18 April, 2017 |0 Comments
The 2017 match season kicked off for Jake Dale & Matt Eden with the UK Carp Championship on Farlows lake 2 between 7th & 9th of April, in a nail biting competition here’s their report on how the match unfolded…
Farlows is a well known venue on the day ticket circuit, but relatively new to the match fishing scene. The site has undergone a huge renovation under the new owners and an extensive restocking with lots of new hungry double to low 20 fish. It is a slightly smaller field than most of the match venues with just 9 pairs instead of the normal 12 due to the size of the venue at around 6 acres.
As luck would have it our 1st choice qualifier venue clashed with another event we were hugely interested in entering, namely the WCC qualifier on Wraysbury South lake! We did not not want to miss this so we ended up opting this as our chosen UKCC venue for the year, as it gave us the best chance of taking on a semi we were confident on. We knew this would be a tight match as it’s only a 3 person qualification due it only being a field of 9.
Match preparation started at Christmas for us, with a host of background research. When the winter throws its worst weather at us, and the fishing is slow, we take the time to prepare and research as much as possible our chosen venues for the year. This can be via many different sources, such as Facebook, Instagram, websites and talking to other anglers on the scene. We had made several previous visits for a practice beforehand, helping us to suss out the fish movements, bait, popular swims and favourable tactics etc and become familiar with the venue itself, oh and hopefully catch a few fish too! We all have time constraints and sometimes actually finding the time to get to a venue and fish isn’t possible. At these times just driving to the lake, taking a walk around, watching and talking to other anglers can be just as beneficial as physically fishing. Time is seldom wasted in research. One of the key points of match fishing is to go armed with information, not just the latest baits and wonder rigs, but watercraft and knowledge! The draws are of a watercraft style, this means that you pick the swim you believe gives you the best shot at qualifying. A name will be drawn from a hat, 1st out gets 1st choice, they pull the 2nd pairs names, they have 2nd choice and so on until all swims are taken. This is the worst part of the whole match scene, knowing you need a good draw to secure one of your chosen swims and waiting for your name to be called. It can be gut churning waiting, seeing everyone go before you whilst you tick all your favoured swims from your list. It is vitally important to stay positive even if you have a bad draw, it happens so many times that a low choice swim can throw up an outsider chance and win or qualify from a peg that everyone had overlooked!
Our 2017 match season opener was in the first week of April. This month can be so varied, some years its cold and wet, other times it can be as warm as the hottest days in high summer. This year it was the latter, with a good few weeks of bright sunshine and high temperatures in the time leading up to the match. As we arrived at Farlows the temperature was in the high teens and without a drop of wind it was obvious the fishing was going to largely revolve the upper layers and surface fishing, or so we thought!
We actually managed to be at the venue a day earlier than the draw. This is often something we will try and do, even if it we both cannot be there, just having one of you present to gauge fish movements, angling pressure, and such like, is a vital edge for the all important draw. On this occasion, we practised fished part of the lake we didn’t favour. Now this wasn’t by accident. Through research and a previous practise we knew areas of the lake we could catch from, so this time we chose to fish unfavourable areas to build up a picture of how and when chances can be made from a low draw result. Interestingly, fishing this area proved important. Water depth here was 9-10ft and with the weather as it was, we expected to spend time fishing zigs, finding the correct depths and colours during the day. We fished three rods, 2 in the upper layers spodding slop over zigs and one fished directly under the zigs on the bottom. Yes, you’ve guessed it, this was the rod giving us the action! 19-20 degrees and the bites all came off the deck in deep water. Spodding is one of those tactics that can make or break at session. So time spent working out how individual lakes respond to a spod is something we would strongly advise to test or find out prior to a match.
On the Friday morning the 1st rays of dawn crept over the trees as we were pacing the banks watching showing fish after showing fish. Wandering about, a few keen competitors were wearily treading the same path as us. Watching, chatting, making notes of the spots, figuring out swim boundaries and who had the best access to the plateau where most of the shows were occurring.
We made our list on the phone as we walked round and we debated all the angles that we could think of, with numbers being deleted and swapped as we watched the dawn break and the lake slowly spur into life. Our final list had come to fruition. Now….just 1 more hurdle…THE DRAW!!
