Matches under the new normal

What a period in history it has been and will be for the foreseeable future. Having sadly lost one of our own, Bobby Stone, to the dreaded Coronavirus, brought the seriousness of the pandemic close to home. Nevertheless, we were very lucky that Angling was one of the first activities to be allowed in the lock-down relaxation and through the efforts of the Angling Trust, matches shortly followed, despite the necessity for gathering. See (Click here for full information). 

Lockdown led to cancellation of our first few matches, but they have resumed on a limited basis from 7th June 2020. Unfortunately, the requirement for social distancing does mean pegs must be further spread than usual, leading to limits on the numbers who can attend. Matches must be booked in advance with preference given to those members with highest attendance records last year and then randomly drawn from other interested members.

Some venues have also cancelled our long-standing bookings in favour of a newly invigorated interest in day tickets, so fixtures are subject to change at short notice. Members should watch their emails for updates.

The Committee recognises that this will lead to some disappointment but hopefully will not last too long. As the competitions are not open to all members, this year's championship and trophies have been shelved, but the match programme continues for pools only on the day.

First Match under lockdown Rules

Orchard Place Farm, Lake 6 - 7th June 2020

With the owner insisting on reserving much of the lake for day-tickets, we were limited to just 20 for this popular venue, allocated part of the car park bank, the spit and a few pegs into the far side. It was great to see plenty of masks & social distancing taking place although some had to work hard to resist their customary boy hugs and inappropriate touching. Specially sourced 2 metre draw table and weigh cradles completed the precautions and the arrangements were well respected and observed. Thanks to all for keeping each other safe.

The fish were obliging as they usually are at Orchard and some big names featured in the results. None bigger of course than Graham Stevens who seemed back on form after a quiet season last year. He ran out overall winner from the first peg on far side of the spit with 172lb 07oz. He took a few scalps in the process relegating Mike Brewster to 2nd overall with 166lb 15oz, and Sam Docker pushed back to 3rd with 153lb 14oz who both had decent pegs either side of the spit. John Mills was 4th overall, also from the spit section with 137lb 4oz.

Josh Donovan was 2nd on the other section with 128lb 15oz and Paul Oliver 3rd with 92lb.

Decent weights all round as usual and great to be back on the matches again.

Professionals lead the way at Monks​

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 1 - 13th June 2020

Again only 20 pegs available for this one and with the water level way down, the fishing was a bit patchy. 

Not for venue expert Sam Docker though. Although he drew what he claimed was a rubbish peg 38, it didn't turn out to be much of a leveller as he romped to victory with 125lb 7oz. John Mills was equally miffed at drawing peg 2 and although some way behind, still managed a creditable 2nd with 87lb 2oz. 

It was close after that though with Ian Carley 3rd overall with 78lb 12oz and Josh Donovan 4th with 75lb 8oz. Mike Brewster was 3rd in the high numbers section with 75lb 4oz and Craig Winchester 3rd in the low numbers with 70lb 10oz.

If we could find a way of nobbling the Mills/Docker combo, we might have some closer matches. More rivers perhaps....

Sumners fishes well despite daily hammering

Sumners Ponds, Match Lake - 20th June 2020

Another limit of 20 saw many disappointed this week for this ever popular venue. However, with it constantly fully-booked for day tickets since re-opening, there were some doubts about how well it might fish. We needn't have worried as it fished pretty well and ended up a very close contest after hours of weighing in!

Once again Sam Docker was not impressed by the new 'raffle style' draw as it resulted in a peg on the far side at the top end of the furthest island, one which even had him thinking about going home. Nevertheless, despite very little in the first hour or so, he did what he does best to come out on top with 183lb 1oz of Sumners lumps. Very close behind was Mike Brewster from between the islands on the near bank with 179lb 2oz for 2nd place. 3rd overall went to Ian Carley with 153lb 3oz from the next peg to Mike and 4th was Phil Harris from the unfancied top end with 150lb 10oz.

The match was divided into 3 sections, one of which was the far side of the bowl. Whether the fish weren't there or whether it was just the quality of the anglers in the section, is difficult to say, but none of the overall places came from this section. However, Mark Merrett was 1st on the section, finding smelly frozen prawns were not to the Roachs' liking but hoovered up by the carp and weighed 92lb 4oz. Paul Oliver was 2nd in the section with 82lb 3oz.

​Back to Monks for extra pegs

Monk Lakes, Match Lake 2 - 27th June 2020

With Willinghurst unable to host enough pegs, we were luckily able to switch to Monks and the larger and more prolific lake 2, where we could accommodate 25 pegs. Once again, most of us were fodder for the venue masters, but it is still a price worth paying for the opportunity to get out when so many other activities are still curtailed. 

