Friday, 20 December 2013

Fishing Diary December 2013 Xmas Special


Wow, what a month. I sent the Angling Times details of my last Perch catch and they only went and published it.....

I was made up and to catch something of national significance is a real honour and also a reward for all my endeavours. I'd like to dedicate it to all of you. It's often just the thought of my fishing diary that gets me out into the cold in the hope that somebody, somewhere will be interested. Now running at over five thousand hits it shows you clearly are and I thank you. I also won a mug in a Perch of the month competition on the Internet. You can't have that though, it's mine.

Back to reality

I spent the next few days in a bit of a daydream. "What you thinking about," Mrs P asked as I looked vacantly at the TV one night. "Perch," I replied. She gave me one of those 'I'm going to book you into a secure unit' looks and sighed.

I really couldn't wait to get back to the river and on my next day off I was back there at first light. To my surprise there were two other anglers there. I paid little attention to them and made my way to my chosen spot. The river was still low and coloured but I was supremely confident. Two hours then passed without a bite on either rod. Just as I was losing all hope I had a tentative bite which resulted in this beauty of 2lb 13oz.....

That's it I thought, they have arrived and I'm in for another bumper catch. Sadly it didn't pan out and another couple of biteless hours passed before I decided to call it a day. On my way back to the car though I got chatting to the two other guys fishing. They were from Manchester way and I suddenly clicked that these two guys had been on the stretch at the last day of the season earlier in the year. To cut a long story short one of them has family connections down this way and they came along to the river one day to see if it was any good for piking. Quite by chance they saw a pole angler catch a Roach and persuaded the captor to weigh it on their scales. It went 1lb 15oz. Ever since that day they have been coming over four or five times a year and very nice chaps they are too. No doubt our paths will cross again soon.

In the week that followed I still had Perch on the brain and after another good stint at work I returned, again making it too the river at first light. A real difference from last year when I'd roll up at lunchtime. With extensive reed cutting upstream it paid to get there early though before all the debris started floating down. I'd got 1/2 kilo of worms from Neil at the Skegness tackle shop and some maggots in the hope of sparking the Perch into life with some heavy feeding. I was sure this would work and as usual when I have a bright idea I ended up nearly blanking. This suicidal Roach saved the day........

As you can see it was a bit battered but it was perfectly healthy. With so many predators on the river a lot of the silver fish have battle scars on them. Cormorants, Pike, Perch and maybe the occasional Otter all reside on or in the river. This is surely one reason why the fish grow so big with the predators thinning out stocks giving the remaining fish more to eat. Anyway I moved two or three times and only added a small Dace to the days tally and left frustrated.

A few months ago I put my email address on here. I didn't check them as often as I should because someone had got in touch and had to wait weeks for me to reply. It was great to hear from someone though and he inspired me to go down to a different river and try for some Roach. As it happened I didn't catch anything special but I had a very pleasant afternoon wandering around and casting lumps of breadflake in likely looking spots. I had bites in most pegs but the stamp was quite small. The next picture may give away where I was and may end up costing me. I fully intended to buy a ticket but couldn't for the life of me find the tackle shop in the village. I fished it anyway with my twenty pound note at the ready for the bailiff. He never came. Some would call this poaching, I prefer 'try before you buy'. Nice stretch though, maybe next year I'll find somewhere that sells a ticket and have a more serious go.......

With my trips to the rivers the Partney Pike had been put on the back-burner. Word came to though that it had been caught and alarm bells sounded in my head. Some people have form in hanging onto other people's coat-tails so to speak. While I can't be sure the captor is deliberately gleaning info from my diaries I have taken certain precautions such as not naming some of my visited venues, especially the Perch river. I have even gone back and removed the river name from previous dairies which is annoying but it only takes one person to ruin it for the rest of us. While I will tell you more or less anything the consequences of me slaving away at work for five days straight dreaming of big Perch and then arriving super early, bleary eyed and ever so slightly bad tempered to find somebody in my favourite peg don't really bear thinking about.

Talking of Perch I went down to my favourite river again on my next trip. I'd fattened up some worms nicely in my worm box in the garden. Bananas, wet newspaper and some crushed egg shells seemed to be to their liking. Again I rose early much to Mrs P's annoyance. After loading up the car I headed out into the gloom. The thick fog made for slow progress and it was almost light by the time I had nestled down into my favourite spot. Again it took ages to get a bite and a disappointing Perch of around 4 ounces came to hand. The next cast I had a really tentative bite again and struck speculatively. This was met by some resistance and a fat two-pounder thrashed around under the rod tip while I slipped the net under it. Quickly popping it in the keepnet I repositioned my worm in the same spot only for another 4 ounce fish to take the worm.

On the next cast I tightened up to the swan shot and the tip curved around ever so slightly as usual. I bent down to pick up my water and noticed the tip was straight and the line was slack. Again I struck half expecting nothing when the rod hooped over into a satisfying curve. It felt big and I saw it fairly early on into the fight. I wished I hadn't as it was clearly a beast and I spent the next couple of minutes crossing everything I could for it not to fall off. It didn't........

Weight? 3lb 12oz and another new personal best. Pleased doesn't really cover it. Although I stopped for another couple of hours no more fish were forthcoming and I left for home in a kind of uplifting daze. It was turning out to be a fantastic month. Could it possibly get any better?

The next time out I rather greedily had a four-pounder in my sights. I knew just the place and it was back down to the river for a serious try for one. I got there super early again and tried a spot I have seen big Perch in before. It was a fair old struggle to get down to the river though as I negotiated a series of obstacles. I finally got into position and started to set up. It gets light remarkably quickly this time of year and the bright conditions sapped my confidence a little and resulted in me moving about a bit for the first couple of hours. I even got into the car to try another potential hotspot on another river to no avail. In desperation I even had a cast around some likely looking spots with some lures but still no joy.

At around 10 o'clock I had finally settled into a peg I hadn't really caught anything from before. I cast a fair old distance downstream with a worm while I set about baiting my other rod. To my surprise though, I had a vicious bite on the first one. Although only around eight ounces it was my target species- a Perch. This did my confidence no end of good and I eagerly cast out again. Sure enough I had another bite straight away. It felt a little bigger too until it got close to me and it suddenly gained some serious power. Looking down into the margins the remnants of a large swirl were evident and it seemed whatever I had been bringing in was taken by a predator. It didn't hang on long though and shortly after it let go I netted a rather startled skimmer Bream of around twelve ounces. Weird thing was it had not a single mark or puncture wound on it, not even a dislodged scale.

After a few more Skimmers and odd Roach I decided to abandon the Perch quest for a while and have proper go for the silver fish. I hurriedly set up a float rod with a small, clear 2AA waggler and a fourteen hook. Two maggots went on and I started to feed and fish the far bank. I say far bank but typically disorganised me hadn't checked my reel line for some time and apart from not having a clue what strength it was it also had a knot in it that curtailed a few casts well short of the far bank. It didn't seem to matter though as the next three or four hours were a blur of stunning fish after fish. Roach to a pound, the odd Perch and Dace and best of all some highly unseasonal Rudd including an absolute beauty of 1lb 11oz. It really was quite incredible. Now I'm no slouch in matches and my best weight for three hours this year was 34lb (in an artificially stocked lake). It was the best weight of the series and, as you know I was really on form this summer. I weighed my catch on the river (tiny and totally wild) and far from being 'on it' I was pretty untidy and casual. I had 35lb in the net and I hadn't even really tried. This says far more about the quality of the venue than my ability. I was stunned.
The catch....
The Perch.......

The bigger Roach....

And finally.........the Rudd.........

