I’ve had a brilliant past few weeks fishing, mainly due to some nice draws. There’s been plenty going on, so here’s a busy update for you!
A few weeks ago saw me fishing the Al Bailey Memorial Match on the Stainforth and Keedby Canal. In my four-man team, I was lucky enough to have Sandra and Alan Scotthorne, as well as Sam Wildsmith. We had a great day and won the team event, picking up a nice little wage packet each! I ended up second in the section and third on the match with 11-6-0, beaten by the awesome Jonny Freeborn who had 11-10-0 a few pegs away.
I’ve also found my new favorite venue in the way of Hayfield Lakes, despite having only been twice! The first time was by chance, when the second round of the Sensas Challenge League was moved to Hayfield from a flooded Fossdyke Navigation. The event is fished to international rules, and our Barnsley ‘Team Youth’ was just behind the Barnsley ‘Team Pensioners’ after the first round.
Thankfully, James Dent had done well on there a few weeks earlier, and was able to put me right with rigs and tactics. Match Fishing’s Joe Carass gave me lots of pointers too from his success there last year, so I’d managed to gather plenty of information! I drew Peg 18 on Little Adams Lake, and on a crisp, cold morning, there were fish topping everywhere. Carp didn’t count in this event, making it a simple pole only day. I settled on a close in line with bloodworm and joker for roach, and then fed a long line at the full 13m limit for skimmers and bigger fish.
My start to the match was great, and I caught some chunky roach on bloodworm, with the odd big perch on a caster over the top. It was only around 7 feet deep where I was fishing, but I was swinging fish in with six sections of pole, that’s how big they were! Every half an hour, I cupped in the odd ball of groundbait on the long line, full of casters, maggots and joker. Around the halfway stage, a lull in sport from the short line prompted me to top up and have a look long.
I baited up with a bunch of bloodworm, and first drop in a hold up bite resulted in a roach around 6oz. The next drop in, I loaded my hook up with even more bloodworm, and after a slightly longer wait netted a skimmer around 8oz. Another similar sized sample followed, and by regularly feeding small balls after every three or four fish, I stayed on this line until the end of the match! Although I didn’t catch any of the carassio and tench I’d heard people talk about, but I did have a cracking days fishing! I even had a little bank runner in the way of young Danny Slack. He sat with me all day, pouring me cups of coffee and reminding me how many bites I’d missed!
I ended up weighing 25-10-0 which was enough to win the match! Jonny Freeborn was second with 21-2-0 and Brett Clark third with 18-0-0. More to the point, our team won on the day, making us equal on points with the pensioner’s! There’s only one match remaining, so it’s all to play for.
The following day was the first round of the Thorne Individual League, which saw me draw in the section of doom! To name just a few, I found myself in the mix of Lee Kerry, Darren Bickerton, Alan Scotthorne, James Dent and Shaun Wright! It was a really windy day, but after the last match I fancied catching a few.
Things were very frustrating for me, and I caught an unusually small stamp of fish. I was well behind, and finished fifth in the section, and fifth in the match with 12-9-0. Alan won with 14-11-0, but it was a great start to the league that is worked out on weigh, and we were only one match in! I didn’t feed my usual soil mix as I didn’t have time to collect any, and I’m sure the leam drew in too many small fish and cost me a pound or two.
I did have a Christmas shopping trip planned the following Saturday, until I found out there was a silverfish match at Hayfield! There was another elite line up, but I drew the end peg on Big Adams. I didn’t really fancy the peg that was enclosed down the neck end. Alan and Lee had both drawn well on big Adams, and I’d got James Dent and Andy Kinder to contend with in my section too!
The start to the match was slow, and at the halfway stage had only 5lb or so in the net! The whole lake was fishing hard, but after catching late the week before, I was confident. The long line slowly improved as I cupped in small but regular balls of bait, and I’d also started to feed a few casters on a short pole line. The last hour and a half saw some very big roach hit the net, to well over 1lb. Bunches of bloodworm was the best hook bait, and in the last half hour, I had a few big roach and perch on casters short. I ended up weighing 19-0-0, which was enough to win the lake by a clear 9lb, but I was still behind Alan Scothorne who weighed 23-0-0, and Lee Kerry with 20-0-0 on Little Adams! Still, it was another awesome days fishing for winter silvers, and third seemed a reasonable result.
In the second round of the Thorne Individual League, I found myself in another section of doom with the same Lee Kerry, Shaun Wright and Darran Bickerton from the week before! It was like constantly fishing the same match. The canal fished very hard, and there were reports on the bank that 8lb would be good enough to frame. I caught lots of small roach on the short pole, with few better ones in the last hour as the light dropped. There must be loads of better fish in the canals, but they only seem to drop their guard last off, clever little critters. In the end, I weighed 8-6-0, which was enough to win the match! It was a close one, with Brian Hawkes finishing second with 8-3-0, and three other people tied for third place on 8-0-0. The result was enough to put me ahead in the league stakes, just ounces in front of James Dent!
Last Saturday was one of the hardest matches I’ve fished for a long time. It was the third round of the Fossdyke Winter League, and I needed a good result to stay ahead. The whole canal fished absolutely dire. After being in flood the week before, it remained coloured and was running off hard. With an hour to go, only four people had caught in my section, and I was lucky enough to be one of them with a single tiny roach! I decided to sit out on a lobworm at 16m for the last hour, regularly cupping in small amounts in hope of something finding it in the muddy water. Whilst on the phone to Oliver Scotthorne, having a moan about how bad things were, my float twitched a few times, before slipping away. I threw the phone onto the side tray, and…clunk! A 12oz perch made me the happiest man in the world! I thought it was a guaranteed section win, until with five minutes to go, Alan Henry on the next peg did the same, but with a 2lb 70z dinosaur! Still, second in the section got me mega points, and kept me up there in the league! There’s one match remaining, and I expect it will be another hard one. Better get collecting lobbies early!
Driving to Thorne on Sunday morning was a much nicer feeling, where at least I could expect plenty of bites. The draw was favorable to me, and saw me in the same section as the previous week. To cut a long story short, I had virtually the same match, weighing 8-4-8, which was enough to win the section, and finished second overall. Well, I was actually joint second, with non other than Frankie Gianonchelli. The Italian Stallion had exactly the same weight as me! It’s a close battle in the league now, and with the canal fishing so hard, anyone could take a lead or fall behind! Hopefully the draw bag will stay favorable, and I can keep you updated with good news!