“Last week I competed in my club's three day festival at Monk Lakes in Kent with the first day being held on Bridges Lakes.
We were allocated probably the worst pegs on the lake and a draw further up the lake was needed for a good weight and with a draw of peg three, I was at the wrong end to win the day. When all the wind started to blow across from right to left as the match progressed, the bites became very finicky with small skimmers playing havoc with presentation. I was nicking the odd fish here and there with the occasional bream of 2lbs being a bonus and one tench of a 1lb plus but with just fewer than 30lbs; I came fourth on the day with 32lbs good enough for second spot. The easy winner was Andy Goldthorpe with 86lbs.
A confident day two
Day two saw us on Lake Two, where I drew permanent peg 49 again up against some much better pegs but I do well on the lake and with some recent big ton weights already on this lake I was confident I could make some headway. Feeding my margin lines and then left to settle down I caught the odd carp on my six metre line out in front of me for the first two hours and when it was time to move in on my margin lines all hell broke loose as it was barbel time. With the odd lumpy carp in the mix I had a busy last two hours putting 70lbs in the net for a final total of 129lbs for second place, no match for Andy who again won on the day with 168lbs of big carp. This put me third overall just one point from second but had the luxury of a four point cushion from those below and with a top four pay out to aim for, a good enough result on day three should secure some winnings.
A close finish
Lake Three was the lake for the final day, a moody lake with a good draw essential for a big weight or two. I drew peg 106; not good as again I was on the wrong end of the lake and I counted seven much better pegs to contend with. It was a very slow day for me and with an hour to go I had thoughts that I was going to blow my four point cushion and miss out on the frame. I had just 28 carp in the net and was not confident that I had made my target from the peg of 100lbs which I felt was needed to frame. The draw had put paid to me trying to fish for second so it was a case of damage limitations and my weight of 95lbs was bettered by weights of 97lbs, 99lbs, 128lbs, 157lbs and 162lbs giving me sixth place on the day but thankfully good enough to hold onto third overall by one point.
It was an enjoyable three days and the local B&B called ‘The Granary’ where I stayed made for a pleasant break all round. Roll on my next festival next month where I am off to Decoy Lakes in Peterborough for a few days of more fishing, can’t wait.
"Last Sunday I competed in the second round of the Kent Angling League, on the River Rother in Sussex between Iden Lock to Newbridge and I make it no secret that the Rother is my favourite river with plenty of team points and section wins knocked up over the past few seasons.
Banter by the water
Last Sunday I had a feature appear in MatchFishing magazine which clearly indicated how I approach my matches on the river; plus on my http://www.youtube.com/user/RussEvans1 angling channel I also have some film footage showing again how I fish the river with rigs, baits an approach openly discussed in front of the camera. The river as I found out earlier in the month is gin clear and fishing very hard so I knew it was going to take a good effort to put a few pounds on the scales and when I drew the first peg F9 at Newbridge I knew I had a good chance of winning the match. A few of the opposing lads had seen the article and passed comment -banter style- but I knew they were trying to put me under pressure with their mind games as I was in a good peg. I am too long in the tooth to fall their games and being confident on a venue makes all the difference and I casually smiled at all of their remarks. With 54 anglers taking part it was worth winning and I set up all my tackle and prepared my bait with even more confidence as I was very keen to back up my feature with a good performance.
With the water clear I did not ball in at the start as I normally do but cupped out four big balls of my black groundbait mix with loads of chopped worm. I fed my eel line but felt it was not the right conditions, never the less I had to feed it as I might need to give the line a go. A few minutes into the match I was catching some small beak but then my first small skimmer came some 15 minutes in and I knew that was a good sign. During the match I could see a few whips going up and down so I knew some of my section rivals were after the bleak, but as I caught more and more skimmers, bigger as the match went on I knew providing no one had found some big slabs I was going to go close. Confident that I was going to win the section anyway from any peg I got my head down and worked my socks off for the win and by the time the scales had come to my peg just 7lbs 4oz was winning the section. I knew I had reached my target weight for the Rother which is double figures and when the scales stopped on 11lbs 15oz, it was another section win under the belt.
