Sunday, 29 April 2018

29 April 2018, Syndicate Lake (Gold Valley)

Well there you go ... Gold Valley, Syndicate Lake 115. One carp, four skimmers. No bites in the final two hours ten minutes. Battered by both sides. Last in section, virtually last in the match! So cold I could hardly feel my hands. But apart from that lot it was a great day!!!
   
Just one of those days
   

Sunday, 22 April 2018

22 April 2018, Main Lake (Reepham Fishery)

Third and final day of the Reepham spring festival and my home for the day was Main Lake peg 18, a swim on the far side of the lake – apparently this isn’t a noted swim but it is a fairly good one within the lower weight section.
   
All the gear ...
  
I had a little bit of room to my left but generally the pegging was quite tight as this is lake is essentially a square pond and I had Marcus Leek, Mick Warner and Claire ‘Bagger’ Hollis in a line to my left all sitting at right angles to the way I was facing. With it being hot and sunny again (and taking onboard some information from Reg Barrass who’d fished the same peg yesterday) I settled on a simple plan focussing on the long pole shallow with a throwaway line tight to the bank to my left at TK+3.
   
A lovely day again
   
As it happened my match was essentially split into three parts – the first two hours were spent mugging and resulted in 7 nice big carp; the third hour was biteless and I couldn’t muster anything on the pole, waggler or bomb; and the final two hours or so were spent slapping, tapping and feeding on the long pole shallow where I probably landed another 9 or 10 fish, some of which were mugged, though most pulled the float under without me realising that they were in the peg.
   
Final weigh of the week
   
In the end I didn’t try the margin line, so all of my fish were caught on the long pole shallow and weighed a total of 94-3-0, enough to win the section from Mick Warner (79-8-0) but miles behind Dale Stones who won the lake with the biggest weight of the week (156-14-0).

The podium
 
In the end I finished with 3 section wins from 3 but this was only good enough for second place as the awesome Nigel Lale put in three great performances to also secure 3 sections wins but with a higher total weight (271-4-0 to 237-8-0). Chris Parsons was third (5 points) and Dale Stones fourth (6 points but more weight than Gary Mallett). The planning for next year has started already!!!
   

Saturday, 21 April 2018

21 April 2018, Bungalow Lake (Reepham Fishery)

Day two of the Reepham spring festival and it was back to Bungalow Lake, peg 18 this time – this peg is on the road bank but similar to the peg that I drew in the practice match (13) in that it had a spare platform (though this time to the right, so not as convenient for a right-hander).
   
All the gear ...
   
Having concluded from the practice match that it wasn’t really worth fishing the long pole shallow I settled on a two-pronged attack – short pole on the deck straight in front and a line in front of the spare platform (though on discovering that this swim was only 15” deep I wasn’t that confident given the sunny weather and fairly clear water). For company I was something of a ‘Dutch sandwich’ as I had David Holland to my left and Paul Holland to my right (on 15).
   
David Holland to my left
   
Starting on the short pole with an expander over micros I was soon getting plenty of bites though I must’ve missed a thousand in the first hour – though the rudd weren’t really a problem today my swim seemed to be full of 4 ounce crucians that were proving rather tricky to connect with! By the end of that first hour I had loads of fish in the net but only about 8lb in weight as the majority of the fish that I was catching were either the aforementioned crucians or equally small tench, with just a few 1lb carp mixed in, so sooner than hoped it was over to the spare platform to my right.
   
Nice rope
   
Things started slowly but at least I was getting proper bites and the 1-2lb carp that I was going to need to catch to do any good. Regular feeding of micros and 4mm hard pellets via a medium Guru pole pot eventually got the swim going, a switch from a 4.5mm expander to three dead red maggots on the hook also accelerated my catch rate and at one point I was into that lovely routine of ‘shipping-out, feeding, hooking a fish immediately’ that really gets the catch rate going. As we entered the final hour the action slowed dramatically – feeding a full pot of groundbait worked for a short while, but the second time I tried doing the same it killed the swim!
   
Nice caravans
   
Dropping back onto the short pole led to nothing but missed bites so I spent the final 15 minutes fishing past the platform at 13m – this resulted in a couple of extra fish in the net but also a few lost foul-hookers as I was fishing away from the bank (I couldn’t get tight to the bank as the platform was in the way).
   
Nice spare platform
   
Despite that rather anticlimactic end to the match I managed to put 59-1-0 on the scales, enough to win the section and the lake ahead of Dale Stones (48-1-0) and Mick Warner (44-7-0) – so going into the final day I’m lying in second place overall, tied with Nigel Lale on two section wins but over 50lb behind on weight countback!
   

