Tough day at the office.....

Stewie74

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This morning I made my first foray into the world of match fishing.

Saffron Walden Angling Club Winter League round 1, held at the club lake at Bordeaux Pit. 16 anglers, all seemingly very experienced and knowledgeable. Arrived at 8, in medium fog, temperature was -1 degree, with the forecast not set to get much above freezing all day. Rolling draw in the car park, I guess there was about 8 or 9 anglers already there. Fishing time was 10-3, so seemingly plenty of time to get sorted, although I was keen to get it done as early as possible so as not to be rushing around right up to the start.

Paid my £15 league entry fee and £5 pools for the match, introduced myself to the organiser and a few others that were in the vicinity (socially distanced of course). My peg was drawn by the organiser, and I was assigned Peg 9. I've had a session on the method feeder on this peg a few weeks ago so I knew where it was. Never fished it with a pole though.

Made my way around to the peg and started to get my gear sorted. Yesterdays session stood me in good stead with regards to the new kit I'd purchased (barrow, tool bar, big side table etc) I took my time and sorted my box out, attached all the bits and pieces, set the feeder rod up first, then the rollers, pole, and then the top kits.

Plumbing up a short line at 5m straight in front and another to my left, with an 11m line straight in front, then at 10'oclock and 2 o'clock. This area of the lake is pretty flat bottomed, so it was just 1 top kit for the short lines and 1 for the 11m .

Got my hook lengths sorted, sorted out my bait tray (red maggots, pinkies, a few micros, worm and sweetcorn), and with about 25 minutes to go I was pretty much ready. Poured a coffee, and sat and looked around the lake. My peg was 3/4 of the way up the lake, facing away from the majority of the pegs, I could only see 4 other anglers. Introduced myself to the guy in the next peg, who was a regular match fisherman, fishes opens, used to fish nationals etc. Double checked with him the boundaries of my peg to be sure, explained I was a match novice. He was pretty amicable, gave me a couple of tips, and we had a pretty good laugh during the course of the day.

With 20 minutes to the off I got my keepnet into the water, (never having done this before I was a bit apprehensive of exactly how to do this, but it seemed to be fairly straightforward. )

At 0945 the organiser came round and asked if everyone was ready, and said that if everyone was we would start 10 minutes early. It appeared everyone was in agreement so at 0950 the all-in was called, and my first ever match was underway.

Remembering (or trying to) everything that I've learned from the millions of youtube videos I've watched and from the learned members of this forum, I fed a small amount of red maggots on each of my 4 main lines, and started the spare line feeding by hand to my right at 5m that I would save for the last hour. Settled in over my 5m line, and waited for my first bite as a match angler.

And I waited, and I waited. Rotated the lines regularly, spending around 5 mins on each line at a time. Feeding very sparingly, taking my lead from the few other anglers that I could see.

On the plus side, even though after the first hour I was biteless and very much fishless, I was at least on a level footing with the other anglers I could see. I could hear some voices from the other side of the lake (still quite foggy), bemoaning the lack of action, this would become a common soundtrack of the day.

After 2 hours, still fishless, I decided to try a different tact, and loaded a very small pellet feeder with a few micros, attached a white bandum and cast out to the reed margin about 15m to my right. Set my stopwatch running with a view to spending an hour or so on 4 or 5 casts to see if I could coax a bite. This also gave me the opportunity to have a coffee, a snack, and keep an eye on the other anglers around me. Switched my hookbait up each cast trying to find the magic formula, sweetcorn, pellet, bandum, banded maggots, I tried everything I had.

Mark in the next peg had had a tiny roach on a bomb in open water, and when he landed a very small skimmer, he was apparently leading the match as other than one other angler at the bottom end, no-one had yet opened their account.

With 2 hours to go I went back to the pole lines, and again rotated them with red maggot. Brian on the peg at the far end then whooped with joy as he landed a micro-perch, and there was still lots of grumbling at the fact that the recent cold snap had apparently sent the fish to sleep.

