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 series.......wait.......no. '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-