Friday, 20 April 2018

20 April 2018, Long Lake (Reepham Fishery)

Day one of the 2018 Reepham spring festival – having been allocated C section I knew that Long Lake would be my home for the day, with Bungalow and Main Lakes to come on Saturday and Sunday.
   
Pre-festival briefing
   
My draw put me on peg 43, an interesting swim with a little bit of open water in front, a point of a spit to the right at 13m and a nice-looking margin to the left. For company I had Mick Warner directly opposite – even though Mick was only about 20m away his swim was virtually at right-angles to mine so there wasn’t too much of an overlap.
   
All the gear ...
   
Given the amazing weather there were lots of big fish cruising about and I managed to mug 14 or 15, losing just the one on some tree roots to my right. The line to the spit didn’t produce a bite, but the margin line to the left produced 3 fish on bunches of dead red maggots over groundbait (1 part Special G, 2 parts Bait-Tech Karma).
   
Nice margin to the left
   
In the end my 84-4-0 gave me a perfect start with a section and lake win, just ahead of Steve Johnson (79-3-0) and Marcus Leek (77-12-0).
   

Thursday, 19 April 2018

19 April 2018, Bungalow Lake (Reepham Fishery)

Well today was a practice match ahead of the upcoming 3 day spring festival at the amazing Reepham Fishery in deepest Norfolk – we were up at 4, on the road by 5 and at the venue by 9 to be met by a proper heatwave!
   
All the gear ...
   
The match itself was split between Long and Bungalow Lakes, and I pulled-out Bungalow 13, a nice shady peg in the middle of the far bank. I had a really enjoyable day catching 67-5-0 of small carp, initially on the short pole but mainly from in front of peg 14’s platform.
   
The locals were friendly
   
This was good enough for a section win and second on the lake behind double Fish’O’Mania finalist Dale Stones who won with 74-11-0.
   

Sunday, 8 April 2018

08 April 2018, Bat Lake (Gold Valley)

After a good little run of successful matches it was back down to Earth with a bump at Gold Valley today. Things started badly when I actually failed to draw a peg in the epicentre for once (my home for the day was Bat Lake peg 8, a swim on the middle of the canal bank with little or no recent form) and got worse when I realised that I’d left my flask of coffee on the kitchen table! The first hour of the match was in fact quite good as I managed an 8lb carp (more on this bad boy to come below) and some nice F1s for about 20lb.
   
I see no bats
   
Unfortunately, the action soon tailed-off and going into the final 90 minutes I hadn’t had a bite for an hour so it was time to go all out for another big carp or two – needless to say I didn’t get one. By the time the scales reached my peg I was soaking wet and ‘mildly disappointed’ with my own performance, then to cap things-off nicely I managed to drop my bonus carp back into the lake before he could be weighed, leaving me on 18 F1s for 26-3-0 and stone cold last in the match!!! (In all fairness putting that carp onto the scales wouldn’t have made any difference, I’d have still been last.) 
   
Didn't really need these today!
   
Well done to Giovanni Barbato on winning the match, just a few ounces ahead of Jason Morgan who was second
   

Saturday, 7 April 2018

07 April 2018, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Well it was back to Gold Valley today, this time for the open match on the Middle Lake. I was hoping for an end peg flyer or a nice pitch in amongst the sunken islands so I was mildly disappointed to see 68 in my hand, especially when I realised that this was the same peg than Will Raison drew 7 days ago and only returned 2-3-0!!!
   
Cheers!
   
Given the upturn in the weather I decided to start my match on the short pole, but after 15 biteless minutes it was time to chuck a hybrid feeder to the rope. I’d decided to give this 3 casts of 5 minutes each and was fearing the worst when the tip eventually pulled round during the final minute of the third cast, though a nice big (3lb) F1 was the culprit. A massive liner on the next cast and a smaller F1 on the cast after that were something of a false dawn so with nearly an hour gone and just 2 fish in the net I decided to give the short pole another 5 minutes before going out to 13m – as luck would have it the float dipped at 4 minutes and 59 seconds and this was a start of a good run of nice F1s that lasted for a couple of hours. Going into the fourth hour I lost my way somewhat trying to make a line to my left in shallower water work, before getting a run of fish at 13m (which was tricky given the increasing wind).

Juicy
   
For the final hour I dropped back to the short line again and was rewarded with another run of fish giving me a final total of 66 F1s for a surprising 82-12-0, just about good enough for second overall – Steve Tubb won the match with 86-2-0 and there were other weights of 81-3-0 and 79-14-0 so things were pretty close!!!

Happy days!