16 May, 2017 |0
Day one of the festival and I drew Bolingey peg four. Not the best draw, but I thought could pick up some good match points if it fished well. Plumbing up at 14-meters, I planned to fish 6mm meat cubes on the deck and pellets shallow. My second line was going to be a second meat line, which I was going to leave until later on in the match. The final line was in the margins, up to the next pallet. This line was fished with dead red maggots.
The match started and I had a couple of fish both shallow and ‘on the deck’, but I was struggling to catch on my five-meter line. Swapping to the margins later on I did manage a few lumps, but I also lost a few fish, which cost me the section. I ended up weighing 86lb, whilst 97lb won. In hindsight, I was happy with 2nd in my section as the arm we were pegged in fished very poorly.
Day two – A new day and bad luck was again bestowed on me. I drew peg 22 on the Match Lake, a swim that wasn’t fished the previous day as the guy’s mom was ill, so he’d left the festival. This meant no bait had gone in, so I had my work cut out from the start.
The main line was 16-meters, to the margins of the island opposite. The second was also long, to a bar, directly in front of me. I didn’t really have an edge line planned, but loose fed casters to try and catch a few perch. Kicking off on the 16-meter open water line, again with 6mm meat, it was a bit slow, so I swapped over to my ‘island margin’ line. Straightway I had three fish, but being a shallow swim bites soon dried.
Back to the open water swim, this time feeding it with a small pole pot filled with a few cubes of meat. This allowed me to put a few fish together, but after the seventh, this line also dried up. Some of the other pegs were catching, so I knew I was behind. The pressure was on! Starting to feed the short line with meat and casters, within 10-minutes I was ‘back in the game’. Then disaster struck! I lost two fish on the bounce, pulling too hard, because I knew I was behind and was trying to pull back the gap too quickly. If I’d took a little more time, I’d have landed them, but it wasn’t to be. Jamie, on 24 had eight fish down the edge for 78lb, whilst Andrew Crocker, on peg 16 had 81lb, leaving me with 46lb and a respectable third.
Day three – Twin Oaks, peg 23, it was a swim I actually fancied for a few fish but I secretly wished I’d drawn 25. But, never mind, you draw where you draw.
The plan was to set up a Method feeder rod using a mix of Marine Halibut and Green Swim Stim groundbait as my Method mix as well as a 16-meter shallow pellet and casters line and a five-meter meat line as a back-up. I kicked off on method feeder and hooked a fish straightaway, but it came off. As it turned out it wasn’t the right tactic on the day.
I had my first fish an hour and a half into the match, while the guy to my left, on my favoured peg 25, had eight carp. To add insult to injury, the lady on end peg, 35, was also regularly catching.
It was time to play ‘catch up’. Fishing down the edge with hair-rigged banded caster, it was a bit frustrating, as lots of the fish I hooked kept on coming off. The problem with fishing a bare hook is that it’s exposed and because f1s are all over the place, you tend to foul hook a few. The more it happened and the more you think about being behind, the harder you tend to pull. This results in a vicious circle.
In the end, I weighed 78lb and the guy on 25 weighed in 89lb. The lady on 35 had 67lb, so the 1st hour and half had cost me. More importantly, rushing and pulling too hard to get the fish in has cost me the section. Lesson being, take your time and make sure you try to land every one you hook.
Day four was held over three lakes – Acorn, Jenny’s and Trelawney. Unfortunately for me, I drew 17 on Acorn, which is about 17.5-meters wide meaning I had to fish a really long pole set-up to reach the far bank. The problem being that a strong wind was blowing from left to right, not ideal conditions! The wind kept on pulling the float away from the bank, plus trying to swing a rig at 16 meters doesn’t do your back much good either. To my left was a big bay and at the start there were lots of fish topping between me and the next angler who happened to be Vince Brown on peg 15. This swim won the section the day before, so I was always up against it. I had a line on the bottom at 16-meters, a line at five-meters and an edge swim, to my right, at seven-metres, which looked great.
All in all, it fished really hard. I could only catch the odd fish, even the peg to my left was struggling. Even my ‘great-looking’ edge line never came alive, apart from the odd f1, so bit of a disaster really. I ended up with 37lb, which was fifth in the section. A really bad day.
Day 5 – For the final day, I drew peg 24, on Porth, which is an end peg, but not a great section to try and win the lake from. This meant I couldn’t frame in the festival, so instead, I thought I would have a go at trying to win the lake, to pick up some pennies.
Putting 10 feeder fulls of micro pellets out at about 70-yards, I also had a short line at 25 ‘turns’, which is about 25-meters. The day’s groundbait mix was Green Swim Stim and Milled Expander. I chopped up a few worms and added a handful of casters too. From what I was hearing from other anglers, the fish didn’t want much bait. The reason I didn’t set a pole up is, as I said earlier, I couldn’t do any good over all, but, if I had been in contention still, it would have been the first thing I’d set up.
Starting the match, it probably took 10-minutes to get a bite, which was a small skimmer. For some reason, I couldn’t seem to catch two in a row. It was really hard. I wasn’t alone though. Darren Cox was also really struggling and with one and a half hours to go, I decided to sit it out on the long line with micros and a White Match Mini boilie on the hook. This gave me two more bites – skimmer weighing 1lb and 4oz. I ended the match with just 3lb 8oz but it was surprisingly good enough for 4th.
Summary – What have I learnt is don’t worry about what other people are doing and catching. Just make sure you don’t rush and end up pulling out of fish that could have gone in your net. Loss is a very costly mistake in match-fishing terms.
Drawing a peg, you get what you get, so just try to make the most of it. You can only catch what’s in front of you. Festivals are very frustrating, especially if you don’t draw the favoured pegs. But, wherever you draw, try to enjoy it or it could ruin your week. After all, it’s only fishing…
Tight lines everyone and good luck in the draw bag