Practice Match 23rd Oct 2011
This practice match was a sixty pegger, split into three sections, Pike and Eel at Cambridge (Fen Ditton), above Baitsbite Lock at Milton, and below Baitsbite Lock on the shallows.
My draw put me in what has become a terrible area over the last two or three years pretty much in the middle of the section above Baitsbite, set back in a bit of a bay. Once again I was drawn next to Liam Daler of Hotrods, we both really struggled and tipped back without weighing, I think I had just over a pound, Liam had slightly less, we just could not catch and with a strong South Easterly breeze fishing long for big fish was also out. I probably had about 40 fish with very few of an ounce or more and the story was pretty much the same in the immediate area, Alex Bates to my right had a few and weighed about 2lb, if I went back I think I could have caught about that, but it just gets better and better the further you go to the right so you really are flogging a dead horse!!
The match weights look good on paper, but the bulk of the fish came from the last few pegs downstream on the shallows, and Dale Stones had an excellent 13lb from the first peg above the lock.....don't want to draw there next week, in fact last year we ended up with three anglers in the middle eight pegs and it destroyed our team result...lets hope the draw is kind this weekend. Maver Bait Tech's Alistair Ogilvy won with a real mixed bag of 20lbs + from the lane end section, a great weight.
The Cam used to be the best roach river we fished, but over the last six years it has become very very patchy, with big weights on some pegs, and virtually nothing on the others. It would appear that predators, both cormorants and pike, perch and zander, together with really clear water have conspired to make the small fish shoal up and the matches get won on ends and a few pegs with good cover.
It's still a lovely pleasure venue, if you pick your peg, but for a match it's become a draw bag venue, and with the cyclist and runners increasing year on year my near 30 year love affair with the river is now well and truly on the rocks!! Lets hope the draw is kind to Sensas Mark One this weekend and we can patch up the relationship for another year...
Winter League Round 3 River Cam Pike and Eel and Baitsbite
The winter league round arrived with the weather very mild and a nice southwesterly breeze on the river, almost perfect conditions, except it also brought out as many people on the bank as I have ever seen. Fortunately I was able to ship at an angle and not get too much trouble.
The draw put me on the same peg that Martin Roper won the section off in the practice match, so I reasoned there wre a few roach in the area, about 6 pegs above the railway bridge at Fen Ditton, below the pike and eel.
Teamwise we had a mixed bag of excellent pegs and poor pegs so we were hoping for a decent result. As per usiual John 118 Taylor drew himself on a shedfull of roach on peg A1 (he gets nearly as lonely as Swinno the number of times he only has one side to talk to!!). My peg was only about 4 foot deep and we had decided not to rake on the pegs up here as the bottom was completely blanketted in weed and making any kind of clear spot was a real effort. As if to justify the decision Mark Pollard and Paul Green to my right were raking for about 40 minutes and ended up pulling up as much after this time as they were at the start!!! Their piles of weed were two to 3 feet high and the size of a small dining table!!
I was on peg 17 which was C5, John Whincup on my left being the last peg in our sectiion. I found a line at about 7m where I could get a rig in consistently, and having spoken to Martin, it was also just inside the line that the boats took so didn't get too disturbed, my other line was at 11m as any further and the weed got really bad. I also set up a waggler for across, but feeding was to prove a real issue.
On the whistle I cupped a big ball of bread on both lines with a bit of hemp, and went straight in on a big punch, on a size 20 3410 Sensas hook to an 08 hooklength. I also decided to use a very light 0.2g pencil float as I was after a couple of "mug" fish.
Imagine my surprise when my first bite on my second drop in produced a roach of 7 or 8oz, and my second cast produced a 4 oz roach, my plan could not have got off to a better start. At this point I was really glad I hadn't raked as I could fish within 2 inches of the bottom and with big roach in the area I am unsure if they'd have hung around for me after chucking in a rake for half an hour...that said the others who did rake still caught so I may have been wrong.
My match continued with a run of small roach of about 3/4oz and then the odd stamper by really trying hard to present differently. There wasn't a specific pattern, but because I wasn't geting plagued by tiny fish, I felt some real effort on a light rig was worth it, in fact I tried a very sensitive 4 x 14 rig and found even that caused missed bites, so I percevered with the 0.2g DJK glass stemmed pencil.
As the match went on it became harder and harder to catch and I began to loosefeed a few red squatts over the top to give me another option. A small 4 x 10 rig and a 24 3530 to 0.06 finished this rig and it produced a similar mixture of fish including a few roach of up to 4 oz, again tempted on the drop by good presentation.
The long line produced very little and despite feeding it with hemp all match no big roach showed out there, in fact in the last hour Kev Medlock next to me had a good perch of about 12oz to 1lb, on worm long, so I chopped a few dendras and potted them over the top of my feed on this line. After resting it for about 10 minutes, I dropped a 0.4g rig in with half a dendrobena on a size 18 hook, and had a 3 oz perch first drop, but no more bites.
At the end my peg was only producing an odd little fish and Kev's perch really had me worried as the scales were readied. In the end I needn't have worried as my good start kept me ahead in the section and I won it with 7-12-0 Kev was second with that perch helping him to 6-5-0 just ahead of Browning Hotrods Lynsey Naylor on 6-3-8. The team managed to come equal second and beat Stanjay Gold by virtue of a better weight to get the nod, Hotrods won again by about 8 points, another good result. We are now second in the league, tied with Maver Bait Tech and 1 point behind Browning Hotrods....it could hardly be closer!!! Onto the Ramsey Drains for round four...right on my doorstep, lets hope we can continue our consistent form.