Saturday, 15 July 2017

15 July 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Different fishing day this weekend (Saturday) but the same venue (Gold Valley) and the same peg as a couple of weeks ago (Middle Lake 91), so not for the first time (and almost certainly not the last) I’ve managed to draw the same peg twice within a matter of weeks!
  
Is all this stuff really needed?
  
Looking back at the blog from my previous attempt at peg 91 (on the 18th of June) it can be seen that I spent the first half of the match failing to catch the bigger, older carp that still reside in this lake before switching my attentions to the F1s, stockie carp and skimmers – as a result I managed 40 odd pounds in just over two hours and was left with the feeling that it might be possible to reach the magic 100lb mark by targeting them all day.
  
Once at the peg the chances of catching any big carp seemed even less than last time – the wind was blasting from right to left (as it had been for a number of days apparently, presumably pushing a lot of fish into end pegs 84/85) and given the cool, cloudy conditions there weren’t any cruisers visible so it was time to put the theory to the test!
  
Middle Lake, peg 91 (again)
  
Not completely discounting my chances of catching a big carp or two, whilst still giving myself a couple of options to catch the smaller fish, I set-up the following before the start of the match:
  • One of my Daiwa Airity tip rods with a Guru X-Safe 19g inline lead and a 30cm hooklength of 0.17 N-Gauge into a size 12 QM1 with a 10mm hair (for fishing with a wafter over loose-fed 8mm pellets at 25-30m)
  • A top kit (fitted with green Nick Gilbert Amber Core elastic) featuring a rig consisting of 0.17 main line, a 4x16 Malman Roob and a 15cm hooklength of 0.13 into a size 18 LWG (for fishing at top kit plus 3)
  • Another top kit (green elastic again) featuring the same rig as above but with a slightly smaller 4x14 Roob (for fishing the (fairly deep) right margin with a top kit only)
  
The view to the right
  
On the whistle I fed 4 balls of Bait-Tech Special G (a 50:50 mix of gold and green) on the top kit plus 3 line, flicked my bomb/wafter rig to 25m and pinged a few pouches of 8mm pellets over the top. After three or four minutes I sensed that this wasn’t the way to go so I switched to the margin line in order to start building towards my target weight of small fish.
  
My chosen feed and hookbait for this line were red maggots – the stockie carp and F1 seem to love them, but so unfortunately do the margin-hugging micro-perch! I could tell that there were plenty of the intended species down there but more often than not the tiny perch were getting to the hookbait first – having limited options on my side tray (these tiny fish aren’t normally an issue away from the margins) I ended-up fishing with the tiniest grains of corn I could find in a tin of Jolly Green Giant. (And I mean tiny! There’s no way the newly stocked carp could get a proper sized grain in their mouths!) This had the desired effect and in fact got me a massive bonus in the form of a near double-figure fish after about twenty minutes!!!
  
Tidy side tray for once!
  
After nearly an hour it was time to look on the TK+3 line – I had expected it to be solid but initially I couldn’t get a bite, the fish having clearly cleaned-out the groundbait fed at the start of the match. Feeding another couple of balls of Special G did the trick, though the sport wasn’t as hectic as previous sessions, possibly due to the slightly cooler weather conditions or possibly due to the number of matches that have been held on this lake lately.
  
With a couple of hours gone I didn’t seem to be going anywhere so after feeding 4 more balls of groundbait on the TK+3 line I decided to flick my bomb and wafter to the rope (regretfully I hadn’t been feeding 8mm pellets via a catapult as I should’ve been whilst fishing the pole) – after a couple of minutes the tip pulled ‘round and I was attached to a nice skimmer (I’d hoped it was a carp but that’s life I guess). Switching to an X-Safe inline cage feeder with a 60cm hooklength and two dead red maggots I quickly snared two more before a couple of chucks with nothing but chewed maggots saw a switch to a 30cm tail – this instantly led to a stockie carp then absolutely nothing!!!
  
