Season fizzles out for most

Monk Lakes, Puma Lake - 15th March 2020 - Overcast, Windy & Showers - 11c

17 turned up for this final match of the season on a lake we have not used too often in the past. There was encouraging news of some good weights on the previous day's open but as so often is the case, we always come on the wrong day. 

First challenge was to find the pegs as none of the 40 swims were numbered, but fortunately we had one or two venue regulars who were able instinctively to identify certain numbers. Once the match started, there were one or two who were into a fish straight away, but several turned out to be carp which did not count for this silver only match. Silver specialist, Tony Morris found himself on peg 6 in a sheltered bay mid-way up the Bridges side of the lake and set about his business with a method with pellet which produced a steady run of decent bream throughout and a convincing win on the day with 45lb 2oz and a lovely day's fishing. Paul Oliver was on peg 16 on the far bank where like most, he found the method into the open water to be unproductive, but a switch to 13 pole with expanders produced several decent bream. Switching back to the method did produce a few more together with a nice tench which altogether proved good enough for 2nd place with 21lb 14oz. The higher numbered section was won by Steve Longhurst on the feeder with 19lb 8oz form peg 29 with Dave Johnson 2nd in section and 4th overall on 18lb 14oz. 

Most of the rest struggled to beat 10lb so a bit of a disappointing way to finish the season. 

Sumners shows some form again

Sumners Match Lake - 8th March 2020 - Sunny Intervals, rain early & late - 12c

A good turnout of 20 is an ideal number for this lake, giving most a little space, although the fish do remain shoaled up in tight pockets.

This venue is right up Phil Harris's street and he drew one of the most consistent pegs on the venue, on the far side at the end of the 1st island as it goes into the bowl. The 'corn king' made no mistakes in starting on the method with double corn out to the island, to take the first few lumps and then coming into the margins later with corn on the pole. He finished well clear with an impressive weight of 143lb 1oz. Father and son combo, Mike and Ray Brewster took the next two places from adjoining swims just down from Phil into the bowl, where both found fish willing to feed in the margins. Mike took 2nd place with 119lb 9oz and Ray 3rd with 85lb 2oz. It could have been closer had Ray's number 5 section not snapped when playing a lump and disappeared into the depths.

4th place came from the next swim for Dave King where his waggler and maggot fished in the margins was just out of the superpool with 84lb 5oz.

Apart from a deluge whilst setting up and another just on the whistle, the sun actually shone for short spells which was very welcome. Interestingly, the vast roach shoals which used to dominate the margins here are now almost totally absent. Whether as a result of a series of silver-only matches or predation is a bit of a mystery, but it does at least make the margin fishing more viable, even if the size of the fish are a bit of a test for many poles!

Even the mighty Orchard can be weather-affected

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 1st March 2020 - More wind and rain - 10c

Only 12 turned out for this usually popular venue, with many put off by the weather and the mud. Practically a 2nd home for Sam Docker, he dominated again with 84lb 6oz, but even he apparently had to resort to the method feeder to the island to keep fish coming.

It was very close for the minor placings though with Chris Lawrence 2nd on 36lb 12oz, Martin Twine 3rd with 35lb 15oz and 4th with 35lb 11oz was Jasper Stevens.

Yet more wind & rain

Hartleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 23rd February 2020 - Strong winds and showers - 9c

Although no named storms this weekend, the weather was still pretty unpleasant for the 12 who turned up for this one, particularly the 6 pegged on the fishery side who had the wind straight in their faces. However they were rewarded with the better weights.

On neighbouring pegs at the new car park end of the island were Keith Harper and Craig Winchester who had a great battle firstly on the feeder and then fishing almost the same margin swim. In the end, it was Keith who got the better of the contest and finished up with 53lb 9oz of carp for his 2nd win in succession. Craig managed 2nd with a similar bag of 38lb 1oz. Further down the same bank towards the car park was Dave Hughes, who started well then slowed as the match progressed but still finished 3rd with 34lb 14oz. Paul Oliver was 4th with 27lb 7oz from the other bank.Mark Merrett was 2nd in the road bank section with 26lb 4oz.

Another soggy day but at least a few few caught.

Weather affected Matches

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 16th February 2020 - Hurricane Force wind and torrential rain - 11.5c

After cancellation of the Monks match the previous week due to storm Ciara, storm Dennis swept in to dampen enthusiasm for this one. Only 5 battled through floods and fallen trees to turn up. Despite the sideways torrential rain, huge waves and gales, 4 very mad, hardy souls decided to give it go by selecting the least worst pegs in the conditions.

Although the wind abated a little during the day, the rain did not but their courage was actually rewarded by some decent weights. It was Keith Harper who picked out the form peg 33 at the start of the neck on the near side bank, where he managed a very creditable 49lb 5oz to win the match. Jasper Stevens was 2nd with 40lb 15oz, Mark Merrett 3rd with 39lb 2oz and Martin Twine 4th and last with 34lb 7oz. Paul Oliver thought better of it and went home.....

When the going gets tough....

More Fish than the Eden

Gold Valley, Middle Lake - 2nd February 2020 - Chilly & Breezy - 8c

With Winter Leagues and weather, only 14 turned up for this one and although not as prolific as it was in the warmer months, there should be a few fish for everyone.

Fished in two sections of 7 split across the lake top & bottom, it was John Mills on lonely peg 100 who started to pick up regular fish from the off, fishing down the inside with pole and maggot. At the other end of the lake, Jasper Stevens was also catching regularly on a small maggot feeder cast about one-third of the way across. 

As the match progressed, John & Jasper slowed a little and it was Micky Biles fishing his trusty method with maggot from peg 88 and Paul Oliver on the pole with maggot in the edge of peg 78 that began to catch regularly. With the two sections being weighed separately, it was only back in the car park that we found out how close it ended up.

