After months of anticipation and a fair bit of banter, “Robbo’s Birthday Bash” was finally here.
Following a short drive through the Hampshire countryside (well,  short compared to most other peoples journeys) the Surrey contingent of Shandy Drinking Poofters (Me, Antmusic, Dwaynemartyn and Shedfull) arrived at a sun drenched Witherington Farm for what was going to be a memorable weekend with a great bunch of blokes at a superb fishery.


After the initial introductions to Nicky and his better half (Julie) we set about the main task of the first day – having a look around the lakes and generally taking the piss out of anyone brave enough to be practising for the following day.


Having drawn Barnmoor for the first day I was pleased to find that Scone had been fishing one of the early swims and said he’d had his best day’s skimmer fishing ever with an estimated weight of over 50lb.  However, having now seen his performances over a number of matches including the two here, plus The Glebe and Rolf’s I find it hard to believe that he catches 50lb in a season let alone one session !


We then watched a number of people have a go with Scone’s gear but a succession of missed bites resulted in few fish in the landing net, and also proved that PJ would be no danger the following day !  Pedisit (nice shirt Phil) and Hillbilly were both fishing Cottage lake which gave us the opportunity to dish out a bit more abuse. Neil was fishing paste when we arrived and proceeded to miss about 20 bites in a row despite his peg resembling a jacuzzi whilst Phil was fishing pellet up in the water and not catching much either, the funny thing we noticed was that if anglers were fishing “up” then people standing behind them were the kiss of death as bites almost dried up.  This made the anglers look worse – but did make us laugh.


Before we were whisked off by Taxi to Salisbury, I just had time for a slow walk around Barnmoor and a check of the maps of the lakes showing which pegs were in the following day, to see where I fancied.  With the wind blowing into one corner, Peg 10 looked likely to be a flier (especially as 8 and 9 had been left out) and I also fancied Peg 13 in the opposite corner and the pegs on the back bank  (15, 16 and 17) cos they all had a bit more room than the other pegs.


I won’t go into the events of the Friday evening, suffice to say that we had a great time in the town, some of the Total Fishing chaps like a drink or two and the Cat Tavern (where me and Robbo stayed) is not exactly palacial !


Match Day One arrived and following about 3 hours sleep (if that) and a hearty breakfast, our minibuses arrived to take us to the farm (note for future reference – travelling in a confined space with Scone after he’s had a Curry and a “few” pints can seriously damage your health).


Being at the back of the Barnmoor draw queue meant that by the time I arrived at the front, Scone had already drawn the flier, a number of the pegs I didn’t really want had gone and only pegs 15 and 16 remained in the bucket.  For those who don’t know Barnmoor, Peg 16 looks like “The” peg, being on a quite prominent point and almost within pole range of the island.  Yes, you’ve guessed it, I drew Peg 15 !  Whilst initially a little disappointed, my hopes were raised considerably when I discovered that the chap who would have been on Peg 16 wasn’t fishing.  This made my peg considerably better as I wanted to fish a long pole to the rushes which surround the point and with nobody on the peg moving about I thought it was likely that a few more fish would stay there.


On the whistle I cupped in a few swim stim pellets on my inside swims (one swim each side and one against the point) and some on my paste line at 9 metres straight out in front.  I also fed a big pot of pellets, hemp and luncheon meat at about 12 metres towards the island just in case I had to fish for skimmers (which I didn’t).  I like to put some hemp in my feed as it fizzes when fish start grazing over it and gives an indication that fish are over your feed.


I kicked off with paste at 9 metres but after a couple of casts and no signs at all, I re-fed and switched to the inside swims.  First cast to my left, I lowered the paste in and the float kept going !  having heard the story of how an 18lb carp came out of the peg a few weeks before from a helpful local – yes the same one that trod on my top 3, I thought I’d only gone and hooked the lump first put in as yards of red hydro streamed from the end of my pole.  A few minutes later I was a little disappointed to net an angry 3lb tench and also more than a bit concerned that if a tench fights like that, I hate to think what the carp go like – are these fish on drugs ?  Yes, I think they probably are !


Anyway to cut a long (and no doubt boring) story short, I switched between the three inside swims with paste on the hook and picked off the odd carp throughout the day to finish with 97-12-0 and a comfortable lake win, with Ant finishing second with 43-8-0, a couple of carp and a load of silver fish, closely followed by PJ (42-0-0) and Red Army who included a 13lb carp in his 41-12-0 bag.  The tackle involved, for any saddo tackle watchers was my new Garbolino Power Legion with red hydro and 0.18 G line straight through to a size 16 Mustad method hook.  The float being a 4×12 maver paste float.

The paste was………………………………….Green and smelly !


I’d had an interesting day’s fishing although match anglers are rarely happy with their performance, and I did feel as though I should have caught a few more.