The view to the left
  
Whilst fishing the feeder I’d taken the opportunity to pump a few 4mm expander pellets and prepare some 4mm hard pellets (by adding a little pellet oil to get them to sink quickly) – the combination of these baits seemed to work well on the margin line and meant that every bite was from a stockie carp or an F1, the perch not seeming to fancy pellets.
  
Plenty of bites!
  
By continuing to feed the TK+3 line aggressively with groundbait I was also able to get amongst more skimmers, but as before I knew that the intended 100 pounds plus of small fish definitely wasn’t on the cards – my final weight of 57-0-0 consisting of 11-0-0 of bigger carp (that early margin munter and another 2lb sample I felt worthy of placing into my big fish net) and 46-0-0 of skimmers, stockie carp and F1s.
  
Caption competition time!
  
Surprisingly this was enough to beat all of the anglers to my left on my bank (despite the wind blowing that way) and when the two anglers to my right couldn’t beat me I thought I was in for some section money – until the mighty Mark Eves slammed 70 odd pounds onto the scales from (end) peg 97 that is!!! (Mark’s weight consisted of just 30 pounds of small fish but 40 plus pounds of big carp, once again showing that to do well on this lake you definitely need a good amount of big fish, albeit backed-up with a reasonable amount of smaller fish.) Well done to Paul ‘Tommy’ Hiller on the win and Nick Howell on taking second place!!!
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Sunday, 9 July 2017

09 July 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

After a cracking walking holiday in the Lake District last week it was back on the bank again today and another go at an open match on Middle Lake at Gold Valley – there wasn’t a huge turn-out but it was a quality field once again featuring the likes of Daiwa Dorking’s Paul ‘Tommy’ Hiller and Mark Goddard as well as the usual venue experts in the form of Olly Tilley, Charlie Dalton and Eddie Green (the older version).
  
Peg 61 on Middle Lake
  
Having fished a couple of competitions on this lake recently I had formed a pre-match plan that involved drawing a nice peg in the middle of the lake and fishing for the newly stocked carp and original skimmers with maggots over groundbait from front to back, ignoring the older/bigger carp and trying to build a winning weight by catching the smaller fish at a decent rate all day. Unfortunately this plan was somewhat scuppered when I drew peg 61, the corner peg nearest the clubhouse – this had been a great peg through the winter (as the new fish seemed to shoal-up next to the parallel margin), but since the weather has warmed-up and the fish have spread-out a quick look at the Gold Valley Facebook page revealed some really poor weights returned by some really top anglers!
  
Pre-match tidy side tray
  
Being a rather warm day again there were quite a few of the older carp cruising about and as I had access to the parallel margin to my left I set-up the following before the start of the match:
  • Mugging rig #1 featuring black Nick Gilbert Amber Core elastic, a top kit’s worth of 0.17 Guru N-Gauge, a 0.6g Drennan inline crystal dibber and a 25cm hooklength made-up of 0.15 line into a size 16 LWG with a hair loop
  • Mugging rig #2 – same as above but featuring a hair-rigged pellet band instead of a loop
  • A pellet waggler rod incorporating one of the new Guru foam wagglers (3SSG)
  • A rig for fishing straight in front at TK+3 for the new carp made-up of green Nick Gilbert Amber Core elastic, 0.17 mainline, a 4x16 Malman Roob and a 15cm hooklength of 0.13 into a size 16 Kaizen
  • A final rig for fishing tight to the parallel margin to the left consisting of black Nick Gilbert Amber Core elastic, 0.17, a 0.4g Drennan margin crystal and a 15cm hooklength of 0.15 into a size 16 Kaizen – this rig was slightly heavier than the one above as I was hoping some of the older carp might be lurking here alongside the newer fish and there was a snaggy looking overhanging tree to deal with!
  
