Viaduct Winter League Part 2 – Tom Downing

As you may have read in the first part of my winter league at the prolific Bait-Tech Viaduct fishery in Somerset (if not you can read it here ). With the first two rounds not really going to plan the third round certainly helped pick things up and I was keen to add to this result and keep climbing up the table. With each section having 19 points available anything could happen!

Round 4 saw me move over to the section on the Match lake with 3 pegs on Spring and 2 pegs on middle! Having not fished any of these lakes before, I was hoping to be on the match lake as the better section points where more than likely going to come from this lake as the pegs on the other two hadn’t produced much to shout about in the league just yet! Captain Jon was back for this round so he did the draw… Guess what 5 pegs he drew us?! Yep, the same set of five that we have already had twice! This meant I was on peg 38 on middle, the so called ‘Mr Crabtree peg’ and you can certainly see why! I wasn’t to disappointed as it really did look fishy so I hoped for a couple of bites. It can also be a good silvers peg so they were not to be ignored as the skimmers in there can go 3lb a piece.

To start with I set up a waggler and a bomb to fish across to the far bank. Then two silver lines at 14.5 meters, I managed to find the same depth on both lines around 4ft so I set up two rigs in case the wind got up , one was a MAP WD1 in a 4×12 to 0.13 to 0.11 hook length and an 18 B911 F1 hook, the second rig identical except I used a 4×16 WD1. Finally I set a meat line up at 15 metres to the nearby try where I’d keep having a look throughout the match! I used a SD2 to 0.17 to 0.15 hook length and a 14 b911 hook, it may sound big but can easily be hidden in a piece of 8mm meat and easy to use two cubes as well.

I started of by feeding four balls of ground-bait on one of the long lines which I added some dead red maggots and casters as loose feed. The ground-bait consisted of roughly 50% Bait-Tech Pro Natural Bream, 25% Pro Natural Dark and 25% of the Special G Dark. On the other line I just fed one ball with no feed so I could work my way into it and see what the fish wanted. I also potted a few cubes of 6mm and 8mm meat as my initial feed down to the tree but planned to ping the odd 8mm cube as the match went on. I started off on the waggler but the wind was cutting right through the peg making the presentation really tricky, so I swapped over to the bomb rod but didn’t have so much as a liner, so I left this alone but continued to ping loose feed over to the bank in case I had a look later on! With half an hour to 45 minutes gone I had a look over the meat line but again no indications so it was time to get my head down and catch some skimmers. First put in over the heavily fed line I had a good hand sized skimmer which was followed by a better fish of around 2lb. So I topped up with a nugget of ground bait, dead reds and casters and quickly had a couple more 10oz skimmers in the net. The next bite took a bit longer maybe 10 minutes but it was another fish around 1.5lb, with the bites taking a bit longer I felt I may need to top up with a bit more bait so I put another two balls in and left it alone whilst I had a look on the line with not a lot of feed but I was only rewarded with small hand sized skimmers! I left these lines alone and had another look on the carp lines but again no reward but no-one in my section on middle or spring had caught a carp so I wasn’t to worried about this. When I went back on the silver lines bites where very hard to come by and I feared the worse and think I may have put to much bait in! I did manage a few more skimmers but no quality. With an hour to go Dan White to my left on spring had hooked a carp down his margin, fishing into the same channel of water as me so I felt it was time to sit and wait for, hopefully, some big fish.

It wasn’t to long and I was into my first carp! They’re normally a good stamp of fish in here so I wasn’t going to rush things as they are worth some valuable points. A nice short battle and a fish close to double figures was safely lowered into the keep net! I pinged out a further 5 or 6 pieces of meat and went straight back in for another look. Almost instantly the float buried but this time I bumped a fish so I pinged a few more cubes and looked on one of the silvers lines for 5 minutes. Back onto the meat line with just shy of half of an hour left of the match I was soon into my second carp. This fish felt a lot bigger than the previous, again safely landed with time for one more! Unfortunately this was the last bite I had so it was time to wait for the scales.

The Match lake had fished relatively well with a lot of weights around the 35-45lb mark, I didn’t think I had enough to win the section but knew I’d be close to the 35lb mark! My turn to weigh and my silvers went just under 10lb and the 2 carp went 24lb giving me a total weight of 34lb 4oz which gave me 12 out of 19 points and a few quid by winning my mini section so I was more than happy with this from a peg that hadn’t yet produced in the league. On the team front it was a slightly better, not mega but we were no longer on the bottom!

The final round of the league and it was over to spring lake. The midweek silver matches had produced weights over 50lb so a few skimbobs could play a big part in getting some good section points! With this in mind I made sure I had plenty of casters and a good helping of ground bait. Having ‘criticised’ the lads in the team’s drawing capability, I decided to do the draw for this round… not the same set of 5 this time but looking at their faces, my drawing was just as bad, well all but one of the pegs and that happened to be mine! I drew myself peg 7 on Spring lake. This is a corner peg and with the weather forecast being horrific I was more than happy to have the wind over my head. The peg itself is probably the most simple peg to approach and normally there are a few resident carp hanging out under the tree which is only a top-kit away from the peg! I set up 3 pole lines two under the tree and one for silvers which I didn’t bother with. For both tree rigs I used a SD2 4×12 on 0.17 to an 0.17 hook length to a 16 Drennan Margin Carp, quite heavy for the time of year but you need it on this peg as it’s snag city and the fish aren’t exactly small! One rig I plumbed up to fish on the deck and one to fish off of the bottom.

First put in with an 8mm disc of bread soaked in the new Liquid Plum the float shot under and I had to hang on as the angry carp tried to take me under the tree! I managed to get the fish out and it was a lump too. Probably around 12lb. I fished the remainder of the match under the tree, whilst chopping and changing what depth I fished at and different baits. I managed 3 more bites to land 3 more carp all on the bread, again dipped in the Liquid Plum! The angler to my left had 6 fish so I knew I was probably looking at second at best in the section so the scales-man was eagerly anticipated. His 6 carp went just over 60lb and my 4 went 48lb which did end up being 2nd in the main section for 18 points and once again won my mini section for some more money in the kitty! I have to admit it wasn’t the most enjoyable days fishing but some pegs you just have to sit it out and wait.

So that brings my first Bait-Tech Viaduct Winter League to an end some really good results , some poor results but on a whole, lots of experience gained and lessons learned , I can’t wait to get back for some warmer weather bagging in the spring league which starts in April.

Congratulations has to go out to Bait-Techs Andy Neal and Lee Werrett who’s team ‘Natural Talent’ fished a very consistent league and took top spot in the league overall closely followed by Thatchers Vet’s then Frenzee South West in third respectively.

On the individual front it was all down to the last day with no one knowing who would win but it was predicted it would be between one of the two at the top, Ben Hagg and Craig Edmunds who where in the same section on Match lake, spring and middle! Eventually the on form Craig came out on top of the league with Ben following closely behind in second just 2 points behind and third respectively was Shaun Townsend, all three fished a brilliant league.

On a personal note, my last three matches helped me climb right up the leader board and I actually ended up finishing 18th. I was extremely happy with this against such a strong field of anglers, it was just a shame I struggled on the first two rounds but we live and learn.

I Hope you have enjoyed reading the leagues reports and if you haven’t visited the fishery before… GET DOWN THERE! Next up for me is a couple of Golden Reel Qualifiers and the start of the Viaduct Spring League so lots to look forward to.

Hope to catch you on the bank soon.

 Tom Downing

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