I only stopped fishing so I could move to another Perch spot for when the daylight started to fade. The bites were still coming thick and fast when I stopped. There must have been thousands of fish in those few yards of river. A quick drive in the car saw me unloading my tip rods for the last hour in a tried and tested Perch spot. The wind was really howling by now though and I had to lay my rods on the bank behind some reeds to stop them from moving about. My first bite didn't take long although I missed it. The tail of the worm had been bitten off and I began to have my doubts. Sure enough after another missed bite I finally connected.........with a Rudd.

Despite the lack of specimen Perch it truly was one of the best sessions I had ever had. It also highlights why I will never make a dedicated specimen hunter, I always get distracted and if there are fish in front of me I have to have a go for them. Incidentally I have replaced the line on my float reel with some free 4lb stuff on the front of the angling times. Might be rubbish but it doesn't matter as I wont remember what it is or where it came from in a few weeks. 

Before I sign off and it being Christmas and all I have a few extras for you this month.

Some top tips

Have you ever heard people say 'I had to go down to a size 20 to get a bite'. I hear it all the time from my match buddies. Even Ivan marks used to fish with tiny hooks in the belief it would get him more bites. Well I've done well this year and I've never gone below a fourteen. It is all down to what you think and confidence. Using a fourteen with two maggots on a clear river in December for Roach? You bet.

I have a super posh mountain bike. It is perfect for my off road trips with the dogs. No doubt I could career down a mountain on it quite safely. Despite this it would get roundly bested on the road by a thirty year old racing bike from a car boot sale. My point? Keep your bloody fancy pole in the holdall on the river. The amount of times I see people pole fishing in quite the most inappropriate spots infuriates me.

Some years ago I broke my pride and joy- a original Drennan Waggler rod. I was keen to replace it and even had a chance meeting with the Preston Rep in the tackle shop and he showed me a few new models. He handed me a two hundred pound float rod and began to talk about all its features. "Feels a bit heavy," I said. "That's because it hasn't got a reel on it to balance it out," he snapped as if was an idiot. It was rubbish. I continued searching for a replacement and came across a heartfelt advert on eBay. "For sale due to bereavement, bought new just before my late husband fell ill so hardly used and I'd like it to go to a good home". Melted by the sentiment I won the auction and it came to me a week later. It cost me thirty quid and is THE best float rod I have ever used. If you ever see one buy it (13ft Shakespeare Odessa Gold Match).

If you have some new gear bought for you at Christmas and you get a nice day you should try Woodlands in Spilsby. Hawthorne Lake will see you get plenty of bites even on the coldest day. The pegs near the bottom of the Lake are deeper and fish well in the winter. The owner, Eric is ever helpful and a smashing chap. Just as good is Toad hall at Candlesby. Superb fishery this and the pegs in the in the section nearest the car park are the deeper ones and reliable for some great mixed catches. Once again it has a fine owner in Vance and he'll put you right on anything from fishing to politics.


As some of you know I have another blog and I wrote a piece with another angler (Rob Thompson) for it. The story is how I started fishing and about our fishing mentor. If the TV or family is getting too much over Xmas then be my guest ....................

Any advice, a chat or just to say hello you can contact me anytime via my email-

Last of all thanks so much for all your support and interest, I really am flattered and here's to a fantastic Xmas and New Year. Cheers

Till next time........................

Friday, 29 November 2013

Fishing Diary November 2013

November 2013
First up this month was another trip to Bain Valley Fisheries new 'Bream Lake'. After some moderate success on my last visit with the pike I was keen to have another crack at them. As usual I pulled into the yard and posted my money (£6) in to the box. With some trepidation I made my way down gingerly towards my intended venue. The track ranged from bad to atrocious. I wouldn't recommend paying this lake a visit till they sort it out really. I only managed to get round by keeping my speed up and hoping for the best. When I finally did get lakeside after two hours of deadbaiting and trying every lure in my box I gave up. Not a single follow.
Having negotiated a days fishing with Mrs P though (the DIY could wait) I decided to drop in on the Spilsby club lake at Partney on my way home from Bain Valley. Three people were fishing the near bank. For anyone that hasn't read this before the far bank is a lot better, don't be lazy- get round there. Some of the older members prefer to fish near their car though and my friend John was fishing away on peg seven. We had been chatting for a while when John suddenly announced "Saw a massive Pike a couple of days ago, god it was huge, scattering fish everywhere it was.". "Really, whereabouts?" I asked. "Peg seventeen," John replied. Almost before he had finished talking I was rummaging in my boot for some pike gear and I hot-footed it round to the peg in question.
A float fished smelt went about ten yards out while I set up my lure rod. Incidentally it is the same cheapo 11ft Shakespeare Mach 1 I use for surface fishing. It is a bit long for lure fishing really but hey it's what is on the other end that is most important. Not that I'm any kind of Pike expert mind. Two more fruitless hours were spent flogging the water to a foam with a selection of awesome looking fake fish to further prove this. The seed had been planted though and I was reasonably sure the fish John had seen was the one I had mistakenly caught a couple of years previously at twenty three pounds. I have two regrets about that capture in that I didn't get a photo holding it and I didn't catch it by design. Or it could be a different fish altogether, either way I was having it.
And so began my campaign. With the pressure of work and the ever needy Mrs P it wasn't going to be easy but I managed to squeeze in a few trips. It helped being so close to home and I was soon on the bank again. Peg seventeen was the latest information I had so that is where I set up. Out went a deadbait and I set up my pole just to pass some time. For an angler I have little patience and need to keep busy. I fished away quite happily scanning the water for any movement. There wasn't any. First trip- one solitary bream......... 
A change of tack was in order and on my next trip I went to peg fifteen which gave me the option of some deeper water to try. Out went a deadbait again while I speculatively lobbed in a few pellets on the pole line. The action was fairly instant and the float buried, unfortunately it was my pole float. My elastic came shooting out as I struck and I preyed the tiny size twenty hook would hold. It did and five minutes later a handsome looking Carp came to the net....

The carp went back and all was quiet for the next half hour. I was still scanning the water while I had one eye on my float and sure enough I saw something that perked me up no end. Right in front of seventeen a lot of small fish broke the surface, clearly being chased by a big predator. I wound in my deadbait and quickly rigged up my favourite lure. Twenty minutes of trying in the spot where the fish had scattered and no joy. Just as I went back to the pole some more fish under attack showed themselves further out opposite peg six. The Pike was seemingly following a shoal of small Roach and Rudd. Again I tried my lure in the exact place to no avail. And that was that. No more showings and not a touch on my deadbait all afternoon. I did manage a nice Bream on the pole though.....

"You caught that Pike yet?" Asked the lady in Spilsby Angling Centre. "Nope." I replied. She looked at me sympathetically. "I'm not giving up though." I added. That's how I felt and it had become a battle. It isn't a big lake and while there aren't many Pike in there I was quite confident of catching it or even one of its smaller friends. John is at the lake at least twice a week and I myself had seen signs of a big predator. How hard could it be? Two more trips without a sign of any Pike and I needed a break. Specimen hunting is hard........or is it..........
Having such a big Pike in my sights had actually lifted my targets. I could have gone to Woodlands and caught some great fish but I needed at least the chance of something very special. Just a change of scenery would be welcome and I knew of just the place. My alarm blared away at six am. After a customary snooze I was up and about at seven. By eight o'clock I pulled up to my venue of choice. As I got out of the car my heart sank. The river was a horrible colour and very low. I very nearly got back in the car to go back to my nice warm bed when a fish did a kind of dolphin jump in one of my favourite pegs. Quick as a flash I was digging my gear out of the car and strode over to set up.
Standard fare of a light link leger, size 12 hook baited with a nice juicy worm from my worm box at home. I cast it out fully intending to set up a similar outfit to fish along side it. The fish had other ideas though as the tip wrapped around. After eight Perch the action slowed enough for me to set up my other rod. I cast this right down the peg and sure enough after ten minutes it was nearly taken of the rest. I played it in carefully and when I went to lift the net out I let out a gasp. I'd had some big ones but this one really took my breath away. I know some non-anglers read this and I'll put it into perspective: probably ninety-nine percent of all anglers have never seen a Perch as big as the one I was looking at. The biggest Perch I have ever caught..........3lb 9oz...............
And its mates........