Cheeky bow wave
  
I started the match by feeding 4 balls of Bait-Tech Special G groundbait and dead read maggots on the TK+3 line (with hindsight this was something of a mistake but more on that later) and picked-up mugging rig #1 – a 7mm cube of luncheon meat was mounted on the hair and I began looking for cruising carp within pole range. By standing on the footplate of my box and wearing the correct eyewear (prescription Oakley sunglasses) I was able to spot a number of candidates and in less than 30 minutes I had three nice big carp in the net for 20 plus pounds – not a bad start when you consider that only a low 60lb weight was needed to pick-up money on Friday’s match on this lake!
  
The view to the left
  
Inevitably the cruising carp disappeared so after 45 minutes it was time to switch my attentions to the smaller carp and F1s that had hopefully moved over my TK+3 line – in fact I knew that they had as this part of my swim was fizzing like mad and looked like a faulty jacuzzi! I thought the bottom felt a bit sticky when plumbing-up but as I’d never really experienced any silty swims on this lake before I ignored it, definitely another item for the ever growing cock-up list! Whilst there were plenty of fish present it was really hard to get a run of proper bites going, no doubt due to the fact that the fish couldn’t see my hookbait given all of the silt that was being churned-up!!!
  
Mid-match side tray carnage
  
At this point I should’ve moved this line a meter or so to the left or right but instead I decided to let the fizzing subside and tried loose feeding live maggots via a pole mounted pot instead. This seemed to work for a while - until the fish came-up in the water that is, something that I’m still surprised by as this line was certainly no more than 3 feet deep! I hastily set-up a jigga rig and after landing 5 fish in as many minutes I thought I’d stumbled onto a winning formula before the fish disappeared on me – luckily a switch back to the long pole mugging rig got me another big fish on a 7mm cube of luncheon meat so I felt I was back on track for a decent score as at the halfway point as I reckoned on having about 40 pounds in the net.
  
Yours truly playing a late fish
  
Unfortunately the second half of the match wasn’t as good as the first! I didn’t see a single muggable fish for the remainder of the match and the supply of stockie carp from the TK+3 line soon petered-out, the only saving grace being a big carp out of the blue on this short line and a bit of a run of fish towards the end of the match from the line tight to the bank to the left – I probably should’ve caught more from this line but I got a little hacked-off having to re-tie rigs for this line 3 times after being taken through the overhanging branches on a number of occasions!!!
  
Not quite enough!
  
In the end my fish went 61-8-0, 38lb of big carp and 23-8-0 of stockie carp and F1s. This left me one from last in my five peg section though it shows how tight things were as I was less than 25 pounds behind eventual winner Olly Tilley!!!
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Sunday, 25 June 2017

25 June 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Back to Gold Valley again today as the second part of a rare weekend fishing double, and back to the scene of last Sunday’s match – Middle Lake. (This is rapidly becoming one of my favourite lakes as the recent re-stocking with stockie carp and F1s is providing a nice change from the usual ‘bigger’ carp fishing that prevails in my local area.) As a bit of added spice I’d also be fishing against Mark Hayes (of Tarquin’s Angle fame) in a so-called battle of the blogs!!!
  
   
Middle Lake, Peg 97
  
  
  
My home for the day was to be peg 97, a peg on the far bank of Middle Lake towards the clubhouse end of the pond. This is actually a peg that I’ve drawn twice before – the first time was years ago when it contained a couple of islands, the second time was back in February of last year when it didn’t!!! The removal of the islands has created a number of shallow bars that can be real fish holding features – however these same features are also home to some tricky snags that can be very costly in terms of lost fish and lost feeders!!!
  
Very tidy (before the match anyway)
  
Given the presence of these shallow bars and based on the understanding that most of the big weights last week where formed from big fish taken on the long pole shallow, for my pre-match plan I decided to ignore the stockie carp and keep things simple by just setting-up the following before the start of the match:
  • A long pole (14.5m), long line swinger rig for fishing with hard pellets
  • A long pole (14.5m), long line swinger rig for fishing with cubes of 7mm luncheon meat
  • A tip rod featuring a 24g mini Guru hybrid feeder for dropping onto the shallow bar
(This plan was fatally flawed, but more on that later!)
  