Word had spread around that the river had fished hard as I knew it would and my weight was the only double figure weight recorded with 7lbs 4oz the nearest. A cracking win for my team and a very enjoyable and satisfying round win for me.
"One of the caps I wear at Bury Hill is my coaching cap and just recently I have held two one on one lessons with Jeremy Gamble from Fulham and young Bradley Gibbons from Berkshire. My lesson with Jeremy I touched on briefly in my last blog, but since then Jeremy has sent me a photo or two of our lesson plus a write up from his point of view of how the day went and what he gained from our lesson.
Jeremy’s point of view
"Six am is rarely welcomed as a time to be rising – unless you are going fishing! Meeting Bury Hills coach Russ Evans at 7.30am, we quickly headed down to Milton Lake to target tench and crucian carp for a lesson Jeremy’s wife had booked. Jeremy is a life long angler who had drifted away having spent over twenty years in the TA and was keen to bring his rather rusty skills back up to speed and date. After setting up in Russ’s favoured peg 20, Russ quickly demonstrated how to accurately plumb the depth for the two lines that was to be fished. Then the float was set to register a mere 1/8th of an inch above the surface with a no eight shot set two inches from the hook and resting on the bottom as a telltale.
Russ then revealed the baits to be used and demonstrated to me how expander pellets could be rapidly changed with the help of a bait pump from being hard and unappealing to soft and irresistible to the fish to be targeted. As change baits we had plenty of choice with sweet corn, worms and red maggots.
We quickly got into fish with two tench hitting the bait hard within minutes of setting up – one male and a scrappy female. Then the float started quivering, dipping and gently rose before sliding under the surface – a crucian carp -, which revealed its golden sides after a minute or two’s fight before sliding into the net. All the while Russ was passing on pearls of wisdom and discussion ranged from the merits of various floats and types of presentation of the bait. It was too easy to forget there was a float in the water and just soak up Russ’s experience and wealth of knowledge.
Having thought all was going well and that fishing was to be renamed catching I was reminded why I was there by failing to hit bite after bite – very embarrassing under Russ’s sharp eye. With considerable diplomacy he stepped in “to find out what the fish were doing” and (I am glad to report missed one bite himself) before quickly assessing the fault – the bottom shot had shifted. Job done and the rod was handed back for the lesson to continue.
As well the tench and crucians we caught bream, golden rudd, perch and roach. The roach were taking the bait on the drop and spotting how the float registered this happened as another valuable lesson learnt.
What did I learn:
- Simple is best, plumb your swim accurately, shot the float down – right down – the importance of float tip colour – and so much more.
- Having pottered along with a bit of help from TV programmes, books and magazines I found that there is no substitute for “hands on” help, my bad habits were quickly remedied and new advanced skills absorbed almost without notice. Jeremy Gamble."
My turn in the limelight
My next fishing session will be this Wednesday 18th August when I will be doing my stuff in front of the Match Fishing magazine cameras on the River Rother in Sussex at Newbridge. I have reported in my blogs that I have been in amongst the eels of late and have developed a method to catch a few bonus fish. I put this method back in action the Sunday before last when I helped my domestic club Holland Anglers to win the 50th annual renewal of the Holland Cup against Clive Vale. I had six more eels to come fourth overall narrowly missing out by 1lbs odd from winning the match, tight pegging put paid to that but having caught eels in between two close up and local rivals confirmed that my method really does work especially as they were saying that they had not seen an eel from this stretch of the Rother for years. So on Wednesday I get my chance to do it in front of the photographic cameras but the week after that I will be back at Newbridge in front of rolling cameras for the next part of The Obsessed Angler series.
