Editor Jon Arthur's fifth and final day of the White Acres Garbolino Winter Festival 2011.
Well the final day had finally arrived. About time too as our lodge was starting to rattle from all the cold and flu pills we've been popping ever since plague-bearer Derek Hammond gave us all the lurgi!
Trelawney was my destination for Day Five. It's actually my least favourite lake in 'normal' carp-allowed matches as it never seems to fish great when I'm on there, plus I've never drawn the good side in the high numbers. For a silver fish match, however, I was still quite looking forward to it as more pegs can compete. It had also been fishing pretty well with F1s being the principle target and up to 40lb possible on some pegs.
I had two worries, though. Firstly, the four end pegs had really started to dominate the sections and this is unavoidable really and to be expected after so much angling pressure. Secondly, it absolutely bucketed down all night with some of the heaviest rain I had seen for a long time. That was surely gonna make things harder so I was praying for an end peg advantage.
I must have been distracted in the morning as I was nowhere near the front of the draw queue for a change. Imagine my horror then when three of the end pegs had all been drawn before I'd even dipped my hand in the bag! I ended up pulling out Peg 29 and really felt I would be up against it. With Steve Mayo on end Peg 30 in my section, Steve Hemingray on the opposite end Peg 23 I was really only ever fishing for third and that's exactly how it panned out. Steve H had 37lb and Steve M had 38lb while the next best weight in our section was Steve Winter with just 17lb. I'm ashamed to say that I was actually last in section with 13lb! Well, if you are going to bomb out, you may as well do it in style!
I had just six F1s, a 1lb perch and some roach. My worst mistake was trying to force the peg to try to beat Steve Mayo next door rather than ignore him, just fish a tidy match and catch what was in front of me and hope for a good run. I gave it 90 minutes fishing 'normally' to see if I could catch a few fish before getting frustrated with nuisance silvers, gambling and big-potting bait, catapulting, starting up all sorts of swims etc. It was all in vain and did my swim much more harm than good but it felt like a Fish 'O' Mania final all over again with nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even so, I should have had the 18lb I needed for third. I actually tried to feed off the roach in front of me, which was absolutely stupid really as that's rarely the way to attract wary F1s into your peg.
Interestingly, all the fish down our end of the section were caught in the shallowest water we could find, either tight in down the edge or at the full 16m limit. I can only assume that the cold rain had chilled the water and pushed the fish out of the deeps. Steve M's peg is the narrowest in the section and meant he could get within a metre of the far bank whereas mine was nearer 18 metres. A long-line swinging rig could have worked but the wind was all wrong for that and feeding would have been hard. I should've perhaps fished a wagglier tight across instead but I think presentation would have been poor and I still don't think that would've caught me many more fish. It was a very amateurish and undisciplined performance by me but looking back I still don't think I could have scored a first or second in the section on the day.
Back at the lodge and Steve Waters had won his section on Twin Oaks and was already doing celebratory gambols as I had to hand over another £1 coin his way! I still had to remind him that it was in fact 3-2 to me though!
The presentation was excellent and I think the top 10 were all very worthy winners, none more so than the unbelievably consistent Callum Dicks (Maver) who won the festival with 23 points - his third win in the last four festivals! Adam Wakelin (Preston Innovations) took second on 22 points with Darren Cox (Garbolino) on third and Paul Yates (Drennan) fourth. You needed 20 points and a good dropped result to sneak into the top 10 whereas my last-day blowout left me on 18 points.
Soon after we were all tucking into a fantastic post-festival feast laid on by White Acres and at around 9pm I finally said my goodbyes and set off back home, arriving in a much dryer Coventry just after midnight.
Looking back over the five days I hadn't done as well as I should but it was only my second winter festival and I've only just started to feel I know what I should be doing and what I should expect from each of the lakes. I've also learnt that I must be more disciplined. Simply get your head down and catch what's in front of you, rather than worrying what those around you are catching. That way, I think you can claw those valuable extra points here and there rather than trying to force your peg and ultimately blow out. Ounces and single points really do make all the difference in a festival like this.
I still loved the whole week and it was probably my most enjoyable festival to date. I'd made new friends, caught lots of fish and learned loads and loads. Hopefully I will fish it again next year and get back in the top-10.
I'd had a fantastic week with my lodge pals, Dan, Paul, Steve, Derek and Ryan, and I must end by thanking Clint, Kirsty and all the White Acres staff plus Darren Cox and Garbolino for their generous sponsorship. Here's to next year!