The view to the left
  
I started my match on the feeder over the shallow bar, hoping for a good run of big fish to get things underway – unfortunately this wasn’t the case and in those opening 30 minutes all I could manage were a couple of the new stockie carp that gave ridiculously savage pulls on the rod.
  
So it was soon time to give the long pole shallow a go – unlike last week the weather was cloudy and rather breezy meaning there were very few carp visible so mugging really wasn’t an option. Instead I tried pinging a few cubes of 7mm meat to about 16m then swinging my rig into the feed – this tactic didn’t work at all and as the increasingly stiffening right to left wind was making holding the pole tricky it was quickly time to get back on the feeder!
  
The view to the right
  
Unfortunately no big fish had turned-up on the shallow bar and as that wind was making it impossible to feed 8mm pellets with any level of accuracy I regretfully concluded (after a good 90 minutes) that my pre-match plan was shot to pieces and I’d been rather foolish in not gearing-up to catch the stockies and F1s!!! Eventually I got off my box, found a nice spot at top kit plus three with a similar rig to last Sunday and quickly knocked-up two bags of Special G Green with a smattering of dead red maggots mixed in.
  
Thanks for coming!
  
After feeding three balls of groundbait on the TK+3 line I had another quick look on the feeder, but as soon as I switched to the new pole line it was clear that there were some fish there to catch – the only problem was that most of them were tiny (four/six ounces each), so once again I wasn’t convinced that I could compete with any anglers that were into the bigger, older fish on a regular basis.
  
The scores on the doors
  
As a result I continued to try the feeder on a fairly regular basis, feeding 8mm pellets in an attempt to pull some fish onto the bar when the wind allowed me to do so. With hindsight this was another mistake as I didn’t get any big fish, my final score of 51-8-0 being made-up of fish averaging well under a pound – as the majority of these fish were probably caught in about two and a half hours of focussed pole fishing I’m obviously wondering now if 100 pounds was on the cards if I’d have fished for them from front to back, especially as a low 90lb weight won the match and just another 20lb was needed to take the section!!!
  
Claire ‘Bagger’ Hollis
  
However it’s only right and proper that I finish today’s blog with a big shout-out to my partner in crime Claire ‘Bagger’ Hollis who came second on the day with a terrific bag of skimmers, stockies and proper carp caught on the feeder from peg 85 – Bagger weighed 77-4-0, not that far behind eventual winner Olly Tilley who weighed 91-0-0 from peg 78, half of his weight being skimmers!!!
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Saturday, 24 June 2017

24 June 2017, Syndicate Lake (Gold Valley)

Today was to be the second part of one of those things of real beauty – a double-double weekend, double pub (Friday and Saturday) and double fishing (Saturday and Sunday)!!! The venue for pubbage was The Mill in Haslemere and the venue for (attempted) angling heroics was the world famous Gold Valley lakes in Aldershot ...
  
Syndicate Lake, peg 136
  
  
  
Today’s match saw 14 keen anglers line the far bank of Syndicate Lake – being a simple rectangle with few obvious features the fish tend to follow a warm wind on this lake and as a result a peg as close as possible to the far corner (119) was the order of the day. As a result I drew 136, pretty much as far away as I could get! (In all fairness Dave Carter (140) and Geoff Miles (139) were to my left so I didn’t pick the worst peg in the bag.)
  
Bits and bobs
  
I hadn’t fished this lake for nearly two years before today but typically the anglers that fish it feed lots of 8mm pellets via catapults and as a result the fish seem to live somewhere between the central rope and the 25m line – following suit I settled on a simple rod and line only attack and went with just the following:
  • A pellet waggler set-up consisting of my 11’ Daiwa Tournament waggler rod, a Daiwa TDR 4012 loaded with 6lb (0.21mm) Guru Pulse Line, a 5g (to start with at least) Drennan Shorty pellet waggler and a 90cm hooklength of 0.17 Guru N-Gauge into a size 16 MWG with a hair-rigged band
  • A legering arrangement featuring a 10’ Daiwa Airity tip rod, another Daiwa TDR 4012 (this time loaded with 8lb Daiwa Sensor) and a 120cm leader made-up from 10lb (0.30mm) Drennan Supplex fluorocarbon fitted with a simple loop to take a variety of Guru X-Safe legering devices (mainly a 24g method feeder and a 19g in-line lead)
  
