After spending a match at Hayfield staring at a motionless rod tip, I was in need of more than a bite or two! With the aid of Bloodworm and Joker, the Stainforth and Keadby Canal at Thorne canal usually guarantees plenty of action. The canal is around 20 metres wide, with a maximum depth of nine feet in the middle. This year, the fishing hasn’t been as good as usual, but you still need over 8lb of small fish to do any good. The most challenging aspect of the fishing here is how to feed. The amounts you feed at the start, and the ‘richness’ of your top up balls are both key factors to consider. It took me a few years to understand the feeding patterns on this canal, but this year I’ve started to compete with most anglers who fish on here, I even beat the Thorne master himself, Mr Lee Kerry off the next peg the other week!
The recent individual league before Christmas saw some fantastic fishing with a very high class of angler competing. The top six places in the league were going to be rewarded with big cash prizes, and I knew my 35lb 9oz over four matches might be enough to scrape into the bottom couple of places. However, I was very disappointed when my name was read out as seventh place…gutted! It’s not so much the money but the prestige and framing in the league that is a real achievement on this venue. I only missed out on winning the whole league by 5lb, so you can imagine how close the top six were! It really is a case of the most consistent anglers and those who make the least mistakes who win at Thorne. Congratulations to Lee Kerry for winning the league for the second time in three years. My next peg lesson obviously served him well!
There was a good turnout on the first round of the pairs league last week, with a total of 32 pairs entered. The league payout at the end of the five matches will be brilliant as organizer Mark Silman does an excellent job. My first draw in the league saw me on Peg 166 at Wykewell Bridge. This is a noted skimmer area, although these fish are very temperamental with the weather. Some days you wouldn’t believe there is a skimmer in the canal, while others you can’t help but catch them! My Partner, Rob Wright, had drawn brilliant, Peg 202 above the Blue water Marina. This has been the end peg used in the individual league so I was expecting Rob to do the business from there!
I decided to feed two short lines at 11m, and one in the same depth of water at 14m. If you’ve fished Thorne you will know there is a trench that presumably someone or something has dug out, and every peg shallows up to the left and right hand sides. The depth changes by up to a foot straight in front of the peg, whereas the sides flatten out slightly. This is where I decided to feed my swims. Previous experience has told me to never fish in the deep hole straight in front, you get too many missed bites and the fish just don’t respond as well as they do at the flatter areas of the swim.
I had thought a lot about bait quantities over the Christmas break, and decided to feed 9 balls over three lines. Into the nine balls I put 300ml of joker, meaning I fed three balls with 100ml of joker on each line. Feeding is a big confidence thing I guess, but if I know each line has the same amount of bait on it, I can better judge how and when to top up.
The match started very slowly for all twelve anglers in my section, with just the odd tiny roach and perch being caught. The end pegs in the section were taken up by my fellow team mates, James Dent and Nick Speed, so I knew that I had to be on the top of my game. I started the match fishing by my net to target a few perch, feeding a tiny nugget of soil with a pinch of joker in. This is usually a good starting point as it gives you the chance to get a quick ten fish in your net and judge what everyone else is doing on their main pole lines. I look to see what they’re catching, and how far out they’re fishing. I do this a lot with all styles of my fishing; it’s a great way to get a quick edge over other anglers early in the match.
After a slow start, I caught roach on my short lines well in the middle of the match, with the average stamp being about 2oz. I was on my way for a really nice net of fish and a good start to the league. However several pike attacks saw me loose the shoal of fish, and I couldn’t get a bite on any of my short or long lines in the last hour. I must admit, the pike are quite fun to hook, it feels like you’ve hooked a sack of potatoes, before they shoot off! I know everyone on Thorne hates pike as they can ruin your days fishing, but I love to hook them! I don’t like there choice in meal times though!
The match finished, and I felt I hadn’t made the most of my peg. The main learning point for me was that I should have fed smaller top up balls, packed with joker, and after every few fish top up and move to another line to keep roach coming. Saying that, Tom Scholey a few pegs away was topping up with two handed balls! He looked like he had a coconut balancing on his pot, and he caught consistently all day. This is the great thing about Thorne, I don’t think I’ve ever come back from a match and thought I couldn’t have caught any more!
James Dent, a fellow England Youth International had done the business on the end peg and won the match with 12-13-0. A large bream and three of its cousins helped him along the way, well done mate! I came fourth in the twelve pegs with 6-08-0. The early pegs in my section struggled in the first half of the match and everyone apart from Tom Scholey had 6lb or less. Tom had a big 8lb, and fished brilliantly to take the section by default!
My partner Rob fared similarly to myself and flopped out with 5lb, so we’ve got some catching up to do! The main worry is that we couldn’t really blame our pegs on the day as we had a good draw in my opinion! We both learn a lot, and I am sure we will have a better result in the next match!