Sunday, 21 February 2016

21 February 2016, Middle Lake (Gold Valley)

Back to Gold Valley again today – there are some that don’t like the place but personally I quite enjoy it. Obviously it isn’t a bite-a-chuck venue and a run of bad draws can easily dent your confidence – in effect you are fishing for carp that would once upon a time have been considered specimen catches, and as a result the tactics required are becoming more like those adopted by ‘proper’ carp anglers with every passing year.
One of those would've done nicely!
Despite being mid-February was today’s weather was pretty mild at around 13 degrees Celsius, mainly thanks to some pretty thick cloud cover and a strong wind blowing in from the southwest. There were 13 of us fishing today and as we had the whole of Middle Lake to ourselves we’d have plenty of room so I went for a change of tack and went into the drawbag last – this worked a treat as flyer 97 would be home for the day, a fact made even better when John Raison asked Bagger to draw the jackpot peg (worth £150) and 97 came out again!!!
Peg 97 on Middle Lake
Those of you familiar with Gold Valley will know that Middle Lake used to have a cluster of islands in between peg 97’s platform and the central rope – however these islands were removed last year and the area has become something of a fancied area, presumably as what remains of the islands have created a shallow area with some underwater plateaus. However the area is notoriously snaggy – venue experts Malcolm Bond and Jon Cook between them implied that some of the corrugated sheeting that used to protect the banks of the islands had been left in situ and that 20lb shock-leaders were needed to prevent regular cut-offs!!!
The Guru Hybrid Feeder
Not having any 20lb line with me I decided to stick with my regular 3’ of 10lb fluorocarbon leader attached to the 8lb Daiwa Sensor reel line that has become standard fair for most of my match carp fishing over recent years. Despite the relatively short chuck to the rope (30m tops) I did however decide to use long X-Safe stems fitted into heavy Guru Hybrid feeders and inline leads (36g and 31g respectively) given the increasingly strong wind that was blowing from left to right – accuracy is the key after all. I also set-up a rig for fishing the pole at top 2 plus 2 (I daren’t fish any longer because of the wind) with corn – this rig was made-up on 0.17 line and featured a 4x14 Roob and an 0.13 hooklength into a size 16 LWG.
Blinded by the light!
I kicked-off my match by feeding a few grains of corn and some 6mm pellets onto my short pole line and spent 5 minutes looking for an early edge dweller with a single piece of corn on the hook. Unfortunately no signs materialised so I was soon reaching for my tip rod and switched to the straight lead cast 2m short of the central rope with a Ringers chocolate orange wafter mounted on a size 12 QM1 and 30cm of 0.19 N-Gauge (I also included two number 8 stotz spread evenly along the hooklength to help keep things pinned-down). This resulted in a few obvious liners then a proper pull after 12 minutes and I was off the mark with a nice 6lb common. No signs of fish on the second cast meant a swap to a small 36g Hybrid feeder loaded with micros for the third – this didn’t induce a pull so it was soon back to the straight lead and wafter again. Frustratingly this also led to line bites only, leaving me with just the one carp in the bag at the end of the first hour.
Today's bait selection
One of the things I’d noticed before the start of the match was how shallow parts of the peg were – casting to the rope gave a bit of a drop but once I’d reeled back a few turns it was so shallow that I could see the fluorocarbon leader even though the lead was on the bottom and there was a 45 degree angle between the water’s surface and the rod tip! Presuming that the liners I’d been receiving were from carp milling about on top of a shallow bar between myself and where I had been fishing to the rope I decided to take 6 or 7 turns of the reel out of the clip to see if my theory was correct – well it certainly was as in the next two hours I banked eight decent carp, 6 on the straight lead/wafter and 2 very quick fish on a Hybrid feeder covered in Almond Goo!!!
Anyone lost a bivvy?!?
Unfortunately the fourth and fifth hours weren’t quite as prolific, but by switching between the shorter line and the rope and by swapping between the straight lead and the hybrid feeder I did manage 4 more to leave me with a total of 13. Interestingly, despite my worst fears, I didn’t lose a fish all day and landed 13 out of 13 –at the at the start of the match I decided that I’d play all of my fishing standing-up with the rod held over my head. No doubt this looked terrible and won’t appear in any textbook, but it was effective and kept my line away from any underwater obstacles.
2016's first pick-up
At this point I have to admit that I’d thought that I’d won the match from the jackpot peg and that I was quids in as I was sure I’d caught more than all the anglers that I could see – as it turned-out my 105-0-0 had beaten the 11 anglers that I could see, but unfortunately I couldn’t see Anthony Thomas who’d smashed the match with a terrific 20 carp for 140-4-0 from corner peg 85!!!
So how could I have caught 4 or 5 more to win the match? Persist with the 5m line? Fish in the margins? Set-up a loose-fed line to the left? Tried loose-feeding over my shorter line? Tried the hybrid feeder with a PVA bag? That’s a question I hope to answer next time I’m on the bank!!!
Until next time ...

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