You may have noticed I didn't name the Perch venue. I dislike secrets and I'm sure regulars will have guessed where it is but there is something happening down there I don't like. A few weeks ago I dropped a ten pound note. Four days later I went back and it was still there. The banks were all overgrown and it was a pleasant place to be. On my last visit all the bankside vegetation had been strimmed and the amount of litter is shameful. It is all from anglers, lure packets mainly. It does get fished a lot in the winter by Pike anglers and with the loss of bankside cover it has lost that wild appeal it had before. I'm sure I don't need to say this but if you do go down there please respect the place because, quite frankly, I love it.

During my visits to Partney Mrs P would ask how I had got on. "Rubbish", was the reply after each time. "I don't know why you bother," she'd add. The transition from fishing matches to trying to catch something out of the ordinary is tough. In a match you try and catch everything. Now I'm almost trying to catch virtually nothing. We are very lucky though to be involved in a sport with so many facets. I get match fishing- it's addictive, winning is great and being bankside with like-minded individuals is brilliant. Equally the rewards are there in Pike fishing or specimen hunting or even trout fishing in the dead of winter like I did last year. It is hard to get your head around but I, for one, am still focused on that big Partney Pike. Whether I can catch it or not is another matter entirely. Give something different a try this winter in your fishing, you won't regret it.

Till next time........................

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Fishing Diary October 2103

October 2013

The Secret River, Lincs

With the river in top form I was soon back there. It looked in fine condition as I peered into the clear, chalk filtered water and I eagerly unloaded the car. Two hours later I still hadn't had a bite. I just couldn't understand it, the peg had been solid with fish the week before. Dejected I went for a wander. About three pegs away I saw a shoal of small fish on the surface and as I looked up towards the bridge I began to realise I was witnessing something special. The shoal must have been close to fifty yards long, maybe more. You can just make out the fish from this picture I took from the bridge.....

The water on the left is slightly coloured because some Bream were feeding vigorously and stirring up the bottom. Occasionally the Roach and Dace would grab at foodstuffs the Bream were sending up but they were mostly happy just to hold station in the flow. It really was incredible. Quite why they were in such a massive shoal is something I've pondered since. Maybe its just the old adage of 'safety in numbers'. There are certainly many predators in the river and I was just content to watch as the daylight faded and all too soon it was time to head back home.
A couple of weeks passed before I went back and this time I had company, my match rival and friend, Tony. I was pleased to have him along, he would maybe have a different approach or find some other way of cracking this most fickle of venues. As soon as we got there we both walked the stretch looking for any signs of fish. Neither of us spotted anything. Although the water wasn't heavily coloured it did have a brownish tinge to it. Usually a fining-down river fishes well. Previous visits to the river left me with some doubts. Three hours and a couple of peg moves later and all we had to show for our efforts was a solitary Sea Trout that fell to Tony. Although very welcome it wasn't quite what we were after. Having suggesting it I felt bad that it had fished so badly. Still Tony didn't mind too much. The weather had been great and we had a few laughs along the way. I'm not sure about him but one thing you can guarantee is I'll be back for some more punishment.......
Partney Pit, Lincs
Two short visits after Pike and Perch with no success.

Woodlands Lakes, Spilsby, Lincs

With nothing to show you from my visits to the river or Partney I popped down to Woodlands. King Prawn would be the bait with maggots showered over the top in the hope of a big Perch or two. I set up two link legers and sat well back from the lake as I wanted to fish close in......

It didn't take too long to get a bite and for once it was a Perch although only a pound or so it was satisfying just for one of my plans to come to fruition.....

Another Perch of a similar size came along soon after and I sat back waiting for a monster to appear. Unfortunately the Carp had other ideas and although fine looking fish they became a bit of a nuisance.....
A big Perch was what I was really after and I sat it out until I could no longer see my quiver tips in the diminishing light. It wasn't to be though and I trudged back to the car wondering when my luck would turn.
Bain Valley Fisheries, Lincs
Some of you may remember the virgin Lake Tony and I fished earlier in the season. An article on the very same lake in the Angling times brought it back onto my radar. Seemed they had opened it up and were now doing day tickets. A quick drive around the Wolds and I was at the entrance to the fishery. Pulling up I followed the instructions and put six pounds in an envelope with my name and car reg number on and posted it in the box. What Angling Times (or Improve Your Coarse Fishing) didn't tell you that if you haven't been before you will never find what they call 'The Bream Lake'. I had been twice but I still struggled to come across it in the maze of roadways and other lakes. Eventually I did find it although it wasn't signposted or apparent in any way. If you fancy a crack at it then give one of the numbers on the box at the entrance.
I didn't have much time and remembering how tough it was before I decided to throw a few rubber lures around for any predators that might be lurking in the crystal clear depths. First cast and the single hook of the lure snagged on some weed. I heaved it free and almost instantly it was snagged again. Or was it? A slight nod on the tip suggested otherwise and a rather lean but very angry Pike came to the net....

A few casts later and I decided to move. I drove round to the other side of the Lake and tried to make my way to the waters edge. It was tough going. A pile of recently cut down trees gave a clue to two pegs that had been cut out (for the magazine article) but they were still hard to reach through thick undergrowth. In fact there were only six fishable pegs on the whole lake. A great shame as it really is an enchanting place. I added two more Pike and it was great fun seeing them strike in the super-clear water. I'm not the worlds greatest Pike angler and to be honest they sometimes give me the creeps a bit but I want to persevere and get more used to catching them. It's the thought of an unknown monster that will see back there before long. They do say that Pike thrive on neglect.


I have mentioned a couple of tackle shops before and I use two mainly- Spilsby Angling Centre and Tackle4you in Skegness. Like many of you I also buy gear online but I think it's important to support your local shops as much as you can. Two of my favourite brands are Shimano and Shakespeare and before Spilsby changed hands there was only one shop that stocked both- Castaline in Louth. Trouble was I had buggered up two of my Shimano reels from there by using them for sea fishing. In April I took them in to Castaline to be left for repair. It wasn't until I decided to do a bit of Piking that I suddenly thought- where are my bloody reels? On my next day off I shot over to the shop but would he still have them? The owner dug around behind the counter for a while before appearing with my reels which were working as well as the day I bought them. Remarkable service really and that is why you should support your local shops. Pike beware.........

Till next time...........

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Looking Back Part 4

Here are some stories of mine l did for a facebook page. Not my usual stuff and please be warned there is some swearing.

Early nineties. River Wreake, Hoby, Leicestershire.

I have known Mark ever since I can remember. While not a serious angler Guff (our mentor) and I tempted him into a night session after big roach on the Wreake. To get to Hoby bridge you have to go over an unmanned level crossing. We thought it was unmanned because we never saw any trains using the line. We negotiated the crossing and selected our pegs.

Guff was above the bridge, me below and Mark right under it, perched on a patch of gravel. Mark had to stoop to go under the low, heavy, steel bridge. When he finally settled and sat on his Efgeeko seat box he had a few inches of headroom. We all set up and had little action until the light started to fade. A few small Roach were taken by Mark as Guff and I struggled for a bite. I was jealous, he was obviously in the best spot. It soon got fully dark.One of those inky black, still Autumn nights. We were under strict instructions from Guff not to make a sound. So as well as being pitch black we all sat in total silence. I wont lie- it was very spooky.

