Season Finale is a bit of a damp squib

Gold Valley Lakes, Middle Lake - 8th April 2018 - Constant Rain - 10c

After snow meant missing out on the final scheduled match at Sumners, it was decided to use this inter-season match in its place as the Championship Tables were so tight. Hopes were high after the March match here and good weights caught on the open match in the sunshine the previous day. However, the W&DAS jinx struck again as the rain started the moment the whistle went and did not let up until after the weigh in. As a result, fishing was harder than expected and the four corners of the lake were where you wanted to be. Top weight went to Dave Hull with 41lb 3oz, 2nd was PAUL HARDING with 38lb 6oz from the nearest two corners. 3rd place  was Bradley Garner with 34lb 2oz and 4th went to Mick Hull with 31lb 8oz from the furthest two corners.

The two Stevens brothers each had a chance of taking the championships but failed to make any inroads on the day, leaving Paul Oliver top of both tables. 

A nice venue however and we look forward to next season's matches here.

John G Palmer - A true angling Superstar

Gold Valley Lakes, Middle Lake - 11th March 2018 - Overcast but milder - 12c

Finally, the seemingly never ending cold weather abated for a few days and tempted out 21 to have a go at Gold Valley for the first time in a number of years and what a brilliant return it turned out to be, certainly compared to recent outings.

What is apparent however, is that the result from John Palmer on the previous match was not the flash in the pan everyone assumed, but simply the performance of a man now fully into his angling prime and prowess. The writer was duly privileged to witness the last 30 minutes of his stella (at least six pints) performance and what an angling masterclass it proved to be. Smoothly shipping out to 11m with maggot or meat fished over precision potting of micros, the F1's simply could not resist his impeccable presentation and threw themselves at the hook. At least 61 of these newly stocked beauties found their way into his nets for a spectacular winning weight of 76lb 4oz which left the rest of the field struggling in his wake and simply marvelling at his impeccable technique. With Will Raison living on site, there seems little doubt that the news will reach Mark Downes about this new talent and a good chance John will feature in the England line up for Slovenia later this year. 

Amongst those who simply could not keep pace was Bradley Garner who also caught F1's on the pole for 2nd place with 60lb 5oz, Gary Toland who stuck to his plan of fishing long pole down the edge for 3rd place on 55lb 6oz and Craig Winchester pegged next to John and tried in vain to emulate his masterly technique but could only manage 4th with 41lb 10oz.

It has to be said of course, that the top four were on consecutive pegs all at the near end of the lake and the weights got progressively lower, the further down the lake you went. Proper carp were almost entirely absent, probably still in deep freeze, so the recent stocking of the F1's was certainly welcome. However, there seems little doubt the newly blossoming Palmer would have triumphed wherever he had been drawn.

It looks to be an exciting new addition to the calendar for next season were everyone will have the chance of coming 2nd to John with some decent weights.

Hopefully this is sufficient sucking up for John to continue as Match Secretary for the coming season.......

Who believes in Miracles?

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 4th March 2018 - Rain, Cold & Breezy - 6c

With sub-zero temperatures all week and still ice around the lake, this was always going to be a tough one - despite a slight thaw and it being the most consistent venue around. Only 11 made the effort which improved the odds for everyone, but nobody would have predicted this outcome. Having wasted flyers on many previous occasions, Lucky John Palmer drew yet another at the top right of the spit, only this time went on to win the match. Who'd have believed it?

Just goes to show that one of the joys of match fishing is that occasionally literally anyone can win, upset the form book and put the superstars to the sword. Somehow, no less than a dozen F1's and a solitary bream stopped off on their way to Sam Docker's swim to pick up his double red maggot fished between 11m and 13m, enabling him to record triumphant total of 31lb 8oz and his first Club match win since??? (a long time)

It was not even close either, as he left Tony Biddle was a way behind with 18lb 6oz for 2nd place and completely humiliated Sam Docker into 3rd place with 16lb 6oz. Time for Sam to take up golf.

We're not going to hear the last of this one for a while.

The Beast from the East approaches

Passies Pond Match Lake - 25th February 2018 - Sunny but bitter easterly wind - 5c

Despite the continued cold temperatures as the icy blasts from Siberia sweep in, 16 mad souls still turned out for this one. Considering many had to break the ice too, the weights were remarkably good for all except one (no names Craig). 

Gary Toland was end peg on the day and also lucky to be a little sheltered from the biting winds and fished down the track to find 9 lumpy old carp for a very creditable weight of 41lb 5oz. Mike Brewster was on the other side and finished 2nd with 37lb 5oz. Bradley Garner was one of those who had to break the ice over the back of the lake, but yet again produced the goods with 7 carp for 35lb 4oz and 3rd place, despite losing several more in the thick weed.

There were other 20lb and 30lb weights recorded, so all in all, a remarkably good and close contest considering the appalling conditions.


Sophie Produces for Some

Claygate Lakes, Lake Sophie - 18th February 2018 - Sunny but still chilly - 7c

Not too much information available about this one, but judging from the weights, it could have been worse. Nice to see another win for Dave Hull with 22lb 14oz with Tony Biddle a close 2nd on 20lb 6oz, Bradley Garner (this boy is far too consistent) 3rd with 15lb exactly and as you don't see his name in the results very often, a creditable 4th with 14lb 8oz for Micky Biles. It was mostly F1's apparently with the big bream still hibernating.

Much Improved??

Morehouse Fishery, Sidewinder Lake - 11th February 2018 - Sunny and milder but breezy - 9c

The weather was a significant improvement over recent weeks and so was the fishing. Unfortunately, only for an elite few of the 17 who turned out.

Bradley Garner made it two wins on the bounce with a dozen decent carp and F1's off noted peg 19 at the junction in front of the net hut, with a decent weight on the day of 41lb 8oz. Phil Harris was over the back next to the big oak tree where he had fewer but bigger fish for 37lb. Dave Morris was 3rd with 24lb 8oz and (believe it or not) Lucky John Palmer squeaked in 4th with 21lb. 

For most of the rest it was pretty tough with a few even putting in a late burst for the Palmer Trophy (most blanks in a season). 

Third Time Lucky?

Royal Berkshire Fishery, Lake 3 - 4th February 2018 - Sunny intervals but cold north winds - 3c

Only 12 made the effort to try and crack this allegedly excellent venue, but this endless winter weather made it very hard again for our third visit here.

Bradley Garner seems to have the measure of the place however, as he managed to repeat his performance from November with top spot again. He managed to find a few carp to record 17lb 3oz and 1st place. Dave Hull was 2nd with 8lb exactly and Mike Brewster making the frame this time with 5lb 13oz.

Only 2 more weighed in after these and there were 6 Palmers again.

One day we'll find this venue on form...​

Finally back to Monks

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 1 - 28th January 2018 - Overcast and breezy - 9c

The slight rise in temperatures probably came too late to wake most of the fish up and this proved a tough match for the 22 who turned out. However, it's been a while since we could get booked here, so good to be back.

For most it was difficult to get them to feed consistently. Even the silver fish would quickly spook and bites dry up. Paul Oliver was on peg 34, one off the corner on the far side. He managed to keep fish coming throughout the day by rotating from a 6 metre line with maggot which brought a decent carp and a few skimmers on maggot, a few more silvers up the edge and then five more carp on pellet feeder with pellet and one on a maggot feeder. In total this gave him 24lb 1oz which was enough for a win on the day. Further up the same bank, Micky Gray stuck mostly to the pole with maggot for a few Skimmers and small carp, but also managed a better carp on corn down the edge which proved just enough for 2nd place with 19lb 7oz. Fellow Crawley boy Phil Harris had a similar net for 18lb 12oz and 3rd place, with yet again one of the Brewster family (Ray) in 4th place with 18lb 7oz.

A quick shout for David Adby who was leading the match at 9.35 am with a decent carp on the feeder first put-in. He added four more over the course of the match but just out of the frame with 16lb 12oz. 

Most caught a few fish, so better than some of our recent matches, but roll on Summer...

