I noted the peg.

The next match was also a charity affair at Woodlands. I drew at the wrong end of the lake but on a reasonable peg. I fished the method again but still spent too much time sodding around with other things. Either side of me didn't weigh in. I put 43lb on the scales which I was happy with. This was less than half of Tony's winning weight though. Again I had learned a lot, not from watching other people this time though as I couldn't see most of them!

The final match at Woodlands was another Charity match organised by the local cafe. I drew ok and blitzed it. I doubled the weight of my nearest rival. Admittedly the standard of the field wasn't the same as the first two matches but I would have been hard to beat that day. "I had to go down to a 20 to try and get a bite today" said one of the guys afterwards. "I caught all of mine on a 12!" I said. That's confidence! I even won four prizes in the raffle (I just took one) so I guess lady luck was shining on me that day. The Trophy is looking at me as I write.

One final chapter in my most prolific match fishing year is a winter league. Farlesthorpe is a venue I dislike. Despite this I knew some of the guys and thought it might be a laugh. I was right. "I can't talk for long, I'm fishing in the county champs" said Ernie as he answered his phone. We got some mileage out of that one. Anyway, first match I tipped away about three pounds of bits in disgust, eager to get home. Three pounds and three ounces won it! Bollocks. The next two matches saw me win my section and then disaster struck. On my final match there I was next to a lovely old man that had not weighed in more than a pound in the first three matches. I caught my three pounds of bits again hoping for another section win. Oh no. Unbeknown to me some Ide had been stocked. Two people caught them including the old fella next to me. They settled in front of him for an hour and he batted out eight pounds of the horrible creatures. It just made a skillful match a total lottery. I didn't return.

After a winter of roaming around catching all and sundry will I get the match fishing bug again this year? The Tuesday night matches start again next week so we'll soon find out. Read about it in my next Diary.

Till next time.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Fishing Diary April 2012

Thursdsay 4th April

Twin Lakes, West Ashby, Lincs

I'd arranged to meet Ernie and his grandson Jack at 12 noon by the big lake. Just after 11am I gave Ernie a call- "We still on for today?" I asked. "Yep, we are leaving in ten minutes" he replied. I knew it! He was stealing the march on me. Its a twenty minute drive at most so he'd arrive well before me. Sure enough I pulled up at the Lake to see him and Jack unloading their gear on the far side just where I had it in my head to fish. I wasn't too bothered though as being forced to fish somewhere different is sometimes a good thing, especially when you are getting to grips with a new venue.

I wandered round with my fishing buddy for the day, Harriet. The calmer of my two Labs, she charged around and straight up to Ernie. Now he is a big old chap and Harry hit the deck about ten feet away from him. "It's my watch this," Ernie removed his hat and sure enough Harry got up and went to greet him. How very odd I thought but pleased that my human companions didn't mind my canine gatecrasher.

 Ernie made a fuss of Harry for a while and we then went to investigate where I could fish nearby. A lot of the bank is overgrown and there were only two more pegs on this far bank. One I had fished before but with easy access and one in a gap nearer the far end of the lake. Ernie and I arrived at the far end peg while Harry went off chasing a Bee. "I've got a bait down there!" I peered though the undergrowth and about 50 yards away on the opposite bank was a carp angler. Now I've read about this sort of goings on in The Angling Times and always thought if it happened to me there would be fireworks! I said something at the same time as Ernie but his was more succinct- "You're fishing this peg as well as your own are you?" A great response I thought as the Carper mumbled something. "I'll not be dictated to by anyone, not at my time of life, fish here if you want Phil" Ernie declared. I considered it for a moment. "I'll go back up there" I said. Just to make it clear I had a choice of two pegs, if I'd really wanted to fish there I would have. If you fish and bait the margins and someone comes that's just the chance you take. Anyway I get enough confrontation in my job, this was time to relax!

I unloaded the car and got settled into my spot. Harry, ever the opportunist, ate a big mouth full of red maggots before I hid the box under a bag. She sulked on her blanket while I set my pole up. I fed a couple of balls at 4m but struggled to catch for the first hour. They wouldn't have the hemp and it's only when I went further out and fished maggot that I started catching. Small roach at first till I caught one of about a pound. I had a wander down to show Ernie and Jack and to see how they were getting on. Ernie had one small carp in the net but Jack was really struggling. "Come and have a go in my peg Jack" I offered. Jack followed me back and was soon getting a bite a cast.

I set up my tip rod while Jack hooked into Roach after Roach. Casting over his head I fished a single grain of corn on a light link, hoping for another pounder. The tip soon showed signs of interest and I pulled in a tiny Roach. Bugger! Luckily Jack wanted to go back to his own peg and I took over the pole again. The sun was shining for longer now as the clouds became more sporadic. I took my jacket off and Harry basked in the sunshine.