The Obsessed Angler
I am pleased to announce that the first part of The Obsessed Angler series, “Spring Bream” will be released in the next few days as I am waiting for the hard copies to arrive back from the manufacturers. The plan is to send off a copy to a few TV companies as a couple of channels have already shown interest in the series but a few limited dvds will be on offer to buy. The fact that The Obsessed Angler series can be produced as a complete package to any prospective channel and ready to go, must be a good selling point? Well I hope so. Matt Fuller who has been working with me on the series has been doing some fantastic work with the filming and editing plus the time and effort we have both put in and will continue to put in as the project is still ongoing will hopefully come to fruition. As well as this blog more details can be viewed on my angling website www.anglingfeatures.com look out for The Obsessed Angler link.
With young Bradley’s match at Bury Hill on Wednesday plus my date with the magazine and more going’s on at the fishery and more I will have plenty more to report in my next blog.
"It has been a busy time for the fishery since my last blog, and below are some match and catch reports that I have noted for our customers. All three of the day tickets lakes are in fine form with plenty of good specimens being taken and it is good to see plenty of our visitors going home with smiling faces and new personal bests.
Hanwell Club Match
Bonds Lake 12th July 2010
Ton up Gary wins the day
A ton up bag of carp was needed to win Hanwell’s latest club match on our Bonds Lake last weekend, when Gary Wood on peg five fished a small groundbait feeder tight over to the island. With hair rigged pellets on a size 14s hook Gary got instant bites when he hit the right spot tight to the island margin cover and with the aid of a catapult pinged a few 8mm carp pellets over the top of his feeder line to get the carp in a feeding frenzy. With carp up to 10lbs plus and plenty in the 6-8lbs marks Gary also caught a few fish on the pole down the margins and won the day with a fine total weight of 111lbs.
Another good effort came on peg 20 where Paul Mason fished similar tactics to the winner with a nice total of 81lbs of hard fighting commons and mirror carp. Regular feeding with pellets kept the fish interested and feeding for most of the match for Paul.
Peg 11 produced a few good fish for Chris Peal and his 53lbs of pole caught carp close to the margin reed cover was good enough for third place overall.
Old Lake report
With the Bury Hill midweek opens starting soon, father and son David and Steven Walker from Horley in Surrey decided to get in some pre-match practice on the long bank fishing pegs 40 and 41. With both fishing the pole at 14 metres and using either corn or pellet on the hook over a bed of feed pellets both anglers enjoyed a combined 38 bream haul, in a short session, up to 5lbs with the average going just over 3lbs.
Regular Dave Ewing from Guildford had another busy day fishing peg 28 catching 22 bream to 4lbs on the waggler fishing off the bottom at half depth catching all of his fish on halibut pellet on the hook feeding 6mm pellets.
Mike Head from Reigate had yet another good day fishing for the bream on the front bank catching 75 bream and one tench from peg 12 mainly on the pole at 12 metres. With 6mm soft pellet on the hook over small balls of swimstim green groundbait Mike kept the bream up to 5lbs coming all session for an estimated bag of 250lbs which also included a few on the groundbait feeder.
Following some advice from Russ in the tackle shop Chris Gadstone from Cowley, Uxbridge went in search for some tincas and from peg one near the jungle helped himself to 14 tench up to and around the 5lbs mark. Helped by some overcast weather and a nice breeze Chris kept the tench coming to just past midday when finally a shoal of bream joined in on the action. Fishing a small float ledger cast underarm towards the tree snags Chris caught all of his fish on expander pellets on a size 16’s hook feeding 6mm pellet. With as many bream as tench his final weight exceeded well over 80lbs in an eight hour session.
