I’m really enjoying these inter-club fixtures and it’s great having some bigger matches although with 25 originally booked in, pegging it was going to cause a few headaches. I have to say a massive thanks to Rob Cox, Baz Morgan, Leighton and Paul Adams who did loads of work finding swims and making them fishable and at Midelney, they even put pallets in the pegs as it can be a bit boggy. Without people like you, these matches wouldn’t be possible so thanks again.
We met at the bowling club for breakfast where Drew and his team looked after us superbly, observing social distancing, everything went very smoothly as the anglers enjoyed a cracking breakfast, which for a fiver (for the standard one) represents brilliant value for money. A couple of anglers had pulled out making it 23 which is still a decent turnout for a club match and it was great to see Vic Bush fishing with us again.
After everyone had arrived, Rob welcomed our guests and let people know the different areas being used for todays match. There were some pegs at Upper Coxes, Ashford (which was a bit of an unknown quantity as we haven’t fished it for years), Isle Brewers, Hambridge and Midelney (which had fished well when we tried it last year). Most people were hoping to be drawn on the lower end of the river.
Chris ‘The Grand Wizard’ did the draw for everyone and when it was my turn, he pulled out H3 at Hambridge for me and I have to say I was gutted and had a proper whinge! My peg is two above the bridge and although it has done some decent weights over the years, it wouldn’t be on most peoples wish list! Both clubs had anglers on some good pegs and then some we weren’t so sure about. Rob made sure everyone knew where they were going and Paul Adams was waiting at Ashford to show people where to park and direct them to their pegs.
As I pulled up at Hambridge, Baz and Terry were already there, they’d drawn the two pegs below the bridge which are normally very consistent and I was still moaning about my peg. As we stood on the bridge looking upstream, a fish topped in my swim, then another and another and I came in for some stick about my griping when I was on a swim full of fish! Even though I started to think I might get a few fish, I was still sure I wouldn’t be able to compete with Leighton on the bridge swim (H4) or the other two below it. Jake Woodard was above me and said there were a few fish topping there as well.
My swim was nicely cut out and very comfortable and as I was setting up, there were fish topping all over the place! I set up a 1 gram bodied float with an olivette and two droppers to fish three sections to hand down the middle and a lighter 0.75 gram version of the same float with a spread bulk, both rigs had size 18 Guru Match Specials to 0.10mm. On the side tray I had a pint and a half of casters, red maggots, hemp and I’d mixed up some Bait-Tech Pro Natural Dark and Extra in case I was drawn at Midelney but would put some in anyway.
Leighton got us underway at 10:30 and as I cupped in two balls of groundbait down the middle, Jake above me was into a fish straight away! I baited up with two red maggots and swung the rig out, it didn’t even settle and I swung in a small chublet. It was a bite a chuck, mainly from chunky chublets and bleak along with the odd roach. Both Jake and Leighton were also catching really well and it was looking like we were in for a good match.
I then hooked a good fish and suspected it would be a perch as the swim can chuck up a few and I was right as a stunning pound and a half fish came to the top and I netted it, what a bonus! At the end of the first hour, my clicker was reading 31 fish and I thought I probably had around 3lb but surely things would slow up?
It was still a bite a chuck going into the second sixty minutes but instead of mainly chublets and bleak, I was now getting more roach including some that required the landing net. I also had another big perch but lost one that took me into the stick ups and snapped me so I changed the hooklength to 0.12mm. I carried on catching really well including another four perch and after two hours I was up to 70 fish. Jake said he was still getting a few but it had slowed up for him.
I tried caster a few times but couldn’t get a bite on it, double red maggot was best and I was still catching well but was suffering the odd quiet spell and having to chase the fish around a bit. It did make me wonder if there was a pike mooching about as there are loads at Hambridge and it sounded like Leighton and Terry were having a few problems with them below me. I added another 26 fish with two more decent perch and was starting to think a really big weight was on the cards.
Jake said he was now struggling but from all the splashing below me, Leighton was still catching well and heard Baz say he’d landed a big chub. My bites had slowed up so I added a pole section to fish further across and down the swim, a bite first chuck and it felt like a decent roach but I’ll never know as a rather large pike snaffled it and I was reaching for the hooklength box again. Next put in I hooked another roach with the same result, this time I had the pike on for ages until it got bored and spat the 4oz roach out, the poor thing didn’t look very well at all!
The trouble with adding a section is that as soon as you hook a fish you have to ship back instead of lifting it straight out and that couple of seconds is enough for the pike to strike! I was still getting the odd fish but some of them were now gudgeon, micro perch and I even had a ruffe! There was also still some weed about as I was snagging up quite often and lost a few more hooklengths.
Going back to three sections to hand I had some nice roach but it soon became apparent that a big pike was sat there and every time I struck into a fish, as it came out of the water, a large set of jaws followed it! I also hooked what I thought was a big perch and it shot off and weeded me, I tried adding pole sections to change the angle of pressure but it was solid and I had no option but to ship back and grab the elastic. Then I felt movement and it was free, this felt like a really big fish and I started to think it might have been a chub as I just couldn’t do anything with it, all of a sudden something gave and a 6oz perch skidded along the surface! So it hadn’t been weeded, a big croc had grabbed it!
