Sunday, 14 January 2018

14 January 2018, Gold Lake (Gold Valley)

First match of 2018 and surprisingly my first time fishing the infamous Rushmoor league at Gold Valley, a teams of 10 event that runs through January into February each year. This year there are 8 teams taking part, so if each team is fully loaded it becomes a pretty big match with 80 anglers fishing for an individual victory worth nearly £1,000!!!

The view to the left
   
The team side of things for this year’s event is based on section points – previous years have seen team placings based on the total weight of each team’s anglers, but presumably the re-stocking of Middle and Bat lakes with F1s has led to a change of heart. Today’s match saw 2 sections on Gold Lake, 3 on Middle, 1 on Bat, 1 on Bungalow and 3 on Syndicate.

The view to the right
  
Following last Saturday’s coaching day on Middle Lake I was rather hoping for a day on there or a go at the newly stocked Bat Lake, so when I was handed Gold Lake 15 I was slightly underwhelmed, especially when I saw that the same peg only returned 3lb for 3 points last Sunday! Undeterred and being in amongst some big hitters (I had Jason Morgan to my left, Mark Goddard and Dan Blackwell to my right) I settled on a 3-pronged attack covering a long chuck to the rope for carp, a medium chuck with a cage feeder for skimmers and a pole line at 14.5m also for skimmers

In wafter we trust
  
On the whistle I big potted a full pot of Ringers Bag-up Mix and a full pot of micros at 14.5m (these were actually mixed together before the start and carefully fed in three loads) and cast a 10mm chocolate orange wafter on the straight lead rig to within a couple of meters of the central rope. After 8 minutes the tip pulled forward slightly then went slack – having given the reel a couple of turns it soon became apparent that a fish had hooked itself against the weight of the bomb and had started swimming towards me, game on!!!

A welcome sight!
  
It was something of a nerve wracking fight in the clear water but eventually a nice 8-9lb carp was in the net and after only 20 minutes I was mightily relieved to have avoided the dreaded blank early into the session. The next cast (with the same rig and bait) landed nicely on the same spot so I decided to leave it in place for at least half an hour – with hindsight this was a bit of a mistake as after leaving it in for 35 minutes with no action then re-casting (this time with a yellow wafter) I was soon into another fish, this time a proper pull that actually started to move the rod rest, once again after 8 minutes, and another nice carp was quickly joining the first in the keepnet!

Nicely hooked!!!
  
The next three casts, all of which were limited to a maximum of 12 minutes, only produced a skimmer so it was time for a change to the hybrid feeder loaded with micros and a trimmed-down 6mm orange wafter on the hair. Another skimmer as I was sinking the line on the first cast proved to be something of a false dawn, so after half an hour with no bites it was time to try the pole. 10 minutes on this without any bites seemed like a bit of a waste of time, but a third carp (this time after 7 minutes) first cast back on the hybrid towards the rope seemed to prove that resting a line can sometimes be a good thing.

All the gear ...
  
That proved to be the final carp of the day and the second half of the match was definitely tougher than the first (as the lake was single banked it was possible that any carp in the area simply backed-off under the rope to the far side), but I did manage a few more skimmers on the feeder and a nice one on the pole on my way to a level 37lb and a section win, that skimmer on the pole making all the difference as there were weights of 35-12-0 and 36-12-0 in the section too!!!
  

£40 winnings minus £36 pools = £4!!!

As it happened the rest of the team also did fantastically well with a total of 5 section winners and the top 3 individuals (John Light, Giovanni Barbato and Kris Fields) leading to a total of 61 points and first place on the day, quite a way ahead of Tubertini who were second with 48 points (the mighty Daiwa Dorking were fourth on the day).

Until next time ...

Saturday, 6 January 2018

06 January 2018, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

First outing of 2018 today and it wasn't a match - instead it was another WC Group Coaching day with Will Raison and Callum Dicks on the Middle Lake at Gold Valley, winter feeder and long pole tactics for F1s being the name of the game. As per the previous session, the day started with Will walking us through his own set-up combined with an in-depth discussion of his approach and the thinking behind both.
   
Nice day for it
   
We then broke-off and started fishing - as I wanted to cover both the pole and the feeder I chose peg 72, a decent peg in the middle of the lake that gave the opportunity to cover both approaches. Given the reduced daylight hours at this time of year the actual fishing time was limited to about 4 hours, though throughout this time both Callum and Will were on hand to provide advice and answer any query (no question was too big or too small). The day finished with a group wrap-up behind peg 100 with the key points from the day re-asserted. Once again a very enjoyable and productive day, one that I'd recommend to anyone!
  
Say 'cheese'!
 
Until next time ...

