Graham (Left) and Hugh with almost identical catches.

What an ugly creature!

- the Sturgeon is pretty nasty too....

Well - you could at least look happy about it.....

Eden is no Paradise

River Eden, Broad A, Chiddingstone - 6th March 2016 - Sunny intervals but still cold - 5c

​Only 12 members showed interest in turning up for this one. Presumably a general lack of enthusiasm for flowing water and the continued chilly weather had a lot to do with it. However, on arrival hopes were boosted by a river still carrying a fair amount of extra water but clearly dropping, so plenty of bites were expected from the large head of small fish that abound in this stretch. How wrong can you be......

Bites were few and far between and proper bonus fish stayed indoors yet despite the river apparently being totally out of sorts, it was three of the noted pegs that still produced the best of the admittedly very poor results. Craig, "Golden Arm on the Eden" Winchester again drew his favourite peg "the Dustbin" and set off with a huge grin. No big slabs or tench today however so as news filtered down that many were really struggling, he focussed on picking up whatever bits he could on pole and maggot from the slack water under the bush opposite. He had probably done enough to win already when 10 minutes before the whistle, he somehow managed to foul-hook a pike around 4lb in the pectoral which boosted his weight to a colossal 5lb 10oz and a handsome win on the day. Bob Stone was on the peg below the footbridge and precariously perched on a small muddy ledge 6ft above the water, did not fancy trying to handle the pole, so stuck it out on the feeder with maggot. This brought him half a dozen chublets, including one around 8oz for an impressive grand total of 14oz.  Paul Oliver was in the corner peg above the "Washing Machine" and scratched out about 20 fish including roach, gudgeon, bleak, chub, ruffe & minnows on pole & pinkie to also score 14oz and joint 2nd. 

Mickey Biles couldn't help himself in moaning when he drew the car park peg but still managed to winkle out 22 tiny fish from the margin for just 8oz and 4th place.

Only one blanked and one DNW'd so still better than some venues this winter..​

A Family Affair

Morehouse Farm, Sidewinder Lake - 28th February 2016 - Very cold with strong winds - 5c

"When the wind is in the East, the fish bite least" is a saying that certainly proved true for most of the 18 who turned up for this match. Whilst usually quite prolific here, the conditions were really against us as the biting wind got stronger throughout the day, chilling everyone to the bone.

There were a few exceptions and Graham Stevens was one who enjoyed plenty of action to help keep warm. Pegged permanent 50, on the end of the big island, he had plenty of water to go at but found the inside margin the most productive fishing pole and 6mm expanders over pellet feed and adding a few more from similar tactics in the open water. Altogether this gave him a very creditable total of 50lb of carp & F1's and a convincing win on the day. Brother Jasper was also on a noted peg on the point of the far side, between the two islands. He wrestled with a long pole with maggot in the strong winds up against the grass opposite to nick small carp and F1's regularly for 24lb to make it a Stevens one-two on the day.

Mickey Biles moaned (can you believe that?) about his peg 19 for all the commotion of two matches collecting their nets from the metal container directly behind him, but the fish are clearly used to it as it did not stop him putting 7 carp on the scales including a decent lump about 8lb all taken on borrowed maggot hookbaits from the inside margin or right across and still moaning about the 4 more that he lost. Such a happy soul.... His total of 20lb was still good enough for 3rd though and final money place on the day. Mark Merrett seemed to have little enthusiasm for his peg in the far-side wide bay where he had little option but to throw a feeder at the island, so took a midway break for a walk around the lake which may well have cost him 3rd place as one more fish could easily have boosted his 18lb 1oz. 

There were a couple more double figure weights, but after that most struggled to put one or two fish on the scales and for five anglers, nothing at all. 

Next visit here is in August so here's hoping for much better returns then.​

Rich Pickings at the Orchard

Orchard Place Farm, Lake 6 - 21st February 2016 - Milder with strong gusty winds - 10c

Always popular, this rescheduled fixture attracted 21 members, hopeful of a good day with the F1's and Carp. With a club already on the 'usual' bank, our pegs were on the car park side and around the top end which a few complained was the 'worst' side. What can you do??

As it happened, they were not entirely wrong as the pegs adjacent to the car park did prove something of a struggle, but why that should be - who knows?

It was the top end where the wind was blowing strongly that was the place to be, leaving the anglers there with little choice but to turn their backs to the wind and fish close in, which turned out to be a good tactic on the day. Micky Gray seems something of a venue expert as he took top spot for the second time on this venue this season. Pegged in the middle of the top bank, he fished a single red maggot just off the reeds downwind, catching F1's from the off and steadily all throughout the day for a winning weight of 76lb 15oz. A really good effort for the time of year and conditions. 

Dave Hughes was the last peg on the car park straight and had a small island at a 20 yard feeder chuck. With Steve Hanson on the next peg having forgotten to bring his tip rod, Dave had the end of the island to himself and duly exploited it on a small method with maggots and a variety of other hookbaits. Coupled with a few more from an occasional foray with the pole, he managed a close 2nd on the day with  74lb 5oz. New member Mark Holland was also on the top bank and laid down a marker for the new season with 60lb exactly for 3rd and a few pegs along, Alex Whiteing completed the money places with 56lb 10oz, unkindly relegating a good performance from Andy Tickner to 5th who had 55lb 11oz.

All those early pegs on the car park bank ended up in the bottom half of the results so it definitely was a more difficult area, although only 3 failed to make double figures, so not entirely terrible. 

One Horse Race

Gabriels Fishery, Silver Lake - 14th February 2016 - Cold but dry with light breezes - 4c

This venue can often be tricky and peggy, so it was a pleasant surprise that as many as 19 wanted to have a go. After five hours in the bitter cold and mud, most wished they hadn't....

There was enough room to leave out the notorious far end pegs, but that didn't improve things for any that were pegged down the bottom half of the lake where most struggled to even raise a bite. It became clear that the fish were holed up in their favourite winter hideouts and nothing would make them move, if anything, introducing feed just spooked them further. 

It was a bit more productive at the near end, particularly so for Mark Merrett who enjoyed a fantastic day. Although a noted peg, he adopted exactly the right tactics to get the very best from it by not feeding anything and just fishing slowly sinking pieces of breadflake on a very long pole, and lowering it in amongst the bushes on the far bank. Mark is never one for a delicate approach so once a fish had been fooled into taking the bait, the poor thing was dragged unceremoniously from his snaggy home on the 0.19mm line and size 20 elastic. It was a day when Mark could do no wrong, so even when one feisty carp did manage to make it into the snags, no amount of pulling would free it. Eventually accepting he would have to pull for a break, the tension on the sea tackle and bungee cord was so great that the island itself started to move when it was the snag that could take no more and snapped off freeing the small tree and fish. Despite all the commotion, next put in he would have another and so it went on for the whole day. Suffice to say, Mark ran out a clear winner with a fantastic all-carp net of 62lb 7oz. 

On the adjacent peg, Mighty John Gibbons had his own island of reeds at a far more comfortable 8m pole range and matched Mark fish for fish for the first hour or so, by fishing close with meat, but the swim died leaving John to scratch around for the rest of the match. It was still good enough for 2nd place however, with 21lb 10oz. Sam Docker decided to try for a few skimmers first to get something in the net, but as always happens, almost immediately latched onto an 8lb carp which took him 20 minutes to land on the No. 9 elastic and light rig. He did eventually catch some skimmers though and when added to his head-start caro and one other smaller one, gave him 3rd place with 13lb 6oz. Dave Hughes did not fancy holding 14m in the breeze so opted to sit on the method feeder all day which did produce a few small carp and final frame place just 1oz behind on 13lb 5oz.

There was just one more double figure weight and the rest struggled for single fish or for five dedicated souls, nothing at all....

A ton of Fun for Phil

Framfield, Spring Lake - 7th February 2016 - Occasionally bright and very breezy - 9c

With 29 booked in, it was going to be busy and although we had 3 no shows on the day, pegging was still tight in places. Not that it usually puts the fish off here, but there had also been a lot of cold and heavy overnight rain. The wind was blowing very strongly down the lake towards the narrow end but the fish certainly did not follow the wind and the top end was the place to be with three of the top four places coming from consecutive pegs.

Phil Harris was the man who drew the in-form peg 62 and is a man who knows how to make the most of it. Fishing pole and pellet one side in the margins and corn in the other, he totally blitzed the match with a fantastic haul of carp of 150lb 10oz, including a real lump that obviously does not see the inside of a keep net regularly, that went well into double figures. By contrast and indicative of how hard the fishing was (by Spring Lake standards), it was Alex Whiteing who put his knowledge of the fishery to good effect with 64lb 8oz on pole and maggot from peg 48 for 2nd place. Jasper Stevens was on another noted peg 63 where his efforts were enough for 3rd with 61lb 6oz . Making a late charge for the championship title, it was David Adby who grabbed the last frame place, by recording a creditable 54lb 2oz on feeder and maggot.

With the number attending, three defaulted section prizes were also paid out and went to Chris Lawrence on 53lb 10oz on peg 61, Keith Harper with 32lb 15oz from peg 67 and Brian Beacroft (would you believe) with 51lb 4oz from peg 44.

Only two anglers failed to make double figures, but then again, it is Framfield.....

Lucky John Scores with Eva

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 31st January 2016 - Overcast but mostly dry - 9c

In a slight lull between the Atlantic Storms, the week had been wet but warmer prompting hope of a good day with the F1's, Carp & Bream that dominate this fishery. Unfortunately, even though our peg fees came to more than we pay for whole lake bookings at Hartleylands, we were obliged to share the lake with another match so many were stuck with the close pegging on this relatively small water.