Bury Hill midweek open 14th July 2010
Harrison leads the way in close finish
The fishery held is first of many midweek open matches last week on the old lake and with a turnout of 23, most of the Long Bank was put into action. As the match unfolded it was clear that the bream were shoaled up in pockets around the match section and where some struggled plenty were catching well including Dave Walker on peg 51 who netted nine fish in the first hour to take a early lead. Geoff Vallence was also doing well from peg 26 netting plenty of decent bream and skimmers on the pole line at 13 metres, whilst on noted peg 37 Terry Harrison was catching the odd big bream on the feeder over to the opposite island. Steve Gardner on peg 41 was fishing long pole and catching the odd fish to keep in contention but in general the first hour or two was slow fro most of the field.
On peg 51 Dave Walker found his peg slowing up but with tench, bream and two big crucians he was still having a good day and finished up with 47lbs 9oz for sixth place overall. Robbie Taylor on peg 44 was catching his fish in bursts on the feeder but still managed to weigh in 49lbs 4oz for fifth place and some section money in the process. Tony Barthomlew found himself on peg 30 and caught steady all match using hair rigged corn on the feeder and he put a nice 53lbs 2oz on the scales for fourth spot.
End peg 26 for Geoff Vallence carried on producing including an 8lbs Zander which did not count, however with numerous bream and skimmers on pole and pellet gained Geoff third place with 58lbs 6oz.
England international Steve Gardner managed to keep the bream coming in fast bursts of action on the pole and pellet cupping out small morsels of soft feed pellet and a light fluffy ground bait mix, however Steve just fell short of the winner but had a respectable 60lbs 12oz in the process.
Terry Harrison on peg 37 may not have had quantity but he certainly had quality as his bream were in the near 6lbs mark to record a good win with 63lbs. Using pellet through his feeder with either corn or pellet hair rigged, Terry was casting close to the island in the search for better stamped bream.
In general it was a good match with a quality field and although the pegs in the mid 40s did not sparkle, for most the fish were in a feeding mood despite a brisk wind blowing down the lake towards the front bank. Bream dominated this silvers only match but there was also a good scattering of tench in the weights plus the odd big crucian as well. The next open will be on the front bank on Wednesday 28th July, draw at 8.30am fish 10-3pm.
Result 23 fished:
1st Terry Harrison Dorking 63-0-0
2nd Steve Gardner Dorking 60-12-0
3rd Geoff Vallence Preston Delcac 58-6-0
4th Tony Barthomlew Anchor Croydon 53-2-0
5th Robbie Taylor Preston Delcac 49-4-0
6th Dave Walker Carshalton DAS 47-9-0
A bit of bad luck but that’s fishing
Personally I have had some ups and downs in my recent matches mainly due to some poor draws but that is the nature of match fishing and you have to take the rough with the smooth. Two Sunday’s back I was at Framfield Lakes near Uckfield in Sussex, competing in a 25 pegger and although I weighed in 124lbs of carp I was way off the pace despite finishing second in my section, Andy Goldthorpe won the match with a superb 340lbs of paste caught carp.
The recent Bury Hill midweek open was a bad match for me as I along with six other anglers drew a section of the Long Bank that was void of fish on the day but there is always another day and that’s the way to approach the situation as I know the next match could well be my time to drew well and bag up going home with a few notes in my back pocket.
A recent trip on the Rother was very successful and this weekend I will be competing in a practice match with the main event the following week to look forward to. I will be on the bank side three times in a four day period so fingers crossed the fish will be in a feeding frenzy as apart from the Rother as I have already mentioned I will be on the River Eden in Kent on the Monday filming the next part of my The Obsessed Angler series and on the Wednesday I have a couple of options that I am still deliberating over.
I look forward to reporting soon with some good news on my recent outing’s, until then.
“Winter on the Way is an exciting prospect. For me that’s all about big river roach and massive pike. I love both species equally and both pose their own problems and demand their own skill set. For roach, you can’t beat trotting a tiny stick float down river, hooking a big fish at perhaps 20 or 30 yards away.
For pike, the great challenge is fishing a lure down a weed-free channel, watching and waiting for a monster to intercept. Short days, yes, but packed with action and excitement.