About an hour into darkness I started to feel slight vibrations in the ground. Faint to start with but they got increasingly strong. Before I knew it I was nearly shaken out of my seat by the longest, loudest, heavily laden goods train I had ever seen (or to be more precise-heard). It seemed to take an age to pass over. Now I was thirty yards from the bridge and it freaked me out. "Jesus fucking Christ," came a cry from under the bridge. It was Mark. "What the fucking hell, Jesus Christ," he added. I could hear him crawling about on the gravel. He was temporarily deaf for about fifteen minutes. That was just about enough time for me and Guff to stop laughing our heads off. He could keep his peg, we still had all our senses.

Nanpantan Reservoir, Leicestershire, early nineties.

I didn't fish for carp much, still don't. I always preferred fishing for the bream in the Lake as I was nearly guaranteed to catch. They were like peas in a pod all between a pound and a quarter and maybe if you were really lucky you'd get one of two mighty pounds. The only time I would have a go for the carp was when they showed on the top. Get a sunny day with a slight ripple and you could find them basking just under the surface. Sometimes they would be close in, other times you needed a full bubble float to reach them. I'd told Mark about these easy-to-catch Carp and his eyes lit up. He was having some of that..............

 The next warm, breezy day and we were up there in a flash. We wandered round and found them not to far out in a quiet corner away from the other anglers. They were big fish. I couldn't be sure but by my reckoning Shoulders, the Football and the Mini Football were all there along with some high single-figure fish. Still big fish for us so any of them would have been welcome. It was a race to set up. I had a barely filled bubble float while Mark put on a telegraph-pole sized waggler. An hour passed with not a single take off the top, either hook baits or freebies. We swapped the chum mixers for bread with still no luck. Help soon came to hand in the form of Guff. He whispered some tips to Mark and he reeled in quick to let Guff alter his set up. He then cast out confidently with a bit of slow sinking bread fished three feet deep in fourteen feet of water. Sure enough his waggler righted itself and disappeared from view. A mighty strike followed and he reeled in......................a five pound Bream!

A few weeks later Mark did actually catch a Carp and it was the fighter. Everyone that hooked it wished they hadn't about twenty minutes in. The fighter wasn't massive although it was just into double figures. Mark took an hour and half to land it. It was hot day and Mark had his top off. Guff tormented him about his hairy back for the whole fight. He had gathered quite a crowd by the end though and he calmly took the plaudits from the dog walkers and the like for being such an obvious angling expert!

Early nineties, Leicestershire, River Soar, Little Meadow.

Back in the eighties I held the record for Soar Barbel. A rubbish claim to fame but wait till you hear the weight- 8lb 8oz! Anyway I caught it from the gully peg in the little meadow. I had a few days spare a few years later so I went back to re-acquaint myself with the mighty beast. I rang my mate Steve and we went down one summers evening with our dogs. Mine was a young labrador called Floyd and his was a massive Doberman called Gemma.

Now you used to be able to fish the gully from the peg at the top of the run and it was easy because you could get right down to the waters edge. A massive bush put paid to that on this occasion so I elected to fish from the top of the bank a few yards down. It was a shear drop of about ten feet to the river. I cast out my rig and thought nothing more of it as Steve and the dogs wandered further downstream. After about an hour they came back up after having no luck. They brought me some luck though as my rod was nearly dragged in by an unseen leviathan. It soon became apparent that my old alloy landing net handle wasn't long enough to reach down to net the fish. Not that the beast was even remotely ready as it was fighting doggedly. I laid flat on the bank and tried reaching the water with my net. No joy. "Hold my feet Steve, I'll inch over the edge, I don't want to lose this one- it's a monster!"

He was only too happy to help and sure enough he held my feet and I had half my body over the bank, rod in one hand, net in the other. As I did this my tracksuit bottoms rode down and exposed my bum cheeks. It was too much for my young, uncastrated Lab to take and he started humping my leg. It wasn't dry humping either- he was dribbling slobber on my bare cheeks. Steve started laughing and his grip loosened. My commando manoeuvre had also exposed a large lump of luncheon meat in my pocket and Gemma began attacking my other leg in an attempt to free it. It was too much for Steve and he let go to roll about the field trying to stop his sides from splitting. So there I was, sliding down a bank getting humped by one dog and attacked by another while playing possibly the best fish of my life. Steve did eventually gather himself enough to shoo the dogs away and re-grab my feet. A few minutes later I netted a fine Barbel of pounds.

Till next time....................

Friday, 4 October 2013

Fishing Diary September 2013


I am really pleased with how the dairy is going and if you have just joined us I'll give you a brief overview. This is an account of my fishing experiences mainly around the local area. I hope to provide not only a bit of entertainment but also some advice and tips. You can always contact me by email if you have any questions or want to share some of your local catches or simply to say hello at-

September 2013

It got to near the end of the month and I realised I had only been fishing once. Sometimes we all lose the love. It's especially hard when you are used to the summer matches in the mainly lovely weather and when you know all your mates (and Tony) are going to be there. Going out on a wet Autumn day on your own just doesn't have the same appeal........or does it?


9th- 12th September River Wye, Herefordshire

I won't dwell on this trip too much but it was nice to get out of Lincolnshire for a few days. Three days of canoeing down the beautiful River Wye with some friends from work was just what the doctor ordered after a busy summer season on the coast. We paddled forty miles in total. I saw loads of fish on the way and if ever you are planning to visit the river I'll tell you where I spotted a really massive Barbel. One the first night I managed to have half an hour with my telescopic rod and some luncheon meat. Alas no Barbel were forthcoming but I did catch some nice Chub. They were queueing up to be caught and despite the ridiculous amount of cormorants I saw along the way the river seemed alive with fish. Shoals of big Chub under overhanging trees, Pike striking, the occasional leaping Salmon and I even saw a Trout chasing a small fish.

Opportunities to fish were slim on the rest of the trip but Canoeing is very similar to fishing in the regard that sometimes just being there is enough.........

Woodlands Lakes, Spilsby, Lincs

Three weeks into the month and I realised I needed to get into gear. It wouldn't do to have a fishing diary about canoeing in another county. I emptied my seatbox and transferred my tackle to my bag and dug my comfy chair out. You can't match fish from a chair and nobody would 'pleasure' fish on a seatbox.

Woodlands is close to my home and having a couple of hour spare one afternoon I popped down to Hawthorne Lake to try for its large resident Perch. Stopping off at Sainsbury's I bought a pack of prawns and coloured them up with some predator plus liquid. Probably makes no difference but once you have one good experience with these colours and flavours it becomes a confidence thing. How did I do? Er......well it didn't quite go to plan. Not only Perch like prawns although I did manage one in the end (a bit smaller than I was hoping!)......

The Carp were still very active......
......and the Bream!

My prize, a four pounder (in about ten years!)
It was good to see the owner Eric and despite having a great afternoon I still wasn't super enthusiastic about going out again. A hangover from the buzz I got from the summer matches. I needed a fresh impetus and it came from an unlikely source. Ken the piker is a friend from work and true to his name he usually fishes for Pike. He had, however, been down to local river I had never fished before and caught some Perch and Chub.

River Lymn, Spilsby, Lincs

I must have been over this river hundreds of times over the years. I had heard it was good fishing but it always looked too small to me. As I pulled up to the road bridge just outside Spilsby I peered down and was greeted by the sight of a rather disappointing trickle of a waterway.....