In fairness, it did fish quite well considering, particularly for John Palmer. He picked the nearside disabled double-peg which not only gave him just about enough room for all his tackle but sole access to the reed bed surrounding the small island in front of him. At a comfortable 11m on the pole, he made no mistake in plundering the resident F1's from the off on 6mm cubes of meat whilst dripping in samples and micros. Catching steadily all day, he finished well clear of the field with a brilliant 62lb 10oz and his first win of the season (possibly ever?). Alex Whiteing has a great record on this venue and from a so-so peg toward the bottom corner, put that experience to good effect in chasing around the finniky F1's on long pole with tiny cubes of meat and finishing with a few larger carp on maggots from the inside margin for a decent total of 42lb 7oz and 2nd place.  Sam Docker was in the middle of the large bay at the bottom end and put his pole prowess into action fishing 4mm expanders over potted 4mm hard pellets, following the fish out longer and longer as the day progressed. When even he ran out of pole length, he picked up the dreaded feeder in the last half hour and added a couple more F1's in the process to finish 3rd with 38lb 3oz. Craig Winchester had the bottom corner to himself to practice his tight feeder and knot tying techniques and finish just out of the money in 4th with 22lb 7oz.

In the semi final of the knockout Bobby Stone only just beat Barry Stagg (22lb 4oz to 20lb 5oz) and Paul Oliver sneaked a win over Dave King (17lb 12oz to 1lb 6oz).

Overall it did not fish too bad for January with only 5 failing to reach double-figures and the fishery manager saying after the match that they were the best weights to come out in the last three months...

Thaw warms the air but the fishing not so hot

Hartleylands, Reservoir - 24th January 2016 - Chilly & Gloomy but dry - 7c

22 showed up for this popular venue relieved to see the ice had gone after being frozen solid the day before. However with the water temperature not much above freezing, you needed to be a real optimist to expect anything but a grueller. Everyone wanted to be in the deeper water at the car park end, so it was just a few pegs at the narrow end that were left out. Just to prove of course that you never know, it was Lucky John Palmer drawn nearest the shallow end who latched into a carp early on the pole, but it proved to be a solitary effort. For the rest it was mostly a case of chucking out a feeder and sitting on your hands and hope it goes round. It didn't very often for most....

One of the exceptions was Phil Harris in the middle of the nearside bank who went quietly about his business with a tiny feeder and corn which did go round five times in total, mostly for the smaller resident carp of this lake, but more than enough for a win on the day with 19lb 4oz. Dave King was on the peg nearest the shallow end on the far side, again debunking the theory about the deep water. His slightly unorthodox approach was a waggler with maggots which brought him a small carp and a number of small silvers throughout the day but in injury time once again, the rig was grabbed by a 9lb 5oz mirror. This gave him a total of 14lb 1oz and a creditable 2nd, splitting the Crawley Boys dominance by pushing PAUL HARDING into 3rd place who also had one decent carp and a few bits for 10lb 8oz. Graham Stevens was the best of the rest with a couple of late carp on the feeder and 8lb 14oz for 4th. 

So only three made double figures on the day, but at least all (apart from Brian Beacroft) managed to catch something under very difficult conditions. 

In the deep Midwinter...

Old Bury Hill, Front Bank - 17th January 2016 - Freezing with snow showers - 1c

With the scheduled River Eden unfishable following all the recent rain, this hastily re-arranged venue was a popular choice with many, but we had reckoned without the icy blast that had swept down from the North over the preceding couple of days. 15 mad souls assembled in the car park as the snow came down and later arrivals slid their way down the hill but relieved to find that apart from odd patches of cat-ice, the majority of the lake was clear and we were able to peg out the entire front bank.

The smart money was on the the higher numbered pegs nearest the boat house where the water is deepest and was where everyone wanted to draw, but with the pegs so close here, the lower numbers still had to go in. Everyone knew it was going to be tough but fair play that all stuck it out to the end.

As it happened, what action there was seemed to be concentrated in the middle part of the section where Bobby Stone and Craig Winchester both picked up early fish on the feeder. However, it was Martin Twine who was the man with a plan and whilst all around him were chucking feeders as far as they would go, he went for the tactics that served him well at Furnace in the Autumn by cupping in micros soused with Krill liquid and fished 6mm expander pellets over the top. Whilst not exactly arm-aching action, this did produce three decent bream and more than enough for a win on the day with 8lb 12oz. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?? Despite the good start, Craig added just one more bream to his feeder tally, but rued his incompetence losing a third on the retrieve when his hook knot came untied. Still his two bream were just slightly bigger than those of Graham Stevens on the neighbouring peg so that Craig ended up 2nd with 5lb 6oz and Graham 3rd on 4lb 15oz. A solitary feeder caught bream of 2lb 13oz meant a rare but well-deserved appearance in the frame for Brian Beacroft in 4th. He never usually catches anything at this time of year....

Unfortunately, there were 7 DNW's which included Dave Hughes and Alex Whiteing and gives you some idea how tough the conditions were. Roll on Spring...

Last Chance for Slough House

Slough House Fishery, - 10th January 2016 - Chilly Breeze but dry - 7c

With many still not dried out from the previous weekend and others not keen to repeat the disappointment of our previous visit, only 16 turned out for another try at this allegedly prolific Essex venue. Cooler this time and with a little more room to spread out, those that did attend were hopeful of getting amongst the quality silver fish but once again, results for most did not live up to expectations.

Rogue carp were again to make an impression as Nobby Whiteing latched onto one early on his silver pole rig and after stretching his light elastic to the limits, managed to put an 11lb 9oz beauty on the scales after a ten minute battle.It was all downhill after that initial excitement however...

Meanwhile, John Gibbons, small in stature but mighty in ability, went quietly about his business with faith in his pole and pellet approach, honed after a number of visits here. He did manage to amass at least a reasonable bag of skimmers and larger bream to overtake the carp hunters and ran out eventual and clear winner with 24lb 6oz and a very enjoyable day for him. Nobby did manage to winkle out a few silvers to go with his head start to make enough for 2nd place on the day with 17lb 4oz. Barry Stagg was another who managed to snare a carp of 8lb 3oz and with a few skimmers on top finished 3rd on 16lb 5oz with Paul Oliver in 4th with an all-silvers net of 15lb 9oz.

There were 3 more double figure bags from Micky Biles, Chris Lawrence and Brian Beacroft, but after that it was a bit of a struggle for most, evidenced by Jasper Stevens who despite an 8lb 4oz carp ended with a total weight of just 8lb 10oz and Dave King failing to beat van rival Brian Beacroft's 10lb 1oz, despite a carp of 8lb 3oz. 

Maybe we are just unlucky or maybe just useless, but two visits, two long trips and four lots of DART charges this season have failed to deliver much of a return for most so it may be a while before our next attempt.

Wet, Wet, Wet....

Hartleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 3rd January 2016 - Constant Heavy Rain and Blustery High Winds - 11c

With little appetite for another trip to the Thames, this re-arranged fixture originally attracted 21 to book in, although there were 6 no-shows on the day meaning the lake had to be pegged twice. With the awful weather, most of the pegs were put in the slightly more sheltered areas, but there were still 4 on the exposed car park side, who suffered the wind and rain in their faces all day and where it seemed even the fish were reluctant to get wet.

Had the match finished at 09.31am, Andy Tickner would have run out the clear winner as he had a decent carp in the net within 30 seconds of the all-in but for the rest, there were at least few carp to be had throughout the day. It was just too wet to stand around after to elicit many details on the catches, but Paul Oliver ended up the clear winner with a decent bag of 65lb 2oz coming from a few carp on pellet feeder off the island at the start, one huge lump on the long pole and then topped off with a few more lumpy fish on pole and maggot from the margin in the last hour. 2nd place went to Nobby Whiteing with 35lb 5oz of pole-caught carp, 3rd to Dave Hughes with 32lb 5oz and 4th to Mark Merrett on 25lb 13oz who no-doubt fished similarly with the pole.

Considering the time of year and the atrocious conditions, there is no doubting the quality of the fishing at Hartleylands, with all but 3 finishing with at least double-figures.​

XMAS Swimming Competition

Fairlight Fishery, Old & Match Lakes - 20th December 2015 - Blustery Showers - 14c

A fantastic 27 booked in for our traditional Christmas venue and despite 1 no-show, things were still quite tight, even using both lakes. The weather continues unseasonably mild at least. To make things as fair as possible, the pools money was paid to the winners of four separate sections and keeping the prizes for the top weights overall.

In the first couple of hours, small carp were being caught regularly all around both lakes, but as so often happens, the pressure on a small venue meant that things tailed off for most who then struggled to even raise a bite in the latter part of the match. Not so for everyone though as Bruce Scott abandoned all attempts at pushing 16m of pole out to the island from the car park bank and took to a small feeder with corn and started catching small carp regularly. However his usual calm and controlled approach was suddenly interrupted when an unexpected pull round saw him reach for the rod and slip straight off the platform and up to his chest in the lake. With the rod in one hand he grabbed for something to pull himself out but only succeeded in pulling his box off the platform on top of himself.... Rescue quickly arrived and got him and most of his kit back on dry land where he duly finished playing and landing the small carp that had caused his embarrassment. Once again, Mark Merrett's spare wardrobe was brought into action as Bruce was rubbed down with an old dog blanket and climbed into Mark's dry but very fetching onesie to continue the match. Despite the interruption, he was soon back in action and adding to his tally. 

It is fair to say that Bruce has a few miles under his belt and catches more carp than all of us have had hot dinners, yet always pretends he has "nothing" and it was "rubbish", so his feigned surprise at his top weight on the day of 32lb was met with the usual jeers.  

Of course the weigh in coincided with one of the blustery showers passing through, but the eventual soggy weigh sheets produced the following results. 

Section AOld LakeBobby Stone22lb 10ozFeeder to far bank snags
Section BMain Lake car park sideBruce Scott32lb exactlyFeeder to island
Section CMain Lake far sideGraham Stevens23lb 7ozPole to inside stick-ups
Section DCanal SectionSteve Hanson16lb 6ozPole to far bank

As to the other prize awards, Top Weight overall went to Bruce Scott, Top Weight on the Old Lake to Bob Stone, 2nd on the Match Lake to Graham Stevens and 3rd on the Match Lake to Phil Harris with 21lb 15oz.. £20 for the best Silver net went to Nobby Whiteing at 1lb 10oz, mostly courtesy of a 1lb+ chub and the biggest fish actually recorded (there may well have been bigger ones not recorded) went to Andy Ticker with a carp of 4lb 8oz.

