Tom Scholey explains how picking the brains of a well informed friend proved the key to catching on the 'Stainy!'
You will probably note from my last blog how frustrated I was with my dismall performances on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal. My results were best described as dire, and it seemed like I couldn’t be further away from catching the kind of weight needed to win money at the venue. To be honest, it was getting to me a bit, as I have never been to a venue where I have felt I cannot compete in a match after a little practise, and the Stainy was turning into my nemesis.
I was telling my travelling partner Matt Godfrey about this, and being no slouch at bloodworm fishing himself, he suggested a day on the canal to put things right. Having picked his brains religiously about what to do at the place, and based my strategy on the philosophy that I could do a lot worse than copy a winning formula, it wasn’t surprising to find that our rigs, bait and elastics was pretty much exactly the same.
We went through the process of plumbing up, and found that we looked for exactly the same things. Then Matt watched me actually fishing.
On my first put in, and before I had even had a bite, he solved my problem. Without even realising that I was doing it, I was lowering my rig in then keeping a tight line between pole tip and float. Afterall, I was expecting a fast bite, so to me it made no sense dropping the pole tip and leaving slack line between the two. He told me to put my pole tip just an inch above my float, and leave plenty of slack line. The results were plain to see, I hit more bites, and seemed to catch a better stamp of fish.
He explained the reasoning behind this, which is that roach are much more prone to mouthing a hookbait than other species, and release it quickly if they feel any resistance, which is why I was missing more bites when holding a tight line. Leaving plenty of slack line between the two meant less resistance, and in turn more bites.
Interestingly, I was telling Alan Scotthorne about the day, and he said that the first time Steve Ringer fished bloodworm on the canal he did a similar thing. Alan was catching a fish a chuck, but when Steve sat on his box he could hardly hit a bite, and the reason was the same. What is good practice in carp fishing, isn’t so good when roach are the target. I couldn’t quite believe how such a minor detail in the way I was fishing the place had such a big effect on what I caught!
The day after saw me and Matt fish the third round of the Harrisons Individual League on the Fossdyke. Now, I would never claim to be a bad drawer, but at the same time I know a lot of people who draw a lot better! On this league though, I have definitely been lucky and followed the two end pegs I have pulled on previous rounds with a draw on the mouth of a marina, the same peg in fact that Barry Wigginton had won the previous round from!
With only a couple of pounds in the net halfway through the match I was very worried. Fortunately a good last two hours saw me catch four 8-10 oz perch on lobworm, and some decent roach on bread punch.
It was a classic case of sticking to a plan and it paying off, as I felt sure that when the fish decided to feed I would catch them on the lines that I fed at the start. Still, I didn’t think that my 8lb would be anything like good enough, as the previous week you needed 12lb to make the frame!
When the scales arrived, it turned out that the whole canal had fished tough however, and I was pleased to learn that my weight was not only enough to win the section but also the match!
I did feel a tad guilty however, as Matt was in my section and I gave him a right battering. Not really how you should repay somebody for a free days coaching is it?
The following day saw me back on the Stainy, on probably the windiest day that I have ever been fishing! It was the same for everybody though, and our area fished tougher than most. I ended up with 7-10-0, which put me 4th in my ten peg section. It wasn’t the runaway victory I had hoped for, but I was happier with how the day had gone. Kyle Wainwright won the section from the peg next to me with 10-7-0, which included two good skimmers, a brilliant display from a top young angler.
Matt did much better, and dropped 14-10-0 of roach on the scales for 2nd overall, beaten only by the great Alan Scotthorne!
It was back to the Stainy this Sunday, and with perfect conditions I felt I had a good chance to put the lessons that I had learnt to good effect! I drew peg 160, which can be a very good peg if the skimmers feed. Sadly, they didn’t but I did have a nice day catching roach. For probably the first time, I felt I was fishing very confidently, and was pleased when my net went 10-3-0.
I wasn’t so pleased when I discovered I had missed out on winning the section, as I was beaten by Frankie Gianoncelli by just six ounces, but at least I felt a lot closer to competing.
Once again, Matt produced the goods however, finishing second in the match with a 14-4-0 net of roach. This was enough to edge him in front in the league, with Lee Kerry lying in second a few ounces behind him.
Although we wind each other (and everybody else) up more than most people, I have to say that Matt is fishing brilliantly at the moment. I remember Alan Scotthorne telling me a couple of years ago that Matt is the best young angler he has ever watched, and he just seems to be getting better all the time. It really is an honour to travel and fish with him, and I feel I owe him a lot of credit for the successes that I have had in fishing, as he has taught me more than anybody. I just hope I can put some of the lessons into practice a bit better on the Stainy next week!