Friday, 16 March 2018

16 March 2018, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Well it was back to Gold Valley for a cheeky Friday cost cutter today – with 17 of us squeezed onto the causeway bank of Middle Lake things were always going to be tight but I wasn’t best pleased to find myself in the middle of a run of pegs that read 72, 73, 74, 75 and 76!!!
Gold Valley, Middle Lake, peg 74
Such pegging (when compared to (say) every other peg or peg two, miss one) means that there are effectively less fish to draw upon, but it also means that the actions of those around you can have a negative impact on your own peg. This is especially true of F1s – they really don’t like a lot of banging about, nets being thrown full length into the lake and big pots of bait going in!!!
No bites = no coffee left!
Unfortunately on the day I didn’t factor in the tight pegging and given the recent weather I thought it was going to fish really well, with 60-80lb needed to do well - how wrong I was! Personally I could only muster 7 fish that went a level 10lb, a pretty decent return as those around me weighed 10-8-0 (67), 7-0-0 (68), 10-0-0 (70), 2-0-0 (72), 13-4-0 (which included a 5lb carp in the final 5 minutes) (73), 8-14-0 (75), 6-14-0 (76) and 9-0-0 (78), though the weights improved towards either end with Bagger doing really well to come second overall with 33lb from end peg 84 and Adrian Harris winning from peg 64 with 33-14-0.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

11 March 2018, Bat Lake (Gold Valley)

Back to the amazing Bat Lake at Gold Valley again today, this time for a practice session with Bagger who hadn't been on the bank since the final day of Preston Innovations festival at White Acres last October. Personally I didn't think the fishing was as good as yesterday, possibly because the fish backed away as we were the only two on the lake - having said that we still caught well over 100 F1s between us in 4 hours and more importantly learned loads for our next visit!!!
Still got it!!!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

10 March 2018, Bat Lake (Gold Valley)

Today's trip to Gold Valley was for another WC Coaching day with Will Raison and Callum Dicks, this time on the prolific Bat Lake with the focus being the use of the short pole and pellets for F1s. Once again it was a terrific day with loads learned and loads caught!!!
Say 'cheese'!!!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

25 February 2018, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Wow – that was really cold!!! Nice and sunny but a savage easterly wind blowing along the length of Middle Lake at Gold Valley made for some of the coldest conditions I’ve fished in for a long, long time. (Saying that there were 32 hardly souls lining the banks of Middle and Bat Lakes for a keenly contested open match – apparently there was a waiting list too.)
Middle Lake, peg 65
I think it is fair to say that everyone in the queue for the draw wanted a dolly peg on Bat Lake – I know I certainly did! However, as luck would have it I dropped onto Middle Lake 65, a peg I haven’t fished before but one that can be good in the summer as there is a shallow bar at 13m. It’s quite a narrow swim and today it featured a floating island – normally this would be a nice feature but today it turned-out to be something of a nightmare as it kept spinning and moving around in the wind!
Maggot feeder
Given the wind I decided to leave the pole in the bag – not only was it rather strong and blowing at right angles to where I’d be pointing to my pole, it was also freezing cold so holding the long pole would’ve been very difficult. As a result, I went with just a single tip rod and just a pint of maggots, the intention being to simply focus on the maggot feeder all day long.
Complex bait tray today
With three hours gone and nothing in the net I was pretty sure I was going to blank, so winkling-out four F1s for 4-14-0 in the final two hours was something of a minor victory and actually put me third in section, though miles behind Gareth Phillips who won the section with 15lb odd, with Dan Carey winning the lake by an ounce from Kris Fields (18-10-0 versus 18-9-0). Over on Bat Lake Gavin Millis did the business to win the match with 54-2-0, Giovanni Barbato just behind with 48-14-0.
Praying for a pull
Let’s hope conditions improve for Saturday’s big money section winners final across the same lakes!!!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