Joint winners of the muppet prizes were Jasper Stevens and John Palmer who both DNW'd and received losers medals for their hopeless efforts. 

Everyone else at least had a fish or two and went home with a box of Quality Street and a kilo of Sensas Groundbait and an enjoyable day all round. Thanks as always to Craig Winchester for arranging all of the prizes.

Happy Christmas Everyone

Checkmate for Graham

Chequertree Fishery, Lake 2 - 13th December 2015 - Calm & Mild - 13c

18 made for a great turnout considering how far many had to travel and were rewarded with a terrific winter's days fishing. With the whole lake to go at, pegs were spread around, hopefully in the better areas and for the first time in weeks, the wind had abated.

One such better area was the far bank behind the island where Graham Stevens and Martin Twine were pegged next to each other and both took to the long pole with pellet. However it was Graham who managed to land a few better sized fish amongst the goldfish & F1's. He also laid a trap on his inside line where he fed his favourite smelly cat meat and after going over it in the last half hour, duly latched into a magnificent 14lb 11oz Sturgeon. As it happens, he had already done enough, but the bonus Nicola boosted his weight to 68lb 3oz and 1st on the day. Martin Cook knows the venue well and a sneaky practice during the week gave him an idea for the mood of the fish. Pegged by the first island in the small arm, he also picked up more of the better fish on pole and pellet for 2nd place with 48lb 4oz. Martin Twine failed to hang onto a couple of better fish so had to settle for 3rd with 44lb 6oz. Paul Oliver was on the 2nd island in the small arm and had a mixed bag of 35lb 10oz for 4th.

In addition to Graham, Mark Merrett (see picture courtesy of Chris Lawrence) and Keith Harper also caught a Sturgeon each of 14lb 4oz and 9lb 9oz respectively to add interest to their day's fishing.

With only three failing to break double figures (and two of them had 9lb+), you have to say this is a remarkable winter fishery - if only it were 30 miles nearer!

King of the Thames

River Thames, Walton Bridge up - 6th December 2015 - Windy but Mild - 13c

Only 7 mad anglers turned out for this one on a very blustery morning. There was a good flow but still no colour in the river, but recent reports were for plenty of roach & dace to be had in the area in addition to the target bream. With strong winds blowing directly downstream, it was decided to use the section just below the cut, where the bend and trees provided a little more shelter. In hindsight, maybe not such a good idea...

If the fish are about, you usually catch quite early on the Thames, so without a sign of the mythical roach and dace after a couple of hours, you just knew this was going to be a real grueller. Added to that, the whole river seemed to be a snag pit, whether on feeder or float, most were experiencing regular break-offs. Fleets of rowers too added to the frustrations with one pair capsizing in Mark Merrett's swim and casually using his bank stick to pull themselves out of the river.

But, it is all about the challenge and persistence and eventually, the odd tiny perch was landed by most. Except Dave King that is, the Man United of match fishing who once again scored in injury time with a single bream which took a liking to his worm and feeder setup. That solitary fish proved more than enough for victory with 2lb 5oz. Jasper Stevens managed to snaffle four reasonable perch on worm or maggot from out of the main flow and good enough for 2nd with 1lb 4oz. 3rd was Mark Merrett who put a cupful of borrowed chopped worms right in the edge over which he managed to catch 8 micro perch for 9oz.

Another small club had a match below the bridge but fared little better with again just odd fish being caught.

Not quite what was expected but perhaps we ought to know better....

Blowin' a hoolie at Passies

Passies Pond, Match Lake - 29th November 2015 - Very Windy but Mild - 12c

The change from the scheduled fixture at Back Arun was seemingly popular with 22 turning out despite some quite atrocious conditions, particularly as Passies is a little exposed in places, situated as it is in the gap of the South Downs. Although booked for the road stretch, the owners were quite happy for us to spread out a little, so we took up the road and start of the bunker stretch.

Looking up and down the white horses crashing down the road stretch, it was slightly surprising to see early action from a number including Bob Stone, Mark Merrett and Sam Docker all netting carp within the first 15 mins, although only Sam was brave enough to stick it out on the pole.

As the match progressed the typical winter picture began to emerge that the fish were feeding, but in apparently random areas with some netting regularly whilst others struggled for bites. The middle part of the road bank seemed such an area where Paul Oliver picked up carp and F1's regularly on a small pellet feeder with 8mm banded pellet on the hook lobbed right up to the far bank. He added a decent bream and a perch nicked during an occasional foray with the pole to finish 1st on the day with an enjoyable bag of 44lb 12oz. End peg on the Bunker stretch was David Adby where not only was he one of the few in a relatively sheltered spot, he too was in an area of fish and ended up with a fantastic 43lb 15oz bag of carp, F1's & bream plus a cracking specimen perch of 3lb 10oz, all caught on feeder with maggot hookbait from the centre open water. A brilliant day's winter fishing and a very welcome appearance in the Frame. Nicely done David!

Back to the centre road stretch, John Gibbons too stuck to the feeder where he enjoyed fewer but larger carp to finish 3rd with 41lb 5oz, overtaking Bobby Stone on the next peg who although had five carp in the first half hour, could not keep them coming so ended up 4th with 34lb 10oz.

There were nine more double figure weights dotted about, but just to show how fickle match fishing can be sometimes, the top three from last week all finished right at the bottom of the field this week! All in all however, a welcome return to this venue, a decent day for most and best of all, a very close and competitive match.

Sam Docker may have to go back to work and launder some more money however, after putting a leg through a rotten board on his platform and using two of his incredibly expensive top kits to break his fall. A wet leg and an expensive day - good job he didn't have to travel too far....

Nicola's in the Mix

Chequertree Fishery, Lake 1 - 22nd November 2015 - Very Cold with Northerly Winds - 3c

The first real hard frosts of the winter put off a few and the 15 that did turn up were anxious about the conditions. Although the fish were congregated more in one half of the lake, to be fair, it fished its socks off really. A hour or so into the match, excited screaming and squealing resounded round the lake from the far corner, where Jasper Stevens was wrestling with a Nicola (Sturgeon) on his too-light elastic and struggling to steer it into an inadequate landing net. Finally he managed it and was all giggles as he paraded it round the lake to weigh & return the 11lb 1oz specimen, whilst at the same time winding up his knock out opponent, Barry Stagg about the size of his head start.

But as the match progressed, it became clear that it was Nobby Whiteing who was continuing with his rich vein of form with a steady succession of Carp, F1's and the odd bream coming to his long pole with pellet over pellet from in front of the lodges around permanent peg 10. To his right, Craig Winchester was matching Nobby initially but fell behind as the match progressed. To his left, Barry Stagg shrugged off Jasper's jibes and got his head down on the pole and small cubes of meat and started to catch Carp & F1's regularly.

Come the weigh in, there was no one to really challenge Nobby's haul (pictured left) who went on to put a brilliant 75lb 13oz on the scales for another win. Barry's terrific efforts were more than enough though to overhaul Jasper's early lead to grab 2nd with 58lb 11oz with Jasper 3rd on 31lb 6oz and Craig 4th with 31lb 1oz. A great effort from all in such challenging conditions.

Most of the rest had double figures which for Chris Lawrence included a late foul-hooked Nicola of 7lb 4oz on his roach rig, showing Jasper how a grown-up manages to land one of these big pre-historic fish on even lighter tackle.

Knock-Out 2nd Round
Barry StaggBeatJasper Stevens
Dave KingBeatMicky Biles
Steve Hanson
Paul OliverBeat John Gibbons (DNA)
Bobby StoneBeatMark Merrett

Venue Experts show the way

Framfield Fishery, Brookhouse Lake - 15th November 2015 - Breezy but mostly dry & mild - 14c

Only 19 turned out for this one so after paying for the whole lake, no-one was going to get rich from the pools! Just as well it is not about the money...

Reports that Brookhouse continues to fish hard (by Framfield standards) were not wrong for many people, but regulars Bruce Scott and Nobby Whiteing were able to suss out the mood and show the rest of the field a clean pair of heels. Bruce was on permanent peg 31 and took initially to casting a small feeder with 6mm banded pellet out to the newly trimmed island and took a dozen or so fish in relatively quick order. Once that slowed, he moved to his inside pole line, again with banded pellet (at least that is what Bruce disclosed) where he continued to catch steadily for the rest of the match. Despite his claims to have "done rubbish" he nevertheless put an impressive 80lb exactly on the scales and a comfortable win. Travelling companion Nobby drew familiar peg 36 but found his banker tactic of maggots on the inside simply did not produce. Instead he resorted to fishing longer on the pole just off the bottom end of the island with corn for a very creditable 68lb 5oz. Les Griggs was the best of the rest on peg 7 where his all-carp haul tipped the scales at 40lb 5oz and two pegs away Jasper Stevens managed 38lb 1oz for 4th.

All managed double -figures at least (except Andy Tickner....) so not too bad overall for mid-November.

Stoned Again

Sumners Pond, Match Lake - 8th November 2015 - Overcast but mostly dry, mild - 14c

​A creditable 22 turned out for this most eagerly awaited fixture of the season, despite the absence of the Crawley Boys off on their Winter League. It had stopped raining after some horrible weather the day before and all looked good for some sport, especially after Paul Oliver was into a fish with seconds of his feeder hitting the water and Bob Stone and Craig Winchester also both put 15lb+ lumps on the scales quite early on. The carp had not read the script though as they turned out to be few and far between and completely absent for anyone pegged beyond the first island. Once again, it was the noted pegs that produced the goods. 

