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Bagging A Bonus!

Alongside targeting roach on casters, Tom Scholey rates chopped worm fishing for bonus fish as his favourite kind of fishing.

There is something overpoweringly addictive about that second when your float goes under, and you aren’t sure whether you will find a 2oz perch, a 1lb eel, or as recently happened to me, a 5lb barbel on the end.

It was in the Sunday of the recent Evesham Festival, and with a £3,000 top prize, it was a match I was desperately keen to do well in. The night before Joe Carass, Lee Kerry and myself had been sat around the table in an Indian Restaurant, and as I sank my teeth into one of the spiciest currys that I have ever eaten, we were discussing which pegs we DIDN”T want to draw. To be honest I should have known better than to have this conversation, as whenever I have done so in the past I have ended up exactly where I didn’t want to be! By mutual agreement, we decided that peg 19 was the worst peg on the river, as it has a big hump right in the middle of it making it impossible to run a rig through any further than ten metres out.  

Sure enough, when my hand dipped into the drawbag of dreams the following day, I came out with the dreaded peg 19! I decided to put my bloodworm line at ten metres, and a longer line in at 14.5 metres up the side of the hump where I planned to fish a flat float in conjunction with chopped worms and casters for bigger fish. I hoped that the crease in the river bed before the hump started form would prove a natural holding spot for food, and maybe, perhaps, if I was lucky, hold the odd bonus fish.

The early part of my match went better than planned, I actually caught a roach on bloodworm! It was a lone ranger though, and I soon found myself having a look on my long pole line, in hope of a bonus fish.

I should have known better than to get excited when my float dipped and tben went under after half an hour sat waiting. It must have been the smallest eel in the Avon, weighing a maximum of 4oz!

I topped up with another bait dropper full of bait, and tucked in to a box of chips that my colleague Neil Brookes kindly brought down. I had just about finished my mid match snack when my float dipped under again, and then disappeared from sight.  I always like to count to three before striking when doing this kind of fishing, which gave me time to wonder whether it would be a  micro perch, another elver, or a minnow that had taken my hookbait this time.

I had just got to two in my very slow count, when the end of my pole pulled around, quickly followed by ten feet of grey Hydro! All of a sudden, my heart rate increased three fold, and butterflies started doing somersaults in my stomach. Could this be the fish that would win me £3,000?

My suspicions were that I had hooked a barbel, as the water in this area of the river is fairly fast, and the fish wasn’t fighting like a chub! I kept the pole as high as possible, with the aim being to keep the fish away from the many snags on the bed of the river. Soon, a massive crowd was gathered behind me, adding further to the pressure.

I decided that I wanted the fish to be on the surface and absolutely exhausted before I even attempted to net it, so as to reduce the chance of it going on any last run towards the any nearside weed.

Words can’t describe how relieved I was when I finally netted the barbel, even though it only looked to weigh around 5lb, a small fish compared to many of the Avons other whiskery residents!

I was over the moon though, and opted to sit for the rest of the match on the same line in the hope of snaring another eel, or even a couple of good perch to push me into the money. Sadly this never materialised, and at the end of the match I was left wondering whether I would have been better off switching back to bloodworm, but given my poor start I think on balance I made the right decision.

My 5-8-8 put me seventh overall, and was enough to win me my section and the £100 cheque that went with it. If it had been just a few ounces heavier, it would have got me in the frame, but from the peg that I was sat on I certainly wasn’t complaining!

Tom Scholey

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