11 February 2018, Bat Lake (Gold Valley)

It was the final round of the 2018 Rushmoor league today – after spending the previous 4 weeks alternating between the big fish lakes (Gold and Syndicate) I was keen to land on one of the F1 lakes (Middle or Bat) and hopefully get a few bites. Well as luck was have it, not only did I end-up on Bat Lake but I also had the good fortune to draw peg 146, one of the most sought after pegs in the country and one that has produced a number of framing places in this year’s keenly contested league.
Flyer alert!!!
Bat Lake is probably the smallest on the Gold Valley complex and for many years has gone largely ignored (from a match fishing perspective at least) – however, at the turn of 2018 it received something of a facelift and a major re-stocking with lots of fin perfect F1s. Since then it has been a regular inclusion in the big money Rushmoor league and has thrown-up lots of big weights, not least the incredible 162-11-0 recorded by Callum Dicks two weeks ago!!! (Since then though the weights (and the weather) have deteriorated, but only last Sunday it produced two of the top three places and three 50lb plus weights.)
The number they all wanted
Bat Lake gets its name from the large bat sanctuary located on the main central island and there are also two smaller islands that can be found in the widest part of the lake towards the causeway with Middle Lake. Peg 146 is quite an interesting swim – the lake narrows to no more than 13m to the left and to the right the main island disappears at an angle of 45 degrees leaving lots of open water to go at on that side.
Looking left
On plumbing-up, the deepest water straight in front seemed to be approximately 3’ at 6-7m before shallowing-up to literally nothing as you approach the margin of the island (this could be a good spot to target in the summer but a non-starter in my mind on a freezing cold day in February). Out into the open water to the right it was about 1” shallower but incredibly flat – I literally couldn’t find any depth variation whatsoever in a wide arc at both 13 and 14.5m.
Mainly pellets today
Prior to the start of the match I decided to target the deepest water straight in front at top kit plus 3 and a line at 13m to the right into the open water (though with it being so flat out into the open water I knew I would be able to use the same rig for several different swims here). Given the depth variation I set-up 2 rigs but both featured the same components: pink Hydrolastic, 0.13 main line, 4x14 Roob, strung bulk of number 9 stotz, 15cm of 0.10 Guru Pulse fluorocarbon and a size 18 Guru F1 Pellet hook.
A photo that doesn't show how windy it really was!!!
On the whistle I tapped in a few micros over the short line and looked for a bite on a 4mm expander pellet – after repeating this process 3 times at five-minute intervals without a sign it was time to brave the wind and give my first 13m line a whirl sooner than I’d hoped. By the time the match was an hour old and I still hadn’t had a bite my brain had gone into over-drive thinking-up excuses for how I’d managed to draw the hottest peg in the country and blanked!!! (The best I could come-up with was a combination of having a hang-over following an early start watching England vs Wales in the rugby yesterday and the cold wind pushing the fish to the other side of the lake where it was much more sheltered.)
They must be big bats
Fortunately, at about five past twelve the float finally dipped and I was into a fish at last – and then I wasn’t as it pinged-off!!! ‘Oh dear’ I said to myself, though on dropping the rig back down the same hole the float buried immediately and a nice F1 did eventually find its way into the net. This was the start of a nice run of fish, the key to success seemingly being finding the best ratio of soaked micros and hard 4mm pellets to feed each drop – the micros help to drag fish into the peg but the 4mm pellets are needed to pin the fish to the deck and to get the F1s to feed in a way that minimises foul-hooking (that first fish that pinged-off was almost certainly foul-hooked as a result of having too many micro pellets in the peg).
Gary Thomas on the far bank
By the end of the second hour I had about 15 in the net. Bites were coming regularly but the wind was a real pain – on a number of occasions a fish was pulling the pole one way and the wind was blowing it the other, causing the pole to form a rather alarming ‘S’ shape that was probably on the verge of turning my faithful Airity into a worthless collection of carbon splinters.
The final 3 hours were pretty steady too – the catch rate dropped slightly but by opening a new line further to the right at 13m and by somehow holding the pole at 14.5m for the final 30 minutes I eventually finished on 55 (that final half an hour was a really struggle but led to a crucial late burst of good stamp F1s).
Gratuitous catch shot
The scales arrived soon after the final whistle was blown and three weighs later I had 63-10-0 against my name, a return I was happy with given the slow start and the strong wind that didn’t let-up all day. Nigel Smith was next to weigh from 147 and looked to have a very similar catch – sometimes fishing can be a cruel mistress but this time luck was on my side as Nigel’s weight was 62-6-0, so there was no more than a decent F1 between us. News soon started to filter through that the other lakes had fished hard and I’m over the moon to be able to say that I was top individual on the day and I’d somehow managed to win a 70 peg match stuffed with top, top quality anglers!!! (Nigel was second and Shaun Silvester took third from Gold Lake with 43-4-0).
Gratuitous winnings photo
More importantly I’d been able to secure my third section win from five outings and my Guildford Bait-Tech team had once again beaten Daiwa Dorking – Tubertini took the honours on the day with a terrific score of 53 from a maximum of 70 on a very tough day. Unfortunately we weren’t able to put the distance we needed to put between ourselves and Dorking to overcome our disastrous seventh placed finish last week so congratulations go to a very strong Daiwa Dorking team that secured the 6 leg series with just 13 penalty points, though personally I’m very proud to have been part of an up-and-coming Guildford Bait-Tech team that finished in second place a single point behind on 14.
Final league table
I’ll sign-off by thanking all of my team-mates that took part in this series (Dave, Ian, John, Dan, Luke, G, John, Martin, Kris, Lee, Mark, Gareth and Pete) and to John Raison for two reasons – firstly for organising a great league and secondly for stocking all of those F1s into Bat Lake!!!