Top weight and surprising no one more than himself, was Paul Oliver with 53lb 13oz. Despite having a lot more fish, John Mills was relegated to 2nd with 53lb 2oz. It was Micky Biles who ended up just taking 3rd with 38lb 9oz and pushing Jasper into 4th and out of the money with his 38lb 8oz.

Barry Stagg was the best of the rest in the top end section, taking 2nd in section with 20lb 5oz.

Everyone bar Dave King managed double figures, so for a mud-free venue on a cold winter day, everything you could ask for really.

Toughest match yet this season

River Eden, Chiddingstone Broad A - 26th January 2020 - Dry and mainly overcast - 9c

Popularity of the river venues continues to wane with just 9 wanting to have a go at this one. Mind you, they didn't miss much this time. The water was very cold and still pushing through after all the recent rain, but you can usually find a few fish in the slacks. Not today however.

Bob Stone was the only real exception. Opting for a short walk, he drew the shortest of all in Peg 1 in the car park where just running a float down in the flow in just a couple of feet of water, it was pretty much a bite a chuck all match. All small stuff, bleak, roach & gudgeon but totalling 5lb exactly and an enjoyable day. Several attendees threw in the towel early after several biteless hours and were just astounded to stand behind Bobby on return to their cars, when their own better looking swims failed to generate a single bite.

Paul Oliver was one peg below the lagoon, just above the weir. When both the pole and stick run down in the flow failed to produce a bite, he tried nailing the bait still with a tiny feeder and maggot. This did immediately produce a bite, but his only one in the match. However, it was a decent chub weighing 2lb 15oz and enough for 2nd in the match. Mark Merrett was in the Bomb Hole where despite the turbulent flow, he did get a few roach and gudgeon to feed to make 3rd lace with 1lb 11oz. The only other angler to weigh in was Barry Stagg who also picked up a few roach late on for 1lb 3oz.

Just extraordinary why this was quite so random on the day, but another reason why fishing keeps you coming back as it in rarely the same twice.

Superstars sweep the Board

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 19th January 2020 - Frosty & Cold - 5c

Only 14 were mad enough to brave the awful mud and cold, although this did include several of the venue experts taking the opportunity to practice for upcoming grown-ups matches. 

The results come as no surprise as despite the conditions, Sam Docker managed an amazing 140lb 3oz. 2nd was Josh Donovan with 97lb 7oz, Mike Brewster 3rd with 68lb 8oz and completing the frame of superstars, Bradley Garner with 56lb 12oz. Just to complete the drubbing over the rest of the noddys, Ray Brewster took the last payout for 2nd in the section with 55lb 15oz.

Amazing weights considering the conditions, but they really need to do something about mud. It is very unpleasant and potentially dangerous.

Tough but Close at Ribbon

Sumners Ponds, Ribbon Lake - 12th January 2020 - Sunny, breezy and cold - 6c

A creditable 20 members turned up for this one, anxious to plunder the big silver stocks and barbel shoals. It had been a while since we last fished this lake, mainly because it was always peggy. Unfortunately, whilst not the best conditions given the cold, things don't seem to have changed very much, despite some recent re-stocking.

It was those drawn on pegs with a feature of some sort that fared the best. Just an overhanging bush or the like was enough. Craig Winchester was not keen to be drawn near the middle of the far bank, although did have a small overhanging bush to his right which is where he concentrated his efforts. Feeding just a sprinkle of hemp and maggots all day, he managed a couple of barbel plus 6 of the newly stocked small carp to record a narrow victory with 13lb 14oz. Keith Harper was first peg on the island and because of the wind, resisted the long pole line to the far bank bush for the first half of the match and concentrated on catching nothing down the track. However, when he eventually did risk it, he was immediately rewarded with a barbel and followed up with some small carp, more barbel and a big perch, which proved enough for a close 2nd with 13lb 12oz. 

Jasper Stevens was on the island flyer peg and after losing a couple of barbel in the snags, did eventually land a few to take 3rd with 12lb 15oz. Bob Stone caught a renegade sizeable carp on the feeder which boosted him up to 4th with 11lb 11oz. These four also took the sections with Craig and Bob 1st and 2nd in one and Keith & Jasper in the other. 

For the rest it was a bit of a struggle with even a few DNW's, but as a good close contest, you couldn't really ask for more.

Hard as Nails for most

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 3 - 5th January 2020 - Overcast but mostly dry - 7c

There was a Silver-only match the previous day where even the venue experts struggled, but the 18 turning out for this one remained optimistic and all hopeful for a corner peg draw. Although not always the case, today you really needed one.

The two bowls were the two sections and it was the far-end corners of each that produced the top weights. Bradley Garner returned after absence to draw the corner by the spit where he fished pole into the end bank reeds. Despite losing several lumps in the snags, breaking his pole on another and going over-weight by 17lb in one net, he still managed to take the section and 1st overall with 80lb 2oz. Behind Bradley in the corner on the other side of the spit, Bob Stone started with a feeder to the middle which produced nothing. After some gentle polite advice from his tormentor Micky Biles, he changed to put his method in close to the top bank and immediately landed a real lump. After that, with further abusive coaching from Micky, he landed 8 more for top weight on the far bowl section and 2nd overall with 75lb 1oz.

Jasper Stevens was in the corner opposite Bradley and also fished pole in the marginal reeds for 67lb and 2nd in the near bowl and 3rd place overall. Mark Merrett competed the pattern by taking 37lb 9oz from the last top-end corner for 2nd in the far bowl. 4th overall and the only weight not from a corner was Dave Morris with 40lb.

There was also a Silver-only pool but just to show how hard it fished, it was won by Mick Hull on 6lb 11oz and Paul Oliver 2nd with 3lb 15oz. 

Curious considering how many fish there are in this Lake.