Conditions were tricky however, with a very strong gusty wind proving a nightmare for any loose tackle. Talking of loose tackle, first victim of the wind was Dave Morris who saw his pole sections blow in whilst setting up. Being tight and also with nothing else to fish with, he had no hesitation in getting down to his skiddies to go in after it for a successful rescue from the fortunately warm water. Worryingly however was that once retrieved, he disrobed form his wet Y fronts completely. Not discreetly by facing the deserted bank in front of him, but insisted on displaying his nakedness to all pegged on the nearside bowl. Thanks Dave, we can't un-see that.

As for the match, it was the big guns again. (As exclusively and uncannily predicted by Micky Biles). Top spot this time went to John Mills on peg 69 where he banged out a magnificent 229lb 11oz. That's approximately one 7lb fish every 10 minutes. 2nd was Phil Harris, drawn on fancied peg 55, where despite facing the teeth of the wind managed 156lb 12oz for 2nd place, and after being knocked back for one of his nets. 3rd went to Josh Donovan, close behind with 151lb 9oz and 4th to Sam Docker with 141lb 8oz.

Section placings not already mentioned went to Graham Stevens, 4th in the far bowl section with 131lb. In the near bowl section, Mike Brewster managed 2nd in section with 138lb 9oz. Barry Stagg managed a creditable 3rd with 90lb 11oz with the indecent exposer (see photo evidence) 4th with 88lb 2oz.

Orchard proves unusually tough

Orchard Place, Match Lake 6 - ​4th October 2020 - Windy & Wet 14c

Space is still restricted here, so we were again confined to the car park bank and spit, but with a couple of no-shows, 16 anglers fitted in nicely. There had been several days of heavy cold rain which seemed to put the normally obliging F1's off the feed, but the increasing head of regular carp did provide a substitute, particularly for those with an island to fish to.

However, the weather was also pretty awful with the often-favoured pegs on the spit facing the car park suffering particularly with the wind and rain in their faces. Happily, the new gravel paths have reduced the mud somewhat, so at least it is no longer like fishing from a ploughed field. The more sheltered far side of the spit was the place to be with last 4 pegs into the corner (with the islands) producing best. Pick of this group was Mike Brewster who managed 97lb 11oz for 1st place in an incredibly close finish with Tony Morris, two pegs away who had 96lb 4oz. Both had mainly carp off their respective islands. 3rd place overall went to Paul Oliver on the first peg on the car park bank where he also had an island to chuck a small feeder to, where he picked up 82lb 7oz. 4th went to Graham Stevens who managed 80lb 12oz from the peg next to Mike, back on the spit. Just to show the difference, best weight around the rest of the spit was just 38lb 8oz.

To complete the payouts, Ian Carley was 2nd from the Car Park section with 69lb.

Tough by different standards

Beaver Farm, Maze Lake - 11th October 2020 - Overcast but Dry 14c

Unfortunately, the scheduled match at Claygate had to be rearranged due to a serious leak on Eva. Despite plenty of groans about the replacement venue, a creditable 19 turned up, but the fears proved well-founded. Even the bailiff admired our courage at holding the match there!

Some of us enjoy a more challenging environment occasionally, but this really took the biscuit. Mark Merrett was on the end peg at the top end where he stuck it out pushing a pole with maggot into the undercut sedge grass opposite. His patience was rewarded with the occasional passing carp and he ended up with five of them for a top weight of 17lb 15oz. Sam Docker has form at this venue (as with most) and didn't fancy his peg on the first peg into woods at the end of the carp park but picked up a number of the new F1's  and the odd carp fishing long in the margins for 2nd place with 15lb 5oz. At the other end of the woods, Mick Hull picked up one decent carp and  one slab which were enough for 3rd with 13lb 8oz. John Mills took 4th with 12lb 1oz. Everyone else failed to make double figures including 3 DNW's.

Even the experts struggle sometimes

Monks Lake 1 - 18th October 2020 - Overcast with some rain - 13c

Another re-arranged fixture due to Gold Valley reneging on match bookings. The regulars predicted it would be tough for some and so it turned out. The fish were clearly tightly shoaled up and mostly at the Car Park ends of the lake. It was a good day for the Brewster family however, as Brewster Junior took top spot from end-peg 42 with  98lb 3oz. Dad Ray, was on peg 18 in the other bowl and seemed to be fishing a different venue from those around him. Whatever he did (long pole, short pole, margins or feeder) seemed to result in fish and he ended up with a creditable total of 85lb 6oz for 2nd overall. Steve Longhurst managed 3rd from peg 36 with 69lb 5oz, closely followed by John Mills on peg 4 who put 67lb 9oz n the scales. 

For those at the other end of the lake, it was really tough (by Monks standards) with Sam Docker too embarrassed to even put his effort on the scales, which gives some indication how hard it was. 

Monks Again, but grateful

Monks Lake 3 - 25th October 2020 - Overcast & Breezy - 13c

With the limited selection of fisheries currently available, we are grateful to Monks for honouring Club match bookings and for fitting in extra fixtures where they can. 18 turned out for another go this week and most were rewarded with a much better day.