When the going gets tough

Willinghurst Lakes, Old Lake - 21st January 2018 - Snow turning to rain and strong winds - 3c

There were rumours that the scheduled Johns Lake was fishing hard, so the match was transferred to the Old Lake, which had allegedly produced well on the midweek opens. However, the 12 mad enough to turn out on such a day arrived to some pretty miserable conditions which got steadily worse as the day progressed, with the drizzle turning to quite heavy snow and then back to heavy rain as the winds increased.

On his first visit to this fishery, Tony Morris was pegged in the far corner and put out his bomb with meat alongside the empty end bank. Within minutes, he was into a decent carp, giving encouragement to everyone. A switch to bread on the bomb produced another five up to 12lb for him in the next three hours. Sheer talent!

Meanwhile the other 11 of us could not muster a bite between us and many started to consider wimping off home to the warm and dry. However, the embarrassment of doing a 'Docker' and skipping off home at the slightest bit of adversity was too much for this tough bunch, who all stuck it out for the full duration. For one other angler, Graham Stevens fishing almost opposite Tony, the struggle was worth it. Having gone through various options he tried corn with a small feeder and his rod went round with an hour to go and a chunky mirror found its way into the net, followed by a 2nd shortly after. A third hooked just on the whistle got away by charging into Keith Harper's line next door and throwing the hook.

But that was it - the other 10 anglers remained biteless creating a record 83% of anglers doing a Palmer, including unsurprisingly, the man himself (despite drawing Steve Gardener's winning peg from the Wednesday before).

Tony remained biteless for the last two hours, but his 6 carp were more than enough for a great win on the day with 47lb 12oz. Graham's two carp went a creditable 17lb 15oz for 2nd and was the only other angler to trouble the scalesman.

Given the conditions, it is hardly a fair reflection on our first visit to this venue in a while, so hopefully it will be better all round next time.

Sophie proves willing

Claygate Lakes, Lake Sophie - 14th January 2018 - Sunny Intervals and calm - 9c

For the first time in a while, there was a brief respite in the awful weather and tempted 19 to have a go at this hastily re-arranged fixture, after a calendar mix-up with the scheduled Godalming match.

Apparently, the big bream failed to show, but there were a few F1's willing to feed, resulting in a clean sweep of the pools for the Crawley chaps (!) in a close contest.

PAUL HARDING came out on top for the first time in a while with 25lb 1oz, with Micky Gray 2nd on 17lb 15oz and Phil Harris 3rd with 17lb 12oz.

All bar Dave King managed to put fish in the net, so given the results elsewhere this year, not too bad...


The Winter Chill goes on

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 7th January 2018 - Strong north-easterly wind and cold - 4c

Although the strong wind kept any overnight frost at bay, it was still bitterly cold for the 17 who braved the conditions for this match. However, Orchard is one of those few venues that will fish whatever the conditions and so it proved.

Tony Biddle is back with the Club after a break of several years and after a few matches to re-acquaint himself with the joys, has begun to find his old form. Pegged towards the top of the spit facing the car park, he caught F1's steadily on short pole with maggot, just feeding a pinch of maggots each put in. As the day wore on, the sun emerged and it's low angle made it gradually impossible to see the float, so Tony picked up the feeder and threw it out to the island where it was a bite a chuck for the last hour or so from small carp and more F1's. The result was a match-winning total of 61lb 14oz and a very decent return on such a shockingly cold day. Paul Oliver was first peg on the same side of the spit and switched regularly from pellet feeder to long and short pole with maggot to keep the fish coming and finished 2nd on the day with 54lb 5oz. Sam Docker was in the middle of the other side of spit and directly in the teeth of the wind. After struggling to catch and maintain any sort of presentation with the pole, he gritted his teeth and hunkered down on his less favourite feeder, keeping exposed skin to a minimum. This did tempt a fairly regular flow of carp but at a much slower rate than his usual performance here, but still enough for 3rd place on 37lb 13oz.

New members and father and son team, Ray and Mike Brewster put down a marker on their first match with W&DAS coming in a close 4th & 5th with 32lb 5oz and 31lb 10oz respectively. What happened to the vetting to stop good anglers joining?? 

Still, there were no Palmers and everybody had at least double-figures. Given it would be difficult to find less favourable conditions for fishing, there are not many venues that can equal that.

Typical Fishing for the W&DAS Christmas Match

Morehouse Farm Fishery, Sidewinder Lake - 17th December 2017 - Cold with rain - 4c

Although there were a few last-minute no shows, 25 still turned up for this annual fish-fest. After struggling at Fairlight and Old Bury Hill the last two years, Morehouse seemed like a banker venue for a few bites for everyone, but we had reckoned without the recent freezing conditions, still at minus 2c upon arrival at the fishery. 

Most had ice all the way across which meant a bit a pre-match exercise to cut out swims and it was difficult to reach all the way to the far bank for many. Despite the cold conditions, the fish here seem to avoid the deeper water in mid-channel and still cling to their far bank homes under the grass. Some were lucky that the previous day's match had left some clear patches, one of whom was Craig Winchester who drew in the middle of the front car park bank. This enabled him to get right across with the pole, although they were still very reluctant to feed with any enthusiasm, but using a single pinkie on a 22 lifted and dropped regularly, he manage to entice a few F1's and small carp. This proved more than enough for a convincing win with a total weight of 21lb exactly and some reward for all the time and effort he put in putting all the prizes together. Well done Craig! (looking very pleased with himself)

Micky Gray was on the back bank and went the opposite way in fishing corn up against the far bank. After losing a foul-hooked carp early on, the magic yellow bait was almost immediately properly snaffled by a decent carp around 6lb and those around him immediately began to think that things might no be too tough after all. However, that turned out to be a flash in the pan until he managed to add a small F1 on a maggot late on in the match. This gave him enough for a 2nd place total of 9lb. Phil Harris was on the next peg along where he also had to get across to the much wider far bank area and picked up a couple of F1's in the 2nd half and lost another on maggot for 5lb 8oz. To make it a Crawley clean sweep of the minor placings, Gary Toland got excited when he landed a reasonable carp within the first 20 minutes, but failed to add any thing to it for the rest of the match. Nevertheless, it was good enough for 4th with 4lb.

Unbelievably, for a lake where 200lb is commonplace, more than half the field PALMERED with just 12 weighing in. Even amongst those who caught, only three caught more than one fish. Why do we do it???

Talking of hopeless, this match represented a hat-trick of Christmas blanks for both Jasper Stevens and the man who has given his name to blanking, John Palmer. Three Christmas matches on the trot and not a fish between them. That's special.....

The after match party at Burgess Hill Football Club helped lift spirits a little with prizes and a hot meal for all provided by the club. It was also an occasion for a blankers team photo (although not enough wooden spoons to go around)......


Horrendous Conditions at Sumners

Sumners Match Lake - 10th December 2017 - Heavy rain, high winds and freezing - 3c

With a number throwing a sickie and others on Winter League duties, just 13 braved the conditions at this usually favourite venue. It was still dark when most of us arrived and with the rain lashing down, no one even wanted to get out of their cars, but being the complete idiots that we are, we duly set about the match and were at least able to spread ourselves about.

However, it became a real game of two halves, for as soon as the whistle went, the forecast gale suddenly arrived blowing directly across the lake from the far side to the near, making brollies virtually redundant and subjecting those on the nearside bank to stinging driving rain straight into their faces. For those on the far side, the treeline helped keep the waves down a bit and at least the wind was off their backs. This contrast really reflected in the results.

For Martin Twine, his run of dreadful results finally came to a glorious end. Pegged on the last peg on the far side between the two islands, he had relative mill pond conditions, and when the usual chucks to the ends of the islands failed to produce, he was still able to fish an 11m pole line with expander pellet where he found the carp willing to have a go in the deeper water. Having only brought two nets, he had to put back a few decent skimmers to allow scope for his growing haul and ended up with 8 carp for 70lb exactly and a well-deserved win on the day. 

Next peg down was Bradley Garner who struggled with lost fish on the feeder so also switched to the long pole for anything that swims. Just a single red maggot at 13m found a few skimmers initially, but inevitably was picked up by carp regularly including a couple at 14lb 10z and 13lb 4oz which tested the light rigs to the max. In the end, he had four carp and bits for 55lb 1oz and good enough for 2nd place. Tony Biddle was on the banker peg at the end of the 1st island and looked as though he would walk the match as he picked up 4 carp on the feeder during the 1st half of the match but failed to put anything to the net during the last two hours. It still proved good enough for 3rd with 36lb 13oz. Paul Oliver was on the 1st peg on the far side and could only find skimmers on the usual feeder line out by the lone tree, but added three small carp on the pole and maggot close in for 4th with 34lb 15oz.