Bobby Stone, fresh from his recently victory in the Eden Challenge was pegged on the near side at the start of the 1st island and stuck to his favoured method of heavy groundbaiting plus feeder where he added another 8 or so lumpy carp to the one on the board which was more than enough for a convincing victory with 82lb 5oz. Jasper Stevens was pegged next to him and adopted his favoured pole with cat meat over hemp and meat. Despite plenty of jeering from nearby about his wrong elastic as carp after carp either escaped entirely or towed him all around the open bay, he did manage to get just enough in the net for 2nd place with 48lb 4oz. Craig Winchester was pegged a couple nearer the car park and although endured long periods of boredom, he stuck to his long range feeder plan which eventually produced 4 carp & 1 crucian 45lb 6oz and 3rd place. Fishing giant John Gibbons was pegged opposite all the action and struggled for much of the match, but when he saw some fish rolling regularly just out of pole range, threw everything he had into the area and dropped a small feeder over it. This produced a quick run of 3 decent carp to add to his bits for 41lb 10oz.

With the carp not really playing ball, most opted to fish for the silvers and whilst never going to be competitive, at least it produced plenty of bites. It was also the First Round of the Knock-Out competition and the results are as below. Next round in two weeks time.

Knock Out Cup - First Round
Dave KingBeatAndy Tickner
Micky BilesBeat
Martin Twine
Mark MerrettBeat
Les Griggs
Don BoutellBeat
Ken Barnard
Steve HansonBeat
Chris Lawrence
John GibbonsBeat
Alex Whiteing
Bob StoneBeat
Craig Winchester
George StoneBeat
Paul OliverBeatGraham Stevens
Jasper StevensBeat
David Adby
Barry StaggBeat
Brian Beacroft

Spooky goings-on at Monks

Monk Lakes, Lake 4 - 1st November 2015 - Foggy, still & gloomy but mild - 14c

Early arrivals were in for a shock as Ghoulies still stalked the lakeside after Halloween.....

With 23 turning up to fish,  there were concerns that it could be hard, especially after the moody fishing of the previous two weeks. The owners did offer us a bank on another lake if we wanted to spread ourselves out which is unusually considerate after the treatment dished out by some other fisheries lately. But it was felt we should stick to one lake to keep things fair, even though there were only a few pegs that could be left out.

In the damp conditions, the flat wooden platforms were slick with mud and old groundbait, so much so, some anglers were smart enough to fish from the adjacent bank. No so Paul Oliver however, who set out his stall as usual. Two minutes before the all-in, he crouched forward to adjust a keepnet only to slide off the platform and straight up to his neck in the chilly water. Yet again, Mark Merrett and his Virgin Media apparel came to the rescue with some dry tops and towels, although Paul did fish with a very soggy bottom for the whole of the match...

Talking of which, it turned out to be quite a decent day all things considered. It was the first outing for new member Sam Docker who promised faithfully in his application to join that he was not up to much. He may also be a bit of a liar as when pegged in the narrow channel at the front corner, he was forced to use his favoured pole but then went on to give a masterly demonstration of long pole fishing.  Going out 14m to the reeds opposite, he potted in 8mm pellets with banded 8mm on the hook to pick up stockie carp virtually every put-in throughout the five hours for a convincing win on the day with 74lb 4oz. We'll need to keep an eye on this boy....

Terry Archer was pegged further round where he elected to throw a feeder over the sunken wall. Everyone knew from the constant splashing each time he tried to pull hooked fish through the few inches of water that cover the wall, but did so often enough to take 2nd place once again on successive visits to Monks 4 with 51lb 3oz.  Soggy Bottom must have made a bit of a dent in the silt during his unscheduled swim as later in the match he managed to get a late run of slightly bigger carp from that very same area which when added to a few feeder caught fish was enough for 3rd with 49lb 3oz. Dave King used his trusty cannonball feeder to pick off fish regularly for 43lb 15oz and the final money place. 

Whilst not noted for mega-weights, Monks 4 does have plenty of fish and brightened up a gloomy November day with double-figure bags for everyone which included plenty of skimmers, tench, perch, roach and some fabulous Ide, including one of 1lb 14oz which made Peter Rock's day. 

Practice makes perfect

Slough House Fishery - 25th October 2105 - Mainly Sunny - 14c

Never have expectations been higher for a new venue and the long wait for our first outing here had finally arrived. A lovely Autumn day just added to the anticipation for the 22 attendees with tales of 100lb plus bags of silvers and claims that "everyone will catch at least 20lb". Only match angling can turn the form book on its head so often and without any apparent reason....

It turned out to be a real disappointment as most of the field struggled for bites or could only find a few very small silvers. Those that had been for some sneaky practices during the previous week or two did show a little of the potential that Sough House is famous for and made up the first three places on the day. Alex Whiteing stuck diligently to his plan worked out in practice and despite going long periods without a fish, his confidence in the long pole and soft pellet approach paid dividends in the end. He put several good bream in the net plus skimmers and a small carp for 30lb 4oz - a decent day's fishing by most standards. John Gibbons was also fishing pole and pellet, where half his bag consisted of two decent carp which when topped up with a few bream and skimmers totalled 26lb 15oz and 2nd place, just ahead of brother-in-law Martin Cook who kept faith with his pole and waggler approach with pellet for an all sliver bag of 25lb 9oz. Final frame place went to Paul Oliver who managed to land a jammy 8lb 7oz carp foul-hooked in the pectoral which boosted his dismal silver net to an 18lb 2oz total.

There were 7 more double figure weights but the rest of the field managed just a few pounds. Better than Furnace I guess, but not by much and the 2nd silver venue on the trot that failed to produce. 

Let's hope it returns to form for our 2nd visit in January!

All Wrapped up with Twine

Furnace Lake, Furnace Lakes Fishery - 18th October 2015 - Sunny Intervals - 14c

Although there were supposedly two clubs booked on this lake, it didn't stop the owners having "a couple" of day-ticket anglers in place before our arrival (actually there were 11!). This meant there was not enough pegs on the open bank to accommodate the 17 that turned out, despite having visited earlier in the week to advise the owners what we would need . After Mark Merrett had done one full circuit trying find pegs, it became clear that the other club was not turning up so it meant we could work around the bivvys and have half on each side. Poor Mark had to do another lap to re-peg and the most exercise he has had in years. Complaints to the owners fell on deaf ears who just took the view that there were enough pegs on the lake without regard to the fact that we could no longer enjoy a fair match by being pegged together or that some of us would be trying to fish next to fan-spread of carp rods and the avalanche of bait that gone in over the previous days and nights. It is great that the owners are currently enjoying a complex on which virtually every peg is full, but it is short term when it is likely to deter repeat visits. Some recognition should be given by owners to the guaranteed revenue that match bookings provide and it is now unlikely that we shall return.

Once we did manage to start fishing, it was equally disappointing for all but a lucky few, as most struggled to amass more more than couple of pounds of bits. Happiest of all was Martin Twine who did really well to achieve his first win of the year. Pegged in the middle of the open bank he fished long pole with caster over choppy and groundbait and found a steady stream of decent skimmers. When that dried up managed to keep them coming from a second pellet line fishing expanders over soaked pellets. Together he amassed a winning total of 25lb 14oz and a convincing win.

Micky Biles was pegged directly opposite where it was obvious from all the abuse he was giving out, that he was struggling on the usual pole tactics for a long part of the match. There is a clear pattern with Micky that the fewer fish he catches, the louder his voice and the more abuse he gives out so when things started to go quiet, it was obvious that he had started to find a few fish. Resorting to the feeder with groundbait and large worm out in the open water, he put together a late run of skimmers and a lonely F1 which proved good enough for 2nd place with 16lb exactly. Paul Oliver was 3rd with a few skimmers and bits on worm and pellet to the long pole for 13lb 6oz and Chris Lawrence finally found a few fish in the last hour on long pole with maggot for 10lb dead and 4th place.

None of the rest broke double-figures and ten anglers recorded less than 5lb. Whilst fishing is not just about big weights all the time, this was a pretty poor return for a £10 ticket on a mild Autumn day. Martin Twine was very happy though (see picture....)

Canal King Jasper does the double double

Basingstoke Canal, Government Road - 4th October 2015 - Mainly sunny - 15c

This was the CALPAC Putney Cup competition for teams of four, but once again, only one opposing team turned up to face the might of Jasper and the rest of WADAS. 15 fished in total, 10 from WADAS and 5 from Banstead. This gave us nearly four teams in total.

There were no great expectations that any great bagging was likely and for once, our expectations were spot on. However, all but 2 caught fish despite the best efforts of the joggers and bikes to spoil the day. Once again it was Jasper Stevens who showed his true class on the canal, fishing punch alongside an overhanging tree in the middle of the stretch to catch plenty of small roach and a decent winning weight of 3lb 12oz. Phil Harris fished similarly on the first peg above the lock for 2lb 9oz just beating Paul Oliver on 2lb 8oz. 

As to the cup competition, it was Jasper's team including brother Graham, Mark Merrett and Barry Stagg who were awarded the team prize under a unique points scoring system that gave them 24 points. Warlingham B consisting of Phil Harris, Micky Biles, Bob Stone and Paul Oliver were runners up with 27 points despite a higher aggregate weight and more section wins??? 

So well done Jasper - two individual wins and two team wins from the two CALPAC competitions this year. Could Yalding be his hat-trick?

Back to bagging - big style for some!

Morehouse Fishery, Sidewinder Lake - 27th September 2015 - Mainly Sunny but breezy - 17c

For no good reason it seems, it has been several years since we last fished this lake. It is likely to become a firm favourite after this match! Every swim seems to scream fish with good depths and plenty of features, but they still take a bit of catching. The owners were kind enough to allow us to spread ourselves around most of the 50 peg lake which allowed plenty of space for everyone. 