Eva delivers despite mid-winter conditions

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 29th December 2019 - Chilly, but calm & dry - 8c

Just 14 turned out to blow off the post-Christmas cobwebs, but considering the time of year and temperatures, those who stayed in front of the telly missed a very decent match.

At this time of year, the fish tend to be hold up in their favourite spots and this match was typical with the favoured pegs all producing. John Palmer has been spending too much time with Sam Docker as he has certainly learned how to draw from him. Coming on top of several recent flyers, he picked out the noted feeder peg on the far-side wides. Chucking a method and wafter at the island, he caught regularly from the start and they just kept coming to amass a five-hour total of 64lb 11oz and 1st place on the day. He keeps moaning that he is unfairly maligned in these match reports and asking to report something nice about him for a change. Having canvassed opinion extensively, i have been unable to come up with anything nice.

Mike Brewster also drew well on the car park bank by the gap in the far island. Dobbing bread close to the island margins, he picked up several lumpy carp early, adding a few F1's later for a total of 60lb 4oz and a close 2nd. Mark Merrett was behind the top island at the far end of the wides and managed 52lb 11oz for 3rd place, just ahead of Dave Hughes in 4th with 48lb 15oz.

A good close match and only two failed to make double figures.

What a way to celebrate Christmas

Gold Valley, Middle Lake - 22nd December 2019 - Overcast but calm - 9c

Recent opens suggested this was going to be hard and with a brilliant turnout of 28 (even after two no-shows), the pressure would also tell. It was going to be a test that would bring out the best. The lake was sliced into four across the width for the four sections of seven to try to make things as fair as possible and spread the pools around. 

It was indeed a struggle for many but at least there were no blanks this year - the first time in living memory for a Christmas match. Lucky John Palmer was trying hard for his 5th Christmas blank in a row but somehow landed a fish at 2pm weighing 2lb 15oz  to avoid his usual humiliation. It was Dave King who collected the wooden spoon this year with his weight of 1lb 2oz.

There were four magnificent hampers provided by the club for the four section winners.

No surprises that the winner of section A and 1st overall was Sam Docker with 29lb 15oz from peg 99. Josh Donovan was 2nd in section with 20lb 11oz from peg 100.

2nd overall and winner of D section was Micky Biles, who stuck to his trusty feeder on peg 80 to land a few proper carp amongst the F1's which boosted his weight to 27lb 4oz. Tony Morris was 2nd in section with 21lb 1oz.

3rd overall and winner of C section was Dave Hughes on 23lb 15oz from peg 77. Bob Docker, home for Christmas, was 2nd in section with 21lb 4oz.

Toughest was B section which was won by John Mills on peg 94 with 10lb 3oz.  2nd in section and breaking the total dominance of the current club superstars was Brian Beacroft (a superstar for other talents apparently) with 5lb 15oz.

Everyone decamped to the nearby Lion Brewery to give out prizes for everyone and enjoy the 'haute cusine' laid on. There were goodies for everyone attending and the addition of five lucky peg draws for a £20 voucher kindly donated by Crawley Tackle Warehouse. They are celebrating their move to new bigger premises at Unit 24 Cobham Way, Crawley RH10 9RX, so well worth checking out, especially their soon to launch pole alley!

It was a great day all round with a few fish caught and a close match - just a pity that the meal didn't live up to expectations.

Another Battering but at least a different name

Sumner's Match Lake - 15th December 2019 - Early rain and chilly breeze - 8c

With only 15 turning out for this usual sell-out venue, pegs were able to be well spread out round the lake. We has 7 spread out round the bowl and 8 around the islands, so everyone had plenty of room.

However, typical of winter fishing, the fish weren't moving around looking for food, but holed up tight in certain areas from which they refused to move. One such area was the middle of the bowl, in front of the first island as Chris Lawrence quickly discovered from his last peg before the island. His first cast with method and wafter went round within minutes. So did his second cast and nearly every cast thereafter for the next five hours to land twenty typical Sumners lumps and a couple of Tench and Silvers for good measure. This was plenty for a crushing win with 140lb 3oz. Very well done Chris!

Dave Morris was pegged opposite Chris on the nearside of the bowl where he fished similarly but catching at just half the rate. He still managed a creditable 2nd place with 71lb 7oz. Jasper Stevens was next to Dave but close enough to cast to the island margins where he also caught 53lb 14 oz, all on the feeder to take 3rd.

The island section proved difficult for most and the best effort came from Mark Merrett towards the top end on the far side with bread on the feeder where he managed to win the section and take 4th overall with 39lb 11oz. 

Even the silvers proved reluctant this day, evidenced by Mark Hathway, practising for an upcoming silver match here, and managing only 6lb 12oz.

I'm a Celebrity, get me out of here

Hartleylands, Reservoir Lake - 8th December 2019 - Sunny but windy - 8c

It had warmed a little from the bitter cold during the week, but the wind made things very uncomfortable for the 15 who attended this allegedly last-ever match on this lake. The very clear water added to concerns that this would be hard, and for the most part, they were right.

John the Biscuit was pegged on the flyer on the car park bank, a few swims in from the entrance. He was contemplating the call from the BAFTA Committee following his 5-second appearance on DIY SOS shown this week and his new career in show business, when his orange wafter on the method was grabbed by a small skimmer.

3 points at least and a distinct improvement on his usual December efforts. He chucked it out again, in a completely different place and surprisingly it went round again for the first of five carp all caught from somewhere in front of him over the next five hours. That proved to be four more than most of the rest achieved, so at least he can claim to have a few carp as well as Sarah amongst his new adoring fan base. Adding further to his inflated ego, it proved enough for a win by totalling 33lb 1oz.

On the opposite bank, Graham Stevens snared an estimated 15lb carp early on, to which he added a couple of smaller specimens later for 2nd place on 25lb 5oz. Mark Merrett was in the corner opposite the entrance and somehow landed three foul-hooked carp for 21lb 5oz and 3rd place, with Paul Oliver in 4th on 20lb 15oz from the end bank.

