I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Barnsley Debut, Divison One National
The first match that I was to fish with the Barnsley Blacks was the NFA Division 1 National, which was held on the River Huntspill, King Sedgemoor and South Drains in Somerset. It’s a fairly big even in team fishing, with 63 teams of 10 competing this year from all over the country. Last weekend was a good opportunity to have a practice. I was lucky enough to travel down with Lee Kerry on the Friday night, so we didn’t have to get up at some ridiculous time on the Saturday morning. The venue is a good 200 miles from home!
A Weekend Practice
Some of the lads had been down practicing from Wednesday, so we had a good chat in the bar on the Friday evening, and got a bit of info on what to expect. Simon Fields had caught plenty of roach on the pole, and Glen Lawrence had caught on the tip. It sounded a bit patchy, with some sections absolutely solid with fish, and others devoid of them! I was sharing a room with Lee and Rich Wilson, the room had a double bed, which Rich was quick to claim and jump in, then there was a single bed, which Lee taxed and flopped on, so I was left with the little scrappy pull out mattress on the floor, charming!!!
Thankfully neither of the two snored much, and we were up and ready for breakfast after a good night’s kip, it definitely beat setting off at 4am in the morning! We were fishing on the Sedgemoor drain on the Saturday, and I’ve got to say, it looked really, really nice! The side we were fishing was about 20m wide, lined with reeds on both sides, and loads of cover close in, lilies and weed, it looked really fishy. There were 9 of us, so we all fished in a line to get a bit of an idea what it would fish like in a match.
Tommy got two of us to fish feeders for the first hour, just to see if there were any bream around, while most of the other lads concentrated on doing different things on the pole. I set up a couple of pole lines too, one at 6m over the weed, and another at 13m where I balled it. I was using a fish meal mix on the feeder, while the other feeder man, Tony Wood, used a sweeter cereal mix. After an hour and a quarter, I had one tiny little perch, the only indication I had. I tried a few different baits and cast around with a bomb, but still had no rewards, so it was onto the pole to try and catch a few fish. Everyone who started on the pole had caught some small fish early on, but things had petered out after an hour. I was soon into a run of small roach and skimmers, and caught 15 or so in a short space of time at 6m with pinkie. Tommy Pickering and Simon Fields had both caught really well on either end.
Things slowed down after half an hour and nobody seemed to be catching much. Woody had caught 5 skimmers on the tip further up, which proved the fish were there! I tried the long line where I had balled it, it buried straight away with a dumpy perch, and then nothing followed! Everyone had a walkabout and a chat about what was happening. Simon Fields jumped on the box, and in 20 minutes the peg was solid, he was catching dumpy roach regularly. Lee Kerry and Joe Carass had both caught some fish short around the weed, so that was something well worth considering too.
After 4 hours or so we decided to call it a day and go have a look at the river…..which looked even nicer than the drain. We were stood at one end on the pumping station bridge, it was a nice summers evening, flat calm, some colour in the water and some decent fish topping. I couldn’t wait to get on it the next day!
We were up for breakfast and straight down to the stretch of river that we had been for a look at the night before. The banks are really high, and you’re sat a good 5 foot from the water on some of the pegs. Some of the lads went and fished a practice match on the south drain, as there was to be one section in the national on there, while the rest of us fished in a line on the Huntspill. Again, we had a chat with the guy next to us to make sure that we all tried something a bit different. The main things we needed to know were whether the feeder would be a banker, and whether we could catch the small fish down the edge around the weed. Some of the lads cast a feeder ¾ of the way across and myself and two other lads cast only half way.
I started on the feeder, and decided to spend at least an hour on it to see if there were any skimmers or a rouge bream about…..there weren’t!!! All I had for my efforts was a few small perch and tommy rough. Ian Bowman caught a skimmer or two in the first hour however, and Tommy Pickering spent the first hour fishing short for perch, catching 22 of them, which proved we couldn’t ignore this line as it would give us good team points! I had balled in 10 balls of groundbait at 11m, and loosefeed hemp over the top hoping to catch on it later in the day. I also fed a worm and caster line down my peg next to the weed for a bonus fish.
Come the end of the day, I had caught two small skimmers on the tip, but only caught small perch and ruffe on my worm and caster line. However, I caught a few dumpy fish on the main pole line on maggot whilst loose feeding hemp, and in the last hour, had a fish a chuck on hemp, all roach from 1oz to 6oz, catching probably 3lb of them. Several other lads also caught well on the seed, with Rich Wilson and Ian Bowman on either end emptying it!!!
