Season Finishes with a Bang

Sumners Farm, Match Lake - 12th March 2017 - Calm and overcast with light rain - 11c

Entries had to be capped at 30 for this one which sadly left a couple on the reserve list and unable to attend. Even so, it is a lot of angling pressure and there were some concerns that it might be quite tough.

Within seconds of the all-in, Brian Beacroft's method was picked up by a right lump and netted after quite a tussel. It's been a while since Brian caught a fish at all, let alone one of this size, so initially he was a bit flummoxed what to do with it; put it in the net or weigh it? At 15lb 15oz, it was a good start and nearly double the weight that his running mate Dave King would go on to manage in the whole six hours. It was also a pointer of where most of the fish, and certainly the better ones, wanted to be, over on the far side of the bowl. Phil Harris on the peg next to Brian also started to pick up fish on both feeder and pellet waggler and a couple of pegs the other way, Graham Stevens seemed to be catching well on the pole.

Graham was sitting on one of the classic feeder pegs at the start of the first island, yet decided to go back to basics for his match by simply fishing large chunks of meat at 10 metres and loose feeding meat over the top. Not following the crowd certainly proved to be a good decision as he took lumpy carp regularly throughout the match to finish top with an excellent weight of 160lb 2oz. ​Phil Harris meanwhile had to keep changing tactics to keep the fish coming, switching between method, pellet waggler and straight bomb, but did more than enough to take 2nd place and secure the Aggregate Weight Championship with 131lb 10oz. After his good start, Brian stuck to his trusty method feeder but was eventually overtaken by his neighbours, although still put a very creditable 72lb on the scales for 3rd place. Andy Leamon was happy to have been first on the reserve list and made the match at the last minute. He caught only three carp and a couple of silvers, but they were enough for 56lb 1oz and 4th place.

There were also three sections. With 3 of the 4 frame places coming from his section, it was Micky Gray who picked up the far side bowl section with 55lb 2oz, Dave Morris shared the top end bay with Dad Tony, but just pipped him for the section with 42lb 2oz and Barry Stagg took the nearside bowl section with 54lb 15oz. Micky Biles didn't win any money but did have the glory of recording the best fish of the day with a lovely Mirror Carp of 18lb 9oz.

There were still lots of 40lb and 30lb weights and plenty of silvers to be had, but the pegs around the top island remain difficult to say the least. That's the luck of the draw, but overall a good match to finish the season.

After the Lord Mayor's show

Marsh Farm Fishery, Richardson Lake - 5th March 2017 - Blustery Heavy Showers - 7c

Our visits here earlier in the season showed that this is by no means an easy venue, but the rewards of some cracking Tench, Crucians and Bream can be well worth the effort. News that Godalming AS had started a restocking programme in the last couple of weeks also boosted confidence that the 20 who made the effort in shocking conditions, would at least get a few bites. Wrong........​

After a couple of hours, it was clear that most had not had a single enquiry although news filtered round that both Chris Lawrence and Phil Harris had nabbed an early tench each on bomb and corn and that Martin Twine had netted a couple of bream on pole and pellet. Otherwise everyone was hunkered down under brollies trying to escape the driving rain showers and for the most part, watching motionless tips and dreaming of being back at Orchard Place.

Things did start to brighten up towards the end, particularly for Graham Stevens. Having used up his entire arsenal trying to tempt a bite, in the last hour he decided to try and make something happen by potting in a large cupful of chopped worm on his 13m pole line. With worm on the hook and 20 minutes to go he hooked the first of 3 good tench in quick succession, doing enough to overhaul the few others who had caught. His winning total of 9lb 5oz was a great win on the day and just goes to show that its never over till the fat man blows the whistle!

Martin Twine meanwhile had done equally well to add a tench and a crucian to his brace of bream and must have been feeling pretty confident until the scales revealed that his decent net on a tough day would only prove good enough for 2nd at 8lb 5oz. New member Jon Benjamin made his first appearance in the W&ADS frame with a solitary but nice tench of 3lb 15oz and great to see, as he has suffered at the hands of the tough 2016/17 winter fixtures more than once. Chris Lawrence was the only person to catch a roach but even with his early tench, the two small specimens were only enough to make 3lb 9oz in total and 4th place.

Congratulations also go to another new member, Keith Best for his joint 9th place on the day. Not that there is anything particularly remarkable about this achievement as he shared it with 10 others who all did a Palmer on the day (except Palmer himself surprisingly), but he was keen to see his name in a match report. Having failed to make the frame or fall in the Lake, which are the usual ways of guaranteeing a mention, joint 9th seemed good enough.

We are scheduled to be back in the Summer - let's hope things will have settled down by then.

Palmer no more

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 26th February 2017 - Mild but occasional drizzle and strong breezes - 10c

This favourite W&DAS venue finally delivered what hard-working Match Secretary John Palmer has been waiting for since early December - a fish! And not just one, but quite a lot actually and proving what some unkind people were saying before the match that "surely even Palmer can catch fish here?". The picture below records his memorable 50lb 1oz net and the great moment for posterity. 

However, it was not just a great day for John but also for the other 25 anglers. After a week of milder temperatures, the fish were in feeding mood and resulted in a really tremendous match. Fishing the central spit as one section and the top and far side as the other, the frame was equally split over the two sections and there were good weights all round.

Paul Oliver enjoyed his first-ever draw on the spit (after countless visits to this venue), by drawing the noted end-of-the-spit flyer (jammy, Picasso, money goes to money were just of few of the less unkind comments). He started on a small pellet feeder with 6mm banded pellet on the hook to take 22 Carp and F1's from the small island out in the middle giving the closer pole lines time to settle. Coming in on the pole after 90 minutes, the fish were ready and waiting and he managed another 40 or so F1's on maggot by alternating several spots around the swim for a winning weight of 145lb 7oz. Phil Harris was not impressed at drawing the same swim in the top farside corner that he struggled from on our last visit, but certainly turned things around this time. He threw a small method feeder with single maggot hookbait to the other side of the same island as Paul Oliver and also immediately took Carp & F1's regularly from the off. Occasional forays closer in on the pole failed to deliver much, so he stuck to the feeder for the bulk of the match which proved a good tactic and enough for 2nd place with 114lb 6oz.

Sam Docker was in the middle of the top bank and put in his usual excellent shift, particularly when F1's are the target, taking 3rd place with 104lb 5oz by fishing pole and maggot and chasing the F1's around numerous areas, all around his peg. Pegged opposite a close island near the top of the spit, Craig Winchester continued his resurgent form. After a slowish start, he managed to get the F1's and odd proper carp lined up by switching between the short pole and margins on maggot to finish 4th on 96lb 11oz.

The section winners showed just how well it fished with Graham Stevens winning the spit section with 70lb exactly and Martin Twine the other with 74lb 14oz. Looking at some other stats, it shows what a great venue this is. The two sections produced 796lb and 760lb each respectively - an indication how well spread the catches are and giving an average overall weight per angler of 60lb. Not bad for a blustery February day. 

Basie goes out on a wimper

Basingstoke Canal, West Byfleet - 19th February 2017 - Overcast but milder - 9c

After the poor fishing on Crayfish Alley on the last two visits to the Ash Vale stretch, it was decided to return to the West Byfleet section where there have usually been a few fish to be had in the past. It had been a mild week and the canal looked in good order, so the 11 diehards were hoping for a few bites, particularly as the match was split onto the historically more productive sections on the boats below Woodham Lock and the wides in the pound, one lock above.

As if you thought the Basie could not get any worse, at half time no one had received an enquiry of any sort. Calls between the two sections revealed the same result on both stretches and there were mumblings about moving elsewhere. Suddenly out of the blue, Paul Oliver in the boats section picked up a solitary micro perch on a single pinkie from the inside shelf, so the match had to go on. 

He added a second larger perch with an hour to go from under the boat opposite, testing the scales for an aggregate 2oz and a magnificent win on the day. In the wides section, it was Phil Harris who was the only one to catch, and suffered some nervous moments shipping back the full length of his pole to net a single perch of 1oz, but enough for 2nd place. Back on the boats section, in the last hour, Mark Merrett and Jasper Stevens both managed a micro perch each but as neither registered on the scales or could be split by looking at them, they were awarded joint 3rd place with 8dr each.

As that was the sum total of our efforts with the other 7 anglers blanking, 2nd place on the wides section had to be drawn for and it was Graham Stevens who was lucky enough to get some compensation for a bad day, picking up the £25 pools.