Ian Carley was 2nd on the Car Park section behind the Biscuit with 15lb 4oz.

All in all, it was pretty tough going, but that's Show Business.....

Winter bites more than the fish for some

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 1st December 2019 - Sunny intervals and Northerly wind - 5c

This was the third day of a cold snap. Whilst no frost, the temperature hardly moved and the brisk northerly created a real wind chill. The wet autumn had also turned the paths and swims into mushy muddy puddles making conditions more miserable for the brave 20 who turned out. Relying on local knowledge, the far bank was left out leaving three sections comprised of the spit, car park bank and top bank.

The Orchard F1's are willing to feed whatever the weather and once again it was the man in form, Mike Brewster who started catching regularly on 11m pole and maggot from the off from his peg at the end of the spit. For most of the rest, it was just the odd fish evidenced by Sam Docker who owned up to just one fish in the first hour from his peg at the top of the far side of the spit. 

As the match progressed, by switching lines or methods regularly, many managed to pick up odd fish and build a weight, although Mike began to slow and Sam began to speed up. Come the weigh in, Sam had done enough to overhaul Mike and take top spot with 150lb 7oz - remarkable weight on such a cold day. Mike finished 2nd with 131lb 14oz, an equally impressive performance and well clear of the 70lb 8oz taken by Mark Merrett from end peg on the top bank followed by Craig Winchester with 68lb 7oz from the first peg on the spit far side.

Other money winners were Paul Oliver with 66lb and Alec Bishop with 59lb 15oz being 1st and 2nd from the Car Park section and well done to Brian Beacroft for managing 65lb 6oz to take 2nd in the top bank section.

A few struggled more than most, including a couple un-named (Phil Harris and Dave King) who were too ashamed to weigh their efforts.

Tough for most on Bridges

Monk Lakes, Bridges Lake - 24th November 2019

15 turned up for this one, all hoping to latch on to some of the lumpy Bream that that the venue is noted for. Most were disappointed however, although Mark Hathway had a decent day, coming first with 37lb 9oz. Barry Stagg was blanking and moaning with an hour to go, when the Bream miraculously turned up and he caught  16lb 6oz in that last hour to take 2nd. Jasper Stevens was 3rd with 14lb 2oz and Dave Johnson 4th with 11lb 14oz.

Another Good Day

Gold Valley, Middle Lake - 17th November 2019 - Sunny Intervals - 9c

19 turned up for this one at a Gold Valley full to capacity with its own winter league. With 19 on the lake and a very cold night again, expectations were not that high, so it was nice for many to be pleasantly surprised.

The new Saturday boy at Crawley Tackle Warehouse, John Mills put his recent big match experience to good use on peg 95 on Syndicate bank, where he tempted the shy F1's regularly on the pole for an excellent winning weight of 80lb 2oz. Sam Docker was not impressed by his peg 62 on Gold bank, despite it being an end corner peg. Nevertheless, he made the best of things with a similar net of F1's for 58lb 4oz and 2nd place. Paul Oliver was on the other corner on Gold bank peg 94 and chased the spooky fish around the peg on pole and maggot, inlcuding three 'proper' carp amongst the F1's to take 3rd place with 53lb. In form Mike Brewster was 4th with 49lb 10oz.

Pools winners not already mentioned were, new man Josh Donovan on his first outing, managed 2nd in the bottom section with 44lb 9oz and Jasper Stevens was 2nd on the centre section with 32lb 7oz. 

All in all, plenty of bites for most and a decent day all round.let's home the form is sustained for the Christmas match back here in a few weeks time.

Beautiful Autumn Day at Claygate

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 10th November 2019 - Sunny and Calm - 10c

With hurricanes and the first sharp frosts of the year in the days leading up to this match, only a dozen were brave enough to turn out for this one. However, they were rewarded with a beautiful Autumn day and against all expectations, decent fishing for many.

Mike Brewster was the man, continuing his recent run of good form, who enjoyed the best of the day. Drawn on peg 15 just past the disabled platforms on the far side, he found carp waiting for his 4mm pellets from the off and plundered 49 of them over the course of the match (including a good sprinkling of bigger carp, for a remarkable total of 106lb 8oz. A great result for the time of year, so well done Mike!

Mark Merrett was on the near bank, opposite the gap of the top island. (Peg 31). After poaching a few lumpy carp from the neighbouring swim, he eventually took to fishing his own peg by swinging a long line on the pole right into the gap where the bigger carp were resident and despite losing a few in the snags, landed enough for 2nd place with 76lb 6oz. Sam Docker was on peg 23 by the first island and happy for a swim where he could reach the island using less than 17 metres. He found the F1's obliging as always, although the stamp was small, but enough to amass 65lb 7oz for 3rd. Paul Oliver was on peg 32 and weighed 51lb 5oz for 4th place.

The small number on the lake probably helped the weights, so it was a lovely day's fishing at what can be a challenging venue. The fish you do catch however, are usually in fantastic condition and great to see. 

Typically Tough

Bough Beech Reservoir - 3rd November 2019 - Sunny Intervals & Calm Winds - 13c

A fortunate break between 70mph gales and torrential rain on days either side, saw reasonable conditions for the day but which attracted just 10 anglers to try their luck. With the entire Dam Wall to go at, there was one section of 5 from the steps to the tower and another from the tower to the far steps. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but is a fair walk with all the gear to the highest numbers.

Fishing was tough however, with roach almost totally absent, it was ruffe, small perch and the odd skimmer for most. In the end, it was the class of the Bough Beech regulars  that showed the way. Mark Hathway was 1st peg past the tower and managed a few decent skimmers amongst the ruffe to come out on top with 6lb 12oz. Tony Morris was on the 1st steps, Peg 1 and got off to a steady start with skimmers, although things got harder as the day went on but did enough for 2nd with 6lb exactly. Graham Stevens and Ray Brewster were next to each other on the far section and finished 3rd and 4th respectively with 3lb 9oz and 3lb 1oz.