Still, Ken had assured me it got deeper and wider a bit further down. He'd also shown me some pictures of the fish he had caught and I have to say I was impressed (don't tell him). I hopped over the barbed wire fence with my little leger rod and a few bits and bobs. I rang ken to double check I was OK to fish- "Oh yes, the farmer even gave us a cheery wave as we walked along," Ken replied. I wasn't so sure, barbed wire is usually a bad sign. As I made my way downstream I did eventually find a small pool that I tried for a while. I had a few bites but was cursing myself for not bringing some small floats. On these small rivers it's sometimes good to search all of the peg and I couldn't do that with my small link leger. Half an hour later I decided to move further down. I negotiated another barbed wire fence and got a wet foot from a small side stream. My mood wasn't great and with the farm looming over the next field I was pleased to see another likely looking pool. First cast I had a small Perch...
Followed by a few small Dace....
The leger still wasn't right though and I headed back to the car after a short time vowing to return with some more suitable equipment. If any of you have any information about fishing rights I would love to hear from you. Interestingly the pools I fished weren't the ones Ken had tried. He was closer to the farm and it really would be prudent of me to find out if we are actually allowed to be there before either of us goes back.
The Secret River, Lincs
Inspired not only by my last outing but also my canoe trip I decided to try my luck on another river. Although it can be very challenging at times I really have had some exceptional days on this venue. Usually weeded up in the summer months I hoped they would have died back sufficiently for me to get a bait among some fish. The target- big Perch. One day last winter I had six Perch over two pounds from one including two beasts over three pounds.
A quick stop off at the tackle shop in Spilsby saw me leaving with a big box of worms and half a pint of red maggots. Half an hour later I was pulling up beside the River. Being a chalk stream the most important factor is colour- if it is heavily coloured you may as well go straight home. Luckily it was clear, maybe too clear I thought as I carefully positioned myself at the top of the stretch. Setting up two tip rods with three swan shot link legers I cast out two worms on some size twelve hooks. Perfect I thought as I sat back in my chair and waited for the inevitable bites. I fed a few maggots over the top sporadically to no avail. Two hours passed without so much as a line bite.
My confidence plummeted so I partially packed up and had a walk downstream. Boy was it overgrown though. I battled my way to the waters edge half way along the short section and peered into the water. No sign of life and to be honest I didn't fancy battling with the foliage. Something caught my eye a little further down though. A small fish topped. I watched intently and sure enough another swirl appeared. I made my way down to the activity and handily somebody had cut a peg out so I set my chair down and watched for a while. Lots of fish were visible and they were attacking the floating weed that was coming down the river. That meant the leger gear was going to be useless so I did what any lazy bugger would- cut my swan shot off and attached a small dumpy waggler instead. Bear in mind I was using heavy line too.
I still had a few maggots left so I fired some in mid river and cast over the top with my improvised set up. What followed in the next hour I can scarcely believe myself. Never have I seen so many fish in a wild environment in my whole fishing career. I had a Dace or a Roach every cast until I ran out of both time and bait. There must have been thousands of them. Even when I did a ropey cast (easy with a quivertip rod and a float) miles from the feed it would go straight under. I was stunned to say the least.......

That night I had made my mind up. I'd get up early and do everything I had to do and then get back down to the river to see what I could catch if I did it properly. The passion was back. I bought some more maggots and headed down into the river valley. I followed it right from its source and I always wonder how many two pound Roach I travel past on the way. I certainly pass hundreds of Grayling and I've never caught one of them either!

The sun was out when I got to the river although the weather forecast on the radio had informed that would soon change. I set up a simple three metre to hand pole rig and cast in expectantly. The action wasn't instant like the day before but careful feeding soon had them queueing up again. At first Dace and then a few small Roach. I had decided that the only way to try for the bigger ones was to feed the smaller fish off so I upped the rate of feed. The wind wasn't making it easy however but eventually it started working as this fine Rudd shows.....

The fish really were pristine and next put in I had a perch and then the bigger Roach showed up. This was despite a ruddy great Cormorant landing just downstream and disappearing straight under the water. I shook my head in disbelief as my float went under again and again- all Roach in the 8-12oz class. It really was turning out to be a red letter day and I was sure that something special would turn up if I carried on. As I had that thought it started raining. Coupled with the howling wind it was blowing straight in my face. It wasn't particularly cold just really uncomfortable. I set up my umbrella and had to anchor it down with a storm pole to stop it taking off. Then the bites tailed off. I was just picking up odd Roach from all over the place. Something was amiss. Half an hour later it became more obvious. The rain eased slightly and a large, dark shape appeared near my float. It was moving downstream. to be honest it was that big it startled me. It stopped by the reeds in front of me and made its way towards my keepnet. A bloody great Pike. I tried to scare it by splashing my pole tip and it backed off before slowly edging forwards again. I stood up and it went off again. I could just see it though and it was directly below where I was bringing the fish in. With the rain getting worse again I decided to call it a day. Very frustrating but there will be another time and I might just catch that pike too..........

Final word

On both the River and the forgotten lakes I have caught Roach/Bream hybrids but never any true Bream- most odd.

At Woodlands I had a wander about and stumbled across one of the more natural lakes there- Elm. The photo doesn't even begin to do it justice but it looks fantastic. Not sure what the deal is in regards to fishing it but go and have a word with Eric and I'm sure he'll accommodate you.

Till next time..............

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Fishing Diary August 2013


Well hello there. I must have some new readers because it says the diary has nearly four thousand hits. Remarkable really. Thanks to you all for reading and Spilsby Angling Centre and Tackle 4 U, Skegness for giving out my cards.


Toad Hall, Candlesby, Lincs

Thursday night match at one of my favourite venues. You may remember Don beating me off peg 8 last time I was here with a magnificent twenty seven pounds. Guess what peg I drew the very next week? That's right. Peg 8. I virtually ran to the peg and set up with maximum enthusiasm. Don had caught to his right (where I had told him to!) about a foot from the bank and I plumbed up carefully and fished in the same place in about two feet of water. Peg 8 doesn't get put in very often but I won the final match of last year from it and was brimming was confidence. Three hours later I packed up in a huff. I just couldn't catch anything of note. Tipping back maybe three pounds of F1's I trudged back to the car while the others happily weighed in. I've said it before and I'll say it again- nothing like fishing for making you look like a tit.

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs

One of my main rivals and match organiser Tony was away for this match. Don and I decided on the pegs and I managed to argue the case for a peg on a bank we don't usually put in. As luck would have it I drew said peg (number 9) so I had an opportunity to prove myself right. It wasn't going to be easy though as a short while into the match Dave Brown hooked a monster fish and he was playing it carefully. Half an hour passed and I managed a couple of small Carp off the top. Dave was still playing his fish! When he finally got it in he weighed it straight away as it was too big for his keepnet. A massive Grass Carp of twenty one and a half pounds was registered and the banter started. 'Looks like we are all fishing for second then,' said Frank as Don nodded in agreement. I kept quiet. The Carp were still coming up in front of me and I though maybe I could beat that weight as long as Dave didn't have another.

Something very strange then happened. I hooked a fish on top and after a couple of minutes it snapped my line. I was mortified. I've not had a fish snap me off for ages I thought as I stripped off some line. In case you are wondering it was Browning Hybrid in 9.5lb breaking strain. Now to be fair it is super-thin and that is why I can catch so many on the surface. Neil did warn me it might not be ideal for use on the reel. I used to read about top anglers changing their line every few trips. I never even used to know what strength line I had let alone how long it had been on so I thought they were mad. I promised myself I would change this stuff every month or so. At £3.95 a spool it was no big deal. Anyway I carefully played the next four fish in and waited nervously for the scales. Would I have more than twenty one and a half pounds? You bet I would. My six Carp went twenty two pounds twelve. Did Dave have anything to add to his behemoth? Nope. Victory number five.