Sunday, 4 February 2018

04 February 2018, Syndicate Lake (Gold Valley)

Well there are disasters and there are DISASTERS and today's penultimate round of the Rushmoor league at Gold Valley was definitely a DISASTER! On a personal level I drew peg 130 on Syndicate and was one of four anglers in the section of 8 to blank - in total there were just 5 fish caught in the section, Daiwa Dorking's Nick Crabbe showing the rest of us how it's done and putting in a brilliant performance to snare two!!!
Sunny, but cold
On the team front things got even worse as I was one of four to blank and as a result we could only finish in 7th place, conceding our lead in the league to Daiwa Dorking in the process (Dorking are now 2 points clear so we need snookers in next week's final leg to overhaul them). Well done to team mate Luke Sheriff on claiming third place overall from the in form Bat Lake and to Jason Morgan for scooping the £1,000 winners prize from Gold Lake peg 4.
Praying for a pull that never came

Sunday, 28 January 2018

28 January 2018, Gold Lake (Gold Valley)

After two section wins in a row it was back down to earth in today's Rushmoor league at Gold Valley - unfortunately I could only muster a fifth in section (3 points) but as my Guildford Bait-Tech team only won on the day by a single point then I guess every point was vital!!! (A very strong Daiwa Dorking team featuring the likes of Will Raison, Callum Dicks, Tommy Hiller, Mark Goddard and Zac Brown were second.)   

Some moody weather today
My home for the day was Gold Lake 41, a peg on the causeway bank just down from the random island on this side of the lake. I actually managed five fish from five pulls on the standard hybrid feeder and wafter combination - unfortunately they were all from skimmers so my final score (10-4-0) was unfortunately behind those around me (Anthony Thomas, Shaun Silvester and Paul Garrett) who had less fish but returned at least one decent carp.
Skimmer time!
Well done to team mates John Light, Giovanni Barbato and Luke Sheriff on scoring section wins and to Daniel Carey, Ian Dixon and Martin Johnson in coming second in section - roll-on round #5 this coming Sunday!!!
Until next time ...