A tough old day all round really, which is a shame. When you get a few more bites, it can be a really nice change but days like this one seem destined for the hardy few.

Recent Matches
Apologies but due to pressure of work, here is a short report on recent matches

Willinghurst, John's Lake - 27th October 2019 (14 fished)

1st - Michael Brewster        77lb 8oz
2nd - Phil Harris                  70lb 11oz
3rd - Sam Docker                55lb 14oz
4th - Barry Stagg                 37lb 3oz

Barming, River Medway - 20th October 2019 (5 fished)

1st - Graham Stevens      23lb 10oz (Cracking net of Bream in flood conditions - see photo)
2nd - Craig Winchester    5lb 1oz
3rd - Mark Merrett            3lb 1oz
4th - Barry Stagg             1lb 1oz

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 6th October 2019 (11 fished)

1st - Sam Docker             274lb 11oz
2nd - John Mills                212lb 1oz
3rd -  Steve Longhurst     196lb 13oz
4th - Craig Winchester     178lb 3oz

Sumners Ponds, Match Lake - 29th September 2019 (16 fished)

1st - Michael Brewster       260lb 14oz
2nd - Keith Harper             132lb 14oz
3rd - Graham Stevens       116lb 0oz
4th - Barry Stagg                105lb 6oz

Hartleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 22nd September 2019 (15 fished)

1st - Craig Winchester             97lb 11oz
2nd - Barry Stagg                    84lb 2oz
3rd - Paul Oliver                      68lb 12oz
4th - Terry Archer                    67lb 4oz

Monk Lakes, Lake 1 - 15th September 2019 (18 fished)

1st - Sam Docker             177lb 2oz
2nd - Michael Brewster    132lb 6oz
3rd - Dave Morris             96lb 13oz
4th - Ian Carley                81lb 15oz

River Eden, Chiddingstone - 8th September 2019 (7 fished)

1st - Paul Oliver             17lb 11oz (3 tench plus bits)
2nd - Mark Merrett          6lb 12 oz (1 tench plus bits)
3rd - Jasper Stevens      5lb 7oz
4th - Graham Stevens    5lb 6oz

Gold Valley, Middle Lake - 1st September 2019 (17 fished)

1st - Phil Harris                    92lb 1oz
2nd - Micky Biles                 80lb 1oz
3rd - Bradley Garner           59lb 13oz

4th - Paul Oliver                   56lb 4oz

A close match for the minor placings with 41lb still needed for 11th place!

Willinghurst, John's Lake - 25th August 2019 (22 fished)

1st - Mark Merrett             106lb 13oz
2nd - Dave Hughes          100lb 8oz
3rd  - Barry Stagg             67lb 2oz
4th - Phil Harris                 65lb 0oz (overweight net knocked back)

Close challenge at Claygate

Claygate Lakes, Lake Eva - 18th August 2019 - Rain then sunny intervals - 19c

With holidays and a couple of no-shows, it was down to just 15 fishing this one, which is probably just as well as the near end was already occupied by day ticket anglers.

Spread around the rest of the lake as best we could, we had a section on the near bank with two more beyond the disabled platform on the far side and the other section round the far side bank to the end.

It was Terry Archer who drew the noted peg at the top of the near side at the start of the neck. It doesn't look special but it does have form and Terry made no mistakes in plundering a regular stream of F1's and small carp on the pole and small method feeder for a winning total of 77lb. Paul Oliver was the last peg in the section, where he had to keep ringing the changes to keep fish coming. Some on the small pellet feeder to the island, some on the pole and pellet mid-channel and some slightly bigger carp in the margins on maggot in the last hour. Altogether enough for 2nd place with 71lb 14oz. Steve Longhurst was end peg on the far bank opposite Terry, where he did his best to keep up but ended up with 54lb 1oz for 3rd overall. After that it was a succession of close weights, 53lb (Mick Hull), 49lb (Fingers), 47lb (Dave Johnson), 46lb (Shakey),  45lb (Barry Stagg) & 37lb (Martin Twine). 

Overall then, a close match with weights reflecting more of a challenge than a fish race and a decent day out.

At last! Proper fishing that's proper

Ardingly Reservoir - 11th August 2019 - Early squally showers, overcast and breezy - 20c

A creditable 16 turned up to give the res. another try and most were well rewarded for flogging up the slope. With the levels down from our previous visit, there was a good 'beach' all along the stretch to fish comfortably from, although early squally showers did try to dampen proceedings somewhat. 

The stretch was divided onto two sections, the upper one from the dam to the bend and the lower down towards the arm. It proved quite a clever split as the two sections did fish quite differently, with the lower section delivering all the best weights. 

Tony Morris put his Irish and big water experience to good use from the middle of the lower section. Starting with a big chuck to 50 yds, things were quiet indeed for the first hour or two, but he noticed others catching shorter and came back to his nearer line on 25yds and didn't look back. Catching decent bream regularly, he produced top weight on the day with a great bag of 51lb 9oz taken on feeder with worm. Similar tactics gave Phil Harris 2nd in section and overall with 37lb 10oz followed by Martin Twine on 31lb 8oz.

The upper section was not so productive but was still topped with a 20lb 15oz mixed net for Paul Oliver, taken on feeder with worm and waggler with maggot from the middle of the section. The bag included the prettiest perch of 2lb 12oz you will ever see, just a shame he couldn't hold it properly to get a good picture! Peg 1 by the Dam produced 16lb 8oz for Barry Stagg for 2nd in section and Dave Johnson nicked 3rd in section from the last peg with 15lb exactly.

