Well due to me feeling crap at the start of the month I’ve only managed to get out onto the bank a couple of times over the last week or two.
MEDGE HALL POND
On my first time out I was going to fish the Aire & Calder canal at Heck, but when I got there it was like the proverbial North Sea and the only way I could have fished was the tip as the wind was that strong. So after a few minutes of thinking what to do or where to go I decided on Medge Hall pond which is one of the waters controlled by the Pisces club that I’m a member of. Now I’ve never fished this place before, but I have been and had a look around and it’s in the middle of woodland, so well protected from the wind and you are able to park close to your peg on the nearside of the pond. I opted for peg 2 that had some weed to my left and right in the margin and open water in front of me. I chose to fish either side in the margin and at a comfortable distance in front of me where I could find 5-6 feet of water and a flat bottom. Plumbing up the margins I had 3-4 foot, in front of me at 7 meters I had 10 foot and getting deeper the further I went. I eventually found a flat shelf at 13 meters and it was 13 foot deep which took me by surprise considering the pond isn’t big. The only bait I has was what I was taking to the canal so it was a squatt, pinkie, maggot, hemp & groundbait attack. I cupped in a couple of balls at 13 meters carrying squats and hemp and 1 ball in the left margin. In the right margin I put in a mix of live & chopped maggot and hemp. No matter what I did on the long line all I could catch was quarter to half ounce roach, plenty of them though it was one a bung. After an hour I tried the right margin and 5 minutes later hit into something solid. It was a dead weight I couldn’t get up of the bottom and it carted off straight into the middle of the pond and I pulled out. That was it for that swim, I couldn’t buy another bite so tried the right hand margin. After a couple of minutes I get a perch of about 10oz and then I’m steadily catching perch and skimmers between 4-10oz for the next hour or so before an old chap fishing further down paid me a visit. He told me he was going and would I like any sweetcorn, I had nothing to lose so accepted the offer and thanked him. I fed 3-4 grains put a single piece on the hook and waited, not long after I was into something decent. It turned out to be a Tench around 2lb. Next fish was a Skimmer and a pound and a half and my 3rd drop in resulted in a cracking Crucian of about 2 and a half pounds. Three or 4 tench and a dozen or so decent skimmers later I called it a day as it was going to hammer it down with rain and I just managed to get everything packed up and into the car before the heavens opened. I ended up with around 18-20lb but if I had been prepared with the right bait I think I would have at least doubled that weight.
STAINFORTH & KEADBY CANAL (Godnow Bridge)
In all my years fishing the S&K the stretch from Medge Hall to Keadby Basin is somewhere I’ve rarely fished apart from the odd match at Medge Hall many years ago as a teenager. I’ve fished it so many times from Bramwith to Mauds Bridge I could drive there and get to any peg with my eyes closed, but there are some long
walks which I can’t manage nowadays. So last week as I was driving past Crowle I decided to stop of and have a look, and boy has the place changed since i fished it years ago and to be honest I CAN’T BELIEVE I’VE MISSED OUT ON SO MUCH COMFORT!!!!
You can drive along the canal for over 300 pegs from Godnow Bridge to almost Keadby Basin and park behind the peg you’re fishing!!!!!! Not only that but every peg was maintained and built properly making each one flat and comfortable.
When I got there today I opted for peg 307 near Godnow Bridge. I was slightly disappointed at how clear the water was and this along with how strong the wind was gusting occasionally had the potential to make this a tricky days fishing. Over the years apart from in the winter when it’s bloodworm & joker time the main line of attack on all the local canals has been based around a squatt line with groundbait and a big maggot line with hemp, obviously this isn’t set in stone as you can have lines for chopped worm, caster, punch, a whip line, eel line etc but the advice I would always give to people (especially those learning or new to canals) is to concentrate on the 2 lines until you get more confident. Over the last couple of years however the big maggot line has become less effective, so I’ve started fishing it differently now and so far it’s been working. As well as using groundbait on my squatt line I’ve also started using a different mix on my big maggot line too and so far it’s made a world of difference. I’m not going to divulge what’s in the 2 mixes at the moment as it’s giving me an edge so far that I want to keep going into the summer league series.
The floats I use for most of my squatt and maggot fishing on the canal are unfortunately ones that you can’t get hold of anymore and are all part of the FX range that has now become Fox Match. Today I’m setting up 4 rigs, 2 for squatt, 1 for maggot and 1 for hemp.
The blue float is a 4×12 FX and what I use for the squatt when there’s no or very little tow and is used with a tapered shotting pattern that I can move around if needed and I’m aiming to catch on the drop or within a few seconds of hitting the bottom or whatever depth I’m fishing. It has a wire stem which I prefer as the float cocks quicker which I find better to follow the tell tail shot down so I can see the bites quicker that are on the drop.