"Wow, this must be a record!" I turned around to see a smartly dressed chap. "Three pole anglers in one day is the most I have ever seen" he added. This confirmed my understanding that this place was little fished by non-carpers. At that moment my float disappeared and a decent Roach was quickly netted. "I was going to ask if you were doing any good but looks like you are" said the man. He sat behind me to watch for a bit while Harry sniffed him warily. My float had been in the water without a bite for longer than usual so I lifted the rig to check my bait. The float didn't move upwards though for as I lifted the elastic shot out alarmingly. "Any Eels in here?" I asked the chap, hoping for a negative response. "Oh yes, some big ones". Bollocks. No sign of a bite and fighting weirdly it was likely to be an Eel. I played it, not caring if it came off or not. "It's a Tench!" exclaimed the man as surfaced and dived back down into the depths. Carefully I coaxed it back up. The man was amazed that I was using 14 elastic but this was exactly the reason why I was fishing relatively heavy. With the angry male tench in the net we chatted for a short time before he departed. Harry likes Tench!

My observer had fished the Lake more or less every week for two years using traditional methods. Turns out there are a lot of Tench upto seven pounds with the odd eight and nine. Just that one rogue eleven pound Bream and biggest Roach he'd caught? One pound twelve ounces. That disappointed me somewhat. I'd had high hopes of a two pounder but that now seems unlikely. Not all bad news though as apparently the smaller Lake holds a lot of Bream. Must give that other Lake a go I thought as Ernie came down for a chat. We had a good old natter while Ernie generously shared his sandwiches with his now friend-for-life Harry. Ernie went off to pack away and I got my net out and selected the best of the Roach to show you.

Wednesday 11th April

Neals Pits, Lincs

Easter time is always busy at work. This combined with the never ending renovations to our Lounge means I had to grab a quick couple hours in the evening. Neals Pits are the Lakes described in my Lake Hunting post. Mrs P's dad had rebuilt the fireplace while I mixed all the cement and did some general labouring. He left at about 4pm and I quickly popped outside to get some worms from my new wormery. Car loaded up with just one tip rod and a small bag of gear I headed out to the Lakes. Halfway there a bloke decided that his side of the road wasn't enough and smashed the front of my van up. Details exchanged I limped on the half mile or so to the footpath entrance.

After a good half mile walk I plumped for the top lake. I set up a light link with 1/8 ounce bomb. A size 14 was then baited with a worm and cast blindly into the Lake. I rested the rod on my bag and watched intently. A few small fish were topping and something big stirred by my feet. After a good twenty minutes the tip wrapped round and I came back with half a worm. Re baited, I cast out again. Another ten minutes passed until the tip went round again. A micro perch was the culprit. A few more iffy bites were endured before I dropped down onto the lower Lake in the hope of something more substantial.

I nestled in among the undergrowth and cast a big worm over towards the island. To be honest I was a little irritated that my van had been beaten up and was struggling to get into the fishing. When another tiny perch came in I was unsure if my worm had grabbed him or visa versa. With the light fading and an uphill walk back to the van I packed up thoroughly dejected.

Sunday April 15th

Neals Pits, Lincs

"Careful the farmer doesn't shoot you". These were Erics' last words as I left him after buying a pint of maggots from his excellent Woodlands fishery. He was right. I still wasn't sure if I was allowed to fish these Lakes. Better keep a low profile I thought as I elected to walk over the fields again instead of driving straight upto them. Parking by the footpath it started to rain. Branches of a nearby tree scraped the roof of my van in the increasing wind. It was time for the full thermal suit again, the first time for weeks.

I hopped over the fence and made my way along the footpath. I turned off and quickened my pace over the final field. As I was nearing the Lakes I must have disturbed every Pheasant and Goose for about two miles. The two noisiest birds in the history of nature, my approach was hardly what you call stealthy. Should have driven in the other way. Settling on the top Lake again I fished where I had seen most activity on the last visit. This was hardly ideal as I was probably visible from the distant footpath.

As I hunched down the bank I heard two gunshots. On the other side of the footpath is a small wood. The shots rang out again. Were they shooting birds or were the Taliban invading Old Bollingbrook? As I set up they got closer. So close I could hear one of the guys shouting at his dog. Putting Eric's warning to the back of my mind I cast out towards the island of intermingled tree roots and branches hoping not to get shot. The tip went round after about ten minutes. A tiny Perch came to hand annoyingly.

Another three Perch followed before I sussed that the nearer I cast to the roots the quicker the bite. First Cast near the roots and a Roach of about four ounces was hooked. Then a Rudd of similar size took my three red maggots on the drop. A bite a cast followed for the next hour with nothing of any real size but great fun nonetheless. How I wished I had my float rod with me as the Rudd got more active as the light faded. I really must get either Ernie or Tony to bring me here and introduce me to the gamekeeper or owner. In fact I'll make it my mission before the end of the month, just for you.

Till next time