Baby, it's cold outside

Simon R

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So sang Tom Jones to Cerys Matthews a few years back

Very appropriate for the first match of the year, the aptly titled January Shield, normally held on a river and this year pencilled in for the dolomite stretch of the River Tees at Bowesfield where we’ve held the match previously. It’s not renowned as a particularly prolific stretch but is at least fairly consistent. However in recent weeks the fishing on the lower Tees has been awful – a 15 pegger fished by river regulars was won with 1lb 9oz with the DNWs outnumbering those with a fish in their nets. So interest in taking part in our match was, perhaps understandably, not great – therefore in the interests of everybody getting a fish or two I got us booked on the smaller lake at Renny.

Saturday night was a hard frost though, and although ice-free shortly before midnight the ponds had frozen by 7am the following morning. The aerator at the far-end of the lake did a decent job of clearing the ice from the two or three pegs closest but the rest we smashed using the lifebuoys with ropes attached and ended up with 15 fishable pegs – some markedly clearer of ice than others.
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We had a healthy 13 strong field – 9 members and 4 guests – and the draw saw me pull out a peg at the far-end of the lake near where the aerator is situated. The tip of the island was 14m away but only a foot deep close to it, all the rest of the peg was a full top-two in depth (6’ plus) including close to the aerator itself. It’s probably a foot deeper at this end of the lake compared to the other – perhaps the aerator prevents silt being deposited so readily. I stuck to just those two features plus 8m in open water – although the island margin I was intending to leave until after lunch in the hope that it may have warmed up a bit by then. I dropped a few maggots in at the start and flicked a little maggot feeder across short of the island to see if any bites were forthcoming. Target species on the lake are mainly roach (generally a couple of ounces with odd decent ones) and carp (8oz to 8lb+) plus lesser numbers of chub, barbel, gudgeon and a few ide. In the winter it’s roach that dominate the catches which is what I expected to catch.


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With nothing happening on the feeder I had a little look over the 8m line, I was getting some minute indications but nothing to strike at and I assumed they were due to tiny fish nipping at the maggot. I switched to double maggot in the hope it may dissuade them and moments later the float buried, twenty feet of elastic streamed out of the pole tip and I found myself attached to a either a British record roach or a decent sized carp. It was the latter of course – a nice common of around 2lb, firmly hooked in the pectoral fin. It took far too long to land on ‘roach gear’ but assuming it was a one off I persevered on the light gear. After first Mick to my left landed a carp of 3lb+ and then Bob opposite got a couple I reckoned there might have been a few about and switched top-kits. I hooked another fish shortly afterwards but after a couple of minutes the hook pulled out for no apparent reason – possibly also foul-hooked, although I never saw it.

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It all went quiet after that and despite potting in some chopped worm and caster down the 8m line and across to the aerator I couldn’t buy a bite from either location. I decided to stretch my legs and see what else was getting caught. On the car-park bank it was very quiet with just the odd silver getting caught, it was a little busier on the opposite side – Peter and Chris both had a few fish – including a couple of small carp in Chris’s net. Bob was well in front though – he already had four carp, two of which were 3lb+

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On returning to my peg it appeared the rest had done it some good as I started picking up odd fish (all carp). After each fish I flicked 6 or 8 maggots at the float but never really felt I’d got the feed right. I’d get two or three fish and then the peg would die again for twenty minutes or so. The carp were obviously shoaled up at my end of the lake, although Bob was catching two to every fish I got – I’m fairly sure they were present all day since I never caught a roach or even had a squashed maggot, indicating a bite from a roach – but not really feeding properly. I got two or three on the drop so they weren’t all on the bottom and I think the really iffy bites I was getting early on were not due to small fish but liners off the carp. I ended up with, I think, about fifteen fish and reckoned I had about 25lb – Bob I was fairly sure would have twice that.

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That proved to be the case as after two weighs he totalled 55lb 6oz.

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Tink to his right lost a carp early and weighed a single roach for 2oz
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Brian tipped back his few roach

Up at the top end of the lake Chris and Peter both had mixed bags of small roach and carp – Chris having a few more of the latter and hence weighing 8lb 8oz.

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Peter had 4lb 5oz

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On end peg one Frankie only had two fish – one of them weighed 8lb 6oz though, so his ten pound total put him briefly second overall and top club member.

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On the car-park bank sport hadn’t really improved – Steve had 2lb 1oz of roach, George had a single fish of 2oz and Rob a brace for a pound exactly.
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Kev and Dave both blanked and Mick, after an encouraging start found his peg died on him and weighed 3lb 14oz

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My fish totalled 28lb which won me another trophy

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Quite an enjoyable match for those of us fortunate enough to draw on a few fish - a frustrating one for everyone else

Next match is February 16th and we’re off to the Swale for the Grayling Cup – water levels permitting


Simon
 

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