Sunday, 5 October 2014

Not bad for a novice!

At the risk of sounding a little hypocritical, I have in the past been been fairly vocal about my disdain for competition fishing and yet this, I concede, was probably based on an unfounded prejudice which in fairness a good many match fishermen return in spades to those who call themselves 'carpers'.
However, when invited by a friend to take part in the 'Maggotdrowners Southern Champions Match' a degree of curiosity and a little 'can't knock it till you've tried it' drove me to accept.
The venue was the 'Tricklebrook' match lake, which is stocked well with a wide variety of species but I decided that if I was to be in with a fighting chance of weighing in well I would have to play to my strengths and target the carp as it is a long time since I fished seriously for silvers. I had in mind to fish the method but I took the advice of Ray at Blean Angling who put me onto the pellet feeder having explained its numerous advantages. He told me I needed to decide upon a plan and stick to it. 'There's no use chopping and changing' he said, 'you've got to have faith!' and I took heed whilst  allowing for the 'wag and mag' as a plan B should blanking look like a possibility.
The sun was just coming up as I arrived but a small crowd of likely looking gents were already engaged in friendly banter by the waterside, something which would continue throughout the day. 

The sun coming up on Tricklebrook Match Lake

Whilst waiting for the draw I took a stroll around the lake. In some parts carp were already showing on the surface but my spot for the day was not going to be for me to choose. As chance would have it I drew peg 2 which allowed me a reasonable amount of open water and an island to cast to. Even more unlikely was that the chap who drew peg 1 next door to me was none other than Mike Jameson, a former world champion! What a juxtaposition for my first ever match!

We started fishing at 10am and agreed to finish at 4pm. By the start of the competition the sun was baking down which some said had a negative impact on the roach's feeding. It didn't seem to stop the carp from feeding though as I received many great takes, each almost ripping the rod off the rod rest before my reflexes kicked in! I was fishing with a 6mm pellet on a bait band tied to a short hair. When the bait band spoiled on a few occasions I snipped off the hair and put a big clump of reds on the hook which accounted for some of the better sized fish. There was a time when I thought I was ahead of everybody but some, it transpired, we're keeping their cards close to their chests. Mike had found a good margin spot which produced consistently throughout the day, whilst my method was a little more intermittent.

After a spell of almost an hour with no fish I did change briefly to the Waggler and dropped it in the margin spot I had been baiting up as a contingency. Half an hour past with no bites on the float and I felt like I was deviating from the plan so I reeled back in and persevered with the feeder which did me a few more fish before time was called. Frustratingly in the last 2 hours I lost 5 carp to hook pulls. I don't know if the hook had blunted but I changed it nonetheless and the positive hook-ups resumed. 

As you can see, at the final weigh in I came 4th out of 12 anglers with a total of 24lbs- which I am very proud of. There's no shame in being beaten by a world champion. The other guys who placed above me were both old hands too. I am thankful for the advice I was given as another angler I observed who didn't do as well kept changing his method every 5 minutes and casting here there and everywhere which clearly worked against him. So a little faith and confidence in what you're doing evidently counts for a lot!
You could say I am now a convert. Not that I am going to abandon my specimen angling but to be made to feel so welcome, instantly one of the gang, took away the intimidating mystique that surrounded this aspect of the sport in my mind and the sense of accomplishment when my nets were hauled up to be weighed full of fish compelled me to concede to do this again.