You had to feel sorry for those on the near side of the lake, as they battled against the cold rain and wind. All struggled for any kind of presentation and that resulted in just a few bits for most. Top weight on the near side was Graham Stevens who managed 16lb odd but it was just a few pounds for most of the rest. 

That's fishing!

Return to Eva

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 3rd December 2017 - Sunny Intervals 8c

13 made the trip to Lake Eva and the returns could certainly have been worse. Phil Harris ran out the winner on 29lb 9oz. Bary Stagg 2nd on 24lb 8oz and a dead heat for 3rd place between David Adby and Craig Winchester both on 15lb 3oz. Neither are frequent visitors to the frame, so very well done to both of them. 

Poor Turnout for Passies

Passies, Field and Bunker - 26th November 2017 - Cold and Windy

Only 11 made the effort on a bleak sounding day, although there were decent weights for many. Top man on the day was Chris Lawrence who topped the field with 54lb 3oz from somewhere in the field section. Keith Harper was 2nd with 33lb 4oz from the Bunker stretch and John Palmer himself somehow managed 3rd with 25lb 5oz. Dave Hill was just an ounce behind for 4th place with 25lb 4oz.

Great Breakfast, shame about the Fishing

Royal Berkshire Fishery, Lake 3 - 19th November 2017 - Cold

16 made the effort to crack this fishery on our second visit here, but it was a real struggle. Bradley Garner is another new member to quickly lay down a marker as he blitzed the field with two carp and a few bits for 20lb 4oz. Micky Gray was next best with 9lb 7oz closely followed by another of the Crawley Mafia, Gary Toland on 9lb 6oz. PAUL HARDING was 4th with 6lb 8oz.

Just a few bits for everyone else with four anglers even 'Palmering'. The Jury is definitely out on this venue....

Good Harvest at Orchard

Orchard Place Fishery, Lake 6 - 12th November 2017 - sunny intervals but cold wind - 7c

With many on winter League duties, only 19 turned up for this favourite venue, but at least it meant we could be well spread around pegs 1 to 45. The continuing chilly conditions prompted some nervousness about how it would fish, but for most, Orchard did not disappoint and it turned out to be an incredibly close match.

Having seemingly borrowed the Docker Drawing Genie for a few weeks, Paul Oliver drew the top of the spit for the 3rd time here in a row, the top left peg this time. However, early signs were not encouraging as his usual starting gambit of a small pellet feeder to the island produced only one fish in the first half hour. After a few quick fish on the short pole with maggot, things again went quiet and time to try a new approach of putting the small pellet feeder on the pole with banded pellet. This produced bites steadily on the 6m line and alternating closer in up the edge for a steady run of decent F1's for the rest of the match and a top spot total of 138lb 14oz.

A guest on the day, Russell the Ringer was a few pegs away, half-way up the left of the spit who caught steadily from the off on pole and pellet and he managed to keep them coming throughout the match. His three nets proved just short on 137lb 5oz for 2nd.

Adrian Bell on the top bank looked like he was going to run away with it as he was into fish instantly from the off on longer pole and maggot and seemingly had a fish on every time you looked. However,  whether they were smaller or he suffered some quiet spells, he finished 3rd with 96lb 14oz. Sam Docker stuck to his previous week's successful tactic of pole and pellet from the top of the right hand bank, but could not get the fish coming quickly enough. This improved once he reverted to maggot, but not soon enough to catch up, so finished 4th with 86lb 13oz. However, he was honest enough to admit that he had lost track of his catch so moved some fish from one net to the other which he then realised meant he should disqualify himself. This promoted Dad, Bob Docker to the last money place with his net of 86lb 4oz. At least it kept it in the family and would no doubt get back to Sam in his weekly pocket-money.

No controversy about this, as the fishery rule (whether you agree with it or not) is no more than 60lb in a net at any time, intended to minimise damage to the fish from overcrowding. Clearly, it is not 60lb in the net just at the weigh-in, otherwise there would be nothing to stop people just using one net and then transferring the fish to spare nets, just as the scalesman arrives. If you transfer fish during the course of the match, it is impossible to know if you had exceeded the 60lb limit. Knowing Sam, it seems unlikely he did go over weight, but you just cannot be sure.

There were a few that struggled to catch on the day, but for the most part, the weights, as always, were remarkable for a five-hour match on a very cold November day.

Fishing can be a waiting game

Hartleylands Fishery, Reservoir Lake - 5th November 2017 - cloudy with a cold north wind - 7c

There were not many fireworks for the 17 that attended this one. With the onset of winter weather over the previous week, big weights were unlikely, but much would come down to the draw. With the way it was pegged, two anglers were adamant about the draw. Craig Winchester definitely did not want peg 2 on the front left-hand bank where he has struggled from on virtually every previous visit and Phil Harris really did want peg 13 on the front right-hand bank. One of them was happy...

Despite being certain he would struggle on Peg 2, Craig was first man into a fish with a decent carp, seconds after the all-in which grabbed his maggot-baited feeder. At least it stopped him complaining for a while. There were plenty of silvers to be had all round the lake, but most sat it out for carp and for the next few hours, it was just odd fish here and there. With the average size here though, one fish either way can make a big difference, so there were several anglers in with a shout for most of the match. As the day wore on, a few more carp seemed ready to take a bait although did not really come to any feed, just a case of waiting.

Phil Harris was on the peg he wanted and had a steady run of 7 decent carp including one of 10lb 8oz, all coming to his new favourite wafter bait, fished on a small method. In the end, it was enough for a good win on the day with 34lb 13oz. Paul Oliver was a couple of pegs nearer the car park and was still fishless at half time, but managed to find 6 reasonable carp in the afternoon on a pellet or maggot feeder to come from behind to take 2nd with 31lb 4oz. Craig ended up having quite a decent day, adding a number of smaller carp plus silvers to his flying start, enough for 3rd with 28lb 11oz.

John Palmer might have also been in contention for the pools if he hadn't spent most of the afternoon playing an 11lb 14oz carp, when he could have been adding to his 4th place weight of 24lb 2oz. 

In the winter, this lake is pretty peggy and usually the nearer you are to the car park the better, so those on the far bank and the other end did struggle a bit, although most managed one or two decent fish. It will be interesting next year when this becomes a dedicated match lake and fishable in the warmer weather. 

Marsh Farm Frustrates once again

Marsh Farm Fishery, Richardson Lake - 29th October 2017 - overcast and chilly northerly - 12c

This was a friendly against venue hosts Godalming Angling Society, which attracted just 10 from W&DAS but 29 from GAS. With 39 anglers round the lake, a chilly day in prospect and a sharp first frost on Friday night, everyone knew it was likely to be hard going, which indeed it was. 

Chris Lawrence is a man in form at the moment and he used it to make the most of favoured peg 10 where he picked off six small skimmers and a tench on maggot with a small feeder. Weighing 17lb 14oz, this was more than enough to win not only the W&DAS match but the overall 39 pegger. A great achievement against a chasing pack of GAS anglers, very close behind and a decent payout. Very well done Chris! 

There were a few more weights from the top end of the car park bank - mostly just a handful of skimmers with very few tench or crucians willing to feed. The locals knew to keep feed to a minimum and many just fished a single maggot on a bomb or waggler with the occasional flick of loose feed. 

Next best W&DAS weight was one skimmer and one proper bream for 4lb 8oz from Paul Oliver on a small maggot feeder from peg 41 with Graham Stevens 3rd on 2lb 14oz and Barry Stagg was surprisingly happy that his 1oz perch was enough for 4th. The other 6 W&DAS anglers all 'Palmered' as did a lot of the GAS entrants, and it was particularly hard around the bottom end of the lake. 

Not a great day really....