The cold night meant a slow start for many and delicate potting of pellets and meat on the long pole to the islands failed to produce more then the odd fish. However as the day warmed up, so did the fish, particularly for Carp supremo Nobby Whiteing who noticed some movement in the margins over his maggot feed after a couple of hours. He caught immediately once he went down there and never looked back for the rest of the match, plundering an incredible total of 203lb 14oz. Not just numbers, but quality fish too in top-notch condition, a mixture of big F1's, Commons and Mirrors. According to the owner, this is close if not an actual venue record - so well done Nobby!

For the rest of us, the fishing was still good for the most part, but on a somewhat different level although still the same good-condition fish which is so nice to see. Graham Stevens concentrated on a small indent on the island opposite where he fed micros with worm hookbait on the long pole. This kept him pretty busy all day to take 2nd place with 92lb 12oz. Martin Twine was pegged next to Nobby and enjoyed his best result of the season so far to finish 3rd with 67lb 10oz, also fishing the margins but with meat and pellet. Barry Stagg completed the frame with 64lb 4oz.

Re-visting this venue turned out to be a very pleasant surprise and much enjoyed by all - even the weather was kind!

Osprey is tough going again

Woodpeckers Fishery, Osprey Lake - 20th September 2015 - Mainly Sunny - 18c

Despite all the recent rain, the water level was still well down and the sudden high pressure after a week of lows did not bode well for the 18 who made the long walk. The carp were showing but certainly not feeding in any numbers.

Travelling companions Bruce Scott and Alex Whiteing must have cooked up a plan in the car. Both were pegged on the nearside open bank and both set out to fish light with long pole and 4mm pellet fished over regular small helpings of micros. The plan certainly worked as both caught skimmers regularly throughout the day to build a weight with Bruce picking up a few small lost carp on his line which proved just enough to win with 25lb 15oz. Nobby did also target the carp on his meat line and although he did land three, it was not quite enough and had to settle for 2nd place, just behind on 25lb 9oz.

Phil Harris was in the jungle peg over on the far side where he struggled to find any carp from the usual spots but did eventually get a few on pole and corn in the margins for 3rd place with 24lb 4oz. Paul Oliver was 4th from the pipe swim catching skimmers on the waggler plus a hat-trick of carp (one each on the waggler, feeder and pole) for 20lb even.

Although pretty tough going for most, it did turn out to be a close contest, which is what you want after all.

Bonus Fish make the difference

River Eden, Chiddingstone Broad A - 13th September 2015 - Sunny Intervals -17c

Grateful thanks go to Mark Merrett & Craig Winchester who after traipsing up and down the stretch, managed to find and cut out enough swims for the 16 keen to have first go at the Eden this year. No small task so many thanks lads.

Once the fishing got under way, there was plenty of bites and variety for everyone from  mainly very small chublets, gudgeon, bleak, roach, dace & perch. Paul Oliver was balanced precariously on a high bank just downstream of the far side footbridge and although the fishable swim was just a couple of yards wide by three yards long and only 2ft deep, found it stuffed full of small fish from the off. In amongst them he did manage to find one decent chub of about 2lb and a cracking Tench of 3lb 14oz which boosted his weight to 13lb 4oz and enough to win on the day. Craig Winchester was in the noisy peg below the weir where he also found plenty of bits to keep him amused until he latched onto a good chub which towed him all around the little weirpool. Safely landed, it helped him to 2nd place with 10lb 8oz. Bob Stone was on the much-fancied 'Dustbin' peg but struggled for most of the match until a magnificent 5lb 1oz Bream grabbed his maggot hookbait a few minutes before the final whistle and earning him 3rd place with 8lb 3oz. Graham Stevens completed the frame from the 'Washing Machine' where it is not deep enough for bonus fish (their backs would be out of the water!) Nevertheless, his net of bits was 7lb 7oz and enough for 4th.

Pretty decent returns for most from a little stream and an enjoyable change from Carp hauling. 


Jasper leads from the front.....

Basingstoke Canal, West Byfleet - 6th September 2015 - Chilly start with sunny intervals - 20c

Just 8 members fancied having a go at this difficult and challenging fixture. Being a CALPAC teams of four competition, this meant we were able to field two teams against Epsom, the only other club that bothered to attend (at least that's one more than 2014). Team captains, Jasper Stevens and Micky Biles were nominated by the Chairman and went about picking their sides like kids in a playground. Jasper's Jokers comprised Graham Stevens, Phil Harris and Mark Merrett, with Micky's Maggots being Bobby Stone, Barry Stagg and Paul Oliver.

The two pounds above Woodham Lock were used and whilst someone had thankfully made sterling efforts to clear the vegetation and most of the duckweed, there was a lot of silk weed present and the water almost was gin-clear. Quite how clear became apparent once the sun hit the water as you could see the bottom all the way across in the first pound, which made for a very tough day for those pegged there.

Jasper was pegged half way along the 2nd pound and but still struggled for bites for much of the match but in the last hour or so, finally found some slightly better roach & perch tucked away in the shade under the far bank attracted by flicking a few maggots over. The relentless flow of bikes, dogs and other towpath traffic meant handling the long pole was very frustrating (see photo below), often leaving hooked fish floundering away in mid-canal whilst waiting for people to pass, but he did manage to put a commendable 2lb 4oz on the scales to win the match overall and lead his team to victory. A real Captains Innings - well done Jasper!

In the same pound, Barry Stagg and Paul Oliver put plenty of small punch-caught roach in the net plus a few perch for 2nd and 3rd places with 1lb 14oz and 1lb 13oz respectively, but found once the sun hit the water, the fish spooked almost completely. The first pound, being both shallow and clear seemed devoid of anything except small perch, so Phil Harris did exceptionally well to pick up 1lb 10oz of them for 4th place.

Despite the lack of fish and the busy towpath, it was still an enjoyable day but did include a firm commitment from CALPAC to use a different section next year! 

Normal Service is resumed....

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 30th August 2015 - Overcast & humid - 23c

Only 18 turned out for this fixture, with domestic duties taking priority over the Bank Holiday weekend for many. The low turnout meant after paying for the whole lake, there was little left over for the pools, but a quick 'superpool' was organised to add interest. However, the weather was OK for a change and the venue looked very inviting.

For the third or fourth time in succession, Nobby Whiteing drew on the disabled platform so it seemed that the result would be a forgone conclusion, but when Phil Harris at the other end of the platform put an 11lb 3oz carp on the scales early in the match, Nobby was having to play catch up. Paul Oliver also drew well on permanent peg 2 within pole range of the island as did Bruce Scott on peg 3 in the gap, so it actually turned out to be a much closer and more interesting match than expected. 

In the end, Nobby did manage to keep the F1's coming on his favourite short pole and maggot approach over sprinklings of micros with groundbait to run out the winner on 78lb 12oz. At the far end, both Bruce and Paul found the F1's quickly backed away from the open water leaving just very small skimmers feeding. This meant Bruce had to resort to chasing the fish with a small feeder lobbed into the gap whilst Paul had to contend with shipping 14 metres of long pole up the steep bank and onto the railway tracks to present a corn bait up against the island. Both tactics kept fish coming, but not quite enough in the end as Paul finished 2nd with 73lb 3oz and Bruce 4th on 67lb 2oz.

In the middle of the far bank, PAUL HARDING went quietly about his business with a small feeder cast close to the reeds opposite to yet again stake a place in the frame, just pipping Bruce with 68lb 7oz for 3rd place.

The far bank seemed to be the best side on the day taking the top 7 places, although most on the car park side had a decent day with Martin Twine recording the best weight on that side with 46lb 12oz and the rest 40 and 30lb's

New Names in the Frame

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 4 - 23rd August 2015 - Sunny start then cloud & rain - 21c

Despite a few holiday absences, 20 made the trip to Maidstone for our first match on this lake for a couple of years. Although more attractive and natural to look at than the other match lakes at Monks, it does not seem to produce really big weights, but does throw up a wide variety of species.

The top end was the place to be where Jasper Stevens won his first match of the year and for once, managed to get the better of his brother. Fishing close in on the pole with meat over groundbait and maggot, he kept the carp coming regularly and despite a quiet last hour, put 84lb 6oz on the scales for 1st place. 3 pegs to his right, was Terry Archer who had not been able to score more than 3 points in any of the ten matches fished this year so far, so it was good to see him make an appearance in the frame in 2nd place with 71lb 4oz, taken on the feeder cast out to the islands. Paul Harding on the other hand is rarely out of the frame but still can't quite manage his first win, so settled for 3rd place with 63lb 15oz, catching mainly close in on the pole and switching between meat and corn. Very close behind was Graham Stevens who fished paste in the margin close to an overhanging tree to complete the frame with 63lb 13oz. Backing weights were all reasonable (except Gary Toland again), so not too bad a day for most.

The forecast rain duly arrived around midday but thankfully stopped by 2.00pm  and a chance for things to dry out before the weigh-in.

Happy 70th Andy!

Orchard Farm, Lake 6 - 16th August 2015 - Sunny to start then increasingly cloudy - 20c

Such is the attraction of fishing matches with W&DAS, Andy Tickner chose to spend the day of his 70th birthday with his mates on the bank. Some were keen to let him win on his special day, but no one wanted to give him a four hour head start.... As it happened, he recorded his best weight in nearly a year with 76lb 14oz, so there is still life in the old dog yet.

For Andy and the other 22 attending, the day started in blazing sunshine with shorts & sunscreen in abundance although the heavy rain of the preceding week had reportedly dropped the water temperature by 2c, so a repeat of the really big weights of our earlier visit seemed unlikely. The weather also turned progressively gloomy as the day wore on but nothing was going to dampen the delight of Micky Gray who fished a blinder to win his first match, after coming close a few times recently. Pegged on a noted swim at the end of the spit, he was frustrated in trying to get the F1's going close in and decided to chuck out a feeder with corn whilst he contemplated his luck (and sandwiches), only for the tip to go straight round with a proper carp. After that, he never looked back and continued to take bigger carp regularly throughout the afternoon and for that bigger than average size to be enough for a total winning weight of 112lb. Nice one Micky, it turned out to be a Gray day in more ways than one.