Bradley Garner has an uncanny ability to turn up occasionally but always draw a flyer. Today was no exception as he picked out the bottom corner peg of the spit on the far side bowl. With a mix of pole and feeder, he managed to amass a decent total of 97lb 8oz and 1st place on the day. Very close behind was the previous weeks' winner Mike Brewster who was in the top corner of the same bank where he landed 96lb 2oz. Keeping the family form going, Dad Ray was 3rd with 71lb 8oz from the nearside bowl with Paul Oliver 4th on 64lb 5oz.

A few still struggled, but most at least made double figures.


Back to Matches again

Orchard Place, Lake 6 - 6th December 2020 - Cold but Dry & Calm - 5c

Having had some decent weather during the latest lockdown, the last week or so had seen the onset of some proper cold and light frosts which suggested this might be a tough one. In tough conditions, Orchard is one place where you will usually still get bites, although the stocking of more regular carp does seem to have upset previous dominance of the F1's and made things less predictable for the 13 who ventured out. However, the cold kept most of the day tickets at home so we were able to spread out up the car park bank and spit.

The fish were holed up in places they wanted to be which was mainly the far side of the spit and it was a bit of a struggle for those pegged in the near 'bowl'. Apparently, the first peg on the spit far side is known as 'Pleasure Island' with a reed fringed island at 14m. Paul Oliver was the fortunate one to have this drawn for him and after failing to tempt even a bite on the short pole, was obliged to push out to the island with pole and maggot where he managed a steady run of regular carp for a decent 80lb 13oz and 1st place. Martin Twine had a similar peg at the other end of the spit where he too could only catch off the island, but managed 66lb 10z for 2nd. Barry Stagg was on the favoured next peg at the top of the spit where he managed 3rd with 63lb 1oz. 

The other section was broadly the nearside bowl and won by Brian Beacroft from the first peg on the car park bank with 29lb 6oz of carp caught on the method chucked to the island. 2nd in that section was Graham Stevens with 24lb 5oz.

For those without an island to fish to, it was a bit of a struggle, although a few did manage decent silver fish nets.

Merry Christmas!

Passies Pond, Match Lake - 13th December 2020 - Breezy with rain - 10c

This match fought all the way to be held. Originally scheduled for Gold Valley where all club matches have now been cancelled by the owner, finding an alternate at short notice was not easy. Passies has been closed to matches for most of the year due to a weed explosion, but much work has taken place to clear the bulk of it. After a couple of visits, it looked OK but several people still reported most of it as unfishable. Another visit in the days before the match showed there to be plenty of fishable pegs, mostly along the road, bunker and early part of the back. With lockdown restrictions, the usual hampers and post match festivities also had to be abandoned, but with 34 booked in initially, we were determined to try to make the best of it.

Unfortunately, only 24 actually fished on the day but still a decent turnout especially considering the unpleasant weather. Good pantomime spirits all round and with the Committee wanting to give something back to the members after such a difficult year, the cost and prizes were all provided by the Club. To spread good cheer around as much as possible, the match was split into 4 sections of 6, with peg 1 being the towards the far end of the road bank and going clockwise round to the where the new chalk path finishes. Unsurprisingly (and typically for our Christmas matches), it was tough going for many, but a fortunate few found themselves on fish and only three (see picture) failed to trouble the scalesmen. It was carp that dominated each section, some with just one or two, and some with many more. As shown below, the overall results were pretty close amongst those finding the fish and earning themselves £50 and £30 for section 1st and 2nd respectively.

AMark Hathway30lb 1oz1st
APaul Oliver (Santa's Helper)13lb 3oz2nd
BBarry Stagg (Grumpy)4lb 4oz1st 
BTony Morris4lb2nd
CSam Docker (Tiny Tim)46lb 13oz1st
CPhil Harris (Jolly Green Giant)35lb 4oz2nd
DMartin Twine (3rd Wise Man)36lb 2oz1st
DHugh Blake34lb 9oz2nd

An optional Superpool paid down to 6th overall with Dave Morris taking the last payout on 27lb 5oz.

Mystery weight prize went to Graham Stevens (2nd Wise Man) with his 3lb 10oz coming closest to the target 3lb 6oz and earning himself a free membership for 2021/22 season. 

A star prize of a £120 Frenzee 10ft commercial feeder rod went to Grumpy after a lucky peg draw (hopefully he's Happy now).

Six other prizes of filled bait buckets, groundbait bundles & champagne were also drawn amongst those who failed to win anything for fishing, going to amongst others, Terry Archer (Rudolph), Bran Beacroft (Captain Hook), Dave King (Aladdin), Mark Merrett (Fingers) and Craig Winchester (Father Christmas). 

Finally all who attended received a bag of irresistible, can't fail to catch, hook pellets from The Pellet Guys.


Many thanks go to John, Craig & Sam for organising things. Also to Sam and his sponsorship from The Pellet Guys for their contribution and finally to Crawley Tackle Warehouse for their continued support of the club and contribution to the prizes. All very much appreciated.