I got up not-so-nice-and-early for the 8am draw at Mill Pools, my local fishery. There were six others there when I arrived all ready to pick out their pegs. I drew Peg 8 which is a corner peg that slowly slopes down to the middle of the lake. I would have preferred the other side of the lake as it had a ledge running along it at about four metres which drops to 4ft, but I had to make do with what I had...
The baits I brought with me were: 1/2 pint live red maggots, 1/2 pint dead red maggots, a tin of corn, 2mm, 4mm and 6mm hard pellets and 4mm and 6mm Ringers expander pellets. I soaked 1/2 pint of 2mm feed pellets in a tub of water for two minutes, before draining the water and standing for 10 minutes. I also mixed some 2mm, 4mm and 6mm pellets into another bait tub, covered this with water and left them to soak. This tub would be to feed down the edge for bonus fish later on in the match. I also pumped my pellets and left them covered in water until the match started, before draining them off.
My rig for the small carp at eight metres incorporated double No5 elastic. I know I wont bump any fish on this but I also know I can land big fish as it powers up the more it is stretched – it is more like an 8-10 elastic at full stretch. This was connected via a Dacron connector to 0.12mm Middy Lo-Viz line with a sensitive 4x14 Drennan Roach float. I had pimpled this so I could just see the top of the float protruding from the water, as the small carp can be very finicky at times. I shotted the rig with a bulk shot of No10 Stotz, and finished off with a 0.10mm hooklength to a size 18 Drennan Silverfish Pellet hook. This is a fine hook but has good backbone for landing bigger fish.
For the edge swim I used solid No14 Middy Hi-Viz elastic connected to 0.21mm Middy Lo-Viz line via a crows foot. I prefer using a crows foot when margin fishing as it enables me to push the rig right into snags and bushes without the chance of a connector getting tangled in it. The float was a handmade MAX floats pattern, which I use for all of my down the edge fishing and up to far banks, in a 0.15g size. A small bulk of three No10s and one No12 made the float sit perfectly in the water. The hooklength was 0.19mm to a strong size 16 Fox Series 2 eyed hook.
The all in was called and I started off by cupping in a small ball of micro pellets and a sprinkling of dead maggots at 8m, where I would fish for the masses of small carp in the lake (1oz-5oz). Then I cupped a small cup of the mixed soaked pellets, dead red maggots and corn down the edge. I would look to fish here with about an hour to go and top it up every 45 minutes to make sure there is some bait there and to gain the fish's confidence.
I dropped in with a single dead red maggot on the hook and it wasn't long before I was shipping back to swing in a small carp of around 2oz. The fish became more confident the more I fished it so it was very good fishing. After a while it slowed down a bit, however, so I tried a small 4mm expander pellet on the hook. It seemed that the fish preferred these to the dead maggots and I started catching small carp again, no bigger than 4oz.
About two hours into the six-hour match my float dipped and I was into a better fish. I had total confidence in my rig and soon a 2lb carp slipped into my landing net.
I continued fishing the same way, apart from switching over to a 6mm expander to try and tempt the bigger fish. With an hour and a half to go my float shot under and I immediately felt a bigger fish on the end. I slowly shipped back while the elastic poured out and finally got it to the top kit. As I was playing this fish I saw a swirl in my edge swim as a large fish swam away. This built my confidence up and made me think that I could get a few bonus carp from down there soon.
After about 15 minutes of playing the fish it slipped into my landing net. It was much bigger than I first thought, a nice mirror carp of about 8lb! I transferred it into the keepnet and cupped in another small pot of bait down the edge to try and draw any fish back that had spooked away. Back to the small carp at eight metres, I caught a few more small fish before deciding to try the margins. I hooked five dead red maggots and decided to stay on this line for the rest of the match, hoping for a couple of bonus fish to boost my weight.
A few minutes passed before my float shot under and a nice 2lb carp was added to my total weight. The swim died for another half an hour so I picked up my catapult and fired five pieces of corn over where I was fishing. I believe fish are easily attracted by sound, especially when things are hard.
With 15 minutes to go my float completely buried and the No14 elastic shot out of my pole, pulling the tip of my pole under the water. Again I shipped back really slowly, making sure I didn't jolt the pole in any way to entice the hook to come out. After 10 minutes the fish topped and a golden koi carp of around 7lb appeared! I continued to play it steadily before it finally fell into the landing net. It was a really good fight and I was absolutely knackered from playing it!
As I dropped it into the keepnet the all out was called. I knew I had done well, but it was between me and one other person who had caught a lot of average sized carp of from 8oz to 2lb. I was first to weigh and the scales revealed 23lb 2oz, which I felt was a cracking weight on the day. The scales continued around to the person on the other side of the lake and the scales smugly showed 25lb 2oz – just 2lb more than me! A few people didn't weigh in and it was clear that I had come second overall, the best I had done. I also picked up £21.
All in all it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a shame that I didn't finish in first place but the better angler won, and I can only learn and gain experience from that!
Connor Beresford is a 16-year-old up and coming match angler from Warwickshire and a regular Pole Fishing reader.