Sunday, 12 March 2017

12 March 2017, Top Lake (Willinghurst)

After a couple of aborted attempts it was finally time to get my 2017 campaign underway so it was back to Willinghurst for a well attended open match including the usual stellar line-up – competing against the likes of Perry Stone, Pete Upperton, Tommy Hiller, (ex-footballer and reality TV star) Jimmy Bullard and the Apollo Guildford venue experts can only make you a better angler I guess!!!
The pre-match plan!
My draw saw me on Top lake peg 4 – for my money this can be a really good summer edge peg (as proved by Paul Holland on a coaching day Bagger and myself attended back in August last year) as you can get into some lovely shallow water tight to the bank to the right. Saying that I’m sure it can be pretty good all year around as there is also a long reed-lined margin to the left and a good amount of open water in front (though I was a little cut-off on the day as there was an angler pegged on the far bank to my right).
Given the presence of the angler opposite I left the tip rod in the bag and set-up three pole rigs for four different lines – the first of these was a 4x14 Roob on 0.15 Guru N-Gauge to a 15cm hooklength of 0.13 to a size 16 LWG (eyed) with a hair-rigged bait band for fishing with hard pellets on the deck straight in front at 14.5m and at the bottom of the near shelf to the left at top kit plus three (these lines were both 3’ deep). The second (a 4x12 Roob on 0.15 into a 10cm hooklength of 0.13 and a size 16 LWG (spade)) was for fishing in 2’ of water at 14.5m to my right just beyond a clump of reed roots close to the bank. The final rig (for fishing tight to the bank to my right in 18” at top kit plus 3) consisted of the same hooklength as the second rig but with a 0.4g Drennan Margin Crystal on 0.17. (All three rigs were mounted on white Hydro top kits.)
Looking right from peg 4

I kicked-off my match with a quick look at my 14.5m margin with a 7mm cube of luncheon meat on the hook and 3 or 4 samples fed via a medium Guru pole pot – after just a couple of minutes with no indications it was clear that nothing was going to happen so it was time for an immediate switch to the 4x14 Roob rig with a banded White Acres (over-sized) 6mm pellet over the line at the bottom of the near shelf to the left. After 6 or 7 minutes the float started to move in that tell-tale circular fashion (which in my mind is caused by a fish displacing the water near the hookbait) and on the twenty minute mark the float buried in the blink of an eye – there’s no mistaking the proper bites with this rig!
That bite led to a nice 7 pounder in the net – I’d hoped that this was the start of a bagging session but no further bites materialised in the next twenty minutes and a switch to the 14.5m line straight in front only saw a roach grace the net. A switch back to the shorter line only led to a succession of dreaded crayfish (definitely not a good sign) so I plumbed-up a third line for the 4x14 Roob rig at the bottom of the near shelf to the right to give myself another option. By rotating through these three lines I was able to snare another roach, a foul-hooked gudgeon plus a very welcome 8 pounder (again from the short line to the left) during the second hour.
Plenty of room to the left
I kept rotating through the three hard pellet lines throughout the third and fourth hours but they only yielded a solitary roach and another foul-hooked gudgeon. I also started looking at the 14.5m margin line too – this one was more productive and at one point I hooked two carp in two casts! (The first ended-up in the net but unfortunately the second one came-off after a few seconds.) I then made a fatal mistake in reaching for my cupping kit and feeding a small handful of 4mm pellets and some 7mm meat – even though the cup was probably only 10% full it killed my long margin line as I never had another bite from it!!!
Open water in front
Going into the fifth hour (today’s match was a 6 hour affair fished from ten until four) and with nothing to lose I wetted down some micro pellets and fed half a pot (with some 7mm meat mixed in) tight to the bank to the right on my top kit plus 3 margin line (18” deep here). I left it for a few minutes then went over it with a 7mm cube of meat on the hook – the float flew under straight away and I’d thought I’d cracked it but unfortunately it was a roach. Two more roach in two casts nearly saw me give-up when cast number 4 saw me attached to another (albeit) small carp. After landing that carp I really did think I was going to win the match so I fed another half pot of micros – yes, you’ve guessed it I never had another bite from this line!
In fact the final 90 minutes of my match were a massive anti-climax as despite rotating through my five different lines I don’t think I had another sign – unless you include those silly crayfish bites that is!!!
The moment of truth
So in the end I finished-up with four carp and a few roach/gudgeon for an unspectacular 21-14-0 and a ‘must try harder next time’. As it happened it seemed that all of the anglers on the main bowl of Top lake struggled with all of the weights coming from the feature pegs – Pete Upperton (Guru) (peg 1) 88-6-0, Pete Franklin (Apollo Guildford) (peg 29) 65-11-0 and Dave Carter (Apollo Guildford) (peg 26) 63-0-0 – but well done to those guys as you still have to work hard to catch ‘em!!!!
Until next time ...

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