Lately, every Wednesday I've been travelling to Gold Valley to fish the midweek open, this Wednesday started off with a frosty morning, on the way up we pass a complex of gravel pits around Reading on the M4 and they were all frozen, so when I arrived for the draw I was surprised to see that none of the lakes had any ice on them. I arrived at 7.45am for an 8 o'clock draw, to find only 1 other car in the car park and thought that this was going to be a wasted trip, but I soon realised it was a 9am draw, I could have has another hour in bed, still the cup of tea in the clubhouse is always welcome in the morning.
It wasn't long before the usual 'suspects' started turning up for the draw, the prospects for the day looked good, not a breath of wind, a chilly start but the weather forecast said that it would soon warm up.
My draw for the day was peg 10 on the canal bank, this peg is opposite the end of the first island and gave me the option of casting into the shallow margins on the point of the island as well as the deeper water by the rope. For both of these spots I set up a lead rod so that I could fish with a pellet cone and a piece of meat on the hook.
My other line was an open end feeder to be fished in open water at 35 turns, this was just over half way to the rope. My third line was a long pole line, for skimmers with fishmeal and joker, exactly the same as I have been doing the last few weeks.
On the whistle I cupped in 14 balls of Thatchers fishmeal at 14.5m, in the ground bait was 300ml of joker and 100ml of dead red maggots. One of the big decisions I always 'agonise' over before the start of the match is wether to feed pellet on the pole line or bloodworm and joker, both can be really successful, but I am coming to the conclusion when the weather is mild at this time of the year, pellets will catch you a better weight, where as when its colder, bloodworm and joker is better. Today I went for the joker option because of the recent sharp frosts.
The next line I fed was the open water feeder line, I filled the open end feeder with micro pellets and plugged it with thatchers, clipped up at 35 turns and had 5 quick chucks to get some bait out there. I then picked up the lead rod, attached a pellet cone and cast to the point of the island into shallow water. Usually your first chuck on the lead can be very good, and give you some idea how the day is going to go, I was sat waiting for the first bite of the day when my tip very slowly pulled around, it kept going and going until the rod was about to come off the rest before I picked up the rod, I knew before I picked up the rod it was a liner, it was so slow, it must have been a carp up in the water close to the rod, it moved the lead and nearly pulled the rod in, for such a dramatic indication the line must have got stuck in a fin and wouldn't pull off until I picked the rod up.
Next cast to the same spot I had my first carp of the day, quickly followed by another before everything went quiet for an hour. I then changed to the open end feeder and first cast I caught a bream before it went quiet, so a change back to the island margin, I caught another carp before that went quiet, this was to be the pattern for the day, fish one spot and rest another.
The last 2 hours, which is normally a very good time on the pole, I caught just one bream, just when I thought I had sorted something on this line it smacks you in the face, I had fish activating my ground bait and only caught 1 bream, it was very frustrating, I didn't get any line bites and only caught one small roach. On the drive home I couldn't stop thinking about the situation, if I didn't get any line bites maybe it wasn't fish, one possible explanation was 'crayfish' I know there is a few in Gold Valley.
By the time the match had finished I had caught 9 carp and 3 bream for a total weight of 52lb, which was top on the day, my travelling partner for the day was Lewis Walker, he weighed 39lb and was third, a great result for him.