Seeing as it's been a while since my last post and we are now into 2016 I think I need to start bringing this blog up to date a little!
Carrying on from where my last entry left off, my next trip out after grafham was the Lure Anglers Canal Club pairs match in Warwick. This was to be my first ever canal match and it was on a stretch I'd only fished once before so I was somewhat nervous as I entered the carpark and saw all the other competitors getting their kit sorted. There was 28 pairs fishing but I soon spotted a couple of familiar faces including my partner in crime Carl so It wasn't long before I managed to settle into game mode.
Carl and I drew number 17 out of the bag which meant seeing as Teams were to be set off at 10 second intervals we would be 17th in the que. Not a great start as it meant there was 16 teams in front of us to get to the hotspots first!
The teams set forth.......
Our plan was to try and slot in somewhere around the hire boatyard as this was a known hotspot and hopefully snag a couple of fish before moving on. By the time we got there two teams were already in residence and there was at least three further along the moored boats nearby. We managed to squeeze in further along but it was a less than explosive start for us as we both struggled to get a bite. Teams either side of us had landed fish but more teams were incoming along the canal too so we moved on slightly further to some fresh water.
Carl having a stare down with a cat
Within minutes Carl had a decent 30cm+ perch and we were off the mark! Buoyed by the success we fished on through the area but no more bites were forthcoming, damn this was tough! I spotted another competitor catch one and a real sense of pressure began to set in. We walked further along to a spot near a bridge which two other anglers had just vacated. Second cast I felt a very slight tap which seemed fishy and this was confirmed on my next cast when I landed my first of the match, another half decent perch.
Every little helps!
By this point we realised that we needed to find fresh unfished water as we felt a lot of the fish were being spooked by the sheer amount of rubber being thrown past them. Fortunately by now there was only a couple of teams in front of us and, knowing there was at least three bridges beyond them we resolved to get to them first as bridges are like fish magnets on every canal we've ever fished so hopefully we'd get a chance or two.
We soon overtook the last team and ten minutes of walking later everybody else was out of sight. Unfortunately the first bridge wasn't what we'd hoped for and was fairly small but high, not offering much cover for any lurking predators. Neither of us had a bite there so off we went to the next which looked way more appealing. It was quite a long bridge and pretty dark under there, perfect!
We setup either side of it and fished intensively. Half a dozen casts in I had a couple of taps which I missed before getting a proper thump on my next cast. The rod hooped over and I knew I'd hooked the zander we so badly needed. A decent looking fish flashed just below the surface just before disaster struck and the hook pulled! Talk about gutted, what a time to lose one! Minutes later however Carl landed the biggest perch so far which softened the blow a little! We fished on for no more bites and another team overtook us so off we went again.
Fortunately the other team got waylaid by some moored boats and we headed on to the next bridge which turned out to be a monster with a main road going over it and pigeons roosting beneath it right in the town center.
I went straight in with my heavier setup in case the zander were about. A sharp tug on my third cast told me they were and a couple of casts later I struck into and landed our first zed of the match, what a relief that was I tell you!
Never before has a small zander meant so much!
Carl too had a couple of pulls before netting another decent Perch, things were looking up! We gave it another 20 mins or so before deciding to head back. We had to be back at the start point by 3pm otherwise we would be disqualified so time management was paramount. We were at least 45mins away so we only had chance to put some time into probably another two spots at most.
Passing a few other teams on the way back it became apparent that most were struggling, either that or they were playing their best poker faces! We stopped at a viaduct which seemed to be twice as deep as the area around it so it had to be worth a look. After around 20mins I recieved a tiny tiny tap which was barely noticeable but instinct told me to strike and I soon had another chunky perch on the mat.
It's girth was bigger than it length!
We dropped in a couple of other spots with no more fish to show for it and soon enough the finish was in sight. A couple of other teams had reported catching a few but we were pleased with what we'd caught as we had fished hard and fished well.
Our five perch and solitary zander totalled 239cm with species bonuses added and we were hoping to scrape into a top ten finish. Considering the quality of the anglers in some of the other teams and the fact we were unfamiliar with the stretch compared to some of these guys we were over the moon when our meagre catch put us in 6th place overall. As you can see, 1st place aside, it was pretty tight at the top so we didn't do too badly at all for our first match.
A couple of weeks later It was time for our inaugural Facebook group lure match entitled " Annual Novelty Altogether Length championship" or A.N.A.L championship 2015 as it was so called! Ten of us descended upon a stretch of the grand union near Milton Keynes to thrash it out to see who was the best lure angler amongst our number (or something like that). Obviously it wasn't taken too seriously and much banter ensued, the fishing itself wasn't great but we all caught a few . In the event Jamie (potto) absolutely smashed the competition with over 4m of fish, I came second with 2.3m narrowly beating Carls 2.2m, my 10cm micro zed making all the difference :-)
As with all of our group jollies to date it proved to be a great day out and a proper laugh, hopefully we can sort out plenty more for 2016! Here's some pics from the day........