Had a visit from a very chirpy little robin redbreast, sat on my cupping kit, fed him a few red maggots which he seemed to enjoy (shame the fish didn't...)

The last hour came around, my feet were now numb with cold, (temperature still at zero), and I went to the spare line that I had been feeding all day. I knew that I didn't need a lot of fish, and to be fair I'd have been happy with a bite of any description. Unfortunately nothing was forthcoming, and my first match fishing experience ended up with a big fat DNW. Not how I'd imagined it to be honest.

However, on a positive note, only 5 anglers had caught anything, so in theory I came joint 6th :giggle: :giggle:

Mark had had one more tiny fish, and won the match with the grand total of 4oz. Second and third had 3oz and 2oz respectively. 11 DNW's.

Had another good chat with Mark as we were packing away, I asked him if I'd done anything overtly stupid, or anything that stood out as being a novice angler, to which he replied I looked like I knew what I was doing, and that as I'd managed to get through the match despite the conditions I'd be prepared for the next time. Now I guess he might have been protecting my feelings, but I don't think so, he appears to be a relatively plain-speaking bloke.

Had a chat with some of the other guys back in the carpark, quite a few had had no bites at all like me, and given that they are all experienced anglers I started to feel a bit better.

So I'm taking it as a positive day in total, with a few key take-aways....

I've learned that I need to pull the trigger on some proper insulated boots asap for winter fishing, mine have been ok so far but appear to be not so good in freezing temperatures after a few hours.

I've learned that natural venues like this are not the same as commercial venues, and that I shouldn't expect to catch loads every time I fish, especially when the weather is as moody as it was today.

I've learned that whatever you try, in really cold weather unless you find the fish they are unlikely to find your bait.

I've learned the true meaning of 'it fished really hard today...

Most importantly I've learned that I quite like the match fishing environment, despite the result today. I definitely think it's something that I could get into and enjoy.

Spoke to Roger (match organiser) before I left, thanked him for making we feel welcome, then headed off home to warm up before a few beers watching the mighty Lillywhites go back to the top of the Prem by seeing off the South London Gypsies 2-0 at home in the North London Derby, with an early contender for goal of the season from Son Heung-min. Happy days.

As is my usual sign-off, this evening I'm enjoying a cheeky little South African Pinot Noir, and doing some homework on the venue for the next match that I'll be fishing. (Rockells Farm, 17th January). There is a match on the river Cam in December, but having never fished a river before I've decided to give it a miss until I've worked out the basics of river fishing.

Rockells is a more commercial style venue with plenty of carp, F1's and silvers, previous winter league records indicate that decent catches in January are achievable, last years match was won with 56lb 1oz. I'm planning a couple of visits between now and January 17th to familiarise myself with the place and see if I can find something that works.....

As always, thanks for reading (y)

Stewie
 

SeanB

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Hard luck with the match mate, you've picked a hard time of year to start but you had a go, did your best and I'm sure will have picked up a few bits of info for next time.
Well done for sticking it out to the end ?
 

JLK

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Well done mate and nice write up. Shame it was a grueller but fingers crossed for you on the next one ??
 

piscatorial

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Nice report. From reading your post I don't think you did anything wrong to be honest.
You kept yourself busy, not just sitting there, and with the wining weight of only 4oz and 11DNW's, you did fine in my book for a first match.
As they say "Things can only get better" (y)
 

2ts

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I admire your positive attitude,hope the water is fishing next match (y)
 

emmaemma

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Nice write up Stewie. I am looking forward to your next match as it can't be any worse than this one. I like how you find time for a brew and a butty mid-match and wonder how many other match anglers do this?
 

