Friday, 10 March 2017

The Haig Men Get Competitive

Well, this must be a bit tedious for the birders who drop in here. Fishing again. Rob and I recently joined Dorchester & District Angling Society and over this past week have tried a couple of their waters. The club has access to some of the Dorset Stour upstream from Blandford Forum, plus a host of small lakes and ponds. On Wednesday we spent a wet day on the Stour, catching just a few small fish - roach, dace and gudgeon. It was hard going on a very full, fast and coloured river, made more difficult by our unfamiliarity with it. Rob tried one of the lakes last night and had a small carp and a bream of almost 6lb. So this afternoon I skived off work and headed for the same venue, a lovely spot hidden away in the folds of land NE of Bridport. I took two rods, one for catching carp off the surface, the other a lightish spinning rod set up for 'drop-shotting', a method completely new to me but apparently superb for perch. I didn't know if I could get any carp to feed off the surface this early in the year, but as it's always been one of my favourite methods I couldn't resist having a go. And as for drop-shotting, well, I rather fancy catching a decent perch or two and, though I was going to be out of my comfort zone, felt it was time for an old dog to at least try some new tricks...

I was fishing by about 1:45pm, and by the time I packed up four hours later had tried three different lakes and caught two carp and a perch. I found the first carp in the margin, sucking delicacies from the raft of weed covering the surface. I plonked a dog biscuit nearby and watched it disappear with a loud slurp. Very exciting stuff.

12lb 6oz of lovely common carp

Meanwhile I was struggling with the drop-shotting. The rod I was using was far from ideal - too stiff really, and designed for heavier lures than the flyweight drop-shotting outfit. And then, out of the blue, a wallop on the rod top resulted in this little beaut...

1lb 9oz of prickly perch

I say 'little' but in fact this is the biggest perch I've caught in well over 20 years. Mind you, I haven't done much fishing in that time! Although I caught just the one, it was a massive confidence booster. In angling, as in many pursuits, confidence is everything; it breeds success. I already knew that drop-shotting catches perch - I've seen enough published evidence - but now I know that this strange and unfamiliar method works for me, and that makes all the difference.

I managed to get some carp feeding off the top later, but their caginess and my ineptitude meant I caught just one more, a small mirror carp of about 7lb.

Rob and I have decided to spice things up for the year by adding a competitive element. The biggest fish of every species earns a pint. Here's how things lie as of 10th March:

Pike: 16lb (Rob)
Carp: 12lb 6oz (me)
Barbel: 7lb 7oz (me)
Bream: 5lb 14oz (Rob)
Gudgeon: currently no winner - both of us caught some, but neither off us stooped to measuring their size in any comparitive way. This will change though. After all, a pint is a pint.
Dace: c.2oz (me) No dace for Rob yet.
Roach: 20cm (me - the length of my hand from middle finger-tip to wrist crease). Back in the day a roach of 20cm (or rather, 8") would have been known as a 'goer'. A prize to anyone who can tell me the etymology of that term. If you can, I guarantee you'll be older than 45!
Perch: 1lb 9oz (me)
Minnow: Rob has caught one of these and, as I have not, is claiming the species at present. This grates, and clearly smacks of desperation.

So, I am leading 5:3 right now. All that skill for just two pints... More effort required I think.

This little competition has encouraged us to broaden our horizons somewhat. Rather than narrow our focus to just a few species of fish (which is where we initially saw things going, with mainly carp and pike on the agenda) we're all of a sudden rather interested in every species!

Finally, a token birdy snippet: I saw my first proper migs today when 4 Sand Martins briefly visited the lakes, pausing just long enough for a bit of twirling and dipping. All the way from Africa. Never less than awesome.


  1. I'll see if Benno is up for a similar challenge? Certainly makes the effort to record a gudgeon or minnow more important - take care and tight lines - Dyl

    1. It's been a laugh so far Dyl, I recommend it. No chance of getting in a rut either!

  2. A 'Goer' or 'Undersize' Gav.
    Yes, a term which relates to size limits as regards the LAA competion rules if I recall.
    Was a 'goer' roach 7" long or was it 8"?
    My early diaries are full of references to goers and undersize.
    Why, we even used a special measuring stick along which many a borderline fish was massaged into qualification.
    My most notorious match win with the club involved over 100 borderline Gudgeon from the Thames at Appleford. If only I'd known about those Bream.

  3. Spot on, Ric. My memory tells me size limit for roach was 8", and a goer would typically weigh 4oz. Gudgeon?!! Notorious indeed! I'm pretty sure we weren't allowed to weigh in gudgeon in my Glacier AS days! Or bleak. Scandalous!

    Wish I still had my old ruler - it would come in handy for our friendly little competition!