After the weekends practice, I felt that I had a good idea about what we were fishing for (FISH!), and after a good analysis chat with Lee Kerry on the way home, I managed to create a bit of a plan. The small fish close in were going to be vital team points, and the longer 10m pole line could come solid with fish in the last hour on hemp, and there was the chance of some skimmers or a rouge bream on the tip.
Me and my Dad travelled down on the Friday night to stay in a travel inn with the rest of the team. I was a bit nervous about fishing my first match for Barnsley, but all he lads are great, absolutely laid back as ever about the fishing, they just seem to go out there and do the business! We had a few drinks in the bar, and met some of the guys we hadn’t met before. Then it was off to bed for me, ready for the match the next day.
It had chucked it down all night, and although the river seemed in good condition the day before, I was a bit anxious as to what I would be like. I was glad to draw on the actual River Huntspill as oppose to the drains, and ended up on peg E30. It was an absolute typical national, with the muddiest field to walk over, with cow pats everywhere, and big pot holes for your barrow to disappear in. I loaded all the gear on the barrow, strapped it on, only to find a style to cart it over 100 yards further on! When I arrived at my peg, covered in all kinds of mud, poo and grass, I had a 5 foot drop to the water on a wobbly under cut piece of earth. Anyway, looking back, it was all part of the day, that’s what fishing nationals is all about!
I had a typical peg, a bit of weed cover close in, with open water, and thankfully, I was on a section with nobody opposite me. I settled on four main lines, a close in line actually in a hole in the weed, on a top 5 to one side, where I fed two small balls of groundbait and leam with a few chopped red worms and squatts. I then fed my main line at 11m, with 8 balls at the start, followed be regular loosefeed of hemp and squatt. I couldn’t resist cupping in a bit of worm and caster down the other edge for a bonus fish, and then I set up my feeder to chuck 2/3 of the way across. Phew!
I fed all the pole lined, and then had 10 quick chucks on the feeder to get some snap in. I started on the short pole line, catching a cute little miniature mixture of everything, roach, rudd, perch and tommy rough. I felt much better after the first hour, when I had probably 10oz in the net. I had a 0.2g bleak float on with a small bulk of shot next to the hooklength knot, with only 0.06 and a 24 hook baited with a squatt or tiny bit of worm. Word had it that everyone was struggling, so I plodded away at the blips for another half hour. The guy to my left had a big skimmer on the tip after 45 minutes, but that was the only other fish I’d seen caught! I then caught a few small fish on squatt over my main pole line, and the odd small perch on the worm line down the other side, both on 4×14 Tomas Walter floats with an 0.08 hook link.
The fish I were catching down the edge were tiny, probably 4 to the oz, so I decided to have 15 minutes on that, then a few minutes on all my other lines to see if anything had turned up. The odd time I would pick up a 1oz lump on my squatt line. I tried the feeder with no success, and was hoping for the hemp to come good in the last hour after I‘d fed it all day.
I kept slipping a piece of hemp on in the last hour in between catching my tiny little fish down the edge, and didn’t have a single indication until the last 10 minutes. I thought I’d have one last go on it, as the roach sometimes switch on last off. I laid the rig in, and then lost sight of my float, only to strike into a dumpy 2oz roach. In the last ten minutes I managed three more, and put probably 7oz in the net!!! It’s really frustrating when it happens like that, I’m sure the roach were there all day, its typical hemp fishing, you catch really late on! At the end on the match I felt that I had 2lb+ altogether.
I was the third to weigh in, the guy on the end had 600g, and the chap next door with the skimmer had 1kilo 700g! I tipped my 150 tiny little fish on the scales, and managed to pull them round to 1 kilo 300g. My dad followed the scales down the rest of the section whilst I packed up. The sections are very big in the division one national, with 63 anglers in each section. My 1 kilo 300 put me 9th in the 63 peg section; I was absolutely chuffed to death with that result. I was 3rd in the section all the way down to the pegs near the bridge where some bream were caught. I think 3kilo+ won the section, but I was relieved to go back with a good 54 points for the team.
Unfortunately, we weren’t at the top of the teams, although our Barnsley B team did finish a respectable 16th out of 63 teams, actually one place in front on the Barnsley A team!!!! Also, the top two scorers from each team go through to fish the NFA individual national, with me and Tony Peel both having 54 points, unfortunately I’m down White Acres that weekend for the Maver Festival. Gutted!
Lee Kerry took some pictures of our practise weekend, which can be seen below. Cheers Lee!