The green diamond shaped float again is a FX float but a 4×14 and is my favourite squatt float of all time, these are that good that a lot of local match lads even get copies of these specially made for them by Malman floats. I fish these with a bulk shot and a few droppers and get far better presentation when the canal is towing or there is a lot of surface tow as the shape makes then great for holding back and the bulk keeps the bait pinned better on or near the deck. Again they’re wire stemmed for stability and have a sensitive nylon bristle.
The brown float is also a 4×14 FX float and is what I use for the big maggot and is very versatile. Again it’s wire stemmed and I can alter the shotting to fish on the drop or when it’s towing I can bulk the shot up and the slight rugby ball shape wakes it ideal for holding back against the tow when I have too.
My final rig with the black float is the only none FX float I’m using today but again is another that you can’t get hold of and is made by Triana which were given to me by Daz that he got when he fished for them. This is 4×12 and is what I use for Hemp and the reason I have this rigged up is that I’m hoping the roach show and I can catch on the hemp as the session progresses. I’m also setting up a little feeder rod just in case it becomes impossible to fish with the pole at any point due to the wind.
After plumming up I’m going to fish the squatt at 9 meters and the big maggot at 14 and a half meters and all my rigs are on top 3’s. It’s midday by the time I kick off the session and cup 3 balls in on my squatt line and 2 balls of my 2nd mix in on my maggot line and chuck out the feeder across to the tree to see if I can pick up a bonus fish while I let my swims settle for 10- 15 minutes. After 15 minutes of watching a motionless tip I sack the feeder off and come onto my squatt line and I’m into fish straight away. Perch are coming 1 after the other on a regular basis but nothing above a couple of ounces, so 45 minutes or so later I go onto the maggot. Straight away I’m into Skimmers and they’re a better stamp of fish, all the time I’m also drip feeding hemp on my squatt line and hoping the roach move in later on. After around 45 minutes on the maggot the wind is making it very difficult to fish as it’s getting stronger and making it difficult to hold the pole, so I’m left with decisions to make.
I come onto the squatt line but fish hemp, and nothing. I try squatt and it’s small perch again, so do I fish for these or gamble my arm and try to fetch a better stamp of fish onto the line? In go 2 balls of my big maggot mix, it’s sh*t or bust time on the squatt line as fishing any further out is impossible because of the wind. I chuck the feeder out for another bite less 10 minutes to let my short line settle before going back onto it, and first bung in I get a skimmer around 6 ounces fishing big maggot on the hook. I continue to catch for the rest of the session but it’s not easy as I have to chase the fish about at different depths and keep messing with my shotting patterns in order to keep them coming. By 4 o’clock the wind is now blowing like a hooligan and it’s time to call it a day, I weigh what I’ve caught and I finish with just over 11lb. Not bad at all for a 4 hour session on a gin clear canal in a howling wind, especially when others around me that are practicing for the upcoming National later in the year are struggling or have packed up and gone because they weren’t catching.
Well it’s mainly quiet on the Rovers front now the season has finished. I’ve got all 4 of our season tickets paid for and to be honest I’m not sure what to think of events that await us next season. So far it’s all quiet on who’s going and who’s coming to the club and I’m not sure that Dean Saunders is the man to take us forward but I will give him a chance and see what transpires. Sometimes last season he looked tactically naive and at other times he looked a tactical genius, so lets hope he gets some consistency in the later. It looks odds on that the council have almost certainly handed the running of the Keepmoat Stadium over to the club too and the club are already asking the fans about what they want to see there in terms of entertainment and food/drink etc. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks there’ll be more developments in terms of incoming players that will raise the levels of excitement a little as things just feel flat at the moment. The only player from the “experiment” I would love to see at the club next season is Fabien Robert, so hopefully the club and thrash out a deal to get him back. We do have 3 local derby preseason friendlies confirmed at the moment, one against our 6 fingered Dingle cousins from Barnsley at the Keepmoat and the other is one I’m really looking forward to against Rotherham at the all new and shiny New York Stadium and the third is again at the Keepmoat against newly promoted Sheffield Wednesday.
I was going to fish the open match at Viking this weekend but have decided to stay in and watch the football instead as we are treated to 2 potentially great games. The first is the richest club match in the world I terms of the potential revenue it could bring the winners when West Ham take on Blackpool in the Championship playoff final at Wembley. Having seen all 4 games we played against both teams this season I really fancy Blackpool, even though the hammers have literally hammed them in both league fixtures this season. We should have beaten the Hammers in both matches this season as apart from them coming out of the traps like a greyhound for the first 10-15 of both matches we have played them off the back both times and deserved a lot more than the 1 point we got to show for our efforts. When we lost 2-1 at Blackpool it felt like we had been mugged as we played really well and even Ian Holloway said we deserved at least a point after the game, as usual with our matches they were more clinical then we were and took their chances whilst we never. When they beat us 3-1 at the Keepmoat in February they put on one of the best 2 performances I’ve seen from an away team at the Keepmoat this season (the other being Birmingham).