One of my many business hats is Fishery Director at the Kingfisher Lakes and Apartments in mid-Norfolk. I love the job because, in reality, I’m dealing with four wonderful lakes and several miles of the River Wensum every day. But there is a problem.
Wensum roach stocks have been on the back foot now for thirty years, largely because of river mismanagement (no thankfully a thing of the past) and over predation by cormorants and, latterly, otters.
Everyone loves river roach and the Wensum is an iconic river. There’s a feeling that if we can put the Wensum back to rights, anything can be done in the roach fishing world. I’m hoping that Dr. Mark Everard (Dr. Roach to his fans) is going to visit in November and together we’ll walk the river, do some fishing and discuss how we might help the Environment Agency reinstate the River Wensum once again as the country’s premier venue.
Watch this space.”
"I’m spending so much time on lowland rivers this summer and autumn that I’m desperate to convince H&C TV to allow me to make a film on them. The fascinating thing about lowland rivers is that they are a true barometer of our countryside’s health.
There’s increasing interest in the status of our lowland rivers. Twenty-odd years ago, they were simply seen as drainage ditches, there to carry excess rainwater to the sea in as short a time as possible. Today, they’re seen as delicate and finely-balanced eco systems that it is our duty to protect.
At its best, a lowland river valley is a wonderful place with otters and water voles, grebes and dabchicks. There’s water ranunculus, flashing barbel and surface-feeding chub. Graceful willows and homely alders and Constable-like watermills. You’ll see herons on the drainage dykes, toads in the marshlands, badgers in the chalk uplands and foxes raiding the riverside farmyards.
All life is here. A river journey is the best a camera crew can make."
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“You know, I’ve fished Norfolk’s small, meandering River Wensum for 40-odd years and I’ve hardly ever seen canoes on it. Then, come the Griff Rhys Jones series and canoes are everywhere.
Now, I’m not one to deny anybody pleasure at the waterside, but some rivers are designed for canoes and others are not. Whilst canoes are a pest on the River Wye, for example, the water is big enough to take them. On a tiny stream like the Wensum, canoes spell a huge amount of disruption.
The swans are petrified of them. The river is just too narrow for them to ease past a canoe and what happens is that whole groups of swans are flushed downstream in front of the canoes. They’re simply too afraid to stand their ground and they end up miles away from their original feeding and nesting point.
Weed is disturbed. Chub shoals flee quarter of a mile in panic. Moorhens are disturbed.
In short, these tiny streams are just not a canoe-friendly habitat. As ever, I suspect, nothing will be done and once again nature will lose out to whatever the ‘in’ thinking is at the moment.
On a separate note, we’ve got a great idea for a film. The idea is that a group of friends assemble to clear a long-forgotten fishing beat. Years ago it was famous when the salmon ran the river in flotillas but now it’s fallen into neglect. It would be great to show the good that anglers do by opening up dark and lifeless riverbanks. It will also be exciting to uncover relics from a bygone age, from a sporting time that was dominated by salmon. Hopefully, we’ll be able even to interview older fishermen that remember these golden years.
Then, work done, there’s all the excitement of fishing a new beat. This is really what gets an angler’s blood pulsing. New water is like new breath, new life. Will we catch? Will we see fish? How do you set about pioneering new territory? Watch, and hopefully, learn!”
Editor’s note: Leave your comments for John by clicking the ‘Comments’ tab below.
“It was Isaak Walton that called the chub the most cunning of fish and he was right. They’re getting even more cunning in this modern day. What I’ve been watching over the summer is chub that are spooked by the sight of their own shadow.
In fact, on a couple of the rivers I fish, even putting in free offerings of bait can be the kiss of death. They will take one or two mouthfuls but then begin to panic, perhaps associating the experience with something painful. My tip is to barely pre-bait at all, but make that first cast count.
What’s doing this? Is it extra angling pressure, or is it the increased otter population we’re witnessing? No doubt the otters are thinning down populations so numbers of chub are diminishing. This means less competition for food. This means chub can afford to be more wary. But also, the presence of otters means that chub have to be on 24 hour alert. These are fish that barely ever relax and as a result, they are presenting a bigger challenge than even Walton could have guessed.”