Toad Hall, Candlesby, Lincs

The final match of the season. The one everybody wants to win. Having paid in all year the money up for grabs attracted a record attendance. As a result peg 8 was in again along with 4 and 19 (usually rubbish compared to the rest). Guess who drew peg 8 again? Walking to my peg a little slower this time I felt quite relaxed. Just having something to weigh in would be an improvement over last time. My god my tackle was in a right state though. I pulled out my ground bait bowl and most of the rest of the contents of my bag followed it all tangled in some old line. I could see Andy looking over, I didn't need to be a mind-reader to guess what he was thinking. I managed to cobble together a couple rigs while the others carefully unwound their ready prepared, labelled and carefully arranged set ups. Why it takes some of them so long to be ready I'll never know. Did you know some pole rollers and even boxes have spirit levels on them now? Crazy.

Anyway I decided to fish straight out in front of me at five metres over some ground bait. This would be my main line if the close in line to my right was dead again. I fished the whole match swapping between the two. I never really caught quickly off either line but I was putting a few F1's in the net along with a proper Carp from in close. Then I hooked a decent fish but it felt a bit odd. When it surfaced Gareth caught sight of it. 'Phil's got one of your mates Don!' he exclaimed. I could hear Don laughing as I netted a dirty great Eel. Regulars will know I won't even weigh Don in if he has any Eels. Can't stand them. Totally irrational but hey at least I'm not scared of spiders like one of my brothers.

'Any good' asked fishery owner Vance as he came by with the scales. 'I've had a few but not enough' I said as he headed down to the main part of the lake. I had beaten Andy across from me and I knew Ian had caught some decent fish but couldn't really see anybody else. After weighing half the lake fourteen pounds was in the lead. I weighed sixteen eight. As we moved round to Andy he weighed ten pounds odd. Ian next. Vance and the others took a sharp intake of breath as they weighed his catch. Ian had weighed sixteen ten beating me by two ounces. I put my arm around him to congratulate him, 'Still not over, Brian has had a few on 19' Ian informed me. Do you know what? Brian did have a few. Nearly eighteen pounds. I was made up for him. It's nice when a regular who doesn't usually win takes the spoils. Better him than that canny old bugger Don or local superstar Gareth anyway.

'God willing I'll see you next year' said Ian as I left. I nodded and as I passed Brian in the car park Vance was just paying him out 'Well, it's like winning the bloody lottery' I heard him say as I drove out of the gates into the gloom and onwards to home.

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs

Next Tuesday night match and I drew a good peg- 17. As ever when I draw a good peg it refused to produce for me and I weighed in paltry five pounds. Couldn't catch off the top and the area I chose to fish to my left was too shallow and I should have known it. I think Don won with over ten pounds. Tony was second.

The following week saw me draw...........Peg 17! Even worse than the week before though I had Tony next to me on peg 18. 'Come on Phil, lets fish a proper match on the pole, it'll be all about skill' he said as we set up. I know he doesn't even believe this himself so I fobbed him off. After the previous week I knew it was too shallow to my left so I plumbed up all over. I found it slightly deeper out in front of me. I didn't want to go too far so settled on four metres. I also set up my surface rod, you know, just in case I ran out of 'skill'. Tony called the all-in and I threw in two balls of crazybait laced with expanders in the general direction of where I intended to fish. I noticed Tony was baiting his peg further out but with a pole pot. Skill indeed. My mum could do that.

Whoever invented the F1 needs to come and see me because by Christ they are annoying! It was absolutely solid with them but they were all over the place as bloody usual. I probably hit one out of two bites. Enough but frustrating when you have to keep re-baiting. Don had given my some worms beforehand and they were better but I ran out of those fairly quickly. Tony wasn't saying much until he hooked a couple of Bream and his mates from work came to watch him. While the F1's were still going crazy I thought at four or five to the pound it was worth having a go on top. I'd been feeding a few mixers and the odd one was getting slurped down. I was soon into a fish. I still hadn't changed my line and Tony heard my weakly set clutch. 'Has he got that bloody rod out?' I heard him say from behind the reeds separating us. One of his mates peered around the reeds. 'Yep!'. 'You bloody cheat, thought we were having a pole match?' Tony exclaimed as I laughed off his protestations.

The banter continued as I took another Carp off the top. Tony was catching steadily and some of his Bream were proper slabs so I had to be careful. I went back to the F1's and was surprised to hook into a couple of Tench in the last half hour. 'I've got ten pounds' Tony said to me and his mates at the end of the match. 'Yeah, me too' I added as I winked at Tony's pals. They laughed. Tony weighed twenty five pounds from Peg 18. A record from that peg this year I think and a very good performance. Sitting out on the pole with meat takes both patience and confidence (not much skill though!).
Tony's mates were still laughing as I weighed twenty seven pounds. 'Well done Phil, you fished well' Tony said through gritted teeth! As he said this he stood on my rod holdall in the dim dusk light. I'm not even sure he knew he had done it but I definitely heard a 'crunch'. A quick check inside revealed no obvious damage. We then went around to Don who had a notable eighteen pounds off peg 15 for third.

The week after saw me on peg 4. I baited in exactly the same way as the week before at four metres and...........never had a bite. I did mange one fish off the top which weighed five pounds ten but Don won with seven pounds odd and Tony second a couple of ounces behind. I did lose a fish that would have seen me win by a country mile but alas the ones that get away don't count. Interestingly when the gentry used to fish in the 1800's they considered the skill to be actually hooking fish. As soon as they hooked a fish they would pass the rod to a servant who would undertake the undignified task of playing it in.

Willesly lake, Ashby De La Zouch, Leices

Our first visit here was covered via the following link-

After our last visit Steve and I were keen to get to the banks of this lovely old estate lake again. Even so with our hectic family and work lives along with the hundred or so miles between us it took almost exactly two years to reconvene on the bank. As ever even though I had a two hour longer journey I arrived in the car park first. It didn't take Steve long to arrive though and we excitedly made our way around to the wood side of the lake where we had fished before. A Carp angler had just arrived in the peg we wanted but we soon found another likely looking spot a few pegs away. We decided on a feeder approach for the Bream and as we set up the bailiff came around. 'Good spot this lads, the match on Sunday was won here, he had twenty five pounds you know' he said as he took our money. Steve and I looked at each other. We had over sixty pounds between us last time from the same peg so twenty five didn't sound very promising. We also noticed a distinct lack of bubbles out in front of us.

After a couple of hours it became clear something was drastically wrong. The Bream just didn't seem to be there. The last time I remember casting about twenty yards away from where I had been catching and still caught a Bream, on the drop, on a heavily laden feeder! Steve wandered off while I scaled down to a two pound bottom and a sixteen hook. A sods law would dictate I instantly hooked a Carp that destroyed my newly tied rig and I tackled up again. Steve came back all excited and said he had found some bubbles and was off to try his luck further down the lake. It suddenly occurred to me that here was a man with a large, young family, a business to run and several other responsibilities but all that mattered to him in those few hours was catching some fish. I guess that's why we love it so much and why it is so difficult explain to anybody else.