With the decision to abandon future CALPAC competitions already made, it seems unlikely we will be returning to the Basie anytime soon - maybe just as well. Although the canals have an appeal for a dedicated few of our members, the results this year have been enough to test the patience of the most ardent canal fan.  


The Royal sorts out the men from the boys

Royal Berkshire Fishery, Lake 3 - 12th February 2017 - Overcast with an even chillier northerly - 2c

This was our first and eagerly anticipated visit to this lovely fishery. With Social Media reporting 100lb+ weights after breaking 2" of ice just the week before, the 18 who turned out could hardly stuff the substantial breakfast down quick enough. Stocks of big silvers, F1's and proper carp were calling...

At the whistle, everyone was looking anxiously around to see who would catch what first, to give a steer for the rest of the match. The short answer was not many! Micky Biles made the scoresheet first with a small Mirror on the pole, Jasper Stevens caught a small F1 on the waggler and Bobby Stone had one on the feeder, but they were certainly not crawling up the rods as expected. We had reckoned without the effects of a week of freezing temperatures that probably reduced the actual water temperature even lower than when fully iced over. 

It was Craig Winchester that finally began to show the way to bring his nightmare run of results to an end. With the point of the island just within pole range of his swim, he started to pick up the odd small F1 potting in just a few maggots with maggot on the hook tight to the grass and managed to keep them coming in bursts throughout the match to finish well clear with the field with 8lb 3oz. It was Jasper who managed 2nd place by adding a couple more F1's on the waggler and one on the bomb to record 4lb 5oz. Keith Harper plugged away on his pole in open water all day when out of the blue a lovely Bream of 3lb 12oz ran into his hookbait and that single fish was good enough for 3rd place. 

Of the leading four in the Championship race, only Phil Harris managed to catch to make the race even tighter, with Paul Oliver, Mark Merrett and Graham Stevens all recording a Palmer. Talking of Palmer, yet again he was one of the eight who blanked, continuing his run of four matches and over 20 hours of fishing without a bite. 

A real shame as this looks a lovely fishery so let's hope it will live up to the billing when we return again next year.

Roll on Spring

Willow Park, Middle Lake - 5th February 2017 - Overcast with a chilly northerly - 5c

Willow is not an easy venue at the best of times and this continuing cold winter does not make things any easier. 17 members turned up though, so still a decent turnout considering, although for many the full English in the Cafe was probably the highlight of the day. 

There are some cracking fish in here though for those lucky enough to find them, as Paul Oliver found when he had to shuffle a good double-figure carp into the rather small 20" fishery net from his second chuck out in the open water with a small pellet feeder. Paul was in the middle of the far bank and directly opposite, Bobby Stone was also into the Carp shortly after on his bread hookbait with "licky bread" in the feeder, also launched out into the open. He added a second quickly and then lost a third. 

Not much else was happening round the lake anywhere despite people trying pole, feeder, straight bomb, waggler and all manner of baits. After his fast start, Paul switched to a tiny cage feeder with maggot which attracted a few tremors but nothing else, but a change to a couple of pinkies on the hook produced a proper pull and the first of five bream going into the net. He also added another carp later in the day to finish 1st with 29lb 11oz. Bobby did find one more carp to secure 2nd place with 21lb 12oz, with Graham Stevens quietly winkling out a few Bream on feeder and pole to finish 3rd with 12lb 7oz. Mark Merrett managed to nab one solitary but decent carp of 11lb 7oz to finish 4th. He did however treat us all to his toothy grin by picking up money from the superpool after Bobby rued his luck at opting out of the extra fiver.

Only nine troubled the scalesmen, but that included Phil Harris with his estimated 8dr roach fry foul-hooked on the retrieve. 

We come back in October next year, so let's hope for a more productive session then.

King of the Jungle

Falkenvil Main Lake - 29th January 2017 - Overcast and Cold - 6c

A slight thaw in the week at least meant no need for ice-breaking for the 19 attending this one. But it was still going to be tough and everyone was fearful of drawing the top end of the lake - and so it proved.

The first few swims at the near end of the lake have the non-fishing bank opposite where there is a relative jungle of dead trees out into the water which are an irresitable home to the carp and the default approach is to chuck a feeder or bomb as close as you can get. Unfortunately, the residents know every underwater branch and snag so half way through the match, Mark Merrett was losing 5-0 to the Carp, despite his animal tackle, whilst the pegs either side were steadily nicking the odd fish. However, a quick run of success on his his winter favourite bread method feeder and bread hookbait saw him land a couple of proper lumps and quickly catch up with Dave Morris next door and Phil Harris a couple of pegs the other way. From then on it was nip and tuck for the 2nd half of the match as each landed odd fish to take and then lose the lead. 

Come the weigh-in, it was Mark Merrett who was duly crowned King of the Jungle with fewer but bigger fish and a total of 34lb 2oz. Just behind was Dave Morris with 33lb 4oz switching between the bomb with bread and a method with wafters. Phil Harris also stuck to his favourite method of bomb with corn to finish 3rd with 29lb 5oz. Graham Stevens was past the first island and managed to snaffle a couple of early carp on the feeder, but struggled for the rest of the match but still managed 4th with 16lb 10oz.

For most at the top end it was really tough with just the odd skimmer or for 4 anglers, nothing at all.


Match Abandoned

Frant Lake 6 - 22nd January 2017 

With another week of sub-zero temperatures, the owners of Frant requested we cancel the match due to over 3" of solid ice. 

Sam Docker did arrange a last-minute friendly knock-up at Pear Tree Lake, Hartleyands where a match the previous day meant that the ice was breakable in the same swims. Naturally, Sam took the money with a fantastic 48lb odd of small carp which is only fair as he did all the work to arrange it.

Rain and more Rain

Stanbridge View - 15th January 2017 - Constant Heavy Rain - 6c

There were sighs of relief from the 17 who turned up for this one to see that the lake had thawed after the long spell of cold. However, only when putting in nets did everyone begin to realise that it was merely 1cm of rain water sitting on top of the solid ice. Out came the ice breakers for a miserable way to start the match in the cold and heavy rain. In fact the misery continued for most for the rest of the day, especially when PAUL HARDING put a 4lb carp in the net within seconds of the all-in. However, it was Dave Hughes who showed the way by patiently breaking out the ice to long pole range which gave him pretty much the deeper centre part of the lake to himself from his peg adjacent to the car park. He managed to pick up small carp and skimmers regularly throughout on maggot over groundbait to finish with 15lb 10oz and a good win.  Terry Archer was further down the same bank and also managed a few carp for 12lb 2oz and 2nd place. Martin Twine managed 3rd with 10lb 4oz from the tip of the 2nd island with Paul Harding failing to capitalise on his fast start ended up 4th with 9lb 1oz.

Sadly, there were 7 blanks on the day which is a shame for a nice fishery with potential, although 17 is about the maximum it can really take.

Not for the Fainthearted

River Wey vs Godalming AS - 8th January 2017 

Only real diehards seem keen on these natural venues so only nine turned out to represent the Club. Most needn't have bothered as only four managed to catch. Leading the way on the Wey was Barry Stagg who managed a few bits throughout the day for 2lb 4oz. Next best was Jasper Stevens with 1lb 3oz, followed by Mark Merrett on 13oz 8dr and Graham Stevens with 8oz.

Mad or what? 

Venue Change attracts a few more

Woodpeckers Osprey Lake, - 2nd January 2017

A post-Christmas reconnaissance to Walton Bridge by a few anglers fed up with the festivities failed to elicit a single fish, it was decided to abandon the published Thames match in favour of a local trip to Osprey. 15 brave souls attended. 

It was still a tough day in the continuing cold conditions, but Phil Harris showed the way from the jungle swim on the far side with 26lb 8oz comprised of five carp and 9lb odd of assorted silvers. At least he had a good day.  Tony Morris was 2nd with a couple of carp and a skimmer taken on straight bomb and bread from the open water on the front bank. Dave Hughes fished similarly for 5lb 6oz also from the front bank and Graham Stevens 4th with 3 Chub from the sunken bushes in the top corner for 5lb 3oz.

