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Saturday I fished the teams of four league on the Basingstoke Canal at Ash Vale, I was standing in for Will, who was over in Poland working for Daiwa. The past three years I have always fished this league and the fishing has been excellent, the first year I fished it my lowest weight was 5 and half pounds, thats 6 matches fished through January, February and March. But this year hasn't been so good. Wills total weight for the first 2 matches was 2oz, I wouldn't mind betting he was glad he was in Poland and not fishing.

The weather was much the same as it had been all week, frost in the morning and easterly winds. When we arrived at the draw the canal was frozen, only a thin layer, and I have never fished the 'Bazzy' with ice on it, the locals told me that the fish didn't like it.

I drew peg 4 near the Ash firing range, a good section, but peg 1 was the flyer and the fishing steadily got worst the further you get away from it. When I got to my peg, it was one of only 2 pegs in my section that was clear of ice. I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, the swim was full of ducks and swans, which is why there was no ice and it looked like the people in the house opposite had been feeding them, the fact the ducks got fed regularly could be a very good thing, but I have also seen it where all the fish are under the ice and the open water is void of fish, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I did a little bit of ice clearing near my keep net and then set up 3 punch rigs and 2 worm rigs for perch, with different size hooks, a big hook for lobworms and a smaller one for dendras or caster. When the whistle went to start the match, I cupped in some liquidated bread down the middle and some chopped lobworms at 14.5m down my peg to the left, hoping for a big perch.

Usually on this canal, you get a bite first drop in on the bread, so when it took 30 minutes to catch my first roach, I feared the worst, but after I had got first bite I caught first roach steadily for the next 30 minutes. I had a quick look on the worm line after an hour, but never had a bite, so it was back on the punch.

As the day went on the ice steadily melted, which made the fishing easier for the majority of the anglers. At times the sun would come out from behind the cloud, which is never a good sign on a very clear canal, although the warmth was appreciated. When the sun came out I could see my liquidised bread on the bottom, it was in the deepest part of the peg at about 4ft, I saw a skimmer feeding on the bread, yet I never caught a skimmer all day, and there wasn't one caught in the whole section.

My whole match was spent catching tiny roach on the bread and keep having a look on the worm line for a bonus perch, during the second half of the match I had a few bites on the worm and finished with 5 perch, I caught about 100 roach on the punch for a total weigh of 6lb 9oz to win the section and finish third in the match, the team won on the day and I had a few quid in the back pocket.

Simon Wilsmore won the match with 10lb+, to read his story on the Drennan website click HERE

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