Adopting totally different tactics, John Gibbons pegged half way up the spit facing the car park, set out his stall to fish up in the water with maggots and seemed to be the only one who managed to keep the very cagey F1's going regularly throughout the match. Often fishing just a few inches below the surface, he did really well to clinch 2nd place with 108lb 6oz, eclipsing all those around him. On the far bank, Paul Oliver was one of many who found the only way to keep the fish coming was to keep changing things, so through a combination of pole & pellet on the deck and up in the water plus feeder close and at range, he managed to winkle out 105lb for 3rd. Nobby Whiteing stuck to his guns fishing close in with pole and maggot which has brought him much success at this venue in the past, but on this day, was only good enough for 97lb 1oz and 4th place. 

Despite the less than perfect conditions, (apart from Mark Merrett and Gary Toland who only managed weights in the teens), everyone else had a good day's fishing with plenty of weights in the 80's, 70's & 60lb range.

Barry Stagg apparently took an unscheduled dip the previous week at Hartleylands and swimming is not his strong suit. Mate(?) John Palmer was truly concerned for his welfare if it happened again at this 6ft deep venue, so decided to invest a huge amount to equip Barry with the latest in buoyancy aid innovation. Barry unfortunately struggled to get the hang of the technology....

Ken Barnard meanwhile, grits his teeth for what might be coming next!


Man Boobs Galore 

Hartleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 9th August 2015 - Hot & Sunny - 25c

The popularity of Hartleylands meant that Nicks Lake was fully booked for 2015, so this was our only Summer visit on the smaller Pear Tree Lake. With the 20 anglers filling almost every peg, mega weights were unlikely, but nevertheless it turned out to be an enjoyable and very close-fought contest.

For those around the two islands, the default is a feeder chuck which tends to produce plenty of pull rounds, but usually from the smaller carp where a two-pounder is a specimen! The bigger carp seem only to be found in the margins and when Micky Biles put an 11lb 2oz lump on the scales duly caught on the inside early in the match (see photo), he became the man to watch.

Graham Stevens & Bruce Scott were two who were pegged at the open bottom bank at the car park end and bemoaned their draw with no island backup and both forced to stick to the margins. Sometimes it can be a benefit in not getting distracted by easy bites on the method and so it proved, with Graham opting to fish worm over groundbait down the edge for a regular supply of better-stamp carp and a final tally of 93lb. Two pegs away (with new member Keith Harper banjo'd in between) Bruce trashed no less than nine complete pole rigs after the larger residents grabbed his maggot or meat hook bait and sought sanctuary in the tree roots under the water. Any one of which would have been enough to win, but eventually had to settle for 2nd place with 90lb 7oz. 

Facing the full sun all day on the left-hand bank, Dave King was one of several who stripped off to proudly display their man boobs and adopted his patent 'Rod & Line' tactics of lowering a cricket-ball of groundbait round a method feeder into the margins under a bush.  This crude tactic nevertheless was successful in finding the bigger fish for Dave and he did well to earn 3rd place with 82lb 10oz. Obliged to witness the display of flesh from the opposite bank, Paul Oliver failed to find anything but roach in the margins so stuck to winding in 80 small carp on the feeder which weighed just 77lb for the final frame place.

There were lots of 50-60lb backing weights, so all in all, a pretty good Summer's day fishing for all.

Just a Different Class

Bough Beech Reservoir, Dam Wall - 2nd August 2015 - Sunny with gentle breezes - 24c

The morning sun trying to break through the mist over the reservoir was a sight to gladden the heart and excite the 16 members who turned up for this one. A really beautiful summer morning. The water was still a good level (five slabs down) and being high summer, it was decided to peg from the early part of the wall, although rather strangely, it was the early and late pegs that seemed to fish the best with the favoured 'steps' area that struggled a bit. Of course, it could just be the quality of the anglers pegged there...

Without a pole in sight, everyone started on the feeder with a few having a waggler backup and roach and small skimmers were being caught from the off. The inside information being circulated before the match was not to put worm in the groundbait as it was reported that it tended to attract too many Ruffe. However, Dave Hughes is smart enough to make his own mind up and he opted for lots of choppy in his fishmeal groundbait, which with a double red maggot hookbait, undoubtedly proved the right recipe on the day as he cruised to victory catching skimmers and small bream steadily for an immensely enjoyable and satisfying session and a top weight of 33lb 6oz. A real masterclass from the Doc.

It was close amongst the also-rans however. Paul Oliver found he could not keep them coming on the feeder, so regularly switched to a waggler in around 10ft of water where the roach were present in numbers. He realised too late that the 12oz + specimens could be had with corn on the hook, but nevertheless had enough for 2nd place with 15lb 10oz. Graham Stevens was end peg and stuck to the big feeder with plenty of bait for a skimmer net of 15lb 6oz and 3rd place. Micky Biles did similarly, switching hookbaits regularly to keep the fish coming to finish 4th on 14lb 4oz.

Despite being regularly pestered by wasps (what is it that attracts them to reservoirs particularly?) and almost everyone suffering regular strikes from very aggressive Pike, for most this was a really enjoyable match in lovely conditions. Makes you glad to be alive...... 

A Very Soggy Spring

Framfield Fishery, Spring Lake - 26th July 2015 - Persistent Rain - 17c

25 turned out for this popular fixture despite the dire weather forecast. Owner Chris asked if we could do a half-time weigh in as he was short of nets and expected big weights, so two three-hour sessions were agreed with great anticipation. It stayed dry for the draw and setup, but then the rain started right on the whistle. 

As expected, fish were in the net within seconds of the all-in but slowed towards the close of the first session for most as the cold rain seem to put the fish down. Keeping the weigh sheets dry during the first weigh was a challenge in itself, but the front runners turned out to be PAUL HARDING and Mick Gray who put 121lb and 106lb on the scales for the first three hours, with Bruce Scott, Graham Stevens, Keith Harper all in the 90's not far behind.

For some it turned out to be a game of two halves with some fading in the second half with others coming up on the rails. In the final analysis, it was perhaps no surprise that Bruce Scott had the best afternoon session on Peg 52 to run out a clear winner with a final total of 210lb 6oz, but it was very close for the rest of the frame. Mick Gray did really well to keep fish coming from peg 57 and hang on to 2nd place with 199lb 10oz, agonisingly close to a double ton and relegating his Crawley neighbour PAUL HARDING on peg 63 to 3rd on 193lb 10oz.  New member (but Framfield veteran) Keith Harper completed the field with 190lb 12oz from peg 59.

Everything and everyone was soaked by the end of the day which combined with the hectic fishing under brollies, soggy weigh sheets and half-time weigh-ins was not exactly what you might call a relaxing day out, but plenty of fish were caught for a close match, so what more can you ask?

A Challenging Day at Osprey

Woodpeckers, Osprey Lake - 19th July 2015 - Sunny Intervals -22c

It proved a difficult day in more ways than one when tensions boiled over at the draw about the way the net limits at Tylers had been handled. Passions ran high and sadly resulted in three anglers deciding not to fish and going elsewhere. All totally unnecessary, but boys will be boys.

For the 20 who fished, the conditions seemed ideal but the returns varied hugely depending upon where you were drawn. Whilst there is a good head of silvers in the lake, they are easily spooked, particularly where pegs are close. On the other hand, the carp are now getting to a really good size, so you do not need many for a decent weight. So it proved a very tactical match in deciding whether to go all out for carp, just silvers or taking your chances on anything that swims.

Barry Stagg was drawn on permanent peg 11 and opted to fish fairly close in on the pole alongside a small weedbed using corn over groundbait and managed a really nice net comprised of 8 beautiful and decent-sized carp plus a few silvers. This proved more than enough for victory with a weight totalling 47lb 10oz. Phil Harris was tucked round the back on peg 23 and fished similarly for 2nd place with 34lb 8oz. PAUL HARDING was on peg 2 where a cracking carp of 16lb 8oz boosted his weight to 31lb 4oz in total and enough for 3rd also caught on pole with corn. Last in the frame was Paul Oliver on peg 40 with three carp and a lot of silvers on maggot for 27lb 2oz. 

All but 6 managed double figures plus a lot of tales of lost fish that seem to fight like tigers here, so all in all, a pretty decent day.

Framfield in Essex

Tylers Common, Ash Lake - 12th July 2015 - Overcast but mostly dry - 21c

The numbers were limited to 21 due to some dodgy pegs on this 25 peg lake and for once, the conditions seemed ideal for some serious bagging. And so it turned out...

With the water level down about a foot, the margins were little more than inches deep, but that did not deter the ravenous carp who responded almost instantly to a handful of bait and announcing their presence by waving their tails out of the water and stirring the mud into great steaming clouds.  The tricky part was how to hook them in the mouth before somewhere else, evidenced by literally hundreds of foul-hookings on the day all around the lake. 

Two of the greatest exponents of such conditions are Bruce Scott (making a welcome return after holidays and injuries) and Alex Whiteing, having learned the art during their regular attendances as Framfield and they put their experience to good use. Both fed maggots heavily in the margins and catching carp from the off with mostly maggot hookbait. As the match progressed, everyone knew it was between the two of them but come the weigh-in, Bruce had four nets out (venue limit is 75lb per net) and Nobby had three, so it was assumed Bruce had the most. However, there is a lot of guesswork involved as there is no easy 'average' size of fish here, which vary from 1lb to 10lbs. For Bruce, his final tally was an amazing 246lb in the five hours allowed here. Nobby had managed to work out that the bigger carp and less foul-hookers could be found by fishing in the slightly deeper water just off the margin but was nevertheless surprised to find that he finished just a couple of fish ahead on 254lb. 

Jasper Stevens adopted entirely different tactics and whilst still fishing close in, chose to feed sloppy cat meat (yuk!) with luncheon meat on the hook. Despite the unpleasant tactics, his efforts were enough for 3rd place with 164lb 10oz. Paul Oliver was 4th with 146lb 4oz also fishing maggot in just a few inches of water in the margins.