A bit of a struggle for all, but at least some fresh air after a couple of weeks indoors.​

What a load of Blankers

Old Bury Hill Main Lake, pegs 1 to 32 - 18th December 2016 - Misty, cold and dead calm - 6c

Wooden spoons all round for for this motley bunch of 9 who all failed to to record a bite at at this year's Christmas Match held at Old Bury Hill. For "Lucky" John Palmer, this was an extra special climax to no less than four consecutive matches fished on the Front Bank over the last few weeks without a fish. A grand total of 22 hours without troubling the scalesman. That takes a special kind of skill and luck....

On the day, conditions were far from ideal with continuing cold, clear water and not a breath of wind. Fog also clung to the water so that you could not see what was happening at the other end, although you could certainly hear them well enough as continual shouts of mis-information kept booming out of the gloom.

For the other 11 who attended, it was also pretty tough with just the odd stray fish for most. Best of the bunch however, was Graham Stevens (see below) on peg 15, who was already in contention with one decent Bream and a few small skimmers when his 'sh*t or bust' big worm tactic was snaffled by a hungry pike (probably also desperate to find a fish), estimated around 8lb. This boosted his weight to 13lb 3oz and a good win on the day. Micky Gray was up at the high number end and already had one decent bream in the net when he found another shortly before the whistle to take 2nd place with 6lb 5oz. Paul Oliver on peg 12 had a few tiny skimmers early on to keep the interest going, but also had to wait until the last half hour to add one decent bream to finish with 6lb 4oz. The sections went to Dave King with 2lb 12oz from the higher numbers and Terry Archer with 4lb 2oz on the lower section.

Full marks go to Steve Hanson for persistence and the most fish, as one of the few to catch anything on the pole and record 5oz from his collection of tiny perch and ruffe from the once-banker swim 24.

However, eveyone went home loaded with goodies of biscuits, bait and tackle and a really enjoyable day despite the poor fishing. Big thanks to Craig Winchester for organising the prizes and especially to Crawley Tackle Warehouse for their tremendous generosity in making the Christmas fund go a long way.

Orchard Place delivers

Orchard Place Farm, Lake 6, pegs 1 to 40 - 11th December 2016 - Sunny but cold - 7c

A beautiful winter's day greeted the 26 attending this now most popular of our venues, where F1's abound and seem keen to feed in any conditions. The banker swims are usually those on the spit with the most favoured being those at the end, so it was with hopes high that hands went into the draw bag. It goes without saying of course, that with Sam Docker attending, the rest of us would be drawing for the 2nd best swims and sure enough, out he came with the end-peg on the spit. How does he do it?

Inevitably, he made the very best of it. At this time of year, the F1's are a bit more savvy and tend to back-away from too much feed or commotion, which Sam is well aware of, so sticking to the pole with maggot and feeding just maggot, he chased the F1's around numerous spots of his peg (short, long, very long, left and right) for the whole match to finish agonisingly close to the 'ton' but nevertheless a star performance on 99lb 11oz. 

Without Sam, it would have been a very close match. 2nd on the day was Dave Hughes with 63lb 9oz. He was pegged along the top bank, where pole tactics for most were just not producing fish in any numbers, so having an island out in front of him, decided to stick to a small splodger with maggot or pellet to take fish regularly throughout. Back on the spit, it was Barry Stagg who also used a small method feeder lobbed to the island close in front of him to take 60lb 2oz and 3rd place. A couple of pegs along, Chris Lawrence stuck to pole and pellet or maggot for an equally steady run and F1's and small carp taking the final frame place just 1oz behind Barry on 60lb 1oz.

Sections were won by Tony Morris on 53lb 11oz and Wayne Hughes with 55lb 5oz.

Only one angler failed to make double figures on the day which goes to show the awesome quality of this fishery, particularly in winter. Thoughts go out to the Club holding their Christmas Match on the adjacent silver lake however, where 13 of the 15 blanked!.


Dads 'n Lads Match

Morehouse Farm, Sidewinder & Canal Lakes - 4th December 2016 - Freezing - 3c (max)

When the wind is in the East, the fish bite least was certainly true for many of the 16 who braved the cold conditions. With another club booked on Sidewinder, this re-arranged fixture had to be split with 8 on the car park side of Sidewinder and 8 on the Canal Lake, paying 1 and 2 on each lake. With the heavy frosts all week, many had to contend with ice ranging from nothing for a lucky few on Sidewinder to 3" for those on Canal. So much so, that the start had to be put back to 10am to give everyone time to break the ice.

Dave Morris somehow managed to pick a peg normally reserved for Sam Docker, which not only gave him the flyer in front of the Net Store, but the only peg completely free of ice. He made the most of it however, by lifting and dropping a couple of dead white maggots up against the island margins, with little or no feed to take F1's and Carp regularly to finish miles clear of the rest with 53lb 2oz - a spectacular result in such difficult conditions. Dad Tony Morris, was a few pegs away on the Car Park bank where like most, he struggled for a bite fishing the ice hole he had made. In desperation he risked his pole to break the ice all the way across to the island which paid dividends with a decent carp first put in. He added half a dozen more over the rest of the match to finish 2nd with 23lb exactly. Paul Oliver was further along the bank and stuck to his ice hole taking 6 decent F1's for 20lb and 3rd place.

Over on Canal, it was harder still although Sam Docker made the most of his unusually average draw to nab four small carp and the Canal Lake money with 11lb 4oz taken on the pole with maggot. Enterprising Phil Harris struggled with his slot in the ice, so went around the far side to break it all the way across. This enabled him to lob a bomb right across which enticed a couple of Carp for 9lb and 2nd on Canal. It was a real struggle for the rest although David Adby did manage a decent Perch of 2lb 1oz.

Only 3 failed to trouble the scalesman entirely, which is pretty good considering. 10 out of the 13 from the other club on Sidewinder either went home or DNW'd. 

A great Match (but not for everyone)

Passies Match Lake, Road and Field Stretches - 27th November 2016 - Overcast - 7c

With winter weather really setting in during the week, a surprising 26 turned up for this one meaning we had to use both the Road and Field stretches. Lots of work had been going on recently to replace the ageing platforms and the piles of newly dug earth around many of the pegs, had some a little worried about whether it might put the fish down. Whether it was this or simply the onset of colder conditions we can never know, but for sure the fish seemed to be confined to a few areas whilst others seemed virtually fishless.

One beneficiary was Jasper Stevens. Pegged at the far end of the field side, he fished pole with maggot over micros up against the weedbed and took a steady succession of Carp & F1's throughout the day for a very respectable weight of 70lb 11oz. He was so happy with his first decent return in ages, he even got someone to take some photos for him...

Much of the rest of the Field stretch was really hard with a number of good anglers blanking or just picking up the odd fish until you got to the first few pegs after the Bunker Stretch. This area claimed all the rest of the frame places with new member Wayne Hughes taking 2nd with 56lb 14oz, Dave Morris 3rd on 35lb 7oz and Dan Reed 4th on 33lb 4oz. The road stretch was equally patchy where Paul Oliver picked up the section with 20lb 9oz and Chris Lawrence took the Field section with 32lb 6oz.

Some good weights considering but a pretty tough day for many.

Angus gets the best of the Ressie

Hartleylands Reservior - 20th November 2016 - Overcast with strong winds - 8c

Angus, the first tropical storm of the season hit the South on Saturday with gales and lashing rain. Whilst the worst had just about passed in time for the draw, it did help to keep numbers down to just 14 and everyone expected it to be a bit of a challenge. At least we turned up though as the bailiff was not best pleased that the club booked on Pear Tree did not even bother.

Hopes were raised when Barry Stagg took a small carp on the feeder within 20 minutes of the start, but it proved something of a false dawn as tips stubbornly refused to go round and pole fishing was a real struggle in the residual strong winds. Some took to fishing for silvers whilst others were eventually rewarded for their persistence when the odd carp did pick up a bait. It was Barry again though who finally made a breakthrough when a cracking 10lb+ full leather carp took a fancy to his waggler fished triple maggot and boosted his weight sufficiently to win on the day with 14lb 8oz. Phil Harris hunkered down under his brolly and stuck to his straight bomb with extreme patience for a couple of carp totalling 13lb 2oz and 2nd place. Craig (Jonah) Winchester had managed just one small carp and a few silvers with 30 minutes to go and was thinking his run of dire results looked set to continue when a tiny rattle on the tip signalled another mini roach. However, when he lifted in, it was clear there was some serious weight attached which turned out to be a carp around 8lb towing around a snapped pole rig that became tangled round his feeder. He went on to land both the carp and the mini roach which took his weight up to 12lb 4oz and 3rd place, just ahead of Mark Merrett on 12lb 1oz, who had been equally lucky with a flukey foul-hooked carp that swam into his shallow waggler roach rig. 

