I had been looking forward to Round Three of the Drennan Knockout Cup as soon as I had qualified on Round Two on the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal around a month ago.
Despite Little John Lakes being over four hours away from home it was the challenge of fishing for carp again that appealed to me, as well as the lure of getting to the next round on the River Don, a venue that looks very similar to my local Bristol Avon.
I travelled up with Jonny Atkins on the Sunday, watched a bit of the pairs match that was being fished over the weekend and wandered around with the scales. From watching we noticed that the anglers doing the best were the ones with the most extensions on their poles! Ash Clements and Matt Godfrey who were first and second on Robin Hood both fished in excess of 18 metres! Now for someone like me who only gets the 16m section out of the holdall a couple of times a year, I didn’t really want to draw on either of their pegs – despite having a lot of fish on them!
Jonny and myself stayed overnight in nearby Mansfield so after a night of real ale (and a curry so hot it made my eyelids water as I ate it!) we arrived early the next day for the draw. Little John Lakes is a very nice set up and the lakes are immaculately kept by owner Steve Beard and his team. With a shop selling bait at a very reasonable price as well as somewhere to draw (and importantly a toilet which I was hoping that I wouldn’t be needing after the previous nights excess!) there was also a flat screen TV ready for the England v France match after the match finished… and a fridge full of beer! what a place!
Nathan Watson eventually turned up, and the draw got underway. Peg 21 on Robin Hood would be my plot for the next five hours. Looking at the weigh sheets from the previous two days, it had been last in the section both times, plus having pairs festival winner Ash Clements on the next peg as well as Darren Cox and Rob Wootton in my four-peg section I felt that I was up against it!
First things first I added all my extensions to my G-Max 1000 and pushed it over to see if I could reach the island. With all 18 metres on I could, but with a gusty wind, unlike the previous days calm conditions, it would be a handful!
Starting by the Island, the rigs I fished were 0.3g Garbolino DC6s on 0.16mm line and a 0.12mm hooklength and size 16 Colmic 501 hook. The elastic was double No8 with a pull bung. I also set up a shallow rig which I had one fish on, it featured the same tackle but a balsa-topped dibber float. As well as that I set up a couple of rigs to fish meat at five sections. The floats here were 0.3g and 0.4g Garbolino DC13Hs with 0.14mm bottoms, grey Hydro and a puller. If the wind got too bad I had a Method feeder set up just in case, but as me and feeder fishing go together like strawberries and brown sauce I hoped I could catch all day on the pole!
I started well, a carp on the first put over, and 11 in the first hour, although four were only about 8oz each, but Ash next door was catching more. The wind got up, I had a go on the feeder but no bites prompted a change back to wrestling with a length of pole I have never used before. The fish kept coming but not fast enough so I dropped short and caught three in about 15 minutes on the meat.
Ash still kept catching! Back over I had a few more, but it just didn’t seem quick enough. So, in the last 90 mins I upped the feed at five metres and dropped in there. With a 6mm cube of meat on the hook I caught till the end, and although the fish seemed bigger It just wasn’t fast enough!
In the end I weighed 64lb 5oz , Ash had 107lb (docked to 97lb due to having too many in one net!), Rob had 94lb and Darren 77lb. So I was last in my four but strangely I really enjoyed it! Maybe with a bit more carp fishing experience I could have got through? Hitting bites was hard on the long long pole. I’m sure I had the bites to get through. I also missed a lot of bites on the meat late on. Maybe hair rigging would have sorted that out? Could I have caught from there sooner instead of struggling with an 18m tube for most of the day?
All questions I’d like to answer in next years competition if I get the chance!
All in all I have thoroughly the Drennan knockout experience. I have fished some venues I’ve not fished before, met some great people and learnt a lot. Good luck to the 16 who made it through to the next round on the River Don. I only wish I was joining you, despite it being even further from home! Maybe I’ll try for a sponsorship deal with Texaco or Shell before next season?