Back at the car park, Nobby was declared the winner on the day but upon reflection he has demoted himself to 2nd place by knocking his weight back to 225lb as a consequence applying the venue net limits. This is a fair gesture given the same fate was applied to Paul Harding at Monks the previous week and is something we all need to be increasingly aware of as these bagging venues increasingly apply this type of limitation. Being consistent is the only way to be fair to all so fair play to Nobby for holding his hand up for this one.

Whether his honesty is enough to escape the forfeit of wearing the Mankini remains to be seen. As can be seen below, some people will try anything to curry favour with the match organiser to get a decent draw....

Ton Weights are just not enough...

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 3 - 5th July 2015 – Steady rain until around 12.30 (18-20c) then improving from cloudy to sunny and 24c  - Light winds
 (report courtesy of Junior Reporter Craig Winchester)

23 members attended today and it would appear the WADAS faithful don’t learn from their own experiences (See Tylers Common report 21st June). Once again the talk in the Car park revolved around a match fished on Saturday with a winning weight of 360lb and loads of backing weights of 200lb plus. Did we all have enough nets?! Martin confidently announced we could always hire more from the onsite shop! Martin Cook did manage to get the fishery to agree to allow us to use the whole lake (Normally a minimum of 25 anglers are needed for this). So with a one in 3 chance of drawing a favoured corner peg and plenty of space around the lake, even the start of the forecast steady rain did not seem to dampen any ones spirits as we all dived into the draw bag.

David “Doc” Hughes and Paul Harding were the talk around the lake when it became clear that they were lucky enough to get drawn on the end of the point, The Flyers! Plenty of others were bemoaning there bad fortune at being drawn one away from a great peg or in the middle of nowhere. From the start fish appeared to be getting caught regularly from all across the lake on various methods (Pole and method feeder). As the rain cleared towards the middle of the match, the brollies came down and anglers heads started to pop up. The chatter and rumour mill started around the lake. No one appeared to be bagging up! At the conclusion of the match no one really seemed any the wiser although it was clear that we certainly hadn’t matched Saturday's weights.

The winning weight came from Craig Winchester with 135lb 8oz of all Carp from a “middle of nowhere” peg half way down the first bank of the lake (permanent peg 97) as you approach it from the car park. Craig surprised everyone including himself with this winning weight. Having failed to even weigh in a couple of weeks back at Tylers Common and being unable to catch down the edge there, he finally worked it out, catching all but 4 of his carp on his inside line. Feeding 5 pints of pellet, 3 pints of maggot and a couple of tins of meat and using punched meat on the hook a good stamp of Carp between 4 - 10lb were landed, mostly in the second half of the match. Second was Doc Hughes who battled all day to keep his fish coming from the favoured point peg (permanent peg 112) switching between the pole and feeder ending with 118lb 4oz. Third was Nobby Whiteing, doing very well from another un-fancied peg (permanent peg 99), he caught steadily all day on the pole switching between three lines of 8 metres, 4 metres and down the edge he weighed in 109lb 6oz. His bag including 17lb of mixed silver fish which helped him pip Dale Smith drawn in the top left hand corner peg (permanent peg 91) who finished forth with 107lb 4oz of Carp caught on the long pole fished tight to bank across the top of the lake

Paul Harding on the other flyer on the point of the lake and fell foul to the scales men. Lake rules dictate that a maximum of 50lb is allowed in any net with a tolerance of 10lb allowed. Fishery rules state that anyone weighing over 60lb in a net has their weight dropped back to 50lb but Nobby announced before the draw that in the WADAS’s match case would count any net overweight as maximum of 60lb. It is estimated that Paul's Carp net would have weighed  80lb – 90lb. Paul’s final weight was 98lb dropping him out of the top four. Forfeiting an estimated 20lb plus from his Carp net cost Paul valuable championship points and weight not to mention prize money. A costly mistake and one for us all to take note of.

Backing weights were around 40 - 80lb with most catching a fair few Carp and only the odd silver. One day WADAS will arrive on the day the fishery goes crazy rather than the day after!?!”

A long walk for modest returns

River Arun, Swan Meadow - 28th June 2015 - Sunny Intervals - 20c

13 members made the effort to take a break from commercials for a day on the river. Unfortunately, the grass was shoulder high in places so simply getting to a swim was a major battle. Undeterred, Graham Stevens slogged through it all though and fished the end peg where the stream comes in and was rewarded with a victory on the day with 9lb 8oz, catching one Bream of around 4-5lb plus a few bits. Phil Harris was second 8lb 4oz he caught 2 pike 2-3lb each on bread!?! and some roach. Jasper Stevens was third with 6lb 8oz which included a bonus Bream of around 2lb and an eel. Hugh Blake completed the frame weighing a mixed bag of silvers of 5lb 12oz.

Hanson Win for Steve

Tylers Common, Horseshoe Lake - 21st June 2015 - Sunny Intervals - 21c

It would be nice to catch this venue in the right conditions just once at least. Pre-draw talk was about the 300lb + bags that had come out fishing "meat in the margins" recently or how the juniors emptied it in the London Youth games, but for the 21 W&DAS members, once again it proved (relatively) tough going. 

Steve Hanson drew the peg half-way up the spit on the car park side, where an inviting looking tree hangs over the water from the central mini-island, the only island that has one. Despite appearances, this peg does not really have previous form, but Steve duly pushed a long pole out under the tree with a soft pellet and fed sparingly with a toss pot, and was rewarded with the first of a succession of small carp almost immediately. As bites eventually slowed, he moved to the 6m line fishing similarly where again he caught carp regularly, returning to the long line after a rest, when the fish had moved back in. Like most, he also baited up the margins to plunder later in the match, but also like most, it did not really happen as the fish seemed unusually reluctant to really get their heads down. Nevertheless, the steady catch rate for the first four hours proved plenty on the day and he finished with a comfortable winning weight of 106lb 8oz. 

Barry Stagg drew one of the noted flyers, on the far side of the spit at the bottom (closed) end where he also picked off fish regularly on the pole to take 2nd place with 81lb 4oz. There was a tie for 3rd place between Graham ("cat food king") Stevens and Paul Oliver, who remarkably both put 73lb 8oz on the scales, Graham sticking to his usual pole and meat, whilst Paul nicked a few on the method with pellet and a few on the 7 metre line with meat. 

For the rest, there were a few 60's and 50's but a bit of a disappointment for most as they flogged their way back up the hill to the car park. Apparently, there had been a match the day before which may account for the weights, but then again, it may be spawning, weather etc. etc, etc. We anglers have a book full of reasons for not catching....

The Unstoppable Mr Whiteing

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 1 - 14th June 2015 - Overcast & gloomy - 18c

A slightly disappointing turnout of just 18 attended this one, but the owners were content to still let us have the whole lake. This meant plenty of space for everyone and the chance of a good day on a lake where (by Monks standards) weights have been a bit disappointing of late. It certainly seemed to help as everyone had double-figures and a great selection of species to boot. 

The corner pegs on these match lakes have traditionally proved an advantage, because each is adjacent to an unpegged empty bank, so there was a bit of a debate about leaving them out, in order to make things 'fairer'. However, a good day's fishing is still the priority for most of us and leaving out good pegs seems a bit serious, so it was decided to leave them in. Having the whole lake meant there were eight of them anyway, so nearly a 50:50 chance of drawing one!

Needless to say, Nobby Whiteing continued his brilliant form at the drawbag and on the bankside, drawing peg 44 in the corner where he set about picking off skimmers and small carp steadily from the off, mostly catching on the short pole with maggots. As the match progressed, he upped the maggot feed in the margins where he plundered (mostly) barbel to 5lb in the last 90 minutes to boost his total weight to an excellent 101lb exactly - just enough for 1st place and his fifth victory in six outings. He finished with 60lb odd of 'silvers' and the rest carp.

To show it is not all about the corners however, PAUL HARDING was half-way up the central spit and a bit concerned about total lack of marginal reeds alongside his peg compared to everyone else. Nevertheless, from less than a foot of water up against the bare bank, he caught steadily all day on the pole, switching between maggot, meat & corn for a remarkable mixed-bag total of 95lb 12oz. So 2nd place yet again for PAUL but he had the consolation of catching his first ever Ide, one of which was a really beautiful specimen of 4lb. Back in a corner peg 22, Steve Hanson also had a good day on the long pole for 3rd place with 73lb 4oz, a little ahead of Graham Stevens on the next peg who included a number of decent chub in his bag of 65lb 12oz.

Plenty of 50 & 40lb bags backed up the framing weights, so a pretty good day for all. Except perhaps, for Bobby Stone...

He scored an impressive 9.6 for his swallow dive off the platform, head first into the lake in pursuit of his feeder rod, dragged in by a lively carp. Ever the professional, he managed to rescue the rod and stood in the water to play and land the monster 3lb carp, before rescuing his box and other gear. He was very grateful to Mark Merrett for coming to his rescue and kitting him out with a (slightly oversize) Virgin Media uniform, but more than good enough to keep Bob warm and fishing. We assume all the brown marks on his underwear seen drying over the mirrors on Mark's van was simply mud from the lake....

Tons of Gold at Orchard Place

Orchard Place Fishery, Lake 6 - 7th June 2015 - Mainly Sunny with light breezes - 21c

A bright and sunny day greeted the 26 eager anglers who turned up for this one. The usual mis-information had been circulating about the owners having removed large numbers of fish and so most approached the day with some trepidation. We need not have worried as within seconds of the whistle, bright shiny bars of gold were winging their way into keepnets all around the lake. Whilst the bulk of the catches remain beautifully conditioned F1's (some up to 3lb and more), such stock changes as there have been seem to have led to more frequent encounters with larger commons & mirrors (up to 10lb on the day) as well as barbel putting in regular appearances. 