Steve soon came back after having only caught a solitary Roach. I started to catch Roach too, on my lighter, more refined rig. After catching three in quick succession Steve twigged some thing was amiss while he watched his stationary quiver tip. We had a good old laugh and I passed him the stuff to tie his own Roach set up. He wasn't happy though-

He was soon into some decent Roach though and then I had my first Bream. 'These big slabs don't swim around on their own you know,' I said to Steve as I netted what we both hoped was the start of a big net full. As I lifted it out of the net Steve started laughing. 'It's not even a pound!'. At least it was a Bream though and not a big clump of mussels-

We both ended up with a few Roach but no more Bream were forthcoming. Something must have happened to the Lake. It certainly isn't what it used to be. Shame but we still had a fantastic day. If you have an old mate you haven't seen for a while get out on the bank together, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs

I don't know how many times I have told Mrs P- 'I have to go tonight, it's the last one' but I really thought Tony would surely bring these matches to an end after this one. I drew peg 2. Tony was on his favourite 18. A relatively straightforward match I took four fish off the top. I weighed sixteen pounds four. Tony had twelve odd for second. I great end to a highly successful summer 'Who's up for starlight matches?' asked Tony afterwards. Everyone agreed although I'll miss the first one due to a canoe trip down the river Wye with some mates from work (don't worry, I'll be taking some gear with me). 

The Forgotton Lakes, Old Bolingbroke, Lincs

I hadn't been here in a while and Tony was having some success on the top lake, catching some big Roach. I drove down one morning with Mrs P and the chaos twins to bait up a peg with some corn and pellets. As we walked around the lake I spotted something in the water. A bloody great cormorant. Not only that it had a fish in its mouth, a big one too. It was some distance away but it looked like a big Rudd before the giant sea bird gulped it down. My heart sank. A quick argument with Mrs P ensued where I blamed the birds and she cited humans at fault for the whole situation. I have to say now she did have a point. I'll not go into it here because I don't want to sound like Keith Arthur (i.e a twat).

I went back a few hours later with my gear and set up a short pole and fished corn. It's bloody deep close in that top lake. I must have had eight feet of a water just a few feet out. The lake seemed quite healthy with lots of activity both on the surface and also in the form of patches of bubbles giving away feeding fish. There were even some coming up in my chosen peg. It still took a while to get a bite though. After about half an hour a started to get some bites. Rudd first and then a couple of Roach. Then it went dead again. Out of the blue the float sailed under and I struck into something more substantial. Was it a giant Roach? No, it was one of those lovely Cruician type thingys-

The swim went dead again and a short while later I became aware of something moving on the far bank. Up popped that Cormorant again and this time I could see what was in its mouth- a big Roach of maybe a pound, bigger than any Roach I had ever caught out of there. I tried to keep calm and carried on fishing. In the end it was a bit of a struggle to be honest. Here is what I ended up with- 

Just before I packed up I saw the Cormorant circling above. After a couple of laps it landed in the water and shot straight under the water out of sight. I decided to see where it had gone and sneaked around the lake. I may have even picked up my catapult and a few small stones on the way! As I made my way to the back of the lake I negotiated some pretty heavy undergrowth before it opened up into a small clearing. It always feels a bit spooky around there as the big trees cocoon the still, almost eerie water. An old tree jutted out from the bank and on it was my enemy. Not one but bloody two! Like a pair of Pterodactyl's they were. Massive things. They caught sight of me and shot into the water. I seriously considered going in after them.

After my ridiculous attempt to right the wrongs of generations of overfishing of our seas with a catapult and some pebbles I retired back to my gear to pack up. As I reflected on the day I was thankful I had caught a lovely summer Crucian and had an otherwise pleasant day. It seemed very apt that the sun was just setting over the lower lake as I got to my car. It seemed to signify the end of what has been a warm, bright and thoroughly enjoyable summer. Wonder what Autumn will bring..............


I grabbed a quick hour down at the brick pit tonight. Being my usual lazy self I only half opened my rod case. Not being able to find my usual floater rod I took out Mrs P's rod that she loves so much. It's in a bright red bag so I knew which one it was. At 11ft with a bit of power it would do the job I thought as I pulled it from its sleeve. Wait what's this I thought as I looked at the tip. You know that crunching sound I heard when Tony stepped on my holdall? Good job she doesn't read this.

Till next time.......................................

P.S. Some you have asked about my other blog and you can find it here-

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fishing Diary July 2013

Welcome back,

Mainly matches again this month and wow hasn't it been a scorcher! I never thought I would say this but I'm beginning to miss the bleak solitude of my winter trips to the rivers. Guess it is just part of being English. I do hanker after more relaxing times though, snoozing on the old weed bed at the forgotten lakes or snuggled up in my thermals on the river bank listening to episodes of Desert Island Disks. The short  summer evening match format suits me though because work is so busy at this time of year. That and the fact that I am so bloody competitive....................

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs

Fresh from my victory the week before I was keen as mustard at the draw for pegs. That was soon dampened by drawing peg 7- not traditionally a good area at all. Two hours in I had less than a pound in the net while I had watched everyone on the far bank catching quite happily. Peg seventeen in particular was doing well. Anyway in desperation more than anything else I flicked out a few mixers. The wind had died down sufficiently for me to use them as I was a bit paranoid about them drifting into somebody else's peg. If I had steadily built up my swim for two hours and somebody floated some dog biscuits over my peg I wouldn't be best pleased either.

About five minutes passed before the carp made an appearance, slurping greedily at the big floaters. I had five decent Carp in the last hour hitting almost every take. At the final whistle I knew had won and so the weigh -in proved. Nearly twenty seven pounds I was almost ten pounds in front of the chap on seventeen. Two wins in a row? Miraculous considering my previous form. "What do use then? Controller? Polyball?" asked a fellow competitor at the end as if I was using some kind of witchcraft. "Just a hook on the end of my line," I replied. There is no secret I really do just use a hook and line. To further rub salt into the wounds I was using my feeder rod with the quiver tip removed. Very satisfying when most of the guys use poles worth more than my car!

Keal Cotes fishing Mere, Lincs

I hadn't been to the mere just down the road at Keal Cotes for about three years. You used to be able to catch some big Roach on hemp and I'm fairly sure you still can. The purpose of my visit this time though was to catch some Carp. The Carp here are bigger on average than the ones at Partney. I knew from prior visits that they were partial to floating baits.

I arrived early evening to find the Mere fairly calm with not another angler in sight. Fed up of using my feeder rod I had a brand new eleven foot specimen rod that had bought the day previous for the princely sum of twenty pounds! Shakespeare Mach 1 if you really want to know. Not top draw but has a nice action and is fairly light. Half an hour into the session and I had caught already caught two Carp, both around five pounds. I was gradually getting them feeding closer to the bank and hooked a far more substantial fish. As I played it a car pulled up directly behind me on the path. Now this Mere is probably three hundred yards all the way around. Quite why some idiot would want to drive around is beyond me unless they were disabled (I kept my mouth shut just in case). In the end I lost the fish. My spectator was more gutted than I was. "That's why I didn't say anything," said the idiot. I ignored him. Then I heard his door open. "You'll want one of these," he said thrusting a day ticket in my hand. He was the bailiff! Now the Mere is far from the most picturesque lakes in the county but seriously? If you want to be a bailiff surely you must A. Be willing to walk around and B. Have some modicum of watercraft. Things were about to get worse.

An hour later I had caught three more Carp bringing the total to five. One thing I did notice was how bad their mouths were. I'm always unsure what causes this. Eric from Woodlands is adamant that it is the use of braid. Anyway I carried on and was soon into another fish. "Doing any good?" asked another passer by. "Had a few," I replied. It turned out he was staying on-site in a caravan. "Wow, blimey!" said the man. He had seen the carp feeding on the surface. After a short conversation it became apparent the lake had been fishing terribly for weeks. Spawning by all accounts. Utter rubbish I thought as I netted the Carp. My new friend estimated it at fourteen pounds. It was probably nearer ten and I considered taking a photo. Once again though it looked as if it had had some rough treatment in the past so I slipped it straight back.

