Andy Pell's Blog

Having been at Stafford Moor during the first two rounds of the Angling Trust winter league at Castle Ashby, I was keen to get on the bank for round three. Castle Ashby has been fishing really well with the bream going mad, thanks to the warm weather. Particularly on Scotland Pond, the bream tend to be in certain areas only, so if you don’t draw on them then you won’t catch them!
The team draws are set and there are one or two to avoid at the moment. My Chiltern Bait side have drawn the same set of pegs during the first two rounds. This draw gave us too many poor bream pegs on the Grendon pond and two poor pegs on the Scotland pond, so inevitably we struggled a bit during the first two rounds, especially as the roach are yet to have a real go; it’s been a bream league so far.
We hoped for a better draw in round three but were disappointed to draw peg number seven from the bag for the third round on the trot.
We were up against it again but all we could do was try our best. I was heading off to peg 10 on the Scotland pond, which was a no-hoper in the section really. Pegs 14 and 13 have been completely dominant in all matches fished at this venue for weeks now, with a big shoal of bream resident in these pegs. My section runs from pegs 8 to 14 and the further up the section towards peg 14 you are, the better you are likely to do in this unseasonably warm weather.
With this in mind, I was most likely looking at 5th in section and 4th was the best the lads had managed in the previous two rounds.
Sitting on my box, my aim for the match was to beat the Milton Keynes and Castle Ashby anglers on my right and to try and beat the RAF angler on peg 11. I had Starlets rod Cameron Hughes on peg 12, who I was unlikely to beat. The other two anglers on pegs 13 and 14 were probably going to be 1st and 2nd in the match so if I could fish a blinding match 3rd really was the best I could hope for.
I set up a method feeder rod with 4.5lb monofilament on the reel because this thin line with reduced stretch would help to register finicky bites. My feeders were Guru X-Safe 24g feeders. The skimmers and bream at this venue are really good at shaking the hook out just as you go to net them, so I try to fish a soft set up to keep the hook in place.
My hook length for the method was four inches of 0.17 Guru N-Gauge line, with a size-16 QM1 hook. I had tied some with hairs and some without, so I could vary baits such as hair-rigged boilie and corn or double dead maggot. These hooks are number one for staying in the fish’s mouth and are very important at Castle Ashby, as just one lost Bream can cost you dearly.
I also set up a four No12 Carpa Gent float for fishing at 16m for skimmers and a .10 Dupil float for fishing at 9m with pinkie over groundbait. Both these rigs had Sensas 3405 hook to nylons in size-16 for the 16m pellet line and a size-20 for the pinkie line.
It was also the first outing for my new Daiwa Airity pole, so I was itching to put it through its paces to see how I got on after two years of using a Sensas 774 pole. On the whistle I fed a ball of wetted micro pellets with a few expanders at 16m and two balls of Sensas Roach black and fine Mouture groundbait at 9m.
I then cast three-quarters of the way over to the point of the island with my method with double dead maggot on, hoping for an early bream. Things were slow and it took three casts during the first 50 minutes of the match and a change to hair-rigged corn to get my first bite, which was a small indication on the tip. It wasn’t long before a 2lb bream was netted and I was back out on the method this time, with double dead red maggot, as opposed to double dead yellow that I had initially tried. It took around 10 minutes to get another bite and bream No2 was netted, which was slightly bigger than the first.
With 90 minutes of the match gone, I had three bream and a small tench in my net and with the lads around me not catching any bream and only odd roach on the pole, I was happy to stay on the method and hope for the odd bream.
I managed only one more bream during the next hour or so on double dead maggot before I decided I would try the long pole line. I had topped up the swim with a small ball of micros and some expander pellets 20 minutes before and with action still slow on the method, it was time to hope that there were some fish on the pole line.
I had an indication, then a bite, and lifted in to a decent fish that pulled a bit of my No4 elastic out of the pole. I netted a 1.5lb skimmer, but unfortunately that was my only bite from this line.
I changed over to the short line to add a few small fish to back up my bream and small tench. I spent around 30 minutes on this line and added a couple of pounds of bits to the net before I noticed Cameron net a couple of bream in quick succession.
With the pole line slowing up and no one around me catching well on the pole, I went back on the method and was rewarded with two bream in a short space of time. With no more bites coming, and 10 minutes of the match remaining, I went back on the pole line and added a few roach just to put a few more ounces in the net.
Once the “All-out” sounded I felt really happy that I had done well in my section, and from what I had heard, I had beat everyone apart from the two anglers on the end who had both emptied it. The scales confirmed what I had hoped and my seven bream, small tench and bits went 18lb 8oz and put me well ahead of everyone apart from pegs 13 and 14, who weighed in with 48lb and 42lb respectively.
I felt I had done as well as I could have hoped for from this peg and also managed 3rd on the lake, which was worth £50. The highlight of the day for me though was my new pole, which was a joy to use.
Unfortunately, the draw took its toll on my team as we slumped to 5th on the day, which was disappointing, but we now lay in joint-second spot in the league with three rounds remaining, so it’s still all to play for as we try to secure the runner-up qualifying place.
Hopefully we can avoid peg seven during the draw for round four, which is on November 13th.