I was toying with the idea of ringing Tony (Rixon) and booking in for his match at Landsend, but as I have yet to win a penny there, I thought the sensible option would be to ring Colin Golding and get booked into the Carps match on Plantation.
Arriving at the draw, I see that Colin has a new car, a nice shiny red Vectra estate, with 8000 miles on the clock, bought because his other car broke down, I love extravagance.............
I don't usually take any food to matches, but today I stopped in Cleeve stores and bought a drink and on an inpluse, bought a sandwich, don't know why, there's usually enough action on plantation to keep the hunger pangs at bay. Arriving in the Car Park, I saw a couple of new Carps members, but they were familiar faces from the Clevedon club matches, along with team mate Mike Owens and the other usual faces. Mike Owens and Bill Ferris pegged it out, having to remove two pleasure anglers from our reserved pegs - why is it so difficult for some people to read the signs that are plainly displayed on the entrance to the lake??
Draw was a few minutes late (So we are to fish 10.15-16.15, I'm never ready when there is an hour to set up, especially on a venue that responds to waggler, straight lead and pole ) and I pulled out peg 8, this was actually peg 27, an island chuck, so I was not too disappointed, until I got to it and saw the wind effect. Peg 27 is on the far bank, facing the larger of the two islands, the wind was whipping between the islands and then turning and blowing up the lake, producing a horrendous surface skim.
There was probably five of us in a row that were worst affected by the wind, Charlie Barnes, two guys whose names I don't recall, Colin Golding and Bob (The Bread) Price.
I took my pair of waggler rods from their Preston hard case, and took the hooklengths off them, so I could cast to he island and clip up, one was set up with a Drennan clear carp waggler, attached with a Preston attachment, so I could alter the depth easily, the other with a 4SSG Maver pellet waggler, locked onto a loop of line with two 2SSG shot, set at 15" deep - heavier than I'd usually use here, but the wind made it necessary.
I set up a straight lead rig, again clipped up to fish tight to the island, then onto the pole rigs, I set up a paste rig, a MW Diamond to fish 6mm expander pellet or corn, a MW cane Diamond to fish 4mm pellet, caster or maggot and a up in the water rig to fish hard pellet.
There were a few carp moving and showing themselves, so I was confident that they'd feed, I started on the waggler and within 10 minutes had had 3 bites, hooking and losing two of them, I guess they were foul hookers, as I don't usually lose many fish on the waggler, persevering with it and no more bites, I swapped rods and explored the full range of depths, from 12" down to the bottom, even laying 2' of line on the bottom, to try and counter the very strong surface skim, all to no avail.
The guy to my right had landed 3 or 4 fish on the lead, so I picked up my lead rod and cast to the island, I knew the fish were there, but the presentation on the waggler was all wrong, first chuck on the lead ended up in the island bushes, losing the lead and hooklength - how does that happen after carefully clipping up? As I could see Dave baker on the point (peg 31) catching and Chris Davis on peg 21 catching, I reset the lead rod up, with a inline method feeder, a couple of liners first chuck and a fish second chuck had me thinking I'd cracked it, then nothing apart from an occasional liner.
Now I know I'm 30 or 40lb behind Dave Baker who has been catching well on the waggler, so I decide to have a look on the pole line, I'd fed this with micro pellet and 4mm soaked pellet, first put in on expander saw a skimmer of the 3-4 to the pound stamp in the net, then all I could get was micro roach taking the 6mm expander, a switch to corn saw two more skimmers but it was a long wait for the bites. I tried hard pellet banded on the hook, the mini roach were still pecking at it.
Now with 3½ hours gone, I reckon I'm last on the lake, with one carp and a pound or so of skimmers and roach. I got up and walked down to Charlie Barnes, for chat and a moan about the wind, I also ate the sandwich I bought, as I went to back to my peg, Charlie's parting words "You'll catch a few fish now, our Chris" seemed unlikely.
I picked up the waggler rod again and decided to stick it out on that until the end, come what may, due to the wind, I started at full depth and had a 4lber, first chuck in, the wind carried on causing problems, although it did drop occasionally, everytime it dropped, I caught. As I was playing one fish in, I heard a crashing and splashing sound, looking up the lake I could see Chris Davis, (who was bagging) in the lake, with a fish on. Bob Price went to help him and recover his box from the lake, fair play to him, he held on to the pole and still landed the fish.
I started to get into a rhythm, wait for the wind to drop feed and cast, bite and fish in the net, trouble is it was a slow rhythm, dictated to by the wind, the float had to virtually touch the island to get a bite, so it was one of those sessions when you know that a cast will produce a bite and you also know that a cast that is even 12" short might as well be wound back in and recast. I managed to keep the fish coming right until the whistle, by varying the feeding, the fish started to back away (actually just move along the island) from the feed, so by keeping the feed tight and casting to either side of the feed area I maintained my catch rate. Just a shame it took so long for the wind to drop.
By the time the all out came, I had at least 20 carp, but I didn't count them (I have one of those clicker counters, as I tend to lose count after 5 or 6). The scales started at Chris Davis, who had caught well, even after having to go back to his motor for some dry clothes, the wind blowing into his bank, he had a lot of fish from his RH margin, he weighed 98-12, when the scales got to me, I put 1- 8 of silvers in the net and 61-12 for 63-08, given the start I had, I wasn't too disappointed, but if the wind had eased up earlier, there was a ton+ to be had from my peg.
I didn't follow the scales round, so when I walked round with my gear, I discovered that two had beaten my weight, putting me fourth, out of the money, but at least I had turned it round from the 3½ hour mark of being last.
1. Leighton Palmer 104-05
2. Chris Davis 98-12
3. Dave Baker 85-10
4. Chris Fox 63.04
5. Darren Vowles 47-03
1. Tom Thick ( Bill claims it was a foul hooked Bream that beat him)
2. Bill Ferris
Sorry didn't write the silvers weights down.
In my usual indecisive manner, I can't make up my mind where to fish next Wednesday, Tony's match (Avalon, I presume) or Carps on Dabinett at Cider Farm, I just can't quite get my head around Cider Farm, I guess because when I've fished it (3 times) it's had very little variety of fish size or species. Is it just too much like fishing a stock pond? It's certainly a pleasant setting to fish in, it seems to be well run, but I still can't get enthusiastic about the venue.