Bored Barry Bags Big Bream

Old Bury Hill, Front Bank - 22nd October 2017 - sunny but breezy - 15c

The front bank is nearly always a challenge but nevertheless attracted a good turnout of 20, all hoping to get amongst the bream shoals for a memorable day. As is often the case here though, once the whistle went it became clear pretty quickly that it was going to be tough as most sat watching a motionless tip with just the odd skimmer coming out for a few. 

Barry Stagg never moans apparently, but he was not happy with his peg 2 draw, despite it being end peg and a noted flyer.  By 1 o'clock he was on his 2nd call to John Palmer complaining about being bored, the venue, draw & weather and that he could no longer fish with his fine skimmer tip in the freshening wind, even though he had managed to find a couple during the morning. He was forced to pick up his carp feeder rig which he baited with double corn and threw down the side of the jungle in the hope of it being picked up by a roving carp. Within minutes, it wrapped round and a proper slab went into the net, followed by another and another. Come the weigh-in, he had six proper bream and a few skimmers to take top slot with 21lb 13oz. At least that stopped the moaning....

On peg 13, Phil Harris put his faith in a short feeder chuck with small wafters on the hook which brought him a steady succession of skimmers throughout the day. Weighing 20lb 7oz, it was just short of setting Barry off moaning again, but more than enough for 2nd place and a very enjoyable day for Phil. On the next peg, 'feeder king' Tony Morris opted for a long feeder line out towards the island where he also picked up a number of small skimmers for 14lb 5oz and 3rd. Paul Oliver fished similarly for 4th place with 10lb 6oz.

It was pretty hard going for most of the rest with just odd fish coming during the five hours. Typical Bury Hill club match really....

Poor Turnout for Bough Beech

Bough Beech Reservoir - 15th October 2017 - overcast & breezy - 17c

Only 8 stalwarts turned out for this one which is perhaps just as well. Having been moved to the yacht bank, it would have been difficult to peg many more, particularly with the extremely low water levels. 

It proved a close match, although somewhat tough as the better bream were still elusive and picking up roach on long feeder tactics is pretty hard work. Other than patrolling Pike, there was nothing in pole or waggler range.

The cloudless sky and mill-pond conditions disappeared almost immediately the whistle went and the wind got stronger as the day wore on until the tow put a permanent bend in every tip. It was Chris Lawrence who stuck to his guns with a big worm hook bait which attracted fewer but larger roach and eventually a lone proper bream. Together they amounted to 7lb 9oz and enough for a well-deserved win on the day. Bobby Stone managed to find a couple of skimmers to go with his roach which boosted his weight just enough for 2nd with 6lb 1oz, relegating Graham Stevens into 3rd place with 5lb 15oz. 

Everyone had a few pounds so it could have been worse, but disappointing nonetheless.

A Challenge as always

Willow Park, Middle Lake - 1st October 2017 - Overcast with occasional drizzle - 16c

Not an easy venue, but can be very rewarding if you find some fish and the 16 attending all hoped to be the lucky ones. For many however, the highlight of the day was the great cooked breakfast from the Cafe on site. Talking of luck, Gary Clifford is a regular here for the oldies open matches and had just won three on the trot - all from peg 12. No prizes for guessing then that come the draw, he drew peg 12 yet again. What are the odds? He should try the Lottery more often. The only consolation for the rest of us, was that the peg was occupied overnight by a couple of Carpers who had no doubt scattered a few hundredweight of boilies to the four corners. 

As expected, there was no instant action for anyone on the whistle and it was a case of just being patient. If you got a bite, it could be anything from a small roach or perch to one of the bigger bream or decent carp that can change the leaderboard very quickly. 

Surprisingly, the usually productive far side proved a real struggle and it was Graham Stevens on peg 16 that ran out the eventual winner. He nicked a bream and small carp on the feeder with maggot but then got his head down with the long pole and worm to pick up bream regularly, interrupted occasionally by some decent carp including one well into double-figures for a very decent total of 43lb 5oz. On peg 14, Dave Hull stuck to the feeder and managed a number of decent carp for 2nd place with 34lb 13oz. Gary Clifford had to settle for 3rd place this time with his net of carp & bream going 24lb 15oz and surprise. surprise, in 4th place off peg 18 was little Johnny Palmer who copied Graham's tactics to also fluke a couple of decent carp amongst his bream for 22lb 6oz.

Only 4 anglers failed to make double figures, so although it always feels like a struggle, there are plenty worse places.

Some don't know what they are missing

River Eden, Broad A Chiddingstone - 24th September 2017 - Warm sunshine - 22c

Despite some recent rain the river was still low with little flow, so the 15 attendees were a little worried about the prospects. They need not have been. By the look of the banks beyond the first few swims, the fish have not seen an angler all season and it is only thanks to Craig Winchester, Steve Longhurst and Jasper doing some clearing on Saturday that we could cut enough pegs to fish at all.

Given that this stretch in not much bigger than a ditch in places, it can fish well and today was an example. Plenty of bites from small roach, perch, bleak, chublets and massive gudgeon (how nice is that to see) for everyone with always the chance of a bonus fish.

Paul Oliver drew "the Dustbin" for the first time ever and after some advice from peg expert Craig, put it to good effect. Starting as instructed catching small stuff in the main flow, first put in with a big worm to the far side eddy baited up with groundbait & chopped worm, saw it immediately grabbed by a cracking Tench around 4lb. It turned out to be the only far-side action however, with only small perch showing there for the rest of the match. In between looks for another Tench, he continued to catch regularly with maggot in the flow on stick float or pole where he also managed a couple of good-sized bream. Come the weigh in, his total of 16lb 11oz was enough for 1st place to cap a cracking days fishing.

One peg below by the big oak tree was Craig, trying not to be phased about missing out on the Dustbin and determined to sharpen his skills for the upcoming Eden Challenge. Being a bit of a saddo, he counted 120 fish in the first two hours fishing in the flow just past his keepnet. Things gradually quietened down as they always do, but he continued to add to the assortment of small fish regularly.  With no bonus fish at all, his impressive weight of 12lb 3oz was enough for 2nd. Steve Longhurst drew the long walk to the last peg, but which is usually worth the effort. Surprisingly, he too failed to find any of the bonus fish that regularly show there, but did amass another good weight of smaller stuff for 10lb 15oz and 3rd. 

Phil Harris took the lower pegs section with a decent 9lb 12oz and Hugh Blake the higher peg section with 9lb 1oz. 

All in all, a pretty decent day all round and a very pleasant change. 

It's all in the Genes

Morehouse Farm, Sidewinder - 17th September 2017 - Sunny Intervals - 20c

Sam Docker rocked up alongside Dad Bob and 18 others expecting to give everyone a spanking after sacking up on a couple of recent opens. Confidence rose still further when Sam picked out peg 43, the site of some spectacular weights lately and from where he could really stick it to Dad virtually opposite on peg 50. A fish for Sam first put in, immediately gave rise to some serious abuse across the divide. Nobody was laughing of course, when that fish proved to be a lone mugger whilst Dad started catching regularly with a small pellet feeder tight to the opposite bank, just a few yards away from Sam's pole float. As the match went on, he stretched his lead, piling on the agony until Sam was well out of sight. 

Bob caught steadily throughout the match and ran out the winner in the end with 87lb 2oz and more importantly, nearly three times the effort of his boy. Bob did not have it all his own way however, as Steve Longhurst was going quietly about his business as he always does (and despite being pegged next to Micky Biles) from peg 19. He had to work hard to pick up odd fish for most of the match on the long pole, but finally managed to get some lumps to feed on his paste in the margin during the latter stages. This earned him a very close 2nd place with 85lb 4oz.

On peg 38 in the far bay, Paul Oliver went through his entire repertoire to keep fish coming and take 3rd place with 55lb 6oz, with 4th place going to Adrian Bell on Peg 6 with 51lb 7oz.

It fished somewhat below par for everyone, but for those around the right hand islands, the going was particularly hard, where a few caught even less than Sam.....

Too good to be true

Falkenvil Match Lake 2/3 - 10th September 2017 - Strong gusty winds and occasional squally showers - 14c

Another first visit for us, the original small match lakes 2 & 3 have been dug into one and now large enough to accommodate the 21 who were keen to give it a go. Talk about ideal, we were able to drive to the lakeside and literally back up to our individual pegs, open the back and put the tackle down. Nice flat mown grassy banks and at the outset, a clear blue sky and not a ripple on the water. Looking at the inviting reeds on the opposite bank, a nice feeder chuck across, we couldn't wait to get started. Everything looked just perfect for a great day!

