Today was only my fourth visit to Viaduct, the previous three occasions being a trip to see it for the first time, before the 2008 Fish'o'mania qualifier, Kev Perry gave me the guided tour and then proceded to get a Carp a chuck, whilst I had a Skimmer a chuck, on Campbell.
The second visit was for the Fish'o'mania qualifier, I drew spring, peg 20, but it was one past the island, I had a Skimmer first chuck, several more and not much else, the lake didn't fish that day and got greener and greener as the day wore on, some type of algae bloom I guess. The third visit was a Carps Wednesday match on the Match lake, IIRC correctly, I was 7th, with 48lb odd.
So today was a different prospect, the cold weather was bound to make it fish hard and the icy minor roads from the A37 to Viaduct just emphasised the point. As I cautiously drove down the lane to the draw, I could see that the lakes were frozen and it looked pretty thick. I'd already made my mind up that I would fish for a bite and then take it from there. The chatter about the best pegs to draw meant nothing to me, being a venue novice, I'm pretty convinced that its a good thing, no preconcieved ideas, I can just fish every peg as if its the best (or worst) on the lake.
The drawbag (or more precisely, the empty Nescafe tin)was going round, I purposely got near the back of the queue, my drawing arm, whilst it has been notoriously poor since the 70's, seems to have become even worse lately. So a change of tactic, I usually like to get in there at the start, last week and this I've hung back, with a slight improvement in results. Peg 125 on Cary was staring at me when I opened the peg card, I'd pretty much made up my mind to fish for roach, so I didn't think that it would matter too much where I drew.
I'd been meaning to make an ice breaker all week, I have some rope and a short length of chain ready, but in my usual disorganisation, didn't get round to it - how foolish and how expensive!! I managed to break the No 1 section of my Garbolino carbon landing net handle and as the ice was ¾" - 1" thick in the margin (and out to about 2m), I decided that the ideal tool to smash this would be my feeder arm, the knuckle assembly looking chunky enough to do the job. They don't make plastic like they used to!! all of the 'business end' of the feeder arm which attaches it to the box or platform leg, now resides at the bottom of Cary. I'm pissed off about the landing net handle, but the feeder arm was a bit naff any way, I was going to buy one of the ones with a second, bracing leg.
I set up two rigs, a Malman Winter Wire 4x12, on 0.13, with a 0.10 hooklength and a 22 Gamma Black, more in hope than expectation, I also set up a MW slim power on 0.15, to a 0.13 hooklength. I'd managed to break the ice to about 11m, so fed the 11m line and one at 3m, I only fed a couple of casters and squatts, with squatt on the hook, after half an hour of no bites, I started to introduce a roach groundbait mix on the 11m line and dropped to a 24 on 0.08. For four hours I alternated between the lines, I did try the heavier rig with double caster, single caster and double maggot, all to no avail.
At 2 o'clock the angler on 127 packed up, many were blanking, myself included, although the guy on 123 had caught small fish steadily all day, he said afterwards "I threw some maggots on the short line and they went on the ice, I saw small fish rising for them but they couldn't get to them". I hadn't seen a fish all day, apart from an occasional glance at 123, but at 2.15 with an hour to go the float went under, the blank saved and a small roach had taken the single squatt. I had a bite most put ins from then until the end and had I been bothered to get another top kit with some lighter elastic in, I may well have landed some that I bumped. The last hour helped erase the feeling of cold and the memory of the four biteless hours, I wasn't the only one, a few who were blanking caught in the last hour, although some didn't catch until 20 minutes from the end.
The weights were poor, quite why it took the roach until mid afternoon to switch on (except in peg 123), the water temp didn't change (a constant 4°C at 2' and 1°C at 6") the air temp did rise, but then the sun went behind clouds and a light wind gave a cold chill factor.
It wasn't hard work for the scalesmen and it didn't take too long to work out the results, the usual Xmas fare of meat and bottles of booze were lined up on the table, those that blanked had the order in which they collected the prize, decided by age, oldest first.
I must get back to Viaduct when the weather warms up. Spare a thought for Rich Coles, he drew peg 132 and blanked, he is convinced he'll never draw it again!!
1) A Perkins 3-10 peg 123
2) G Cannings 1-13 peg 85
3) N McMahon 1-10 peg 112
4) B Feltham 0-14 peg 80
5) C Fox 0-09 peg 125
=6)A Oram 0-07 peg 118
=6)C Golding 0-07 peg 78