With 9 pairs of anglers, marshals and lake staff all gathered in the car park there was a hushed tone and sombre mood as anglers guarded there swim choice lists with a coveted secrecy only found pre-match on a Friday. With speeches made, rules and announcements done and the presentation of valid rod licences completed, it was time for the the 1st name from the bag and game on!!!!
Jacob Dale and Matthew Eden….a moment of shock rocked me from the trance of looking at my phone, that’s us…wow, we are 1st out….ermmmmmm OK then peg number 1 please ! And that was us…48hrs, 9 pairs and biggest weight wins, game time, load the barrow, and the small mountain of bait, and off we go!
Now the reasoning on our 1st choice was easy, it contained a large fallen tree that was a fish magnet and a large gravel hump at 10 wraps that we had caught fish from previously, therefore giving us 2 spots in a very tight swim but 4 fishable spots nevertheless! So it was an easy choice swim, that we knew had form and would have been stupid not to go in there even though it was the other end of the lake from where we had seen the fish repeatedly showing the previous day and mornings.
So with all tackle ferried into the swim, the 11am hooter went for markering and baiting. A few choice catapult pouches of pellet and 12mm CompleX-T boilies were applied and a couple of bare lead casts to mark the spots on the distance sticks and we were all set…45 minutes to kill whilst we got the final few items of tackle in order and set up the brew machine for a much needed cuppa!
After much discussion on tactics we had decided to go in quietly and stealthy. It’s only a maximum 40 yard cast so well in catapult range and with fishing to a tree line we did not feel it needed to be spodded, as the depth of water was only 6-8ft maximum. Also with a large fish presence cruising about near the tree we didn’t want to scare off the fish before we had had a chance to at least fish for them! Sometimes it pays to hold off, you can always put more bait in, but can’t take it out. It can be a real swim killer if you get it wrong, hence the softly softly approach and the ‘feel our way in’ to the match style we opted for.
With the eruption of an air horn at midday 4 rods were dispatched 1st time to all spots with a couple of different methods and baits on the end to see what was going to work for us. As luck would have it 2 hours later and the tree rod signalled a brutal take, this was a solid bag filled with mixed Dynamite pellets and a short braided hooklink armed with a 10mm pink Red-Amo Fluro pop-up on the end. The fight was crazy! With such close proximity to a sunken tree no ground was given and thankfully after a spirited battle a lovely scaly Farlows 15lb 13oz mirror was sulking at the bottom of the net! Although the carp was no monster at mid double it was enough to give us second place, time to get the rod back out and hunt down some more.
Tactics were kept the same, solid bags and baiting up little and often with mesh bags of pellets and 12mm boilies to build the swim. Action around the lake was slow for all during the first afternoon with many doing exactly as we had hoped, spodding and Spombing the centre section of the lake in a barrage that lasted a few hours into the first evening. Being in a corner swim, keeping quiet, can pay dividends as the fish often seek the quiet sanctuary from the mid water antics.
Sitting there that evening, brew in hand, we mused over the afternoons fishing, namely the baiting approach. We knew we had to keep disturbance down to a minimum, but also knew that small bags of pellets soon break down. Fearing that we needed some substance to hold these young hungry fish we wanted to get some more bait into the tree line. The decision was made to up the volume of bait applied to the spot with mesh bags of hemp, corn and chopped tigers, liberally coated in salt to allow them to be bagged up for catapulting. Again we followed this with a good helping of 10mm CompleX-T soaked in the Re-hydration Liquid, adding huge amounts of water soluble attraction to an already highly soluble bait! At this point we were getting through huge amounts of PVA mesh, sitting in the quiet periods tying bag after bag, filling up buckets ready for the next round of bait application.
Our next bite came during the night, around midnight, with a double figure common again falling to the tree rods. Having put up a spirited scrap it soon lay in the net. With a quick call to the marshal all was weighed and recorded, putting us on 27lb 10oz and into 5th place…rods back out on the clip and game on! The next morning as the early morning mist gave way to another blistering April day the pair of rods fished side by side into the tree gap burst into life. Constant liners on both rods indicated the fish had ventured out from the safety of the tree and found our baited area. Again it was the very left hand rod fished tight into the sunken tree in a no fishing margin that was away. At this point we were snag fishing this spot as the bites would come by clipping the branches on the way in and letting the fish have any line was instant trouble. Locked-up clutches and tight lines being the order of the day, the bite was ferocious to say the least! A few signal bleeps is all the prompting we needed and matt pounced onto the rod, running backwards through the swim, pulling one very angry and slightly confused carp away from the danger zone and out into open water. Once in open water the fight played out far easier than the previous fish and with a deep lunge, fish number three was secured in the folds of the net. This was a much better fish and after weighing it was a few ounces shy of 20lb, but pushing us to 47.12 it was more than welcome! Happy days, a much needed fish and kept us in the fight in 4th.