Not the greatest day's fishing, but could have been worse (See Marsh Farm, Bury Hill, Basingstoke Canal...). Everyone caught and it was a close contest.

Draws like Picasso

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 2 - 13th November 2016 - Overcast and breezy - 9c

As most will know, this lake has two distinct halves joined by a very narrow channel at the end of the central spit. In the Summer this makes little difference, but in the winter, most of the fish (and particularly the Carp) tend to move to the nearer bowl producing completely different characteristics in each half of the lake. With 26 booked in for this one, we turned to venue-regular Sam Docker to organise the pegging which he duly did with 6 or 7 anglers spread out on each side of each bowl, but leaving out the absolute banker swim next to the car park. However, when an extra angler (no names, Dan Reed) turned up, the omitted flyer had to become peg 27.

At the draw, whilst we are used to Sam requiring at least an end peg, it was just inevitable that he came out of the draw bag with peg 27 in hand! 

He is good enough already without needing help from the draw, but duly set about exploiting his good fortune taking lumpy carp regularly on pole and pellet with a few extra fish from the reed bed margins on maggot, to amass an excellent winning total of 129lb 15oz. He did try to give the rest of us a chance by just going over the 60lb net limit in one of his nets and having it knocked back to 50lb, but still had more than enough weight to spare. Dave Morris was the other end peg on the same bank where he landed just 10 of the larger residents, initially on feeder by the end-bank reeds and then a few on the pole and pellet to take 2nd place with a very creditable 103lb 14oz. It doesn't need a mathematician to work out the average size there! Mark Merrett was pegged opposite Sam in the near bowl where his favourite winter tactic of bread on the bomb (or un-baited method feeder as he couldn't be bothered to change his rig) produced a steady run of carp for 64lb 12oz and 3rd place. Dan Reed was next to Mark and finished 4th with 53lb 14oz.

The difference in the two halves became very apparent come the weigh in, where the far bowl section winner was Ian Carley with a nice net of skimmers for 23lb 1oz, one of only two double figure weights in that bowl. In the near bowl, the section went to Tony Morris with 32lb 14oz.

Maybe next time we are here, we'll run separate pools for the two halves...

Plenty of blanks at Old Bury Hill

Old Bury Hill, Main Lake, Front & Side Bank - 6th November 2016 - Cold North Easterly Breeze - 5c

The first real cold snap of the Autumn really put pay to sport for most of the 24 who turned up for this one. With access to permanent pegs 1 to 33, most wanted to draw nearer the Clubhouse in the deeper water, where the fish seem to shoal up in the colder weather. However, the fish had other ideas as usual.

Ian Carley, fresh from his 2nd place at Hartleylands was drawn on peg 4, an area most wanted to avoid, but whether by luck or skill (time will tell no doubt) was the only one to have a good day by catching Skimmers steadily on maggot and worm hookbaits fished on the feeder to weigh-in a very creditable 20lb 3oz and first place by a huge margin. Mark Merrett fished similarly a few pegs closer to the clubhouse for 6lb 10oz and 2nd place, with Jasper Stevens nearby coming 3rd with 5lb 12oz. Final money place went to Mark Holland on peg 3 with 5lb 6oz. 

Those nearer the Clubhouse on both the front and side bank really struggled with 11 ending the day without a bite and 2 going home early.

A big disappointment but let's hope things settle down in time for our Christmas Match to be held here.

Nick's for Sale

Hartleylands Farm, Nick's Lake - 30th October 2016 - Misty & Still - 15c

A perfect Autumn morning attracted 28 to this ever-popular venue and with a few days of mild weather, hopes were high for a good day. One thing is for sure, it could not be worse than the previous week!

With the fishery up for sale at a bargain price of £495,000, the angling rumour mill is full of claims that the owners are selling off fish stocks in preparation. Whether there is any truth in this is debatable, but as with our last visit in July, mega-weights and guaranteed bites certainly seem a thing of the past. For most however, there were a few fish to be had and a reasonable day's sport, although the top end and left hand banks were pretty hard going for some.

Paul Oliver was a couple of pegs in on 'Cyanide Straight' and set off like a train with 15 carp on the pellet feeder in the first hour. However, like the railways themselves of late, things began to slow and then come to a complete halt. He did find enough during the rest of the match on 2+2 with pellet and in the margins on maggot, late on to end up winning on the day with 64lb 12oz. 

New member Ian Carley is allegedly a bit of a venue expert, but having nearly missed the draw was obliged to take one of the discarded pegs at the top end where his expertise eclipsed all around him by fishing at 13m in the open water all day with pellet to take 2nd place with 53lb 13oz. Good job he didn't get a good draw! Sam Docker received his obligatory end peg at the start of the left hand bank, but when his favoured pole failed to produce much, turned to the dreaded bomb rod with bread. It certainly attracted plenty of carp, but mostly babies averaging only just over 1lb each, but still enough for 3rd with 49lb 3oz. Steve Hansen was a couple of pegs further up the bank and with no island to chuck at, stuck to pole with expanders to catch steadily throughout for 4th place on 46lb 13oz.

Barry Stagg took the low number section with 43lb 8oz and Dave Morris the other with 37lb 6oz.

The still conditions meant every whisper could be heard all around the lake and the banter from the usual suspects (you know who you are Palmer, Biles, Docker) was pretty merciless throughout the five hours, but at least provided some amusement for those who didn't have any fish to catch. Who said fishing is a tranquil sport?

The good turnout meant £30 going into club funds - only £494,970 to go.....

Bleak experience at Marsh Farm

Marsh Farm Fishery, Harris & Richardsons Lakes vs Godalming AS - 23rd October 2016 - Chilly Breeze - 12c

Autumn had properly set in with cold overnight temperatures and a chilly Easterly breeze. Godalming are exceptionally kind in hosting this match on their very attractive and well maintained fishery, but we began to suspect something was up when the Godalming contingent all fell about laughing when Roger Howe reminded everyone of the 40lb net limit. There were 21 from Warlingham and 19 from Godalming so it was well set up with 4 sections of 10, 3 on Harris Lake and 1 on Richardsons. 

Info at the draw suggested it was going to be tough, maybe even a few blanks - how right they were!

Particular credit for determination has to go to Terry Archer, pegged at the top end of Richardsons who was blanking with 20 minutes to go, when the first of two decent Tench and a large Bream finally took a fancy to his worm hookbait, to give him victory in the section and top weight overall with 11lb 6oz. Graham Stevens kept it simple further down the Richardsons section and managed four smaller tench on feeder and bomb with two white maggots for 9lb 4oz and 2nd in section. A couple of pegs away was Bob Stone who also managed a Tench and a bream for 5lb 3oz, out of the money in the section but enough for 4th overall in the Warlingham points.

Over on Harris Lake, it was even more dour. The only weights came from the peg 18 to 34 section, where Paul Oliver won the section and 3rd in the points from peg 21 with a Tench and a Crucian on a small feeder with pinkies, and added another crucian on the pole and pinkie for a 9lb 3oz total. Jasper Stevens on peg 22 was 2nd in section with a Tench and a Perch for 4lb 6oz. The 35 to 46 section was truly dire with just micro-perch being caught, but 1oz was enough for Keith Harper to take 2nd in section and Andy Ticker to take 3rd with just 8 drams. On the final section 2 to 16, Warlingham guest Jon Benjamin was joint 2nd with a single crucian weighing 2lb 5oz.

Such a shame that it fished quite so hard with exactly half the field blanking, as the few fish that were caught were such cracking specimens. One consolation however, was a resounding win for Warlingham in the inter-club rivalry, winning by 41lb 13oz to 23lb 10oz. In past such events, Godalming have usually given us a right pasting so it was a particularly satisfying win on their home water. 

A good match at Sumners

Sumners Pond, Match Lake - 16th October 2016 - Heavy Rain to start then dry - 15c

Many of the 26 who turned up for this match were a little worried that the heavy overnight rain would put the fish down, but like the weather, it turned brighter as the day wore on and resulted in a good and close competition. 

