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The Fine Line

Guest blogger, Craig Butterfield's latest session highlights how the tiniest decisions can be all it takes to pip the opposition.

Saturday saw me fishing a silverfish match at Mill Road Lakes, Skegness. It’s a fantastic venue where weights of around 20lb are always needed to win. They’re not big matches but you are guaranteed plenty of bites and plenty of banter.

I drew Peg 22 on the shallow side of the lake with Steve Winter for company on Peg 19 and Mark Griggs on the other bank almost facing us on Peg 15. They’re both good friends but all three of us are massively competitive and we all badly wanted to win.

As the match got underway it seemed that someone had forgotten to remind the resident carp that it was a silverfish match as there were carp being hooked and lost in every direction. Mark foul hooked a 6lb fish that was kind enough to swim straight towards him and then lay on the surface without even the slightest sign of a fight while Steve and I were both 2-0 down to the carp!

Despite being a “silverfish” match, carp count as 1lb. (See my previous blog on Match fishing website for my thoughts on this subject)! I decided to try to take advantage of this rule and the rather surprising activity from the carp, and grabbed a top kit with a light Middy hollow elastic and a carp rig. I added a size 18 Middy 63-13 hook to 0.12mm line in the hope that I’d still catch a few roach but land any carp I might hook.

Within 20 minutes I had hooked and landed three carp plus a few roach to give me a pretty healthy lead. Steve Winter was now turning the air blue as he agonised over the loss of his 7th carp!

The carp soon disappeared and we all got back to catching roach. It was pretty hard going and both Steve and I had to fish long at 14.5m to catch with any regularity. Mark had started to find some fish including several good ide as he pushed himself into the lead.

It started to look like he may run away with it until the sun moved round from behind some trees, much to our amusement he was now sun blind! Even with the help of a pair of knock off Oakley’s from his summer holiday in Turkey he couldn’t see a thing! His only option was to try and start another swim away from the glare of the sun, this gave me and Steve the chance to push on and get back in front.

All three of us caught pretty steadily for the remainder of the match, Steve had a fantastic last 15 minutes and despite him telling us his fish were tiny he still netted fish after fish!

As time was called none of us had a clue who had won it, it was pretty obvious the three of us would make up the top three as the other side of the lake had struggled but I wouldn’t wanted to put money on who had won.

Despite Steve catching fish all day, (well apart from the time he spent hooking, playing and losing 11 carp), he was only admitting to 6-7lb! In all honesty I thought me and Steve would have about 16lb each and Mark possibly a bit less.

As the scales made their way around to Mark, Ken Twigg was leading with 12lb. Marks fish (including 1lb for his carp that I’m still convinced was dead due to the complete lack of fight) took the scales to 19lb 8oz! He had much more than me and Steve thought and due to the amount of abuse we had dished out over the whole sun episode we both hoped one of us had done him!

Steve’s 6-7lb actually turned out to be 20lb 6oz meaning Steve was now winning with just me left to weigh. I took my three carp out my net and tipped the remaining roach into the weight net, it was going to be close! With the 3lb for my carp I needed my roach to weigh 17lb 7oz to win… the weight was called… 17lb 8oz! I’d done Steve by 2oz!

He was gutted and I’m sure I saw him wiping tears away as he trudged broken hearted back to his peg.

We got talking after the match and it soon became apparent just how tight the match was and how a few key moments had changed the outcome of the match.

Firstly the sun making Mark start a new swim that he admitted was never as strong as his original, this clearly cost him time and fish and ultimately the match. Steve stuck with his lighter roach rig and this resulted in him losing 11 carp, any one of which would have won him the match. Steve also lost a 4oz fish that he tried to swing in, it dropped off bounced off the platform and back into the water, again a match winning fish. My decision to set up a carp rig was key to my win but I’ll be the first to admit it was a gamble, it was those 3 carp that resulted in me winning the match.

As I drove home thinking over that match it really got me thinking how often tiny insignificant moments in matches actually influence the result in a major way. Picking a different rig up, swinging a fish that you should have netted, switching baits or swims they can all change the results.

Maybe the difference between the top anglers and the rest is not a secret bait, technique or the best tackle but the ability to do all the tiny seemingly insignificant things in the right way and at the right time?

Craig Butterfield is a Middy consultant and a regular Pole Fishing columnist from Boston, Lincolnshire.

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