This lake now is shaped like a stretched 'Z'. The top of the 'Z ' is the old Lake 2 and quite narrow and widening out for the rest which was the old lake 3 and where everyone wanted to draw. As soon as the whistle went, a gentle breeze started up, but as you looked up and down the lake expecting to see people into fish straight away, simply nothing was happening. As the match progressed, the wind got stronger and stronger, tackle started to fly about the driving rain showers started, but still for most just the odd carp or tiny roach.

Then news started to filter down that the anglers on the old lake 2 part were really bagging. That was just too much for a couple of anglers, including Sam Docker, who decided enough was enough, despite abuse from certain quarters (Biles) something along the lines of "when the going gets tough, the wusses go home....". It is also reassuring to see that he is fallible on carp venues after all, but will no doubt get revenge at Morehouse next week.

The rest of us struggled on in the increasingly horrible conditions where the exposed flat marsh had waves rolling down the lake, although most finally managed to pick up an odd carp late in the day. 

However, the results were another story and it was like two different matches. The top four all came from the first 6 pegs and all those on old Lake 2 had a great day. Rumours were that Dave Morris was running away with it, adding further to Sam's misery at having to give him the lucky peg prize before he went home. However, in the end Jasper Stevens just pipped him for top spot with 83lb 12oz after finding plenty of decent carp happy to feed right in the margins on his dead maggot, where he could pick them off on the pole. For Dave, his fish seemed to be on the other bank margins but with the strong winds, had to plop a small feeder with pellet tight over to pick them up regularly. He finished up a fish short with 75lb 15oz and 2nd place. Making the family day out, Graham Stevens managed 3rd from peg 1 with 57lb 14oz and Bobby Stone 4th from peg 3 with 51lb 1oz.

Just to emphasis the difference, top weight from the 13 pegs on the old Lake 3 was just 22lb 9oz for Dave King largely due to nearly 10lb of small roach he amassed on his waggler before picking up three late carp.

Why it was quite so different at one end is a mystery, but if we could always understand fish behaviour, then it wouldn't be much of a test. 

A match from 30 years ago

​River Ouse, Hamsey - 3rd September 2017 - Overcast with occasional light rain - 15c

This was our first ever visit to this stretch of river, kindly let to us for the day by Hassocks & District Angling. Hopefully it will not be our last. Way out in the Sussex Weald, it is a beautiful spot and fortunately the bankside is accessible for cars, just to add to the appeal. Unfortunately, through a conspiracy of circumstances (holidays, winter leagues, moving water, birthdays etc.) only 11 turned up for it.

This is a part-tidal stretch for tides high enough to come over the weir in the centre of the section and today promised a small tide. At the off, most were immediately into roach and dace regularly in the steady outward flow, but other than a solitary two-pounder nabbed by Phil Harris, the bream did not seem to want to show. After an hour or so, the flow stopped and started to reverse as the tide reached maximum, leading to a tail-off in bites. However, as soon as it reached its height, the fish switched back on again and proper dace, decent sized roach, small chub & perch were being caught regularly again. It was just great to see dace in these numbers and quality that seem to be absent from most rivers these days.

All methods seem to produce fish but with only a few swims visible to each angler, there was no real idea how the results would turn out. Come the weigh in, it was actually pretty close. Top weight went to Paul Oliver with 9lb 1oz, 2nd was Steve Longhurst on a welcome outing with 8lb 10oz and 3rd place went to Dave Morris with 8lb 2oz, all with similar mixed bags of roach, dace, perch etc.. (Thanks also to Dave for the access information and pegging it out).

A consultation of the Club rules prior to the draw found Match Rule 3. which  made it clear that sea fish do not count. Had that not been the case, Jasper Steven's would have won the match by including this 3lb Mullet (pictured) on his pole and maggot, but at least he had a decent fresh fish tea.....

Lovely venue and we look forward to a return next year. 

One-horse race

Passies Pond Match Lake - 27th August 2017 - Sunny & Warm - 22c

24 were originally booked in for this one which allowed us the whole lake. Sadlly, after a few last minute drop outs, we were down to 18 which upset the owners somewhat having closed it off completely. However, it did mean plenty of space to spread out.

The downside is that the area is so big, it is very difficult to get a sense of what is going on elsewhere, so the weigh-in is always a bit of a surprise. Less of a surprise is Dave Morris making the most of a good draw, Pegged up in the 50's, he had a bed of pond weed to one side which enabled him to exploit a 2+2 pole line with pellet and paste to plunder the chunky carp regularly. News filtered round that he was on the scrounge for a spare net, so there was  good sense that he was really bagging and so it proved when he put a magnificent 150lb 13oz on the scales for a convincing win.

Sam Docker continued to make his sponsors proud, particularly now that he has worked out how to use a feeder rod, which he used to good effect from his peg at the top of the bunker straight. Lobbing a small pellet feeder with banded pellet to the far bank he also caught carp consistently to take 2nd spot with 91lb 11oz. Guest Adam Tester is a venue regular and used his knowledge to good effect on the road bank teasing out fish on all sorts of methods including 'tapping' with 16 metres of pole for 3rd with 79lb 12oz. Out of the money but 3rd in the Club points (that's what really counts.....) was Graham Stevens with 70lb 8oz.

As usual for Passies, there were decent backing weights with plenty in the 30-60lb range and of course, loads of tales of the ones that got away into the mutitude of snags that most swims offer. 

Silver frustration but a good close match

Orchard Place, Silver Lake - 20th August 2017- Sunny & Warm - 22c

Our first visit here when newly opened last year, was a great success, needing a 20 peg limit imposed this time around. However, a year on and things have changed dramatically as the shy silver fish proved very tricky to tempt for most.

With the 20 pegs on one side of the lake, everyone wanted to draw the wider central section and avoid the arms at each end, so there were plenty of moans when the last three pegs in the bag were 1, 19 & 20! However, as the day proved, you just never know....

Paul Oliver was on peg 19 and caught a decent tench on worm close in early in the match, but found it increasingly difficult to find anything else of any size. There were plenty of small roach feeding so assuming everyone else must be bagging, he decided to stick to the 2+2 line on the pole with maggot and just fish for points. Come the weigh-in, he put 20lb 15oz on the scales and no one was more surprised than him to find it enough for 1st place. 

Two of our most senior members (pictured right) were on pegs 18 and 17. Keith Harper picked up his trusty '4 meters to hand rig' and caught roach and the odd small tench and better skimmer on worm pieces in spurts throughout the day, although needed switch lines regularly to keep them coming. Peter Rock was on 17 and stuck to his guns with long pole and maggot throughout, picking out quality rather than quantity. Despite long waits between bites, he did manage to attract a few proper bream, some really good roach and a lively Barbel for a really nice mixed bag. Amazingly, both weighed in exactly 15lb 10oz for joint 2nd place on the day. A frame place is not that unusual for Keith, but is the first in living memory for Peter, so very well done to him. Brilliant!

The fancied middle section did not fish well really, although probably averaged 10lb a man so could be worse, but it was incredibly another tie for 4th place between Adrian Bell on 8 and (believe it or not) John Palmer on 4 who both recorded 14lb 11oz. 

All in all, the fishing was a bit disappointing, but it was a tight match in the end which is what it is all about.

Busy Day at Bough Beech

Bough Beech Reservoir, West Bank - 13th August 2017 - Mostly Sunny and calm - 22c

A beautiful summer's day greeted an excellent turn-out of 19 for what turned out to be an interesting and enjoyable match. 

We should have realised something was up when two of our best reservoir exponents Dave Hughes and Tony Morris, each set out their stall to fish in close for roach whilst the rest of us mere mortals stuck with convention and the long feeder. The message should still have got through when first chucks with the feeder saw even big baits getting ragged instantly, even on the drop, from which it was clear the roach were out to play in force. But of course we stick with it, convinced the big slabs will turn up when we can calmly overtake the experts wasting their time going after the bits. 