Tony Morris was pegged on the far side, the first peg opposite the first island and went three hours without a fish before getting a steady run of chunky carp coming to his feeder and orange wafter hookbait to win on the day, just breaking the 'ton' with 100lb 4oz. Less than half a fish behind was Mark Holland pegged opposite Tony on the nearside of the island where he fished bomb and pellet for a similar haul of 95lb 3oz. Micky Gray was a couple of pegs closer to the car park in the open bay and again after three hours had very little to show from his feeder line, but noticed his heavily baited margins clouding up. Alternating each side on the pole found the usual lumpy fish regularly to finish 3rd with 80lb exactly. Next peg along was Adrian Westgate who picked up odd fish on pole and feeder to finish 4th with 77lb 2oz. 

The only downside with Sumners is that it is usually the same pegs which dominate and today was no exception. However, there were a few fish to be had in the more difficult areas evidenced by Dave Hughes in the middle of the 2nd island who won the farside section with 72lb 10oz on pole and paste and Bobby Stone who took the nearside section from the top end peg and (having left all his top kits at home), managed a creditable 59lb 11oz on the feeder.

All in all, a pretty decent match for most from this favourite venue.

Final demise of the CALPAC competitions?

Basingstoke Canal, Ash Vale Station - 2nd October 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 18c

Like the Central Association Cup in September, this was supposed to be another team competition for CALPAC members, fishing for the long-standing Putney Cup. W&DAS have supported these competitions over many years, so it is rather sad that once again, no other CALPAC teams attended. Just one solitary Epsom member did join us on the day but that was it. Not too popular with our own members either with only 9 deciding to try their luck again.

Conditions did look good again however and it was decided to put 5 pegs on the Bottom Flash where we fished in September and 5 on the narrower section downstream of the bridge.

Sadly, it was another dire day's fishing, with many being simply plagued with Crayfish and others struggling for a bite from anything. 

Paul Oliver was pegged in the Flash and tried hard to tempt one of the Tench or Bream that are supposed to inhabit this stretch, but had no expressions of interest whatever over the groundbait and casters other than a solitary crayfish. Desperate to put something in the net, he fed a few pinkies in another area where he picked up the odd tiny perch or roach until with 30 minutes still to endure, he connected with a Tench of 3lb 8oz tench on double pinkie. There were a few heart stopping moments as the tench dived into the weed and there seemed no way the 3 elastic and size 20 hook would hold but finally he managed to get it up on to the surface and into the net. Added to the rest of the dismal haul, the admittedly beautiful tench gave him a comfortable win with a total of 3lb 15oz. Keith Harper was last peg on the Flash and managed to winkle out a few roach on maggot to take 2nd place with 1lb 9oz with Jasper Stevens and Mark Merrett tying for 3rd with 1lb 3oz. 

The experiment of putting pegs on the narrower section failed totally, as everyone there found it absolutely solid with Crayfish which has now undoubtedly has ruined this potentially interesting stretch. 

Sadly, this was probably the last time for the CALPAC competitions and also the Basie Canal itself as it is difficult to see the fishing ever improving with such a huge population of the dreaded crayfish now in residence. 

River Eden comes up trumps

River Eden, Broad A Chiddingstone - 25th September 2106 - Sunny Intervals 21c

Limited to 16 due to the lack of fishable swims, it still took a lot of hard work from Craig Winchester, Mark Merrett and Steve Longhurst to even cut out that many. Well done boys! The dry summer also had people worried that the river would be low and clear, but luckily, some heavy overnight rain did put a bit of colour back and the river even coming up a few inches as the day wore on. Paul Oliver continued his run of decent draws and it was worth the long walk to the very end peg. Fishing maggot over casters and hemp in the the flow, there were plenty of Chublets, Roach, Gudgeon and Bleak to be had on the stick float from the off. Regular forays over a chopped worm line at 13m in the edge produced a bonus Tench around 4lb and a similar weight Pike which also snapped up a big wriggler and were added to with a decent bream from the middle of the eddy. With all the smaller fish too, they completed a great day's fishing and a winning weight of 19lb 9oz. Mark Merrett was in the 'Dustbin' and caught nothing over his heavily baited big fish lines, but had a decent tench and bream amongst his bits to take 2nd place with 13lb 3oz. Phil Harris rued his luck when an estimated 6lb Tench surprisingly slipped the hook right at the net from his swim at the bottom end, but he still managed to land another smaller tench plus a good bream and skimmers to weigh in 11lb 12oz and 3rd. Craig Winchester was in the Lagoon and struggled initially, but as the flow picked up he started to catch well with yet another Tench to finish 4th on 10lb 7oz. 

Two sections were also paid out. David Adby included a cracking 5lb 7oz Bream in his net of 10lb 4oz for the lower section and Steve Longhurst in the weir managed 8lb 13oz to take the upper section. 

With plenty of fish caught by everyone turned this into a surprisingly good day all round.

What a treat!

Orchard Place, New Silver Lake 8 - 18th September 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

With Henfold having to be re-arranged after the owners demanded £400 for a lake booking, it gave an opportunity to try this new lake at Orchard which is billed as 'Silvers Only - with a few surprises', first surprise was that only 17 turned up to give it a go. Although it is newly extended into an 'L' shape, it seemed the fish haven't yet discovered the new areas as it was the middle section which was the original part of the lake, where the fish seemed to be concentrated and where the top four weights all came from. 

Lucky to be pegged there was Paul Oliver who switched regularly between long pole with corn fished over maggot and corn to pick up a number of bream to 4lb, switching to waggler with maggot whenever bites slowed, which also produced decent roach, Ide and occasional bream. A busy day saw him finish top on the day with a genuinely terrific net of silver fish weighing 58lb 8oz. On the next peg was Martin Twine who stuck to his long pole with maggot over groundbait, taking a late run of decent bream to boost his weight to 44lb 3oz and 2nd place. Terry Archer was a few pegs to the left where his 3rd place bag of 37lb 8oz included one surprise of a carp around 5lb which took some landing on the light skimmer gear. Other surprises included a few Barbel and a remarkable last ditch 6lb 9oz Tench for Jasper Stevens who had struggled somewhat during the day.

Weights broadly got worse towards each end, but still OK and some cracking fish to boot. All in all, a very nice change.

Things ain't what they used to be......

Framfield Fishery, Spring Lake - 11th September 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 22C

A bit like Marmite this place, and it's appeal has certainly waned over recent years demonstrated by only 18 turning out. Still, those who did, certainly expected to get their elastics pulled regularly but for some reason it proved very hard for many. Maybe the cold overnight rain didn't help.

Graham Stevens went armed with bagfuls of dead maggot and drew the perfect peg for that tactic in permanent peg 63 where he plundered the resident carp to finish with 118lb 7oz and winner on the day by some margin. Micky Gray was over round peg 42 and took a very different approach with light feeding of groundbait and corn which brought him a steady run of fish all day for 86lb 11oz and 2nd place. Paul Oliver drew the normally prolific peg 49 but the fish just didn't seem to be there in their usual numbers so put only 63lb 15oz on the scales, but still enough for 3rd. Jasper Stevens was 4th with 52lb 5oz.

There were a few 30's and 20's but for Spring Lake, the weights were decidedly poor, Martin Twine and Andy Tickner didn't even manage to break double figures!

Another one off the list for 2017/18!

Everything perfect except the Fishing....

Basingstoke Canal, Ash Vale Station Stretch - 4th September 2016 - Overcast - 19c

With the scheduled River Mole ruled out for lack of maintenance and no other teams entering for the CALPAC Central Association Cup, it was an opportunity to try a different section of canal for a normal club match. The section is just below Heathvale Bridge (which has fished well in the past) and seemed absolutely perfect. Easy parking, good weather, nice colour in the canal, wide towpaths and some very inviting looking 'wides' sections of water to fish. The 14 who attended were optimistic to a man, that a good day was in prospect and that we had finally found an ideal stretch of this canal.

Oh dear....

It turned out that the 'wides' were full of submerged weed beds which pretty much ruled out running line tactics, so it was a case of trying to find a clear spot for the pole. When you did, bites were at a premium with just the odd roach or perch. One slight exception was Barry Stagg however, who fished a long pole and did managed to snare a couple of small tench on maggot over groundbait to go with his bits and a winning weight of 3lb 5oz. That included one caught right on the final whistle which was enough to push Micky Biles down to 2nd place, who also managed to nab a bonus tench on pinkie. His tench and a few reasonable roach gave him 3lb and 2nd place. The only angler not fishing on the wides was Jasper Stevens and he took some decent roach on maggot,  hiding under the trees opposite for a weight of 2lb 9 oz and 3rd place. 