With one hour of the five remaining, I was on 121 fish but instead of the strong finish I’d envisaged, I rather limped home, adding 15 fish for around a pound in the final sixty minutes. I shouted down to ask how Leighton had got on and he said he’d caught all day but lots of small fish and I heard Baz say that he had double figures so it had fished well. With 136 fish on the clicker from half an ounce to a pound and a half, I didn’t have a clue what weight I had! I had ten decent perch that would go at least 9lb between them and I thought the rest must have averaged an ounce apiece so that would give me another 8lb, so 17lb at least and I thought it might be nearer 20lb.
After packing up, we weighed Jake first and he had lots of fish for 5lb 8oz but had struggled after the first couple of hours. My fish went 16lb 8oz which was a bit less than I thought but still an awesome days fishing, then Leighton had a cracking net of fish weighing 13lb 2oz before we went to weigh the other two.
Terry ‘The Toast’ had another lovely bag of fish weighing 12lb 6oz and then Baz pulled his net out and I thought it was going to be close but the needle settled at 13lb 12oz, his chub was a good 3lb plus and he thinks he lost one too.
Back at the bowling club for the results and it was a bit of a mixed bag, Midelney had fished brilliantly with three out the four anglers recording double figures, Dave P had 13lb 14oz from M3, Digger weighed 12lb 6oz from M1, Dan Mattock had 10lb 9oz on M2 and Rob on M4 (furthest from the bridge) weighed 4lb 2oz. Isle Brewers had fished quite well with Mike Goad top there with 10lb from 126, Derek Goad had 7lb 1oz on 128, Neil Purchase caught well to start with on 125a to weigh 4lb 10oz, Clifford Gaylard had 2lb 10oz on 124 and Dave Simms struggled on 123 for 1lb 7oz. Thanks to Neil P for the photos*
Coxes was a struggle in places although Tony Newman did well in 15 and weighed 6lb 7oz which included a nice chub, Steve P had 3lb 3oz from 17, Ian Burton struggled on 18 for 1lb 12oz and Frank didn’t fish 14. Ashford was rock hard and with Stoke having three of their eight anglers in that section, it didn’t do their chances much good, John Simms was top there with 1lb 10oz, Dave P had 12oz, Chris W had 4oz of mainly small fish and then Paul A and Vic didn’t weigh on 85 and 86.
By all accounts the swims looked really nice and it’s gutting for everyone when sections we put in just don’t produce, the club has loads of river and we have to keep trying the different sections or else we’ll never know what they’re like.
When the weights were added up for each club, Ilminster’s top eight had 95lb 6oz compared to Stoke’s 35lb 5oz although to be fair, it probably wasn’t the best way of doing it as our top eight weights counted so we could drop the seven worst ones and they had to count all theirs. Also as it turned out we had the majority of anglers in the most prolific sections. I think the fairest way of doing it would be to draw eight IAA anglers out of a hat so both teams would be the same size.
1 – Jamie Rich (Ilminster) – 16lb 8oz
2 – Dave Phillips (Ilminster) – 13lb 14oz
3 – Baz Morgan (Ilminster) – 13lb 12oz
4 – Leighton Cox (Ilminster) – 13lb 2oz
A – Tony Newman (Ilminster) – 6lb 7oz
B – Mike Goad (Stoke) – 10lb
C – Phil Denslow/Terry Morgan (Ilminster) – 12lb 6oz
Ilminster AA (95lb 6oz) – Stoke AA (35lb 5oz)
Chris gave a nice little speech thanking Ilminster for hosting the match and to the guys who’d done all the hard work getting the swims ready and making sure everybody knew where they were going. So we got to keep the Isle & Parrett Challenge shield until the sides meet again next year and I’m looking forward to it already.
Before I go, a quick update on my recent Random Ramblings post and a disclaimer! I’d just like to make it clear that none of the ideas were mine and I wasn’t suggesting actually implementing any of them. The post certainly got a few people talking and that’s the whole point of them, I received some great feedback while others thought ‘It was the biggest load of rubbish they’d ever read!’. Of course everybody is entitled to their opinion and I welcome any feedback good or bad as long as it’s constructive.
While I didn’t necessarily agree with the suggestions in the post, I can see where they were coming from, match fishing by it’s very nature is a very unfair sport/hobby and to a certain extent we already try and level the playing field by leaving out dominant or very poor pegs and changing team events or leagues from weight to points and the post was just exploring how it could be taken further and I thought it might make for an interesting topic.
Last but certainly not least, Hurf sent me this photo (which Max had sent to him) and it shows an early working party down the canal (and yes I know I wasn’t at that one either but I was only five at the time!). See if there’s anybody you recognise, from left to right, not sure on the first two, then we think a young Chris Patten, Andy Jobson, Mark Trump, Steve Payne and then can that innocent looking chap really be Mark Nicholas! and far right is Dave Isaacs (about to kill the dog!!)
Next up – River Isle
Coming soon – Another Random Ramblings
Check Out – My last match (below)