The view to the left
   
My basic plan of attack was to fish the pellet waggler front-to-back today but on the off chance that I could nick an early fish whilst feeding-up the 25m line I actually kicked-off with a quick chuck to the rope with a method feeder. After less than two minutes my tip rod had doubled-over and by 11:05 I had nearly ten pounds in the net – perhaps I’d drawn a flyer after all?!?
  
Costly brambles
  
No indications on casts two and three saw me switch to the pellet waggler and the next hour was actually pretty good – three more carp in the net and one lost on the brambles to my left (more of which later). I had to strike at the first bite but the next three all pulled the rod whilst I was reaching for my catapult – as peg 136’s platform is set quite high off the water and I nearly lost my rod twice as a result of the way I had to set my rod rest!
  
The view to the right
  
The next hour was pretty slow with just one more on the waggler and the hour after that was even slower as there was no action at all! As I had quite tall bushes either side I couldn’t actually see any other anglers, but occasionally I could see Perry Stones’ waggler and Geoff Miles' pole – Perry however popped-over at one point to say that he was blanking and that he was going to pack-up (though he didn’t, more of which later).
  
Fish eye
   
Going into the final hour I was starting to lose heart but I kept feeding and kept casting my waggler, the reward being two more carp (in three casts) at about 15:10 and yet another fish lost on the nearside brambles at about 15:30. I decided to spend the last ten minutes on the straight lead over the pellet waggler line to see if any fish were hoovering-up pellets on the bottom – just as I was washing-out a couple of bait boxes I thought I could hear a funny noise and looking round I could see that my rod was hooped-over and the clutch was spinning at ten to the dozen!!!
  
Not quite enough!
   
In the end my eight carp went 54-12-0, agonisingly close to Perry Stones’ section winning 61-12-0, those lost fish really costing me – just one of them hitting the net might’ve been enough for a notable scalp and a pick-up! (Perry caught all of his fish from his margin in the last hour.) Meanwhile on the downwind part of the match Mark Eves won the day with a whopping 196lb, Tommy Hiller was second with 177-8-0 and there were another four weights in excess of 90lb – in fact the section formed from pegs 120 to 129 weighed 887lb, whereas my section (130 to 140) only weighed 209lb!!!
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Sunday, 18 June 2017

18 June 2017, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Well that was rather a warm one! I’m the first to moan when it rains on a fishing day but I’m currently feeling like a cross between an extra on It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (look it up on Wikipedia kids) and a barbequed hot dog!!! As there was no Willinghurst open match today it was time for a change and a return to one of my old stomping grounds in Gold Valley.
  
Look at this lot!!!
  
The match was staged on Middle Lake, the pond that was stocked last year with a good number of F1s and small carp. Certainly during the winter it seemed that these new fish had grouped together and refused to move from certain end pegs – in fact I was lucky enough to draw corner peg 61 back on the second of January and managed to come third in the belated Guildford Apollo (now Guildford Bait-Tech) Christmas match with a bag made-up exclusively of these new fish.
  
Now that things have warmed-up a bit (understatement of the year) these new fish seem to have spread-out and it is possible to catch them from virtually every peg – however the lake is still full of the older, 8-10lb fish and these are the ones that need to be targeted in order to win. (150lb of F1s and stockie carp that run at two to the pound takes some catching!!!)
  
All the gear ...
  
My draw put me on number 91, a peg in middle of the far bank (from the clubhouse), not really a noted swim with any obvious features, but like every other it seemed to be full of cruising carp basking in the sunshine before the start of the match!!!
  