Spare a thought for Craig Winchester who just loves the canals and was more excited than anyone at the prospects for his peg at the far end of the wides. Absolutely plagued with crayfish throughout on both feeder and pole, he weighed-in just 4oz from a couple of roach and no less than 11 non-native crayfish which he brought to the bank and the boot. Hereafter to be known and CRAYG Winchester.....

Monks Habit

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 4 - 28th August 2016 - Overcast and breezy - 21c

Visiting Monks on the seemingly wrong day is becoming a habit.  18 turned out for this event, but weights were well down on previous visits. There were plenty of carp showing over the sunken wall section as usual and for those with enough feeders in their boxes to keep up with tackle losses, all caught quite well around this part of the lake. Best of these was Graham Stevens who managed 66lb 9oz on the feeder with pellet from the swim directly opposite the wall.  Phil Harris was a couple of pegs along with a similar approach to the end of his island put 50lb 10oz on the scales for 2nd. Mark Merrett was a couple of swims the other way and also fished feeder for 40lb 5oz and the last payout spot on the day. 

For the rest of the lake, it was a bit of a struggle. On the opposite side from the winners, the gusty side wind ruled out the pole and although most caught the odd carp early they simply vanished as the match progressed. As for the bottom (road) end, the carp were just never there to start with and the anglers along this bank were resigned to fishing for silvers and took all last five places.

It has always been a bit peggy this lake, but usually fishes much better. Wrong day again???

Fruit Salad

Hartleylands Fishery, Pear Tree & Bramley Lakes - 21st August 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

With recent attendance levels, the organisers were worried about having to turn people away given the peg limit for Pear Tree alone, so managed to secure Bramley lake as well. As it happened, only 21 turned out but at least it gave the luxury of spreading everyone out. Usually, both lakes fish quite similarly but on this day, it was Pear Tree that produced the bigger weights, probably because the draw bag had conspired to put all the true quality anglers on it.

Speaking of quality, it was Sam Docker pegged at the top end of Pear Tree who led the way. Losing his feeder first chuck in the island trees, made him turn to the marginal reeds in the corner where he picked up decent carp regularly on pole and pellet over groundbait for an impressive 170lb and 1st place by some distance. For more quality(?), it was Jasper Stevens who took 2nd on Pear Tree with 120lb 12oz, probably on the pole knowing him, but details are sketchy.

Over on Bramley, the bigger fish just didn't want to play but there were plenty of smaller ones to keep everyone interested. Here it was Craig Winchester that led the way after discovering that the carp were feeding best under the marginal tree-roots and his banded pellet fished mid-depth picked them off regularly as they mooched up and down the bank, mid way up the near side. He finished with 81lb 2oz and 1st place on the lake. Close behind however was Tony Morris who despite the long chuck to the island from his bottom-end peg, caught regularly on he feeder for the first part of the match and switched to the margins with paste later for a total of 79lb 8oz and 2nd on Bramley.

All in all a pretty decent day where the lowest weight was 27lb 12oz and proof that Hartleylands remains one of the best and good value commercials around.

Frustrations at Bough Beech as usual

Bough Beech Reservoir, West Bank - 14th August 2016 - Sunny & Warm with almost no breeze - 24c

News that a match the previous week here was won with 57lb had every one of the 21 who turned out excited that a good day of slab-bashing was in prospect. Pegged in two groups either side of 'Dead Man's Bay' the opening salvo of feeders produced only the odd fish and it soon became apparent that it was not going to be easy. Adding to the frustrations were the smart pike who line up in the marginal weed and wait for their food to be delivered to them like a take-away. 

Paul Oliver was pegged on the favoured 'One Tree Point' side of the bay but found, like most, that nothing was really happening on the feeder, or what was happening was ending up as pike food. After steady feeding with casters at around 20 yards, he did start to find the odd roach on the waggler line which steadily improved for most of the match until the pike moved in again in the last half hour. Nevertheless, the decent average stamp from 4oz to 12oz plus a couple of bonus bream on the same line, built enough of a weight for 1st place on the day with 21lb 6oz. Meanwhile, on the other side of the bay, Graham Stevens stuck to the conventional feeder tactics and did well to surpass those around him to come a close 2nd with 20lb 11oz.

Despite almost every angler getting attached to a Pike at some point in the day, Dave King was the only one who managed to actually land one, after it took a fancy to his waggler-fished maggot and the the hook managed to get attached safely in the scissors. The 10lb 7oz specimen (see photo) was boosted by a couple of bream and bits for a total weight of 15lb 8oz and enough for 3rd on the day. Dave gets so many pictures on this website, we might have to give him a page of his own, although at least this time he was not 'photo bombed' by Lucky John who never feels lucky enough to fish proper venues....

Completing the frame was venue-expert Dave Hughes who finished 4th with 14lb 13oz. Section winners were Keith Harper and Bobby Stone who both had 12lb odd.

A bit disappointing, but that's part of the charm of natural venues.


Morehouse Up's and Down's

Morehouse Farm Fishery, Sidewinder Lake - 7th August 2016 - Sunny Intervals and breezy - 22c

Last year at this time of year, we had a 200lb + weight, so expectations were high for the 23 who turned out this time. If Mark Merrett had stayed at home, it would have been a close contest, but so many people live in his house they have to draw for bedspace, so no chance of Mark missing a match.

It worked out well for him this time though. Drawn end peg on the first corner (apparently "not normally put in"), he put a few carp in the net from the long margins and island but when his maggots died in the sunshine, he threw them all down his nearside edge which promptly erupted. He never looked back after that, taking some seriously lumpy carp on top 2 with dead maggot for the rest of the match and a hugely impressive total of 169lb.

In front of the container, Andy Leamon knew the form and picked up carp steadily throughout on pole and banded pellet from around his swim to take 2nd place with 107lb 12oz. Running mate, Les Parker also knows this type of water and was just one fish behind on 101lb 2oz from the first swim in the narrows after the big bay. Steve Longhurst was to the right of the big Oak on the far side and when the long pole to the island produced very little, he focussed on the nearside margin where he found a much better stamp of carp and enough for 4th place with 86lb.

There were plenty of good backing weights with everyone managing double figures, but there are a few pegs that just fail to produce even for the best anglers, so a couple even packed up and went home in frustration. Nevertheless, pretty good returns all round and great conditioned fish to boot.

Nick's Below par

Hartleylands Fishery, Nick's Lake - 31st July 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 21c

Having been too late to book this popular venue last year, there was huge anticipation and optimism (see below) from the 28 anglers attending for a repeat of the massive weights we saw in 2014. By most standards, it was good, but many were left disappointed that even the usually prolific shoals of small carp seemed reluctant to show in anything like the numbers seen previously. The lumpy margin carp were equally reluctant to feed too.

Nevertheless, for Graham Stevens pegged in the middle of 'Cyanide Straight' it was a good day. Unable to really make progress on the pole line, he lobbed a method feeder with 8mm pellet tight to the island where he managed to avoid the usual stockie carp and find a succession of 2lb to 4lb weight-builders throughout the day and take 1st place on the day with 81lb 12oz. Just a couple of pegs away, Barry Stagg had the complete opposite, where limited returns on the feeder saw him change to down the edge feeding lightly with corn and the same on the hook and 2nd place with 69lb 15oz. One peg the other side of Graham was Andy Leamon who also 'struggled' to get any rhythm going but managed to nick odd fish on the 2+2 pole line to take 3rd with 63lb 3oz. Dave Morris was the only one in the frame not on 'Cyanide Straight' (time it was re-named), but took 4th place from the spit with 61lb 5oz.

Section winners were Phil Harris with 51lb 12oz from the left hand side and Paul Oliver with 54lb 10oz on the other.

If there were prizes for optimism, it has to go to Jasper Stevens. After drawing a usually prolific area, he duly set out 3 carp nets and one silver net ready for a day of serious bagging. He duly set off diligently spreading his catch amongst each net and come the weigh-in, the two or three carp in each net plus a few silvers put a grand total of 23lb 13oz on the scales!