As to the match, it was a close contest of contrasting styles, methods and baits. The best of the action occurred on the central spit where Nobby Whiteing, Graham Stevens and Martin Cook were engaged in a closely fought battle, Nobby & Graham pegged one at each end and Martin in the middle. All three opted for an all-out maggot approach with Nobby & Martin fishing up in the water, whilst Graham (who fed six pints of them) stuck to fishing on the deck. All managed to tempt the fish into 2 + 2 pole range and keep them coming throughout. Come the very long weigh-in, it was Nobby who finally triumphed with a net of 177lb 14oz, less than a couple of fish ahead of Graham on 174lb 6oz. Not far behind, Martin weighed 154lb 4oz to complete an exceptional contest.

There was an equally interesting battle on the far-side outer bank between Mickey Biles, Phil Harris, Craig Winchester & Paul Oliver for 4th place. Mickey stuck to a feeder with worm catching more larger carp and 115lb. Phil fished soft pellet up in the water for 120lb, Craig nabbed a few shallow and the rest on the bottom with maggot for 123lb 8oz but it was Paul fishing mostly short pole with meat on the deck off the next peg, who eventually took the last frame place with 125lb 4oz.

All in all, a really fantastic match with ten 100lb plus weights in total and another ten in the 70lb to 90lb range (which included 87lb 4oz recorded by an in-form Peter Rock for his second mention in two reports!).

Exhausting but exciting fishing and a day really enjoyed by everyone where over 2,500lb of fish were put on the scales - nearly 100lb a man average. Roll on the Basingstoke canal....

Fhil finishes first at Framfield

Framfield Fishery, Brookhouse Lake - 31st May 2015 - Cold & blustery with rain - 13.5c

Recent open match results suggested that the big weights of past years are rare these days and that with 24 occupying most of the pegs, this could be a much tougher match than one usually expects at Framfield. Heavy cold overnight rain which continued for much of the match also did not help the chances but few expected it to be quite this difficult.

Whilst some anglers picked up one or two carp early, a long wait then ensued with many biteless for hours on end. One exception was Phil Harris, on the last peg 17 at the top end, where after a slow start, started to catch "one a bung" fishing long pole with corn right up against the far bank. So much so, that he began to question the rules for net limits and sizes as the big fish were quickly adding to his weight. However, it did not last and like someone turning a switch, all action dried up and he went virtually fishless for the last half of the match. 

However, that short spell proved enough for victory on the day with 45lb 4oz. New member Steve Hanson used his Back Arun expertise in tempting reluctant Carp to take 2nd place with 37lb 12oz from Peg 3 at the bottom end, with Martin Cook 3rd on 29lb 8oz and venue-expert Nobby Whiteing completing the frame with just 20lb from peg 14. Special mention for Peter Rock who usually only comes out for a chat, who managed a creditable 5th with 19lb 8oz. 

Donkey of the day was Andy Tickner. After drawing noted peg 36 and with a long wait to the all-in, he left his box with umbrella attached to go for a walk only for a gust of wind to tip the whole lot (including all his bait) into the water for a well-needed wash. Generous guys nearby donated replacement bait and he ended up with more than he started with . The Stewards were also generous in not disqualifying him for baiting before the whistle... The pre-bating didn't help much as he finished with just 1lb (although still more than Jasper Stevens).

Most of the rest of the field managed just a few fish. Not a great day all round really, but at least Phil looks pleased!

Nobby makes it 3 in 3, but dead for many

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 24th May 2015 - Sunny Intervals -18c

The 26 members who made the trip were greeted with some contrasting sights and smells. Frying bacon from the chuck wagon was was mouthwatering, but the sight and smell of a large number of dead fish floating all around the lake was quite the opposite. Whilst Spring can be a stressful time for coarse fish, just leaving them to rot is not a great advert for what is usually an interesting and attractive fishery. 

Whether the fatalities point to a more sinister problem remains to be seen, but the returns, (even by W&DAS standards) were well below par in what looked like a perfect conditions. Most caught a few fish early, but then struggled for the odd bite thereafter. 

One exception however was from Nobby Whiteing who made it three wins in three outings. Sharing the disabled platform with Graham Stevens on pegs 18 & 17 he executed his plan perfectly. He fed micro-pellets in a little groundbait and fished small pieces of meat at 5 metres to catch steadily from the off. As bites dried up later in the day, he followed the fish out to the relative safety of the reed-fringed island and continued to pick off the F1's regularly for the remainder of the match and finishing well-clear of the rest of us with 64lb 6oz. Martin Cook was drawn on Peg 12 on the car park side where he found that quite heavy balls of groundbait drew an instant reaction from a few fish each time. This enabled him to catch batches of fish periodically until he ran out of groundbait! Nevertheless, it was enough for 2nd place with 38lb 8oz. 

Graham Stevens tried other tactics to try keep pace with Nobby which brought him a hefty 10lb 10oz Carp from the margins. Although this boosted his weight to 34lb 12oz, he could not really keep the F1's coming so it was only good enough for 3rd on the day. Mickey Biles is mainly interested in beating his tormentor, Bob Stone, which he did convincingly with 31lb 9oz from peg 9 for the final frame place. Most of the rest of the field managed double figures at least, which is not to be sniffed at....

The F1's here are quite smart and tricky to catch, which does make for an enjoyable challenge regardless, so let's hope that when we return here in August there will be more live ones in the net and less dead ones on the surface......

Woodpeckers proves a Challenge too....

Woodpeckers, Main Lake - 17th May 2015 - Sunny Intervals - 16c

Hugh Blake is an occasional but very welcome attendee who usually turns up, draws a flyer and gives the rest of us a bit of a lesson. This match was no exception although in what turned out to be a very close affair, it was Graham Stevens who proved the better man on the day.

After the struggle on Osprey, a little less enthusiasm meant that only 17 turned out for this one, but it was hoped that the fewer numbers might improve the returns. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case as once again, the Carp were elusive for most, who settled for a challenging day targetting the equally moody silvers.

Graham Stevens drew Peg 20 amongst all the reeds and snags at the far end and showed no mercy to the few carp who were tempted by his double-corm hookbait fished on the pole down the nearside snags. He finished the day with about eight decent fish and a winning weight of 27lb 8oz. Hugh drew peg 25 where he decided to go all out for the carp fishing paste over groundbait close to his very own patch of lilies. A number of fish got the better of him diving into the tough fresh stems, but he got the hang of it eventually to finish a close 2nd with a similar bag weighing 27lb 4oz. PAUL HARDING on peg 8 struggled along with many for most of the match, but a last half-hour spent on the Method feeder saw his tip wrap round three times for decent carp to boost his weight to 19lb 2oz and more than enough to take 3rd place. Completing the frame was Martin Cook with 13lb 4oz from peg 4 with a real mixed bag of aquarium fish.

It was also the annual Pairs Trophy Match, but with Graham and Hugh drawn as a pair, it was a one-horse race when they ran out winners with nearly double the weight of the runners-up, Chris Lawrence and PAUL HARDING.

There is no doubt that the fish you catch at Woodpeckers are in prime, beautiful condition but recent returns are not matching the bags seen in previous years. We have a couple more visits here later in the season, so let's hope things improve a little at least.



Rock Hard at Osprey

Woodpeckers, Osprey Lake - 10th May 2015 - Sunny intervals but breezy - 18c

With decent Spring weather forecast and not too long a drive for most, a remarkable 27 booked in for this match hoping to latch on to some of the sizeable resident carp and/or plunder the silver fish. Although there are notionally 40 pegs here, not all are fishable and it was tricky to find decent pegs for everyone. 

At the all-in, some caught a few silvers quite quickly but others struggled for a bite of any sort and it quickly became apparent that despite the ideal conditions, a difficult day was in prospect. 

Nobby Whiteing was peg 13 behind the island on the far side and after struggling without a fish for the first two hours decided to stick it out for bigger fish. He fished long pole to the island with meat over micros and finally managed to snaffle enough decent carp for his second win on the bounce with just 23lb 10oz. Further along the same bank, Jasper Stevens drew Peg 17, one of the noted flyers in the far corner where the trees grow down into the water at a comfortable pole range. Here, he was one of the few to manage bites all day and a final mixed bag of 22lb 10oz.

New member Steve Hanson put down his marker for the new season in Peg 8 where he fished in the margins for a few carp and silvers for 21lb exactly and 3rd place. (Who let him join, we don't need any more good anglers?). With the number fishing and a reasonable ticket price, 4th and 5th places were also paid out to Micky Gray who banked 20lb exactly from Peg 15 and Gary Toland with 14lb 12oz out of Peg 40.

Unfortunately, a third of the field did not need to trouble the scalesman at all with several making an early exit. A real shame for an early season outing, but whether it was the pressure of numbers or the time of the year, we can only speculate.

Ton-up Start to the New Season

Tylers Common, Willow Lake - 3rd May 2015 - Breezy and overcast - 15c

There was no open match on the Saturday here, so hopes were high for some serious bagging for the 22 members who turned up for this one. But with nearly every peg filled, the vast shoals were reasonably well spread around the lake resulting in pretty decent weights for most. 

The default tactics were either short pole on the open swims or in the margins on feature pegs, with meat, pellets, corn or maggot. No finesse required here with the heavier the feed, the more quickly the bites seem to come.

One of the best exponents of this type of bagging is Nobby Whiteing who fished top three in the margins under the trees with meat to finish clear of the field with 118lb. It was closer for the minor placings where John (I hate these type of venues) Gibbons mixed the odd Barbel and Bream amongst the carp for 2nd on 97lb. PAUL HARDING continued his regular place in the frame for 3rd place with 95lb 12oz and Martin Cook 4th putting 91lb 4oz  on the scales. 

There were lots of 60lb to 90lb weights from the rest of the field so a good tackle workout for the start of our match season. Whilst very good weights, there were a lot of concerns expressed about the condition of the fish, many having badly deformed 'parrot mouths' or big heads but thin bodies. It is a difficult balance for fishery owners to find between good catch rates and healthy fish.