Saturday, 30 December 2017

30 December 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

With hindsight I should’ve probably given this match a miss as at the time I’d been suffering with a bad cold for the best part of two weeks – however, having already missed a couple of matches and having spent a good deal of time indoors over Christmas I was keen to get on the bank for some fresh air.
  
All the gear ...
  
The weather on the day was amazingly mild – when we left home at 7am the temperature gauge on the van was reading 11 degrees Celsius, an amazing figure for the end of December. Unfortunately, this unseasonable temperature was driven by some really strong south-westerly winds that would make fishing the pole impossible for all but the final half an hour.
  
The usual winter bait options
  
Given the warm weather I had thought that the venue was going to fish really well so I settled on a positive plan to alternate between a maggot feeder and a cage feeder at around 14.5m – after all if the wind had allowed it this is where I’d have fished on the pole and as all the others fished to the central rope I’d have this line to myself.
  
The view to the left
  
As it happened this plan was fatally flawed as virtually all of the fish that were caught on the day were caught from the middle of the lake (i.e. to the rope) and even when I was able to fish at 13m on the pole in the final half an hour I still couldn’t put anything together despite the fading light levels making for near perfect conditions.
  
Peg 79 today
  
The one bite/fish that I did manage came at about 10:45 and gave me real hope that the approach I was following (casting every 2 or 3 minutes in an attempt to drag some fish into the area and stimulate some kind of feeding response) was going to work. However it wasn’t to be though the people around me hardly bagged-up with two or three fish being a typical return.
  
Big sky
  
I did fish to the rope for half an hour during the middle of the match but apart from a liner on the first chuck no proper bites materialised. Would I have been better off fishing to the rope all day? Probably. Would it have led to a positive result? Probably not! In the end the floating concrete block moored opposite 75 and 93 acted like a magnet to the fish with the guys on those pegs catching on the feeder all day long and catching more than the rest of us put together, with most of the field really struggling for bites.

Until next time ...

Sunday, 10 December 2017

10 December 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Talk about "from hero to zero"!!! I actually drew the same peg as last week (73 on the Middle Lake at Gold Valley) but this week everybody was supposedly on the epicentre as the ten of us were pegged 72, 73, 74, 75 and 76 with the same pegging on the far bank directly opposite. As ever the fish didn't read the script with the weights increasing in a strikingly uniform manner towards the far end with Geoff Miles winning the match with 37-8-0 from 76, a good ten pounds clear of his nearest rival (the guy on 75).
  
Not ideal fishing weather!!!
  
My match started rather slowly - after surviving heavy rain, 50mph winds and a smattering of sleet for 4 hours and 20 on the feeder without even a hint of a line bite I was eventually able to fish the pole in the last 40 minutes where I managed to winkle-out six nice new F1s for 8-8-0 and a "thanks for coming", though at least I managed to avoid the dreaded Blankety Blank cheque book and pen that was definitely on the cards!!! Well done Geoff and to my old mate Dave Carter for smashing me off the next peg with 17lb plus ...
  
Roll on summer!!!

Sunday, 3 December 2017

03 December 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Nice day on a brutally peggy Middle Lake at Gold Valley today - this lake is absolutely stuffed with fish (apparently they are going to add some more water to the lake next week there are now that many fish in there) but last week's frosts have seen the fish shoal-up in typical winter mode.
   
Middle Lake, peg 73
   
Unusually (and in complete contrast to last winter) the fish have collected in the centre of the lake where there are no obvious features or cover! Luckily for me I landed on peg 73 and somehow manged to winkle out 39 F1s and my first ever ide for a match winning 52-14-0, with Dan Blackwell in second place on the peg to my left and Anthony Thomas in third place on the peg to my right. I'm probably going to blank next weekend so I'm going to enjoy it while I can!!!
 
More tea vicar?
 
Until next time ...

Saturday, 25 November 2017

25 November 2017, Syndicate Lake (Gold Valley)

Something different today in the form of a WC (also known as Callum Dicks and Will Raison) Group Coaching day today - I'm not going to give away any secrets but I will say that I really enjoyed the day and can't wait to get back on the bank next weekend with a few new tricks up my sleeve!!!
   
Nice hats
   

Sunday, 12 November 2017

12 November 2017, New Lake (Willinghurst)

A return to Willinghurst today for the open held across Top Lake and New Lake - having had some real disasters on New Lake already this year I was desperate to avoid it so obviously I landed on New Lake peg 2!!! Despite the cold win and ultra-clear water I actually managed 4 bites from carp - the first two ended-up in the net but agonisingly the other two came-off, something that really cost me as only 5 carp won the lake!!! Interestingly three of the bites came from the margin in front of peg 3's platform, something that I still find surprising given the low water temperature, the really clear water and the fact that this line was little more than 18" deep ...
   
All the gear ...