My friend scuttled off to get his tackle while I carried on. The fish were really having it now, swirling all over the place. Another bloke appeared behind me. An older gent, he was transfixed by the Carp frenzy in front of me. "Crikey, never seen so many fish," said the old boy. I nodded, concentrating on my biscuit among the many out there. "I fished for ten hours here yesterday and never landed a fish" he said. "Lost some rigs though, lead leaders, the lot." he added. It suddenly dawned on me. These fish have been fished for a lot by people with no idea hence the poor condition. Peace broke out for about five minutes after the old chap had left until a group of five or six people from the caravan site noisily walked around the lake. When the bailiff drove around for a second time about ten minutes later I finally packed up and left a little disappointed.

To be honest maybe I have been a little harsh on the place. I first used to fish it a few years back and there were no caravans on site and as I said the Roach fishing was brilliant. It is certainly stuffed with fish. If you look closely enough you'll see the Carp still feeding as I left.

Woodlands complex, Spilsby, Lincs.

"When you taking me fishing then?" Asked Chris from work. As it transpired we went the morning after my Keal Cotes trip. Chris hadn't been fishing for some years. Regulars will know if my life depended on catching a Carp I would go to Woodlands and so that is where I took Chris. It was a glorious morning and there were a scattering of cars in the car park. We headed to the far end of Hawthorne lake well away from the other anglers and in the cooler, deeper water.

I set Chris up with my new rod and a simple waggler set up. I chopped up some meat and threw it about a rod length out. Chris cast over the top with his waggler and a small piece of meat on the hook. I settled down behind him, basking in the late morning sun. It didn't take long for Chris' float to show signs of foraging fish and his float soon disappeared. "Told you, I'm a natural!" He bragged. "When you setting up? I'm already one in front." He added cockily. "I'm OK, I'll watch you for a bit," I replied. With my exploits the evening before and a forthcoming match at Partney in the evening I felt a little fished out.

Chris' swim went quiet for a good while and I reluctantly wandered off to the next peg. I set up a method feeder and launched it towards the Island. Three fish in three casts soon had my interest waning- it was too easy! Chris did eventually catch another while I spent the rest of the session faffing around with my tackle box and trying to tempt them on floaters. Chris' fish was a good one though. "Hold it up for the camera Chris," I instructed. "Oooh no, I don't like the feel of them." He replied. I wasn't surprised- he's just as bloody awkward at work! The resulting picture.......

Partney Brick Pit, Lincs
That evening I tried to go three from three at Partney. As I pulled up to the lake though I was horrified to see a massive sheet of blossom all over the surface. It was going to be tough, I drew peg 7 again and settled down quite confidently. On the whistle a scattered a few floaters in as it was relatively still. The response was disappointing. Just the odd take here and there. I managed only one fish in the first two hours. I did add one late on but I knew I hadn't done enough. Don won with a fine fifteen pounds off peg 21. Little did I know I was less than a pound off second place. In the end my two fish went nine pound fourteen and saw me forth. If only I had gone for a few small fish in between Carp I thought as I loaded the car. I wouldn't have won but I'd have nailed second.
A week later and I was back. Peg 19 was ok-ish. I had a bit of room to fish on top and I hoped for a few small fish on the short pole. True to form I had a couple off the top straight away but they were quite small. It turned out to be a tough match and at the end of the three hours I had managed to scrape together a level ten pounds. Much to my surprise this was enough to win. I had been lucky. No disrespect to any of the guys but had my main rivals Tony and Don drawn better pegs I think the outcome may well have been different.  
Toad Hall, Candlesby, Lincs
Work commitments had kept me away from these Thursday night matches for a few weeks but I managed to sneak down for one mid-month. I drew well and raced around to peg 2- one of my favourites. The small f1 type Carp kept me on my toes all match, hooking about one in every three bites on paste. A decent Tench along with a Bream and a couple of proper Carp joined my annoying friends in the net and I was confident at the weigh in. I had certainly beaten everyone I could see. As the scales appeared I weighed nearly twenty six pounds. Only Don had been out of sight all match but he couldn't have more than that could he? He was on a good peg (8) but I was still sure he wouldn't have more than that. You know what's coming don't you? The crafty old sod had twenty seven pounds in his net.
Partney Brick Pit, Lincs
Next match. Peg 18. A disaster. The pegs either side were in and this restricted me massively. Dennis was to my right and he always fishes long so that would spook any fish up in the water within casting range. A new member was on 17 to my left and he set up all manner of gear. One thing I did notice was that he had his name on his box. Now I spoke to him after the match and he was a thoroughly nice bloke. Something about him having his name on his box though lit a fire in me. I wanted to beat him so much. Silly really and a bit pointless because his peg was heaving with fish. That's my competitive nature though.
As it happened I had five Carp off the top but they were all tiny. I picked up a few fish on the four metre line but my twelve pounds was only good enough for fifth. Who won it? Yes, that's right- my neighbour on 17. He did it, just, with seventeen pounds.
Last match of the month and I drew peg 2. I have to admit to chuntering a bit as I didn't fancy it at all. The other guys found this quite amusing as they charitably ignored my protests. I set up my usual floater rod and a four metre pole. A few bubbles came up as I was setting up just to my right so I decided to mix some ground bait up and put it in there. On the whistle I put in two large balls laced with pellets. Letting them settle I fished a frustrating first half hour on the top. "Can't hook any tonight Tony," I remarked to my friend and organiser a couple of pegs away. The very next cast I hooked one. In fact I had three in three casts. Nothing like fishing for making you look like a tit. Anyway the Carp grew weary of being taken off the top and I switched to the four metre line.
I was fairly solid down there and I caught a few little f1 type thingy's and then I hooked a Bream. "Got the Bream lined up as well eh Phil?" Tony remarked. "Yeah, what would he do from a peg he did like?" said Don from across the lake. Banter is so much easier to take when you are winning. In the end I had blitzed it. At twenty one pounds I was nearly ten pounds clear of the rest. Tony even packed up early and I've never known him do that. Still I've watched him bag-up enough times in matches to know how he felt. With the victory at the end of last month that made it four out of the last six. A turn around indeed.
"The thing about you is that you haven't got all the fancy gear but my word you can catch some fish," said Brian graciously at the end. I thanked him and wandered back to my car wondering if it was time to get my name emblazoned on my £40 seat box................
The old boys comments at Keal annoyed me a bit. It's not his fault he is endangering fish using gear he has no idea about. I blame the papers and magazines that advertise it. What most of us realise is that they only exist to sell advertising space. He was only using what had been marketed at him. As for tackle reviews by supposedly 'expert testers' I'll give you an example of the type of stuff you come across. Angling Times recently reviewed a top of the range pole from Drennan costing two and a half thousand pounds. It ended like this-
"Is this pole any better than the others in its price range? Only time will tell".
No only you will tell! You bloody tested it and all the others. Just tell us which one is best! They wont of course because to say one is best endangers the chances of all the other companies advertising their products in the paper. It's nonsense. As is Krill being used in fishing bait but don't get me started on that one!
On a more positive note I'd like to thank Tony for being open minded about tactics. When I used to try and fish a bit differently in the matches at Mill Road lakes they just banned everything I tried to use. The candle, floating baits, the feeder..........why not just call it a sodding pole match. Anyone can fish how I have been doing and some have started. The fish will eventually wise up and then it's back to the drawing board. For now though I'll finish on a quote from match fishing legend Ivan marks- "If I know a particular method will win the match then I only have to beat the others who are fishing it.".  
Till next time.........................