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.
"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.........................