Tony and Dave could read the signs though and fishing pole or whip to hand, both started catching instantly from the off. Dave was like a windmill plopping out his 2gm whip float with maggot, throwing a small ball of groudbait and caster, resulting in a roach or occasional perch hitting the net every put-in. This was despite having to endure six hours of constant abuse from Micky Biles on the next peg. Pike were their usual threat to everyone and on the whip especially so, which saw the inevitable loss of Dave's favourite rig after one such attack. For the rest of the match the bobbing float signalled the presence of the circling Pike looking for its next easy meal until amazingly a roach got caught up and snapped the trailing line and Dave landed the roach and retrieved his favourite lucky rig. Tony too was catching steadily and with the pole could chase the fish out longer when required, although suffered a very barren last hour despite this.

For the rest of us, it became clear that the proper bream were few and far between and although many switched to a waggler back-up, there was no way of catching up. Come the weigh-in, Dave Hughes put a phenomenal 38lb 13oz on the scales for a comfortable win, albeit incredibly hard work considering the average size was probably only 2-3oz. Tony Morris still did enough for 2nd place with a very creditable 20lb 4oz. Over on lone tree point, son Dave Morris was the only angler who actually managed to get a pike into his net which boosted his weight to 15lb 15oz and enough for 3rd whilst Keith Best stuck to the feeder and did manage to find a couple of the scarce bream around the 2lb mark which gave him enough for 4th with 14lb 12oz.

Section winner on the Lone Tree Point end was Phil "the Spod" Harris with 14lb 6oz and Paul Oliver took the other section with 14lb 4oz.

Final comedy of the day came when Martin Twine parked his fully-loaded mega-trolley at the top of the slope whilst he was weighed in when, with a mind of its own, it set off back down the slope and out into the reservoir. Amazingly it did not topple over but just like something out of the silent movies.Naturally his ever-symathetic clubmates were too busy falling about laughing to help him retrieve it....

No fish left in Nick's apparently

Hartleylands Fishery, Nick's Lake - 6th August 2017 - Sunny with some cloud -  21c

21 turned out for this one and completely debunked the continuing rumours about all the fish being taken out. Lowest weight on the day was 23lb 5oz which was almost as much as the winning weight of the previous week. 

It also turned out to be a close and interesting match. Two of our stars were each drawn on previous winning pegs at opposite ends of the lake and were unknowingly engaged in a fish for fish battle over the six hours. Ian Carley was on the last peg on 'Cyanide Straight' where a method to the corner of the island produced virtually a fish a chuck for the entire match. Burts Baits backed Sam Docker was drawn at the far end of the lake where he also had a good chuck to the end of his island with a small pellet feeder. He too caught constantly on this method apart from occasional forays down the margins in the latter stages which produced one or two better fish. In the end it was Ian who just took the honours with a winning weight of 156lb 2oz with Sam a fish behind on 154lb 13oz. Pretty close by any standards!

Jasper Stevens moaned like hell about his peg at the start of the match being in the bowl at the end of Cyanide Straight and one of the few pegs that does not have an island to fish to. Maybe just as well as it forced him to concentrate on the margins in the corner where he  also found plenty of small carp on pole and maggot and enough for 3rd place with 122lb 9oz. Phil Harris was in a similar position in the corner at the other end of the straight and probably missed out on 3rd by going over 60lb in one of his nets, as despite the weight knock-back, still weighed in 118lb 8oz for 4th. 

As usual, there were lots more weights over 50lb, so all in all a pretty good day all round. 

What a family debut!

Marsh Farm Fishery, Harris Lake - 30th July 2017 - Sunny Intervals and breezy - 18c

Depsite all the threats to boycott further matches here after some difficult previous sessions, 18 members did make the effort to see if we could crack it once and for all. Recent Godalming club matches posted some good weights but there had been a lot of cold rain during the week, so feelings were mixed, but of course this fishery always looks so good, you cannot help but expect a good day.

That's all the excuses out of the way and it did turn out to be a fantastic day - but only for one angler!

Fishing the far side on pegs 23 to 45, sadly for most it was a repeat of previous visits with just odd fish here and there. A few bits did show, so the float did go down occasionally, but the promised Tench and Crucians were hard to find, particularly the further up the lake you went. One exception was new member Dave Hull who really enjoyed his first W&DAS match. Fishing a feeder with hair-rigged worm tight to the island from peg 42, he did fantastically well to pick up 7 Tench and a couple of Crucians for a comfortable win and a cracking bag of fish totalling 24lb 6oz. Not to be outdone, brother Mick Hull who has guested in the past, was also on his first official match and adopted similar tactics to make it a family one-two, with three tench and two crucians in his net weighing 11lb 11oz. 3rd place on the day went to Dave Hughes who stuck it out on the pole despite the freshening wind for a couple of good tench and some larger bits for 8lb 9oz. 

The two sections were won by Barry Stagg on the lower numbers with 6lb 13oz and Craig Winchester on 5lb 15oz which just about says it all about how it went for the rest. At least no one blanked. 

Perhaps it is time for a vetting session for new members to expose those that are any good, rather than having them turn up and embarrass the old crew like this......


Medway is a delight to look at

River Medway, Barming - 23rd July 2017 - Overcast and cooler - 19c

Once again, a bit of proper fishing failed to attract most of our members, with only 11 willing to give it a go. A bit of a shame really as this was a wonderful place to be on a Sunday morning, with parking right by the water, a smooth tarmac towpath which wound its way through the trees and properly built, well-spaced swims. Some heavy rain during the week had also put a bit of colour in the river, so there was much excitement at the prospects for fishing. Local expert Martin Cook came for a visit and confidently predicted that 30lb or Bream or Chub would be needed to win which only added to the anticipation.

As a river venue, you are in your own little world and no idea what is happening elsewhere. There were plenty of bites available from small roach and the like, but most of us assumed that others would be bagging up elsewhere. About 150 canoes coming through didn't really help proceedings and there was a fair amount of boat traffic too which tended to spook the fish for a short time, but that's part of the challenge.

Come the weigh-in, it became apparent that surprisingly, no one had managed to find any bonus fish whatever, so it was an out and out small fish contest. First to weigh-in was Bob Stone on the downstream end-peg who put 6lb exactly on the scales of roach, perch, bleak and a very small skimmer. That looked to be enough to win on the day as no one was confessing to any better. As the scales moved upstream back towards the start, Dave Hughes and Jasper Stevens both recorded 4lb 11oz (mostly small stuff) which were the next best weights, but it was Paul Oliver on the 2nd peg that ended up just pipping Bob when he put 6lb 3oz of bits on the scales and a win on the day.

At least everyone caught fish, which is more than you can say for some other venues this season and whilst a bit of a disappointment on the day, everyone agreed it looks to have great potential and well-worth another go, perhaps slightly later in the year next time.

Sumners is as hot as the weather

Sumners Ponds, Match Lake - 16th July 2017 - Overcast but warm & muggy - 25c

This most popular venue drew a near capacity attendance of 29, all hoping for some serious bagging. For once, it turned out well for many.

Dave Hughes is a great angler and probably even better at the draw. A peg between the 1st & 2nd islands on the far side was already a great draw, but managing to have the one spare peg left in the bag next door, gave him an empty peg on both sides. Dave was never going to waste an opportunity like this and exploited the ends of both islands with his method feeder to take big mirrors regularly and a magnificent winning total of 213lb 5oz. Dave Morris also drew well opposite the lone tree on the nearside bank. After a relatively slow start on the method feeder, he picked up the pellet waggler and enjoyed a real purple patch for the middle part of the match, adding more keepnets regularly to keep the right side of the 60lb net limit. As this method finally slowed, he returned to the method feeder to pick up a few more to finish with an excellent 168lb 4oz. Sam (end peg) Docker naturally drew an end peg being the last on the nearside with the whole end bowl left empty. He could reach the end of the island with the pole where he caught most of his fish shallow on pellet as the carp did their laps. Not quite enough to beat rival Dave Morris, but close for 3rd on 154lb 12oz. Mark Merrett was opposite Sam and the end peg on the far side and resorted to some typically radical Merrett tactics. Suspending paste mid-water under the marginal sedge grass fooled enough wary fish to manage 4th place with 139lb 4oz.