As a result I settled on a (mainly) shallow attack and set-up the following rods and pole rigs to cover the following options:
  • Long pole (14.5m) shallow with a long line swinger rig
  • Long pole (14.5m) shallow with a conventional rig for fishing with casters at 12”
  • Long pole (14.5m) shallow with a conventional rig for fishing with casters at 18”
  • Pellet waggler
  • Hybrid feeder
  
Given the number of pre-match cruisers I really thought I was going to bag-up and as a result I was somewhat ‘disappointed’ to reach the halfway mark in the match with just three stockie carp on the hybrid feeder for a grand total of about a pound and a half! With hindsight I’m thinking that I was too quick to chop and change between lines – if I could fish the match again tomorrow I’d stick with just one of these tactics (probably the long pole shallow with the swinger rig) and really focus on making this line work rather than being in a hurry to switch to the next tactic.
  
Bagger in the far corner
  
All the while I could see Paul ‘Tommy’ Hiller catching at a fair old pace from his short pole line so I decided to follow suit, setting-up a new rig at top kit plus two consisting of green Nick Gilbert Amber Core elastic, 0.17 mainline, a 4x14 Roob Titan and a hooklength consisting of 15cm of 0.13 into a size 16 Guru Kaizen hook (which by the way are absolutely awesome).

As an opening gambit I fed a ball of Bait-Tech Special G Green laced with a good helping of dead red maggots, and after leaving things to settle for 5 minutes I went over the top with two live maggots on the hook – the float dipped immediately and for the next 90 minutes the action was pretty rapid with a succession of stockie carp and skimmers hitting the net, regular top-ups of groundbait and maggots keeping the fish interested.
  
Nice to have an audience!
  
Whilst the action was pretty fast and furious there was a major downside – these new carp are still pretty small and the ones that I was catching seemed to average 8 ounces at the most, so every time I looked-up and saw somebody playing a big (old) fish I knew that I had to catch another 16-20 new fish to make-up the difference!!!
   
As time progressed this line started to fade and I had to feed more and more to squeeze-out a few more bites – I did try opening a new line at top kit plus 4 but this didn’t have much effect so I went back to the original spot and eventually saw out the match trying to nick a proper carp on the long pole shallow and/or down the edge, neither of which worked!!!
  
The final reckoning!
  
In the end my bag of small fish went 41-7-0, so whilst I managed to keep myself busy (in the second half of the match at least), as expected the stamp of fish was too small and as a result I was miles behind John Light (141-0-0), Will Raison (138-8-0) and Tommy (121-4-0) who all had good numbers of big fish in their nets!
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Sunday, 11 June 2017

11 June 2017, New Lake (Willinghurst)

Today was my debut for the Guildford Bait-Tech team on the first round of the 2017 Avon Valley summer league at Willinghurst. There were 11 teams of 5 fishing, with sections on Old Lake, Top Lake, New Lake and John’s Lake (2) – like most people I really didn’t want to draw on New Lake so obviously I landed on New Lake 14, a peg with very little form made worse by a strong wind blasting towards the opposite (car park) end!
  
Venue expert Shaun Sylvester opposite on peg 7
  
Given the nature of the peg and with peg 7 not that far away directly opposite I went for a pole only approach, setting-up rigs to cover the following options:
  • Long pole (14.5m) shallow with a long line swinger rig
  • Long pole (14.5m) shallow with a more conventional slapping rig
  • Long pole (14.5m) on the deck with a hard pellets
  • Short pole (top kit plus 3) on the deck (straight in front) with a hard pellets
  • Short pole (top kit plus 3) on the deck (at an angle to the left) with chopped worm and caster for silvers
  • Short pole (top kit plus 3) shallow for silvers
  • Top kit plus 4 in front of the platform to the right
   
The view towards the cafe
  
My initial plan to was to spend the first half an hour looking for carp then depending on how my peg and the lake were fishing seeing if it was worth fishing for silvers – as it turned-out I didn’t see any signs of carp on the short pole on the deck, long pole on the deck or long pole shallow lines and when I went on the silvers lines I couldn’t buy a bite on the tiniest piece of worm or a single maggot!!! So after an hour and a quarter I hadn’t managed a bite and was staring down the barrel of a disaster!
  