Around the lake all the corner swims had done as predicted and were producing fish. A few fish were being tempted off the top at the other end of the lake later in the days when the sun was strongest, but the corners were clearly the ones who would be battling it out against each other as the match progressed. The field was tight and the top place was being walked by another pair fishing very well in another corner of the lake, but 2nd and 3rd could go to several competing pairs with only 1 or 2 fish in it between positions. As the 2nd evening fell, anticipation was high for night time bites, but our action for the day was not over. The hump rod had seen a lot of fish showing on dusk, a cheeky yellow 4ft zig on top of the bar produced a rattling take on dusk and after picking the rod up and playing the fish for 10-20 seconds the line went limp and the chance was gone…broken…a dropped fish…silence. We made the long walk back to the brolly to mull over the events that had just occurred. This is possibly the worst thing about matches, we know they are tight and every single fish counts, there is no worse feeling than to lose one, I can’t describe how devastating it is at the time.
Rods checked and re-primed and the night was dark again. Another take in the early hours saw fish number 4 come and go and watching around the lake we could see other pairs up and moving about. This is never a good sign when your fishing, it’s better when everyone is asleep as nobody is catching, which in a cruel way is a good thing. As the night shift changed hands and Jake took over the rod control, he saw several fish show close in down to the right. These fish were on our side of the hump that we were fishing too, only close in, so I quickly got the hump rod in. A fresh CompleX-T foodbait pop-up and bag of chopped baits and back out it went into the area the fish had showed. Less than an hour had past and a screaming Delkim on full battle cry resulted in a
beautiful mirror. This skipped us nicely into 3rd and 10lb away from 4th place who had stopped catching. A tense final couple of hours were to come and we furiously tried for that 1 more fish to help us be more secure in 3rd. With 45 minutes to go a faint sound of a bite alarm sounded from the swim opposite us and the guys in 5th were into a fish, a few minutes later it was in the net, this was not helping….and after much moaning and reassuring each other it was OK, disaster…as they slipped the fish back, another one of there rods signalled a take and they were in again. As we stood watching…knowing our fate if they landed it, our right hand rod melted off with a full spool spinning take. Jake lept onto the rod, picked it up and watched the fish kite away from the bank at a steady speed. Nothing too scary about an open water take or so we thought, then the rod sprang back over this shoulder and the line went limp…not another hook pull, surely! The bottom rods are size 4 hooks, they don’t fall out….but this wasn’t to help as the line had been cut cleanly through behind the tubing and the fish was gone!!
Now if the disappointment that we had felt with the 1st loss was bad, then this was another level! Heartbreak, despair, anger and frustration are just a few of the emotions felt in those few moments of silence as we both stood, looking at each other in disbelief, not saying a word, but both knowing how the other felt. It is hard to put into words how upsetting it can be, when you know you have given it 110% all the way through, had no more than 6 hours sleep all weekend and tried literally everything in the bait and tackle box and have still failed. We watched the other pair land their fish and we knew it was over…..we were bumped to 4th and no matter how hard we tried for the last half hour we just could not produce a miracle take. With the final hooter sounding that was the end of the qualifier on Farlows lake 2 and us out of the competition. So close, yet so far, more lessons learnt and more heartbreak. A slow pack away and a sombre mood back to the car park ready to depart from home once again. A great weekend as always with a great bunch of lads and an excellently run competition. If you feel like you would enjoy match fishing, give it a go, see how you do, you may just like it!!!! The trails and tribulations bring another angle to your fishing. The highs are so much higher working together with a good friend, but the lows are completely crushing at the same time. But this does make it what it is! Onto the next one I guess and off home for a shower and some sleep, see you at the next one…..World Carp Classic UK qualifier on Wraysbury South lake…..until next time be lucky!
Matt Eden and Jake Dale