There was also a separate Silvers pool on the day. Graham Stevens copied his successful formula from the last match here, only to find that that it was the Bream that took a fancy to his pole-fed meat rather than the carp, but at least that gave him the silver prize with 32lb 15oz. Ian Carley was 2nd in silvers with 25lb 1oz on pole and banded pellet with Steve Hanson 3rd wth 23lb 7oz mostly on paste.

Spare a thought for our oldest competitor Don (the bomb) Boutell. Octogenarian Don was pegged next to Dave Morris but was without a fish at half-time, when he hit upon the right formula in chucking his trusty bomb out to the bubbles on the shallow bar with a big lump of luncheon meat. This resulted in a steady run of mostly double figure carp for the afternoon session. He estimated them at around 8lb each, so only got a second net out late in the day. Even then, he managed to put at least one more fish in the first net by mistake. Come the weigh-in the first net went 92lb and the second 21lb 2oz which together would have put him a really creditable 5th place on the day. Unfortunately, our jobsworth Match Secretary insisted on sticking to the rules, unprepared to listen to any pleadings regarding age or a bit of possible dementia and knocked back the overweight net to 60lb to give Don a more modest 81lb 2oz on the formal records. Still, it was one heck of a day's fishing for Don - really well done!

There were 7 (8 if you include Don) 100lb + weights with plenty of good backing weights so great to finally find a venue on form when W&DAS turn up. 

Dire results at one of Surrey's Premier Fisheries

Old Bury Hill, Milton Lake - 9th July 2017 - Sunny & Warm - 25c

There were strong rumours that Milton was fishing hard which led to only 17 turning out. The continued dry and hot weather had also resulted in the management imposing a groundbait ban and a 5 hour match limit which added to concerns. However, never would you have expected it to be this bad.

With the whole lake available, pegs were well spread, but it became apparent that with the aerators going 24/7, there was a strong flow like a river for all the pegs around the island and it soon became clear that this was hampering the fishing still further. 

It was only those with lily pads to hold back the flow who managed anything much, but even there it was poor. Only the three pegged in the top bay managed double figures, led by Adrian Bell who had 7 tench and a few bits on pole and maggot over micro feed to take 1st place with 22lb. Fishing similarly from the next peg was Jasper Stevens who managed a few Tench and Crucians to weigh 15lb 15oz and 2nd place. Mark Merrett was on the next peg but had to resort to throwing his method feeder with mini-boilie right into the pads to drag out a few tench for 11lb 7oz and 3rd place. Phil Harris was on favoured peg 2 and fished long pole with maggot into the gap in the pads for a mixed bag of tench and rudd to take 4th place with 9lb 14oz. Only two other anglers broke 1lb, six more had one or two bits for ounces and the remaining five all did a Palmer.

Shocking results for a fishery of this reputation. With plans to make OBH more of a syndicated venue, they are going to have to get to grips with their fishery management problems to attract future custom.

Mixed Fortunes at the Racetrack

Falkenvill, Racetrack - 2nd July 2017 - Sunny & Warm - 23c

Only 20 turned up for this one and whilst everyone had a few fish, the results were pretty mixed. 1st place went to the man in form Sam Docker with a good weight of 88lb. 2nd was PAUL HARDING with 50lb 3oz, 3rd Mark Merrett with 46lb 14oz with final frame place going to Adrian Bell on 44lb 3oz. 

Not bad weights by any means, but a lot of the backing weights were modest leading to a few gumbles about the venue. (So what's new!!)

Proper fishing

River Arun, Swan Meadow - 25th June 2017 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

11 turned up for a bit of proper fishing to find that the river was gin clear and the bank side vegetation was over head height in places. It seemed no one had fished the river before we turned up, no obvious clearing of swims had taken place along the whole stretch and combined with no cattle in the fields meant that the grass was also 3 to 5 foot tall and with no obvious path the car park was full of fairly glum faces!! John Benjamin drew well at the walk off and never having been here before, was pointed in the direction of the end peg. Most of the others opted for the early pegs, given the state of the banks.

The river was on the drop initially but turned at around 12.00 which meant we had to fish backwards until the end of the match and retreat in stages back up the bank as the river rose 7 to 8 feet. John Benjamin made the most of his favoured peg and a well-deserved first win by finding a lovely Bream of at least 5lb and some bits for his winning 8lb 7oz by fishing the waggler down the inside of his peg on the crease of the inlet. Dave Hughes fished for bits (Whip, stick and waggler) and 6lb 3oz of them was enough for 2nd place. Graham Stevens also found his fish down the inside of his peg and managed to snag a couple of decent predators, a pike around 2lb and a couple of perch 12oz plus bits to take 3rd with 6lb 1oz.

At least everyone caught (which is more than you can say for some of the expensive commercials of late), but a shame that the tide and bank conditions were not ideal.

Phew! What a scorcher

More House Fishery, Sidewinder Lake - 18th June 2017 - Blazing Hot - 30c

The hottest day of the year so far saw the 23 anglers and thousands of cruising fish trying to do nothing except keep cool. It was a testament to just how many fish there are in this lake. You could see them everywhere, but tempting them to take a bait was another matter.

We had most of the pegs available to us with just 7 to 14 on the front bank left spare for day tickets. Although some day tickets did fish for a while, the the pegging created two effective 'end pegs' although there were plenty of other spare pegs to try to give everyone some room.

With the layout of the fishery, it is impossible to see much of what is going on, but judging from the noise and banter, not much seemed to be happening anywhere for much of the match.

Come the weigh-in, it was new member and venue regular Adrian Bell who had the first end peg and duly put 70lb on the scales by making good use of the space next to him, catching F1's up in the water on pellet. Two pegs on, Tony Morris had a decent day as always (considering the conditions) and managed 52lb. After that as the scales went round, the weights were pretty modest by More House standards although Dave Morris did manage 51lb 4oz, just shy of his Dad, and the Dockers, (the other Dad 'n Lad combo) had 43lb and 49lb. 

And so it went on until the scales reached Paul Oliver on the final and other end peg, who had managed to find some bigger carp on maggot in the nearside margins and just enough for 1st on the day with 73lb 12oz.

A great day for a tan, but just way too hot for good fishing, but that's the way it goes. We'll all be moaning when it rains next week.

Plenty of Palmers at Bough Beech

Bough Beech Reservoir, Dam Wall - 4th June 2017 - Sunny Intervals but cool breeze - 17c

Whilst the man absents himself from any proper fishing venues, his name still made an appearance at Bough Beech when 6 of the 21 turning out, failed to trouble the scalesman and so recording a 'Palmer' each.

All looked good, with the level still pretty high, but it seems June is just too early for the Dam Wall as most of the fish are in the shallower reaches, still completing their spawning. It was feeder or nothing on this day as there were no signs of fish (except pike) within easy casting range.

With recent useful experience from Irish feeder festivals, both Dave Hughes and Tony Morris are great exponents of the art of long range feeder fishing for silvers, but even they struggled. Finding very little in the usual areas at the bottom of the wall around 50 yards out, both made good use of their long and powerful tackle to go another 20 yards where a few roach, perch and hand-sized skimmers were feeding. Although hardly what you would call bagging, this still enabled Dave to catch regularly enough for another Bough Beech win with just 6lb 7oz. Tony was the only real opposition but his 2nd place weight of 4lb 7oz was relatively still some way behind. Joint 3rd were Chris Lawrence and Paul Oliver who both recorded 2lb exactly.

Generally speaking, the further along the wall you went, things got slightly better, evidenced by pegs 1 to 4 all blanking. Craig Winchester on peg 5 hooked his one and only fish at 29 minutes past three and the resulting 6oz perch was good enough for a joint section win Keith Best (featuring for the first time with a result) from the pegs 1 to 10 section. Jasper Stevens was the best of the rest in the pegs 11 to 21 section to take the other section prize with 1lb 10oz.

Bough Beech can be frustrating at the best of times, particularly so on a day like this with many tales of waiting so long for a fish, only for it just to be taken by a pike on the retrieve or dive into the weed beds that seem to cling to the wall half-way up. All in all, not the most memorable day for anyone.