Stewie74

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Nice write up Stewie. I am looking forward to your next match as it can't be any worse than this one. I like how you find time for a brew and a butty mid-match and wonder how many other match anglers do this?
Not sure I would have done if I’d been catching, but when I’ve got the tip out I think it’s fine. Always have the butt in my lap and right hand in it, left hand for coffee and twix?
 

bettsfan

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Tough start but a good write up and the experience will hold you in good stead. Chopping and changing was certainly the way to go but at least the whole lake struggled. Don't be so hasty in calling off the River though, fish it virtually the same way and you may be in for a surprise, keep trickling the bait in on the short lines. Keep up the efforts and the rewarding satisfaction will come.
 

The Landlord

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Unlucky Stew, great write up as always. As has been said, you did nothing wrong & the fact there were so many blanks from experienced rods must have made you feel better. Those temperatures aren't the best conditions for any waters!
 

Stewie74

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Unlucky Stew, great write up as always. As has been said, you did nothing wrong & the fact there were so many blanks from experienced rods must have made you feel better. Those temperatures aren't the best conditions for any waters!
Mate, it was chuffing freezing. I had on a base layer, sweatshirt, thick fleece hoody, track bottoms, ski socks, fur-lined boots, bib and brace, wind proof jacket, thermal snood, fingerless gloves, baseball cap and woolly hat, and whilst I wasn’t cold other than my feet for the last hour, I certainly wasn’t warm. I think it was the fog, made the air damp. I don’t suppose the lack of action helped either ????
 
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Robwooly

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Don't usually follow the match write ups much but that was great, it felt like we were there too, sounded like proper match fishing, battling the elements as well as each other, nice one, even my feet feel cold now though.
 

Stewie74

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Don't usually follow the match write ups much but that was great, it felt like we were there too, sounded like proper match fishing, battling the elements as well as each other, nice one, even my feet feel cold now though.
Haha, mine have only just thawed out properly, two days later!!! Thank Christ the forecast for this weekend is a balmy 7-8 degrees, it will feel tropical by comparison!!
 

spanky

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Good write-up and great attitude.

One thing I would suggest is to have a few worms with you in these conditions. You don't need a huge amount, but a couple of finely chopped worms can sometimes trigger a bite or two when nothing else will work - used to be a lifesaver on my local canal when fishing was hard.
 

OldTaff

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Lovely write up - you are a brave man to start your match career on a natural water in the winter, lesser mortals have not got out of their car having been faced with similar.

Looks like you did everything you possibly could have to wring a bite out of the water, keep that flexible approach for your next match and conditions permitting you could well be up for a few fish.

Good luck for the next one (y)
 

tipitinmick

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Enjoyed reading that post mate. We’ve all been there. I’ve known a roach win and a gudgeon second on a 100 pegger on Holme Pierpont once. And the match was littered with top class match anglers. It’s just how it pans out some days. I see you’ve caught the bug though. ?. Well done fella. ?
 

Stewie74

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Lovely write up - you are a brave man to start your match career on a natural water in the winter, lesser mortals have not got out of their car having been faced with similar.

Looks like you did everything you possibly could have to wring a bite out of the water, keep that flexible approach for your next match and conditions permitting you could well be up for a few fish.

Good luck for the next one (y)
Yep, next match is on a well-stocked commercial with a rep for decent weights even in winter. I’m going over there on Saturday for the day to see the lie of the land, will probably have 2-3 visits before the match on 17th Jan ?
Enjoyed reading that post mate. We’ve all been there. I’ve known a roach win and a gudgeon second on a 100 pegger on Holme Pierpont once. And the match was littered with top class match anglers. It’s just how it pans out some days. I see you’ve caught the bug though. ?. Well done fella. ?
well and truly Mick, well and truly ??
 

tipitinmick

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Yep, next match is on a well-stocked commercial with a rep for decent weights even in winter. I’m going over there on Saturday for the day to see the lie of the land, will probably have 2-3 visits before the match on 17th Jan ?

well and truly Mick, well and truly ??
You’ll never be rich now. ??
 

baggy

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Nice read, deffo dip my cap to you for starting this time of year. One way of looking at it when you catch a fish in your next match it will be better than your previous one and improving match per match is the way forward whether catching more or just fishing better
 
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