There were some decent fish caught however. Gentleman Peter Rock felt every year of his great age, after struggling with a 10lb 9oz carp on the pole for around 20 minutes, but very happy to finally get it in the net. He also admitted to losing a bigger one later in the match. Dave King, looking super-cool in his shades, was also delighted with his personal best Barbel of 7lb 9oz. The ugly lump getting in to the background of this photo only enhances the beauty of the cracking Barbel in the afternoon sun....

Quite why weights were so far down on previous visits is a bit of a mystery. Conditions seemed ideal, but if it was always the same we probably wouldn't keep going.

Osprey does still have fish in it

Woodpeckers Fishery, Osprey Lake - 24th July 2016 - Breezy with sunny intervals - 22c

Recent outings to this lake have proved hard for many, who were put off to the point that only 10 members and 1 guest turned out. The lower numbers almost certainly helped improve the fishing, but it was great to finally see some better weights, particularly as the carp here are some of the best condition and prettiest you will see anywhere. They fight like tigers too!

Paul Oliver was on permanent peg 11 and for the first 4 hours managed to put half a dozen small carp and some skimmers in the net for about 20lb. Baiting up with plenty of maggots in the two inside margins, in the next 90 minutes he put a further 70lb in the net as a constant succession of lumpy carp could not resist the 4 red maggots on a 16. Despite nothing in the last half hour, he put a total of 90lb 4oz on the scales for a good win on the day.

Phil Harris was further along the far bank at the far end of the island where he presented his pole rig close to the island margins. This resulted in a busy day catching skimmers and carp on and off throughout, but included a magnificent true leather carp of 17lb (see photo) among them. A real struggle on the pole that one! His 2nd place total was 67lb exactly.

Keith Harper (pictured) was over the first bridge where the conventional approach is to fish pole to the island margins opposite. However, when that failed to produce, Keith ended up fishing under the left hand bush - almost behind him to drag out 58lb 13oz, breaking his already repaired 4th section again and a further spare in the process. Steve Longhurst ended up 4th from the jungle swim at the end of the far bank where he gave up trying to get them out of the bushes opposite and concentrated on the nearside margins to take 42lb 10oz.

It was nice to finally see some good weights from this otherwise lovely venue - it almost makes the long walk worthwhile!

Falkenvil produces for some

Falkenvil Fishery, Main Lake - 17th July 2016 - Sunny Intervals and warm - 23c

After the slight disappointment of the racetrack a few weeks previously, hopes were high amongst the 24 who turned out for this one. The water was black with basking carp all over the lake on arrival, but who quickly disappeared at the all-in.

The middle part of the lake turned out as the place to be, where the one small island is and where the far bank has lots of fallen trees with no pegs. Tony Morris opted for a bomb and pellet in the open water alongside the island to take carp early, but had to chase them right across to the far side in the end, to keep them coming regularly. Nevertheless, with a good average size, they weighed a creditable 82lb exactly and enough for the win on the day.

It was two of the  "Crawley Chaps" (I think that's what they are called) who made up 2nd and 3rd. Gary Toland (no less) was a couple of pegs nearer the car park and also fished bomb or feeder with pellet for a similar haul totalling 62lb 10oz. Micky Gray snatched a couple of lumps on the feeder in the last 20 minutes to promote himself to 3rd with 52lb exactly, relegating Dave Morris on the next peg down to 4th with 48lb 7oz.

Unfortunately, the further down the lake you went, the worse it got where a number of quality anglers struggled to make double figures. The luck of the draw is part of the deal I guess. 

Unusual catch of the day was for Jasper Stevens who thought he had banked a British Record Chub which was in fact a Grass Carp of 10lb 6oz.

Not mega weights, but a decent day for many and the pleasure of being able to drive to your peg means it will certainly stay on the list for next year.

Milton in a mood again

Old Bury Hill, Milton Lake - 10th July 2016 - WIndy with occasional rain - 19c

Milton is a beautiful lake and different in its stocking from most commercials being Tench, Crucians and Bream predominantly. As a result, it can be a real challenge and so it proved for many on this match, Not too much info about this match, except that 23 members fished and it was won by Steve Hanson taking a break from robbing the locals at Back Arun, to rob the W&DAS members here with 35lb 11oz. Graham Stevens was 2nd with 31lb 1oz, Mark Holland 3rd with 29lb 10oz and Dave Hughes 4th with 20lb exactly. 

Less than half the field managed double figures and there were even 3 who did not trouble the scalesman, so it was pretty hard going. Steve Longhurst however, did include a magnificent roach of 1lb 10 oz in his net.

Orchard Place on Top Form

Orchard Place Fishery, Lake 6 - 3rd July 2016 - No idea about the weather but it was sunny and 34c where I was

27 hopefuls turned up hoping to find the place on form - they were not disappointed!

Micky Gray has a great history of results here and was determined to maintain his record. Seeking out the current information in advance from a venue expert, he put the knowledge into good effect. Just pole, short line and firing maggots at it constantly saw him go through 5 pints of the white worms over the match but returned a massive 209lb 6oz net of F1's for his efforts and yet another win on this venue. Great result!

He did not have it all his own way though, as Craig Winchester  pushed him all the way. In fact Craig was incredibly quick out of the blocks and it was only a quieter spell late on that made the difference. Nevertheless, he was a creditable 2nd with 193lb 12 oz. It is another favourite venue for Graham Stevens who also pushed hard with 173lb 4oz for 3rd. 4th place was Martin White, not far behind on 166lb 7oz.

In all the top 11 places all recorded 'tons' and the total weigh in was an incredible 2,350lb - more than a Ton of fish!!!!

The stocking levels are simply incredible at Orchard Place with the F1's always seemingly happy to feed. Let's hope it continues.

Arun is Typically Tough

River Arun, Swan Meadows Pulborough - 26th June 2016 - Sunny Intervals 19c

The second match in a row for the dedicated few who revel in the nostalgia of what match fishing used to be like.....

Just 10 were prepared to give it a go and arrived to find the river slightly coloured and up, but for once, the tide seemed right, running out all day. Phil Harris drew number 1 in the walk-off and immediately headed for the furthest peg, at the junction of the two flows. He was highly surprised to find when he reached it, that there were dozens of big carp crashing around in the reeds on the high tide, doing what comes naturally. So pre-occupied were they, it would have been easy to scoop a few into the net, but Phil is an honest chap and simply cast his feeder to the crease and waited. Patience was eventually rewarded with two cracking bream around 5lb each and a small chub giving him a winning total of 10lb 10oz to extend his early lead in the championship still further.  

PAUL HARDING also managed to find one decent bream which together with a good net of small silvers was enough for 2nd with 7lb 15oz. Dave Hughes also had plenty of bits but nothing really sizeable so had to settle for 3rd with 6lb 14oz.

Some may rightly question why we continue to come here, but there is something about the sheer challenge of a natural river venue that still appeals to some. 

Dam Hard Going

Bough Beech Reservoir, Dam Wall - 19th June 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 19c

With a surprising 18 turning up for some proper fishing, it was going to be a long trek along the wall for some. With just a few concrete slabs showing, the reservoir was officially 100% full.

Dave Hughes did not look too unhappy however, when he drew end peg 18, despite it being some way past the central tower. There he launched his groundbait feeder with maggot or worm a massive 65 turns on the reel (about 55 yds) to ensure he was well onto the natural bottom, where although not exactly crawling up the rod, he caught skimmers and roach steadily throughout to finish well clear of the field with 14lb 5oz . 

For the rest, it was dam hard, with just the occasional bite and even more occasionally, a fish. For Martin Twine, one such occasional fish turned out to be a pretty decent bream which certainly boosted his weight enough for 2nd with 4lb 7oz. In form Mark Holland proved he is not just a carp cruncher and picked up a dozen of so small skimmers and roach for 3rd with 3lb 13oz with Graham Stevens and Paul Oliver tied for 4th with 3lb 1oz.

Usual tales of fish lost to pike and other mysterious snags abounded, but all in all, a disappointing day. Not a sign of a roach for those that tried the waggler when on previous occasions, it has been black with them. Quite where the fish disappear to remains a bit of a mystery but hopefully they will have retruned when we come back later in the year. 

Two in a row for Mark

Framfield Fishery, Brookhouse Lake - 12th June 2016 - Sunny Intervals - 19c

The appeal of this fishery seems finally beginning to wane with many being put off by the condition of the fish and often peggy nature of the venue, so only 17 turned up on the day.