Orchard Place produces the goods again

Orchard Place Fishery, Match Lake 6 - 28th May 2017 - Sunny & Hot - 23c

A few days of hot weather got both the fish and fisherman excited about the prospects for this favourite venue and for once, we were not disappointed. The 24 anglers were spread around pegs 1 to 40, with 12 on the spit and the other half round the far side and top end. As is usually the case here, almost everyone was into fish from the off and the fishing race commenced, with F1's or small carp coming one a bung for many.

Despite all the usual suspects present and some great exponents of the art of F1 bashing, it was Jasper Stevens that beat off the tough opposition and triumph in the end. Fishing shallow with maggot from half-way up the spit facing the car park, he managed to keep them coming all day. Usually when Jasper has four nets out, there are no more than a couple of fish in each, but this time they were properly filled. The four nets totalled a magnificent 203lb 2oz and a great win on the day. Very well done Jasper!

Paul Oliver was on the middle peg of the point of the spit and suspected there might be a few fish about when testing his float shotting, an F1 grabbed his bare hook squarely in the lip (see final paragraph - using bait is for wimps). In the match proper, he managed to keep fish coming regularly, by alternating between banded pellet on a small feeder to the island and shallow with maggot on the short pole. However, when the first of his four nets came out, it was clear he had royally cocked-up as the scales slammed down well beyond their 70lb limit. Despite being knocked back to 60lb on this net, he still managed to record 184lb 10oz for 2nd place. 

Fresh from his success in the midweek road trip, it was Sam Docker who managed to top the local battle with the Morris's on the far side and top banks. He also fished shallow with maggot for 168lb 2oz for 3rd place, narrowly beating Tony Morris into 4th place, just a fish behind on 167lb 6oz.

The two sections were won by Phil Harris on the spit with 144lb 8oz and Dave Morris with 139lb 12oz just taking the other section against two other 138lb weights from venue-expert Micky Gray and Graham Stevens.

No less than half the field recorded ton weights, with lots of 80's & 70's as backing, making this one of the fairest and best bagging waters around.

Paul Oliver hopes his few days of mixed fortunes has come to an end. The knock-back on weight in this match followed the loss of his brand new feeder rod and reel at Viaduct during the week, when an angry carp grabbed his unbaited hook dangling an inch into the water and promptly vanished into the depths. Whilst helping with the payouts today, he put his car keys on the roof of John Palmer's car. John promptly shot off to cook dinner and it was ten minutes later that Paul frantically called John with what had happened. Amazingly, despite almost getting to the A21, the keys were still on the roof and John was able to safely return them. 

Marsh Farm frustrates again

Marsh Farm, Richardson Lake - 21st May 2017- Overcast with little wind - 15c

After several tough matches here over the last year, the 16 who turned up knew it was never going to be easy, but with recent open matches recording 50lb weights, there was some optimism that we would have a few. Roger Howe (GAS Match secretary) kindly let us use both sides of the near end of the lake, where better weights were coming out, but even this advantage was not enough for the talents of W&DAS.

It (or we) was so dire, there is little to be said really. Graham Stevens picked up a couple of tench on the feeder early but then nothing for hours, and there were odd fish here and there for the rest. Paul Oliver on permanent peg 40 eventually found that if you fished as far away from any feed as possible, you could tempt the occasional bite. With a single maggot on the long pole he managed to amass 5 small tench, 2 skimmers and 1 crucian for a winning total of 14lb 10oz. Graham Stevens finally managed to add one more tench and a bream with his feeder from peg 10 to take 2nd with 12lb 15oz. After being biteless for 5 1/2 hours, Barry Stagg found 3 tench on pole and maggot in the last half-hour to nick third with 7lb 15oz. 

Other than that it was mostly just odd fish with 4 anglers even recording a Palmer. Not good on a reasonable late Spring day and it is going to be difficult to tempt members back for other fixtures scheduled for later in the year.

Passies Produces for some

Passies Match Lake, Bunker & Field Sections - 14th May 2017 - Mostly sunny but breezy - 16c

With the Competition Secretary struck down by a near fatal dose of man-flu, only 22 arrived in the puddle strewn car park just as the heavy overnight rain ended. With over 40 pegs available, the pegging was spread out over the whole stretch, giving plenty of room for most to try to search out some fish.

With such a big fishery, it is impossible to know what is happening during the match so the details all come out during the weigh-in. Then, it became clear that Sam Docker had won-out in his local rivalry with Dave Morris and also done enough to win the match. Pegged in a noted flyer (what other type of peg does Sam draw), being the first peg after the bend at the top of the bunker straight, Sam knew the fish would be in a gap in the trees at 14 metres over and set out picking them off with corn fished over groundbait. But as the day wore on, the breeze got stronger and even he found it progressively more difficult to control his tackle and keep them coming. He even got the dreaded bomb rod out and amongst much swearing, eventually managed to get a cast to go somehwere close to where he wanted which produced precisely nothing. 

Being wound up with regular text messages from Dave about his progress, he nearly threw in the towel and went home, but decided to try the margins, again with corn over groundbait, which produced a steady run of fish including one or two serious lumps, for the rest of the match. Finally tally was 80lb 3oz (see picture) for a quite comfortable win in the end. Dave Morris was pegged next to the pill box and is a much bigger fan of the feeder and used his expertise with it to take carp & big F1's regularly throughout on a method feeder and assorted multi-coloured pellets, chucked tight to a clump of new reeds on the far side, to take 2nd place with 67lb 13oz.

The only frame weight to come from the higher numbers was for new member Adrian Bell who weighed in 46lb 7oz from near the top and, with Graham Stevens coming in 4th with 44lb 14oz.

It was also the annual pairs match on the day which was won by Dave Morris and Bobby Stone with a combined weight of 111lb 4oz and Sam Docker and Micky Gray runners-up with 98lb 6oz.

Only two failed to make double figures on the day, so although perhaps a bit below par, all in all a decent day out.

W&DAS Jinx strikes again

Hartleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 7th May 2017 - Overcast with a chilly Easterly breeze - 11c

With all the work going on by the new owners at Hartleylands, the opportunity to switch the match from Nick's ("no fish left in there") to the more prolific and newly enlarged Pear Tree seemed like a good idea. However, things never do seem to go according to plan in fishing....

The forecast was for a decent Spring day and some of the 24 attending even turned up in shorts expecting to catch a tan as well as loads of fish. They were disappointed on both fronts as the unseasonably cold easterly wind cut across the lake and everyone soon started reaching for extra clothing. For those with an island peg, most also reached for the splodger as the banker method for early bites, but it just did not seem to happen. Yes, the rod would rip round occasionally, but in most cases they were very small carp, many not more than 3 or 4oz. Other favoured methods of big baits on the long pole or in the margins with plenty of feed similarly failed to tempt more than the odd small fish for most.

Mind you, with all the noise makers pegged near each other on the car park side, there was plenty of verbal activity to keep the anglers awake if not the fish-catching kind and come the weigh-in it was difficult to call as many ended up with a few fish, but difficult to judge the weights.

As it turned out, at least three of the top four had stumbled upon the right method on the day. Craig Winchester, continuing with his very brief return to form at the end of last season, realised early that the normal approaches were just not working and switched to just light but regular feeding with maggot on the long pole from his swim half way up the car park bank. This brought him regular assorted carp for the rest of the day and a winning start to the season with 55lb 13oz. Gary Toland was pegged in the new section of the lake at the top end of the far bank and had nothing to fish to except a pile of mud being the new island and shallow bare mud banks in the margins. So he had little choice but to fish the pole in the open water and like Craig, kept it simple and light with maggots and also caught small carp regularly for 2nd place with 44lb 6oz. 

Jasper Stevens was one of the few who had a margin untouched by the diggers and concentrated there to take big perch and carp for 3rd place with 41lb 13oz. Keith Harper learned from his midweek visit to Framfield that the carp were not in normal feeding mode and copied his successful method there by also fishing light with maggot on a short pole and long line to take 4th with 40lb 14oz. The two sections were won by Phil Harris on the car park side with 38lb 5oz and Paul Oliver 37lb 9oz from the far side. 

There's no doubt that there is something in that old saying "When the wind is in the East, the fish bite least" and today was a good example. Although the new bailiff who turned up for the weigh-in simply believed we were just rubbish as there were 200lb + weights the week before. He might be right....