All in all, it fished well with only 5 failing to make double-figures and a very enjoyable change.

It's that man again

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 3 - 4th August 2019 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

Similar weather for the third week in a row, but only 13 turned out for this usually popular venue. However, it did give everyone plenty of space with only 6 or 7 in each bowl, so a good day was on the cards.

Sam Docker was on the near bank, peg 91 and did what he does best. After attempts at mugging and up in the water failed to produce much, he resorted to hard pellet on the short pole and in the margins to catch regularly for a hefty 282lb 8oz and top spot again. He didn't have it all his own way however, as Tony Morris was on peg 125 on the far bank bowl, near the corner. The usual feeder to the reeds proved impossible following the thinning carried out by the fishery which left all the stems underwater, so he concentrated on short pole with paste which delivered an excellent 242lb 4oz. John Mils put some of Sam's tutoring at Monks to good effect from peg 119 on the spit. Fishing similarly on short pole and in the margins, he racked up a very creditable 221lb 3oz for 3rd spot on the day. 

With a 60lb net limit and silvers separate, it is getting a bit silly now though with anything up to 11 nets needed on recent matches here and the top three today using nearly 20 nets between them.

No such problem for the rest of us though, but there were ton weights at least for Graham Stevens (124lb 1oz), Keith Harper (112lb 6oz) and Paul Oliver (106lb 8oz) and at least everyone had plenty of fish. Most remarkable was the silver net included in Keith's haul which totalled 48lb of big ide and bream and a real treat for the silver king (not just for his hair). Is that a happy face or what? (See picture)

Phil Abandons his beloved corn

Sumners Match Lake - 28th July 2019 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

After a couple of late withdrawals, 25 turned out for this one on a perfect looking day for fishing. A slight breeze and sunny intervals looked ideal and for a change, the fish seemed to like it also.

The lake was divided into two sections, with 12 on 'the bowl' and 13 round the islands which again proved a good decision as the bowl once again fished harder than it used to. The one exception was Phil Harris drawn half-way up the nearside of the bowl. He assumed he would not need his pole and set off with feeder and pellet waggler with limited success. Oddly, in this swim the margins are very shallow - not much more than a foot deep but Phil still piled in some feed and was surprised to see a few tails appear quite quickly. There was no looking back after that as he plundered the margin with paste on the pole for regular chunky carp and a brilliant final tally of 236lb 7oz with not a piece of corn used.

Some way back, it was still a decent day was Mick Hull on the same bank behind the first island. He caught on a variety of methods, but also found fish in the margins later on to finish with 159lb 11oz. Jasper Stevens had cleverly arranged the pegging to provide him with a whole lake to himself at the far end where he too plundered the margins with cat meat on the pole to finish just behind Mick on 154lb 3oz. 4th Place went to Bradley Garner, pegged next to Mick Hull but not quite keeping place with 123lb 13oz.

Amongst others not already mentioned was a very creditable 2nd in the Bowl section for Dave King with 103lb 14oz and Graham Stevens 3rd in the Bowl with 97lb 9oz.  There were also several good 'ton weights' from the island section for Dave Hull (118lb 3oz), Tony Morris (114lb 4oz) and Craig Winchester (103lb 15oz). 

Backing weights were mostly good with plenty in the 70lb - 80lb  range, although generally the far side of the bowl seems to be the least favoured these days. (or maybe it is just the anglers...)

Proper fishing proves as unpopular as ever

River Medway, Barming upstream - 21st July 2019 - Sunny Intervals - 22c

Only 7 were willing to give this a go, despite the beautiful surroundings and decent weather. Recent good match weights also failed to tempt any beyond the regular mad few. It was decided to walk up to the pegs in the 40's which was reportedly where the better fish had apparently been showing. Suffice to say, not today apart from Mark Merrett who managed to find one decent bream in the slack in front of him. After adding four eels and a few bits, it was enough for top weight of 9lb 13oz. 

Keith Harper is 'king of the bits' and this suited him in being able to whip out plenty of bleak, small roach & perch to amass a total of 7lb 6oz, just enough to beat the 'River King' Barry Stagg who had a similar net for 7lb 4oz.

A frustrating day for most with plenty of boats, variable flows as the locks opened and shut, pike attacks (see what you missed Craig), lots of mad cyclists and dogs and where anything over an ounce was a specimen. Remind me again why commercials are so popular?

A Good 'iding for Dave

Orchard Place, Silver Lake - 14th July 2019 - Overcast with occasional showers - 19c

Just 17 turned out for this one, but as on previous visits, it was an interesting match and impossible to predict. To keep to the spirit of the venue, it was decided to exclude Carp or F1's although after a lively debate, Crucians would count.

Dave Johnson had the end peg furthest from the car park and enjoyed a terrific day in the quiet end bay. He found a succession of decent Ide, some approaching 3lb on caster down the track or close to the far bank under the grass. Add a few Crucians, Roach and Skimmers to the mix and he had a fantastic day for top weight of 50lb exactly.

Paul Oliver was round the corner by the small island and found that after catching a few, they quickly spooked to a different area of the swim where you had to start all over again. Nevertheless, he managed to pick up six decent bream on pole-fished pellet, plus bits for 31lb 1oz and good enough for 2nd.

For John Palmer, it was like he was on a stage. Pegged right in the middle of the centre straight, he could be seen and heard by almost everyone who encouraged and cheered (or was it swore and booed?) every fish as he plundered a shoal of barbel that seemed to be sat on his long pole line, snaffling his meat or maggot. With little evidence of much else happening in the area, he was quietly confident when the scales came round, but in the end, his cracking net of barbel to 4lb was only good enough for 3rd with 30lb 12oz. Graham Stevens was on the first straight and he too managed to get the ide to feed and come a close 4th with 29lb 7oz.

