I have really been enjoying my fishing over the last few weeks. I am at my happiest when I have a venue or event to focus on, and have definitely found my results to be better when I have somewhere to concentrate my efforts.
Over the past few weeks, this has been Woodland View Fishery. As I mentioned in my last blog, I have been fishing here as a practice ready for the first round of the Drennan Knockout Cup, which I have been lucky enough to be invited too this year.
You can’t beat local knowledge - and Jon Arthur gave me some excellent advice that stood me in very good stead at the venue. It is strange how certain venues and methods just seem to click, and the way that Jon told me to fish the venue certainly seems to have been like this for me.
I have fished two open matches since my last blog, and enjoyed two very nice days fishing. The first saw me pull out peg 23, a corner peg on High Pool. I was told that the pegs going towards the middle of the lake would be better, but I still fancied catching a few fish. I was particularly happy to draw on this lake, as it is one that I hadn’t had the chance to practice. There was a cold wind on the venue, and the lake seemed to fish particularly hard. I caught 20 carp on the short pole for a weight of 37lb, and though this wasn’t enough to win anything, I was confident that short pole and pellets would be a good method come the day of the race. My sharing partner Matt Godfrey managed second overall with a brilliant 72lb of silver fish, from Arles Lake, so I left the venue with some money in my pocket too!
The next day saw us faced with probably the worst weather that I have ever seen in spring time. The wind was freezing, and pushing driving rain from the north. Fortunately, I drew with it over my back, but I was still freezing and dread to think what it would have been like for the poor folks who had it in their face! I drew on Back Deans in the middle of the lake, and given the fact that I was one of the few people on the two lakes who could present a pole rig, I decided to make this the mainstay of my approach. I started on a top four, and took three good fish before they seemed to back off, so a top five was required. This happened again around an hour later, so I went out to a top six where I managed to catch the odd fish for the duration of the session. As I had been huddled under my hood, I wasn’t sure whether I had done well or not, and was very surprised to learn that my 75lb net was good enough for second overall. Poor old Matt sat with the wind in his face, and struggled to break the 2lb barrier along with several other anglers on his bank. At least I was able to offer some consolation by putting some money in his pocket!
The Big Day
I have been lucky enough to have been involved with the Drennan Knockout Cup before, though previously my roll was limited to taking photographs. Along with the Preston Festival at White Acres, it is in my eyes the most prestigious event on the match fishing calendar.
The draw of the first round is always a real who’s who of angling, and looking around reminded me of the old Ken Dodd joke; I hadn’t seen that many stars since I banged my head on the mangle!
The only thing that I desperately wanted to avoid was a draw on the two lakes that I hadn’t been able to practice; Hay and Barley. In particular, I wanted to avoid a draw on the end of either lake, as in my experience the fish tend to live on the middle pegs. It is fair to say that I was very despondent when I pulled out peg 20, the end peg on Barley therefore! You are always going to have a tough section in this competition, and I certainly did with Don Slaymaker, Brian Clarke, Shane Atkin and Paul Downes to beat if I wanted to move through to round two!
The only thing that I had in my favour was the fact that the cold wind was howling up towards the other end of the lake, and if the previous day was anything to go by, then the fish would be sat out of it.
I spent a while looking at my peg and deciding the lines to fish, and in the end plumbed for a top four swim with pellets, one on a top six with worms and casters, a pellet feeder and a long margin swim.
My plan was to start on the pole, while other anglers around me chucked the feeder. With it being so cold, I expected carp to back off from noise rather than be attracted to it, so I figured the longer that I could leave the line before going on it the better. Likewise, I wanted to avoid going on my margin line until the later stages of the match so as to ensure the fish were feeding down there as confidently as possible.
First put in, I had a tench on the short pole, and as I couldn’t see a lot of other anglers catching much I stuck it out for the first half an hour, though no more fish followed. I had a look on my chopped worm line next, and frustratingly lost the first three quality silverfish that I hooked. Two small tench and a few roach and skimmers followed but I wasn’t going anywhere fast.
It was about this time that Brian Clarke on the next peg started catching on the feeder, taking three good carp in three successive casts. We were about an hour into the match by now, and it was time to pick up the feeder rod. My patience seemed to pay off, and though sport was by no means hectic on the feeder, halfway through the match I had managed to put six or seven carp in the net, but the line seemed to be getting weaker.
The only consoling factor was that I couldn’t see a lot of other anglers catching much, and I was fairly confident of a good spell down the margin. Again, I felt sure the longer that I could leave this line the better it would be though.
With an hour to go, I decided to chance my arm and a small 2lb carp interecepted my pellet straight away. Another soon followed, and by keeping the feed to a minimum and just introducing a few 4mm pellets by Cad pot, I managed to winkle another six small carp, and one 8lb lump out of the margins in the last hour. Brian had enjoyed a good last hour on the feeder too though, so I wasn’t sure how I would fair in the section.When the scales arrived, I was pleased to find that my 65lb was enough to win the section and see me go through to round two. Get in!
I was really chuffed to have made it through to the second round, and felt I had fished a good match (if I do say so myself.) The only negative to come out of the day is that I won’t be fishing Woodland View for a few weeks. I have really enjoyed my spell fishing at the venue, and it is definitely somewhere that I am looking forward to visiting again when I have more time.
I must also mention how generous the sponsors Drennan are when it comes to this event. Every angler received a goody bag worth £65, and they have also sponsored each round with a £500 cheque for the winner. Oh, and then there is the £5,000 that they have put up for the overall winner of the competition! I heard a lot of anglers comment on this, as well as how well run the day was. This was down to my colleagues, Jon Arthur, Alex Bones and Joe Carass. Well done chaps!
I am really looking forward to the next round on the canal, and will update you on how I have got on next week.
Tom Scholey is Pole Fishing magazine's Editorial Assistant, and a keen match angler.