If you follow the blog regularly, you’ll know over the last couple of years I’ve been doing rather a lot of fishing and have been visiting a handful of venues that suit my approach. Obviously this can lead to lots of posts that are very similar and I do find it’s a struggle to make them interesting (were they ever, some might say!). I was talking to Tony Rixon the other week and he said the same, it’s become a bit of a habit, a chore even and it does feel like I’m churning out reports for the sake of it and that must come across sometimes when you read them!
Anyway, for now, I’ll bumble along but what got me thinking about it was the start of the Stoke matches on the river and how much I look forward to them. Don’t get me wrong, the Parrett can be a cruel mistress and just when you think you’re making some sense of it, she’ll turn round and kick you squarely in the spuds! There were several double figure winning weights last year but what remains pretty consistent is that if you can catch 3-4lb, you’ll be in the frame.
That might not sound particularly inspiring in this age of massive weights of carp and silvers but it’s really intriguing fishing with all sorts of approaches capable of doing the required weight. Obviously roach, dace and chub feature but gudgeon, minnows, perch and eels can and do make up framing catches.
The first Stoke river match of the season is always the Evening Cup which is held on the Saturday, I managed to win it last year when I drew a bunghole (you can read about that match here if you so desire!). With a later draw time, a few of us met at the bowling club where it was two courses for a tenner and I went for ham, egg and chips followed by syrup pudding with custard and very nice it was too!
Then it was off to Parrett Works to meet everyone else, a good turnout of 18 anglers for this one and as always superbly organised by the likes of Bob Newbury and Dave Pope amongst others who have been strimming and clearing pegs plus sorting parking in the field. Obviously with it being the opening weekend of the new river season, nobody really knows how it’s going to fish and with low flows plus high temperatures, it could be hard going.
Bob announced the draw and on my wish list were numbers 9, 16, 28, 29, 31 and 32 which are normally consistently good but my malfunctioning drawing arm continues to play up as I pulled out peg 5 (and I just can’t seem to get in that second field). To be fair I was happy with my peg as it had been steady last year and framed a couple of times.
I was in a Hilton sandwich with Russ below on peg 7 and Dave upstream on 3, Terry ‘The Toast’ was on 8 with the Grand Wiz on 9, Chris D on 10, Derek G on 13. The other two in my section were Ian B on 2 and Neil P on new peg 1.
My swim looked lovely with lots of cover and a couple of fish topped as I was setting up which hopefully was a good sign. The river was barely moving with what little flow there was on this side of the middle at about four sections. I set rigs up to fish down the middle and across to the cover, the side tray was nice and simple with casters, maggots and Bait-Tech hemp plus some worms in reserve.
Starting at 10 metres which was about two thirds of the way across, the float just sat there and I wasn’t even getting pestered by the usual minnows! Eventually a bite resulted in a small gudgeon followed by a couple of minnows and a tiny dace but I was going nowhere fast and Russ said he was also struggling with just a few minnows and gudgeon.
Coming back onto the shorter line where there was a bit of flow, I had a couple more gobies and minnows so tried double maggot. A positive bite resulted in loads of yellow hydro streaming from the pole tip and I was into a bigger fish, I quickly shipped back and using the pulla kit, it didn’t give me too many problems and I was pleased to see it was a chub and not a trout before netting a nice bonus around a pound and a quarter.
Things got even better when not long after I had another of a pound and then a 4oz dace along with a few more gudgeon and minnows. As the first sixty minutes came to a close, I had 2lb 8oz in the net which was a great start. Early in the second hour I added a 6-8oz eel and had reached my 3lb target which is normally enough to get in the frame.
Bites then slowed right up apart from the very occasional gudgeon and minnow, I’d also been feeding a couple of likely looking spots on the far bank but couldn’t get a bite there. Russ said he was still really struggling and also reported that Grand Wiz on 9 had caught a chub and an eel early but hadn’t added much since.
Three hours in, I was just searching round the swim trying to get an indication and was fishing at 10 metres holding the rig still when a bite on double maggot saw me strike expecting a small fish, only to be met with solid resistance and after a short scrap I netted another nice chub to put me on 4lb+ with two hours to go.
Back down the middle, the rest had done it some good as I had chub number four quite quickly and with the match finishing at 8:30, I thought there was a good chance of a couple more as the light began to fade. Its not happened though and I’ve only managed two little roach and a few gudgeon to finish up with 23 fish (4 chub, 1 eel, 2 dace, 2 roach and 14 gudgeon) which I hoped would go somewhere between 5-6lb.
Neil and Ian walked down to start the weigh in with Derek on 13 who had done well with 3lb 8oz which included a roach of 6oz (there’s a trophy for the biggest roach caught during the river series), Chris D weighed 1lb 10oz on peg 10, GW had 2lb 6oz and then Terry went into the lead with a nice net of fish for 4lb 5oz on peg 8 (including a roach of 6oz).
Russ had struggled for 6oz (mainly small fish!) and then my fish went 6lb 13oz, Dave H on 3 had 1lb 12oz, Ian B chucked back and then Neil P weighed 4lb 11oz (with a roach of…… you guessed it, 6oz!), he also lost a decent chub at the net which would probably cost him.
We drove down to the other section for the results and it had been hard going down there for most and Priv had the best weight there with 4lb 14oz on peg 24, Bob N and Jenny both weighed 3lb 1oz, Mark D had 2lb 11oz, Dave P weighed 2lb 2oz on 18A, Danny B and Mike G both had 1lb 10oz, Cliffy weighed 11oz on 31 and Nick had struggled for 6oz. There were also another three anglers with a roach of 6oz!
1 – Jamie Rich (Against Men and Fish) – 6lb 13oz
2 – Priv (Stoke) – 4lb 14oz
3 – Neil Purchase (Stoke) – 4lb 11oz
4 – Terry Morgan (Stoke) – 4lb 5oz
A – Derek Goad (Stoke) – 3lb 8oz
B – Bob Newbury (Stoke) and Jenny Payne (Stoke) – 3lb 1oz
So an unexpected win, a nice pick up of £50 and the perfect start to this years river campaign but there’s a long way to go yet and I’m not getting carried away as I did the same last year and it was all downhill after the first match! Once again the 3lb target was pretty much spot on to get in the money and there were quite a few really close weights.
There’s still a great offer running if you fancy treating yourself to some new fishing gear, use the exclusive discount code AgainstMenandFish10 to get 10% off when you shop online at Somerset Angling
And if you could spare five minutes to leave a nice review on Amazon, it would be very much appreciated.
Next up – Summerhayes
Coming soon – Lots more match reports
Check Out – My last match