Of course, there were plenty of tales after the match about how many carp had been caught and reluctantly put back which "would have made all the difference", plus a close examination of Mark Merrett's net after he threatened to cut off their barbules and claim they were crucians...  

Recent Matches
Due to absence here is a short report on the three recent matches

Harleylands, Pear Tree Lake - 7th July 2019

1st - Adrian Bell             138lb 8oz

2nd - Steve Longhurst   124lb 13oz

3rd - Ian Carley              109lb 12oz

4th - John Mills                94lb 7oz 

Finally Pear Tree throws up some decent weights, including an 18lb 10oz carp for Jasper!

River Eden, Chiddingstone Broad A - 30th June 2019

1st - Craig Winchester 9lb 4oz

2nd - Jasper Stevens 9lb 2oz

3rd - Graham Stevens and Scott Denton equal 6lb 10oz

Warm weather and clear conditions meant bonus fish were absent apart from a 4lb Pike caught once again by Mr Winchester to win the match. Odd that you never see the snap tackle and spinners in his tackle box when he fishes at Orchard Place.....

Monk Lakes, Lake 2 - 23rd June 2019 

1st - Sam Docker              231lb 5oz

2nd - Mick Hall                 142lb 11oz

3rd  - Mark Merrett           134lb 14oz

4th - Mark Hathway          127lb 4oz

Apart from Sam running away with it again, how close was it for the minor placings? 11th place still recorded 107lb!

Hat Trick for Docker

Gold Valley, Middle Lake - 16th June 2019 - Cloudy with some rain - 18c

Several late no-shows reduced attendance down to 20, but provided plenty of space for those that did attend hoping for a decent day. However, rather like the previous week, the fish had other ideas and most struggled for bites. The exception of course, was Sam Docker on peg 78 who had 15 fish in the net on the short pole with pellet before most people had anything, although he too then slowed and many of the fish were pretty small. His planned long-pole and slapping also failed with the strong breeze making presentation difficult. Nevertheless, he managed to winkle out a few fish regularly close in and in the margins to amass a hat-trick first place with 66lb 11oz.

Paul Oliver was on peg 76 but managed to leave all his top kits at home. Expecting to stick to the feeder instead, after 45 minutes, had not had a single enquiry. The only option left was a single top kit borrowed from John Mills, which had been set up for the margins and probably did him a favour as he was forced to concentrate on the margins either side where he did manage to put together a steady run of fish on maggot for 55lb 13oz and 2nd place. John Mills was on peg 80 where his generosity was rewarded with 3rd place 48lb 4oz, all caught on the short pole or in the margins.

Quite why what few fish were feeding should appear to be congregated in front of these pegs is a total mystery. There is nothing there to hold them yet those in the attractive corners just a few pegs away really struggled as did much of the top end of the lake where it was Phil Harris who ended up 4th overall with 41lb 6oz. 

It was the 'A' section (near end of Gold Bank) that proved toughest needing only 26lb for Jasper Stevens to take the section, with Martin Twine 2nd with 25lb 10oz.

A bit more of a challenge than expected but that seems par for the course on most of our matches. At least everyone managed double-figures.

Unusual Conditions but same result

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 9th June 2019 - Overcast - 18c

Surprisingly, only 22 turned up for this one, but all expected a good day with plenty of fish. However, the residents of Orchard seemed to have other ideas, where some remained virtually biteless for long periods. Whether it was all the cold rain going in during the week or the match the previous day is difficult to know, but it was certainly a way off what you would normally expect in June. 

Even venue master, Sam Docker, in the middle of the top bank struggled for odd fish for most of the match but finally tempted a few to feed late on when he estimated catching 70lb of his final winning total of 116lb 8oz in the last hour, all caught on pole and pellet or maggot. Adrian Bell never follows the trends and had a plan to fish chopped worm on a short pole line from his peg in the middle of the car park side of the spit. This different approach seemed to fool more fish into feeding and he caught regularly throughout to run Sam a close 2nd with 114lb 9oz. Jasper Stevens was on the 'pleasure island' peg at the start of the spit where he too had to work hard, just failing to make the ton, but still coming a good 3rd with 97lb 12oz caught on the pole. Paul Oliver did he usual of a few on the feeder and then pole with maggot to come 4th with 80lb 15oz.

Also worthy of mention are Ian Carley, 2nd in the far section with 78lb 12oz, where John Mills was 3rd in section with 78lb 6oz.

Definitely a bit more of a challenge than usual, but it did at least produce a good close contest.

Organisational Nightmare

Ardingly Reservoir - 2nd June 2019 - Sunny & Warm - 22c

With the reservoir full to capacity, pegging was severely restricted to just the short areas of open bank between the trees meaning not just the uphill walk from the car park, but then some pegs being the best part of a kilometre, all the way down to the causeway. Not only that, but a triathlon swimming course had been marked out 30yds off the first pegs, making them even more difficult, so many thanks to Craig for getting to the venue early to sort out the best available for the 15 who attended. 

Perhaps this match vivdly demonstrated why we used not to fish in the Closed Season.  Just before the causeway is a small shallow bay where just about every bream in the lake had congregated to spawn and no prizes for guessing who's golden arm pulled that one peg out of the bag. Sam Docker normally regards bream as vermin and Orchard Place as a natural venue because it doesn't have platforms. But even he had to recognise that this turned out to be a truly special day on a beautiful natural venue. Whilst setting up, he could see there were a lot of fish in the small area, but was not seriously expecting to be worried about net limits within a couple of hours of the start. Fishing both pole and feeder, he caught slabs from the off for a spectacular final net of 131lb 1oz. See picture for just a sample of his haul. How on earth can you ever top that!

With almost every fish in the lake in Sam's swim, it is no surprise that it proved a bit of a struggle for the rest. Craig Winchester got some reward for all the organisation by finishing 2nd with 15lb exactly, Bobby Stone 3rd despite the swimmers in his peg with 13lb 12oz and Mark Merrett 4th on 11lb 15oz.