The vacant platform to the left
  
Luckily another go at the long pole shallow (this time with casters instead of pellets) saw two decent carp hit the net one after another, then just as I thought I’d cracked it I couldn’t buy a bite anywhere in the peg for at least another hour, though bite number three (again on the long pole shallow with casters) was from a nice double-figure fish that ran me ragged before hitting the net.
  
Once again this fish was followed by a tortuously slow spell and I could only manage two more fish before the end – a smallish carp on a segment of worm from in front of peg 13’s platform and another decent fish on the long pole shallow, this time on pellet.
  
Immediate post-match verdict!!!
  
In the end my 5 carp went 28-4-0, enough to beat five but also beaten by five (mainly by those on the bank in front of the cafe) – so 6 points (out of 11), not a great score but equally not a disaster on my debut!!!
  
That's me on the left feeling like John Terry!!!
  
As it turned-out the other chaps had done brilliantly with Pete Franklin, Kris Fields, Jon Radford and Luke Sherriff all winning their sections meaning we’d won as a team with an amazing 50 points from a possible maximum of 55!!! (Drennan Bordon Aqua were second with 45 points, Woolmer third with 42.)
  
Until next time ...
  
  

Saturday, 3 June 2017

03 June 2017, Top Lake (Willinghurst)

Back to Willinghurst again today and for logistical reasons we switched this weekend’s fishing from the usual Sunday to Saturday – that doesn’t sound too significant but it meant that for once I wasn’t fishing with a hang-over!!!
  
All the gear ...
   
  
  
My draw saw me on Top Lake number 10, a peg in the main bowl that I drew back in August of last year. Being one of only 4 anglers pegged in the main bowl today it meant that I had plenty of open water to go at and in terms of features I had a vacant platform at 14.5m to my left plus some rushes (which I didn’t intended to fish to after being cut-off on multiple occasions last time) at about 10m to the right.
  
Given the nice weather today, and what with plenty of horse chestnut fluff flying about and landing on the water, plenty of carp were showing before the match and I fully expected to catch shallow on the pole so this approach (combined with a hard pellet on the deck 5m line and a meat over riddled meat/micro pellet tactic to peg 11’s platform) formed my pre-match plan of attack.
  
Plenty of open water to go at
  
I started on the short pole with White Acre’s 6mm pellets but it soon became obvious that there were loads of roach there but no carp – or if there were carp there they weren’t getting a look in because of the roach! A switch to the long pole shallow and it was the same problem – I could only see the odd carp to try and mug (without success) and flicking my rig into the area where I was loose-feeding 6mm Skretting’s pellets only led to more roach!
  
 A nice vacant platform to the left
  
Remembering something that Paul Holland said on our coaching day last year I hastily erected a tip rod with a two-thirds of an ounce Guru X-Safe lead and a 30cm trace of 0.17 into a size 12 QM1 –attaching a 10mm yellow wafter and pinging-out a few 8mm pellets to 25m I cast out whilst mixing-up some micro pellets and groundbait. After about 7 minutes the tip pulled ‘round and I was into my first carp of the day. By switching to a 24g method feeder with a cut-down chocolate orange wafter on an 8mm hair I landed 6 or 7 more (small) carp and at the halfway stage I felt I was still in the running as nobody seemed to be bagging and quite a few were struggling.
  
Unfortunately this line died as we got into the afternoon and the remainder of my catch came from the 5m line (2 small carp, 2 nice skimmers and loads of roach), the platform to the left (one carp landed, one carp lost in the rushes to my right and loads of roach) plus a second margin line to my right, halfway between the rushes and myself (4 carp, 1 tench and loads of roach).
  
Rushes to the right
  
In the end it was a bit of a frustrating day, made even more frustrating when I weighed 52-11-0, ninth out of ten on the day but less than 20lb behind Kris Fields who filled the final framing place with 71lb from peg 26!!! (Luke Sheriff won from the Bomb Hole with 148lb and Shaun Barnett was second from peg 19 with 101lb.)
  
Until next time ...