Later in the evening we have the Champions League final between Chelsea & Bayern Munich, and obviously as a patriotic Englishman I’m rooting for Chelsea to win. I know some people want them to trip up so Spurs can get into next seasons champions league, but that’s a big no no for me. Now call me an old stick in the mud and yes this maybe controversial but I don’t even believe that teams that finish 2nd or 3rd should even be in the champions league, never mind 4th!!! Why don’t we just call it the “Top 4 League” instead if that’s the case? It isn’t a league of champions at all in its current format, it’s a league of teams that in the case of at least 2 of our qualifiers so far this season have won nothing!!
In my opinion if this competition is really a league of champions then this country should only have 3 representatives which are the Premier League Champions, F.A. Cup Winners & League Cup Winners. All those 3 teams are champions, they have all won silverware and deserve it more than a team that achieve nothing more than finishing 4th in the league. Also if it worked like this it would bring a lot more prestige back to our cup competitions. Could you imagine Arsene Wenger sending out a team of kids against Macclesfield town in the 2nd round of the league cup? Or Alex Ferguson pulling United out of the FA Cup to play in a tournament oversees if winning either resulted in a spot in the champions league? I think we all know the answer to that. The cup competitions would go from strength to strength instead of sadly being devalued like they are now where teams are more interested in a top 4 finish as it’s worth more too them. I remember as a kid getting up early in the morning in total excitement on the Saturday of the F.A. cup final and following every minute of the coverage on TV.
Also having a dad that’s on the F.A. has meant that I’ve also been and watched a few finals as a kid at Wembley. The excitement of Arsenal beating Man United when Alan Sunderland scored at the death to give Arsenal a 3-2 after united had come back from 2-0 down to make it 2-2 in the last 4 minutes (See the videoabove), The drama of Tommy Hutchinson scoring at both ends in the Man City v Spurs 1-1 draw that lead to Ricky Villas unbelievable (Chris Kamara style) goal in the replay that Spurs won, being right in line behind Ray Wilkins curling in a goal for Man United against Brighton and seeing Gordon Smith miss a sitter that would have won it for the seagulls, instead they went on to lose the replay, seeing a fantastic Everton team that were probably the best in the world at the time beat Watford 2-0 only to lose the following year to Man United with a cracking goal from a young Norman Whiteside.
Also yesterday we had our new national coach (Not manager, we have to keep up with the times and fall into line with the rest of Europe) Roy Hodgson unveil the England squad for the upcoming European Championships. The squad is mainly made up of the players that most expected it to be but there are 1-2 surprises as there always is when squads are announced. Excuse me but what the hell is Stewart “zero goals and assists this season” Downing doing in the squad? The guy has been awful all season, Hodgson may as well have taken me! How he can include him and not Adam Johnson has baffled me. He also included John “I deserve a sainthood or Nobel peace prize” Terry at the expense of Rio “injured again” Ferdinand based on footballing reasons and form as Terry has been outstanding leading the Chelsea revival by winning the F.A. Cup and getting to the Champions league final, which again has baffled me as he obviously must have selected Downing over Johnson for non-footballing reasons and lack of form then? Roy could have shot himself in the foot over JT & Rio, I personally would have taken both or neither as many could see this as taking sides that could backfire, especially of JT is found guilty in his upcoming court case. Also no place for Michael Carrick who apart from paul Scholes is the best passer of the ball in the premier league? Really? Not even on standby. Instead we have 6 midfielders that mainly play wide and have the amazing (being sarcastic there) Jordan Henderson on standby!! So if Scotty Parker isn’t fit in time and it’s 50-50 at best that he will be we have Jordan Henderson promoted to the squad over Carrick, how fantastic…. NOT!! I am excited however by the inclusion of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who to me has the world at his feet and the potential to be one of the best in the world in years to come and would love to see him given a go. I did giggle at RH saying that basically he had been parachuted in to run a Cappello squad, come on Roy no need to start making excuses already as this is probably the only time in history that we have gone into a major tournament with low expectations. Nobody thinks we’re going to win it so the pressure is off, so lets at least go out there and try and entertain and play some nice attractive football.
Also before I sign off I’d like to congratulate Sean O’Driscoll at his new appointment as manager of Crawley Town. With King Billy a close second, SoD in my eyes is the greatest manager we have ever had at the Rovers and we played the most beautiful and attractive football I have ever had the pleasure to watch. Good luck for next season SoD apart from when you play us, because it would hurt to see Crawley pass us off the park if it happens.
Bye for now,