What a special day for Sam, but pretty ho-hum for everyone else. You come to expect that at Monks, but Ardingly? What can you say?​

Patchy but a good contest at John's Lake

Willinghurst Fisheries, John's Lake - 26th May 2019 - Sunny Intervals - 18c

Many of the 23 attending this one took advantage of a great breakfast beforehand and set up expecting a good day in the warmer conditions. As usual, some were into fish almost immediately but equally as usual, they just vanish with much head scratching about what to try next. Looks on the pole lines produced odd fish for some but nothing for most with no silvers to speak of.

Half way through the match and Mark Merrett on the far side of the narrow section was still without a fish, so decided to feed heavily in the margins with maggot and never looked back. He caught chunky carp steadily for the remainder, including one right on the whistle to come from behind to win with 66lb 3oz, relegating Gary Toland to 2nd. Gary had caught in bursts on the feeder throughout from the far-end nearside bank to finish with 65lb 8oz. Martin Twine was next to Mark but managed to catch odd fish all day on a feeder lobbed half-way (or maybe just beyond.....) and the pole to finish 3rd with 61lb 12oz. Micky Biles was in the middle of the nearside where it widens out and went off like a train with three fish in the first 10 minutes on the feeder. Although it then went quiet, sticking to the feeder, he picked up ones and twos in bursts throughout to finish 4th on 58lb 9oz. 

Other notables were Micky Gray who finished 2nd in the wide section with 43lb 10oz and Mike Brewster 3rd in the same section with 39lb 12oz.

A good close contest, but a few more bites might be nice....

Still far below it's best

Hartleylands - Pear Tree Lake - 19th May 2019 - Overcast and breezy - 16c

"Only" 21 turned up for this one, but that is still a lot for quite a small lake so perhaps just as well. The last few visits here have been a struggle and there was little improvement this time despite ideal looking conditions.

It was WDAS veteran, Steve Longhust who took top honours on the day. He was pegged on the canal lake side just into the newly dug section where he managed to take carp regularly on the pole from open water and in the margin with a winning weight of 69lb 11oz. Mark Merrett was on his own in the middle of the old bottom bank where he immediately spotted fish moving in the margins and duly grabbed a few lumps before adding a few more on the feeder towards the island. He finished 2nd with 60lb 10oz. Gary Toland has form here and managed 3rd place from behind the first island on the road side, where he fished pole under a nearside tree for 50lb 13 oz.  That man again, Bradley Garner, fresh from his debut victory at Viaduct, was next to Steve and took 4th place with 43lb. 

Phil Harris was 3rd in the canalside section with 35lb 8oz and Paul Oliver 3rd in the other with 36lb 11oz.

Three Amigos top at Sumners

Sumners Ponds - Match Lake - 12th May 2019 - Sunny Intervals but cool - 15c

A virtual full house of 29 attended this popular venue and unlike last season, it fished well despite the recent cooling of the weather and possible spawning. The match was split into two sections. One section effectively being the bowl and the other extending from the start of the first island right around the top and back. 

Whilst many expected the big weights to come from the bowl, the fish seemed to have other ideas and it was the first three anglers in a line behind the first island who dominated this match and with all three excelling with commercial carp on this sort of venue, they made the most of the situation. It was Sam Docker in the middle of the three who came out on top in the end, fishing mostly pellet slapped up in the water he took fish regularly from the off, topping up occasionally if things went quiet with a feeder to the island or mugging a cruising lump. His winning weight was a remarkable 213lb 9oz. To his right, Phil Harris took to the pellet waggler, also taking fish regularly and adding some on the method from the island and some later on the pole. It looked closer than it was, but he still weighed a creditable 171lb 8oz for 2nd place. To his left was new member Charlie Tullett who also had a great day to take 3rd place with 125lb 8oz.

With the top three all coming from the island section, the bowl section was won (and 4th overall) by Mike Brewster off the first peg on the nearside bank and a weight of 83lb 3oz. 2nd was Terry Archer with 68lb  with Bradley Garner managing 3rd on 42lb 13oz. 

There were plenty of other 60lb+ weights from around the islands, with the best weighed fish coming from Micky (" this one's definitely over 20lb") Biles, who put a beautiful common of 17lb 3oz on the scales. 

Tough Start for many for the new Season

​Monk Lakes, Match Lake 2 - ​5th May 2019 - Overcast & Chilly - 10c

This was the first time we had managed to secure Lake 2 for a full club match in quite a while and the 28 who turned out were really looking forward to it. Hot weather in previous weeks had seen some big weights, but the sudden cooling certainly made things unusually difficult for many.

Bradley Garner put down a marker for both his fishing and drawing skills. Drawn on noted flyer peg 67, he struggled at first to hang on to anything pole-fishing to the end-bank reeds, even snapping the pole and watching his top two dragged off into the reeds by an angry carp. He changed to fishing a method out to the big reed bank in front of him and didn't look back after that, taking lumpy carp regularly for the rest of the match and a winning total of 119lb 11oz. Venue regular Sam Docker was not so impressed with his draw in the middle of the central spit of the car park bowl, but on the day, the fish seemed to be in the middle of both bowls and Sam capitalised on long pole and alternated with the pellet feeder for 2nd place with 83lb 6oz. Almost opposite was Dad Bob Docker who winkled out odd fish on various  methods for 3rd with 67lb 1oz and John Mills was just behind in 4th with 66lb 14oz. 

Other notables not mentioned are Bobby Stone who managed 3rd in the far bowl section with 66lb 1oz  and Craig Winchester 3rd in the near bowl section with 65lb 5oz.

Although close for the minor placings, the weights were poor by Monk Lakes standards, with many on the far bowl struggling, one (no names-Jasper) not even making double figures. That's the way it goes sometimes.