I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Messingham Sands fishery
At the end of autumn, very often the fishing goes down the pan for a week or two while the fish get used to the sudden change in conditions. It was during this topsy turvy time of year that I joined British Telecom angling club for a match on the usually prolific Island Pond at Scunthorpe’s Messingham Sands fishery.
The club has evolved from the much bigger inter-departmental “nationals” which the various BT regions regularly engaged in down the years, and is now very much a friendly affair based around six or seven matches around our region each summer.
Organiser Roy Dickens likes to mix things up to include rivers, commercials, silver fish venues and even canals in the calendar.
Despite the ground being tinged with one of the first frosts of the year, the anglers were still in good spirits as they turned up for breakfast at Messingham Grange Café, and were confident of a decent day’s sport.
The draw saw all the usual banter, with anglers speculating as to who was sat on the “flyers’, and who might have to fish until Christmas before they would catch a winning weight!
At ten o’clock the all-in sounded, and most anglers opted to start on the bomb, with pellet being the most popular choice of bait. John Cheshire landed an early carp fishing in this way, but for the majority of anglers, the tip sat motionless, the carp no doubt put off the feed by the cold snap.
Pegs 51 to 53 are normally fancied in the warmer weather as they hold large heads of lily pads, and though it is often hard to land the sometimes monstrous carp that inhabit this area, anglers are normally guaranteed a few bites, but even in these pegs things were proving slow. Geoff Clay on peg 51 had taken a small tench and was catching the odd small skimmer on pellet, but other than that things were very hard.
Further around the lake, John Statton took an early carp on feeder fished in conjunction with a pellet, but again, things were on the whole looking grim, with some anglers not even having had a bite by midday!
Keith Higginbottom was having a steady day’s fishing on peg 64, taking skimmers, goldfish and crucians on groundbait feeder with worm. With the lake’s carp seeming to be feeding a little less voraciously than normal it seemed possible at the midway point that silver fish nets would dominate.
John Cheshire on peg 3 was one angler who was managing to tempt a few carp, following up his early lump with three more in the first half of the match. He was fishing the bomb and pellet in conjunction with PVA ‘teabags’. As it got later in the day, he told me that the indications he was getting early on in the match such as line bites were becoming less and less frequent, suggesting that the fish had moved off. Bernard Farnsworth on peg six had also managed a couple of early lumps, with the pellet feeder being his choice of tactic.
Life at The Tough End!
Further round the lake on the lily pegs, things weren’t looking any better for the unlucky anglers who had drawn here. Geoff Clay was still getting the odd smaller fish on pellet, but Trevor Leigh and Jim Cramer were really struggling, with only the odd fish showing, and no big carp feeding at all.
Mick Latham on peg 54 was getting the odd fish though he was having to keep swapping and changing between methods to do so, and with a couple of carp and a few skimmers in the net at the halfway point, he was still in contention.
Pete Hyde in peg 55 was putting together a decent net of skimmers. Fishing groundbait feeder with worm, he was chucking to a small island at around 20 metres, and coming back with a fish on nine times out of ten. Although the stamp of fish he was catching wasn’t massive, he was catching fairly quickly compared to everyone else on the lake, and the way his fish were coming I thought he would probably be a strong challenger for the honours.
Further around the lake on peg 57 Alan Woolridge was struggling on the groundbait feeder. Now, I’m not for one moment suggesting that BT lads are tight, but Alan proudly showed me some of “the oldest squatts in England” which, he claimed were over three weeks old. Fair play to Alan, they looked OK to me, its just a pity the fish didn’t like them!
As the end of the match approached it became clear that the enigmatic golden hour just wasn’t going to happen for the majority of anglers, as the fishing remained as tough as ever. There was one notable exception however. Bernard Farnsworth on end peg six had come off his feeder line and started fishing the pole at six metres. He was catching really well, taking tench, skimmers and goldfish, and when a bonus 10lb carp moved over his line he wasted no time in landing that as well .
Pray and Wait!
For John Cheshire, for whom things had started so well, he could only pray and wait, but with a distinct lack of liners he wasn’t exactly optimistic of getting another fish. “The way I started off, catching four fish so quickly sitting on the tip for the rest of the match seemed the obvious thing to do, but in hindsight I wonder if I would have been better going for some silver fish to boost my weight that way,” John reflected.
Keith Higginbottom on peg 64 was still catching well on the feeder, but a couple of quiet spells mid-match meant he wasn’t confident of finishing in the money. “They seemed to have come on quite well in this last hour, but there have been spells where I could only get line bites, when I don’t think the fish were having it properly,” he suggested.
As the all-out sounded, venue owner Kev Johnson arrived to begin the weigh in. To his credit, Kev is meticulous about the way his fish are handled, and that is why there is a lack of the usual ‘catch-shot’ type photo you tend to see alongside features normally. The policy seems to be working however, as it has to be said that the fish are all in immaculate condition. If ever anybody needed a venue to photograph ‘model’ fish of any species, this would surely be the place to come.
In something of an anti-climax, the eventual winner, Bernard Farnsworth was the first to weigh putting 45-6-0 on the scales. There was no doubt that such a good weight on what had been a hard day would take the honours, but with framing places still up for grabs, the weigh-in remained as tense as ever. Early leader John Cheshire put 17-15-0 on the scales, a result he was obviously disappointed with given the way he had started out. Keith Higginbottom on peg 64 just pipped John with his 18-11-0 net of feeder caught skimmers, a real case of the tortoise and the hare!
This net held second spot until John Statton tipped 19-10-0 on the scales. His moment of glory was short lived however, Pete Hyde was next to weigh, his feeder caught net going 26-10-0, which proved enough for second on the day. Mick Latham on the next peg put 24-2-0 on the scales for third place.
Unfortunately, the rest of the lake fished really hard, the next best weight being Geoff Clay’s 15-3-0 net. Considering the conditions, which were not favourable, everyone had a good day and although the weights weren’t tremendous there were still some beautiful fish caught.