Nevertheless, although I dearly wanted to win the Trophy and a lake win gave me the perfect start with Day 2 still to come, the whole weekend was a chance to get together with friends new and old and to help raise money for a good cause.


Oh yes, Scone fxxked up the flier and did not weigh !  Apparently he didn’t feel well all day, can’t think why, it must have been something he ate !


Whilst the lake win gave me 1 point to carry forward, I was even more pleased to find that I’d won Day 1 overall, just finishing ahead of Brian Shuttler on peg 16 on Sellwood  with 85-14-0 from  and Maeo and Reveal13 who had a peg to peg battle on Cottage and finished with 68-4-0 and 67-8-0 respectively.


Saturday nights exploits were much the same as Fridays and will again remain a secret to protect the guilty !


Will I never learn, I once again found myself in the same minibus as Scone on the trip back to the farm on Sunday morning !  This time the driver refused to get back in the minibus for a good half hour after we’d disembarked !


Anyway,  looking at the map of our section for Day 2, Ant had advised me that there was one peg that looked an out and out flier, being the end peg and close to a bridge connecting the inner and outer snake.  I was once again going to be one of the last to draw in our section and looking at the sheet I could see that the aforementioned flier – Peg 65 still hadn’t been drawn.  So, in went the trusty right hand and out came…………………Peg 65 – Yes I thought you little beauty !    I rushed inside the clubhouse to check the map and there was Peg 65 sitting right in the middle of the section – with the flier being Peg 70 – THANKS ANT !


I nabbed local expert Stuart Dabbs (Dabbsie) to get all the inside info, which involved plumbing up right across and fishing dead depth etc etc.  On reaching my peg I did set up a rig to fish how Stuart had told me (honest Stuart) but it looked like hard work, especially when the wind got up (well it would with Slider nearby wouldn’t it) and with the margins being nice and deep, I thought I’d also set up a couple of paste rigs as well.

I’d scaled down the rigs from the day before as the fish were much smaller (Thank God) so fished black hydro set slack with 0.14 G Line.  Again I began by cupping in a few pellets and first cast in the edge I had indications that fish were about.  For me,  the match began slowly despite the anglers to my left both catching a fish first cast, my swims started to build slowly and by mid match I was flying with a fish most casts – not big fish but still very welcome.  I couldn’t see much being caught in my section so was fairly happy with how the match was going until the last hour when it all went a bit “tits up”.  The fish just vanished and despite switching to the area I’d fed down the middle, I probably only put 6lb of fish in the net in the last hour.  That was especially frustrating as on carp venues, that is usually the time when you really bag up.


Anyway, I’d somehow ended up with the scales (thanks Nicky) but managed to swap with PJ so I did the board and he did the scales – not only is he younger and stronger than me but he also admits that he is not good at adding up – although suprisingly, he does seem quite capable of writing telephone numbers down !


The first Peg we weighed in was Rob B who had fished pellet down the middle all day and weighed in a creditable 61-8-0 – no,  I didn’t believe it either, I checked the scales AND my adding up about three times !  I was sure I’d beaten the anglers in my straight as I thought I had about 40-50lb but wasn’t sure about the 4 just round the corner.  PJ was next and when the final totting up was done, he was an agonising 8 ounces behind Rob.  Ant was next with 33lb and Red Army on the end peg of the four had 44lb which included a 12lb fish.  A right lump that we weighed separately and then when he went to put the fish back, managed to drop the net in the edge with the fish still inside.  After much phaffing about trying to scoop the net out with a landing net handle we last saw the net swimming off down the lake !  If it can’t get out then someone is in for a big surprise when they hook the weigh net !


As I went to lift my net from the water, I thought it felt quite heavy and from thinking that a third in the section was the best I could do,  I was now thinking that I might just win this.  Sure enough the first weigh went 34lb odd and looking in the net, I thought I might have about the same again,  a few minutes later the fish were back home and my total weight was 70-8-0 and enough for another section win.  With a total of 2 points and a total weigh of 167lb then I knew it was going to take some beating.


Hillbilly had a magnificent 141-2-0 to win the match followed by Numpty Dumpty 92-8-0, Nick Merry 92-0-0 and Dabbsie celebrating his 40th Birthday (yes, I know he looks a lot older) with 90-14-0.


Fortunately for me nobody else had won their section twice (Maeo was second with 3 pts and Numpty Dumpty 3rd with 4 pts ) and so the Steve Ramsay Memorial Trophy (and a superb looking trophy it is to) has pride of place in my lounge and will continue to do so until I come back to defend the title in 2006.


If you’ve seen the posts on the Total Fishing site you will no doubt gather that we had a brilliant time over the whole weekend – there are far too many people to thank individually but those who were involved with the organisation should be proud of a job well done.


I look forward to seeing you all again next year if not before.

Submitted by Dave ‘Pikey’ Pearson