“Absolutely great to be in front of the cameras again up near Darlington with Mick Watson on his Hooked on Fishing lakes, even though the rain teemed down from morning right through until dusk. Can’t remember when I was on a more varied shoot. Mick is such an inspiring guide to talk to; he’s an ex-copper who is now saving so many disaffected lads and lasses from the area by giving them a love of fishing. So many really bright, enthusiastic kids around the place. Thanks, Mucka, for a fab interview.
And thanks, Phil, for your eloquence, your infectious enthusiasm but also for catching that massive twenty-two pound common carp. Awesome is a word overused but fitting here.
So a fabulous day...even though Howie was behind the camera. Anymore of his fish puns and I’ll scream! “I don’t mean to carp on, but...” “It’s a wrap. Been a brill day.” I needn’t go on!
And so from one filming day to another and Nige the Hat, Charlie and I pitch up at Sweethope Lough to film the Hardy Greys pro/celeb fishing event. It’s to raise money for the Grace House Project in the North East - a hospice for kids and support for the parents, which is invaluable in this area. The good news is £5000 or more was raised on the day and it was a great event to film and support.
Jamie Noon was happy to give an interview. It’s a shame this England International is deserting Newcastle Falcons for the French, but what a nice guy and what a good fisherman. Fishing to Jamie is a complete wind-down after the stresses of a high-level rugby career. A man who just wants to put back into a life that has rewarded him richly.
And then Sean Wilson, ex-Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice. I’ve known Sean a long time. He’s an avid birder and living on the North Norfolk coast means I see much of him. But he’s also a top-rate fly fisherman who could have easily reached international level if it hadn’t been for acting demands. He, too, was full of praise for the event, the water and the whole spirit of a vastly enjoyable day. Well done to Lucy Bowden of Hardy and Greys for working so hard to set the thing up.
It ought to be pointed out that, again, it rained and the winds blew. Charlie Gilbert of H&C TV arrived looking exactly like the glam TV person she is, but after a couple of hours out with yours truly and Nige the Hat in a storm-tossed boat, she didn’t look quite as well groomed as she had. In fact, the little darling serving coffee actually offered her a comb!
Of course, Nige the Hat didn’t help when his hat blew off! And would Nige give his hat up? You must be joking! At severe risk to all our lives, he circled the boat again and again in waves that would have troubled the Titanic. White as a sheet, Charlie simply screamed she’d buy him a new hat but Captain Pugwash wouldn’t have any of it.
Do you think filming sounds glamorous? Think again.”
John is able to see close ups, like these carp, with his bins
“The most overlooked essentiality for any angler is a pair of binoculars. So few anglers pack these regularly into their kit that I’m amazed. With a pair of bins, you get to see so much of what’s happening - so much of what’s overlooked by the normal angler.
Take one single day down at a local lake: through the binoculars, I could see carp actually feeding on spawn recently deposited by roach and bream. These great fish were actually gorging on the eggs and pushing the weeds aside in their fury to get at this food bonanza.
Then, in a sheltered bay, I saw tiny, needle fry, only millimetres long being pursued by three large common carp all closing in on thirty pounds. The carp were just hoovering up these tiny shards of silver life. They were gorging on the tiny fish and totally ignoring any other food form.
Later on that day, I could watch the swans move into the weed beds, take over from the carp and gorge on the recently laid and fertilised eggs. 20 swans were there feeding through the hours of the late afternoon and into the early evening. It was a massacre. No wonder the big bream in the lake are an ever-declining species.
It’s interesting that the Victorians realised that swans did immense harm to the health of fish stocks. It’s a fact that we seem to have overlooked a century on. Of course, we wouldn’t do without our swans but with all the other pressures on our waters in this day and age, perhaps there could be just a few too many?”