Details are a bit sketchy for any detailed write up, but it was almost a repeat of the Passies frame. It was Mark Holland who won his 2nd Match in a row with 62lb 11oz followed again for 2nd by Mark Merrett finally regaining some form with 45lb 10oz. Phil Harris was 3rd with 37lb 8oz and Steve Hanson 4th with 35lb exactly.

With the lake pricing as it is, we may have to reconsider this fixture for future years as 17 only just covers the cost.

Plenty of pasties at Passies

Passies Match Lake - 5th June 2016 - Sunny & warm - 23c

With 29 turning out for this one, the bunker stretch alone was not big enough to accommodate everyone comfortably, but the owners were good enough to allow us to spread onto the road stretch as well, which gave everyone a blank peg on one side or the other. A recent stocking of new 'pastie' carp in the 1lb to 2lb range added to the optimism for a good day, which for most, it was.

Mark Holland put his Back Arun skills to good use concentrating on fishing tight to the inside reeds from his peg in the 40's with pole and pellet to pick up a couple of net loads of assorted carp and a convincing win with 90lb 15oz. Mark Merrett was not keen on his Peg 5 on the road stretch but ended up eclipsing those around him fishing long pole across to the far margin, baited with paste-wrapped corn. He managed 67lb 1oz of equally assorted carp for 2nd place. Paul Oliver was on Peg 33 and concentrated on the pellet feeder tight across which produced a number of the new stockies plus a few of the older larger residents to take 3rd place with 60lb 12oz. Adrian Westgate managed 4th with 59lb 13oz.

Lowest weight on the day was still 19lb 12oz, so a great outing all round.

Hard but Fair

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 1 - 29th May 2016 - Sunny Intervals but a blustery cool breeze - 17c

Some years ago, Lake 1 was solid with fish of all kinds, but nowadays is reputed to be the most challenging of the 4 match lakes. Nevertheless, the 30 who turned out for this one were hopeful of a good day and for one of he 8 'corner' pegs that typically dominate this oddly designed square lake.

As events unfolded, for most it was a case of searching around and switching methods to pick up odd fish here and there and whilst there were no mega weights, it resulted in an enjoyable and very close contest - which is what you really want at the end of the day. 

New member Tony Morris drew in an unfancied area in the middle of the far side and had to work hard to come out top on the day. Starting on the 6m pole line with corn, he picked up a few skimmers and small carp early but when that line dried up, switched to meat on the method feeder out in the middle to keep odd carp coming regularly. Late on, he switched to the margins with pole and dead red maggots to pick up a few weight builders including one very helpful double figure carp. He was rewarded with top spot for his efforts on the day with a total weight of 59lb 8oz. 

Boy was it close for the rest of the frame!

Andy Leamon decided before the draw he wanted peg 1 and duly picked it from the bag. He started in the open water on pole to pick up a steady stream of small carp, but switched to the margins in the second half when the bigger specimens turned up to finish 2nd with 52lb 13oz. Bobby Stone and David Adby were pegged in the opposite corners at the bottom end of the far side and both made the most of their draws by plundering the very fishy looking margins.  This resulted in Bobby managing 52lb 11oz for 3rd spot (yet another share of the winnings for his driver and carer Micky Biles) and David just behind with 52lb 8oz for 4th.

Two sections were also paid out. One to Brian Beacroft (no less) for the nearside section with 47lb 10oz and Phil Harris on the far side with 44lb 1oz.

Expectations for Monk Lakes are always high and whilst it did seem to fish hard, all bar one managed double figures and there were plenty of 20lb - 40lb weights so there are plenty of worse places. More importantly, with just 5 ounces separating 2nd to 4th places, it could not have been closer. 

A close finish on the Racetrack

Falkenvil Fishery, Match Lake 1 - 22nd May 2016 - Sunny Intervals & warm - 19c

A much anticipated return here after many years absence saw 29 eager anglers, ready for a turn of speed round the racetrack.For those that don't know the venue, it is dead straight, around 250 yards long and 30 yards wide with a thin island separating the two halves. The two ends were rumoured to be the places to draw, but as it turned out, it was not entirely the case. 

Les Parker was very happy when he pulled out peg 1 at the closest end and duly set about tackling the carp on pole and meat, switching from tight to the central island and the inside margins to pick up fish steadily throughout the match and a winning total of 49lb 15oz. He did not have it all his own way though as past fishery maintenance had left a lot of sunken branches hidden in the depths which the fish knew to find. By the end of the match, he had accumulated half a dead tree from the assorted branches, twigs and cuttings from all around his swim.

Barry Stagg (pictured below) was pegged towards the top end and came agonisingly close to top spot with his 49lb 12oz net of carp. Struggling early to catch by conventional means, he realised the cruising carp were running along the island picking off particles from the grass and surface weed so switched to fishing shallow to intercept them. The tactic worked brilliantly on the day, eclipsing all around him for a very creditable 2nd.   

Keith Harper was on peg 2 and fished similarly to Les next door, also picking off carp regularly on maggot for 3rd spot with 33lb 13oz with Dale Smith completing the frame on 30lb 13oz. 

It was a struggle for many however, with May proving unpredictable yet again and many struggled to make double figures. The silvers were almost totally absent. Hopefully it will fish better on our return later in the year.

Tales of Lost Fish

Woodpeckers Lake - 15th May 2016 - Sunny Intervals but cooler - 16c

May can be a strange time for fishing when fishy thoughts are on other things and although there were quite a few carp to be seen, they were not easy to tempt as the 19 who turned out for this one quickly found. When they were, there are plenty of young tough lilies and overhanging trees for them to dive into, making a very frustrating day for many. There were a few silvers willing to have a go, but even these seemed to be a bit patchy and always difficult to compete with anyone who finds a few carp.

Returning old member Scott Denton enjoyed the perfect match however, laying to rest his previous blank at this fishery when he turned out as a guest at the end of last season. Fishing permanent peg 16 he plundered 8lb odd of skimmers and roach on the waggler in the first couple of hours but returned to the method feeder tight to the large island opposite where he picked up small (but manageable) carp regularly including some very pretty examples (see picture below) for the rest of the match, finishing well clear of the field with 40lb exactly. On the next peg 15, Paul Oliver nabbed a couple of small carp on the pellet feeder but with no more bites forthcoming, focussed on pole and maggot for the silvers to finish 2nd with 16lb 11oz. 

Not sure who let all these good anglers join, but yet another of our new members, Martin White grabbed 3rd place with a 15lb 3oz bag made up of a couple of carp plus assorted skimmers and roach, just pipping Barry Stagg with a similar net at 15lb 2oz. For the rest, it was a case of odd silvers and lost carp and pretty tough going. 

Scott did enough to win the Pairs Tophy on his own on the day, but his partner Phil Harris kept his end up adding 11lb 9oz to give a combined total of 51lb 9oz. Runners-up were Andrew Leamon and Paul Oliver with exactly half that and 25lb 12oz combined.

Marsh Farm is definitely a Challenge

Marsh Farm, Richardson's Lake - 8th May 2016 - Sunny, Bright & Hot - 23c

The 20 members who turned out for this one were a bit surprised to find the water very clear and delicate tactics would certainly be needed in the bright conditions. It was a welcome return for Steve Longhurst who's long absence from fishing doesn't seem to have affected his ability much (more's the pity) and who managed to master the conditions best. He fished a small bomb with double maggot to pick up mostly Bream and a creditable winning weight of 36lb 15oz. 

2nd on the day was Dave Hughes with 25lb 15oz and 3rd Mark Merrett with 15lb 15oz. There were still 4 blanks on the day but most agreed that it was a lovely fishery and will hopefully fish better when we go back later in the year.

A disappointing start to the season

Stammerham Farm Newdigate, Jenny's Lake - 1st May 2016 - Sunny & Dry

After some faffing about to get the gate unlocked, some 25 members, including 6 new squeezed into the car park in anticipation of a bumper start to the new season. Whilst a nice looking lake, it quickly became clear that hopes would be dashed as many struggled for bites of any sort with a couple even packing up to head off to watch the football instead.

A few did manage to find some fish, none more so than new member Les Parker who snagged 3 lumpy carp on paste to win with 31lb 8oz. 2nd was Sam Docker with 28lb 12oz,  3rd was Phil Harris with 21lb 8oz and final frame place went to another new member Dan Reed with 16lb 10oz. 

Nice fish for those that could find them, but there were 5 blanks so not much to support the idea of being a match fishery and probably not one for a future visit.