The first day of the weekend saw me attend an open match to practice for a big team event I have coming up at Warwickshire’s Makins fishery with my Ultimate Barnsley Blacks team. This was my first visit to the venue and with the semi final just a couple of weeks away I was keen to learn a bit more about it. I had drawn Reptile pool Peg 19, which didn’t mean a lot to me!
With the bitter cold conditions I wasn’t very confident of catching, but was still motivated to try and learn a few things. I had a few big names on my lake, with Jamie Hughes, Steve Barraclough, Lee Harrison and a stunning looking Pole Fishing Magazine Editorial Assistant by the name of Matt Godfrey for company.
There wasn’t much activity at the start of the match as the majority of the field dobbing around in the search of an early curious carp. Jamie had a cracking start to the match catching six fish before I even had a bite! I received my first indication an hour in, which was a lovely looking ghost carp of around 6lb. Suddenly things were looking up!
After a bite-less half hour my confidence levels were beginning to drain in the bitter cold conditions, although I did have a nice big flask to provide the pick me up I needed. At the half way stage things were looking grim, and with only one fish and one indication I decided to go for a walk. Along I went to Matt Godfrey a few pegs away, who was catching a few silverfish and looked to be building a tidy weight together. Seeing a few fish caught gave me a little boost of motivation and I hurried back to my peg to start again!
Unfortunately I don’t think there was much aquatic life in my peg, or if there was they were outsmarting me as I had tried everything to get a bite! You take the rough with the smooth I guess and I am surprisingly looking forward to the next weeks practice. Matt fished a brilliant match, and won the lake win with a three carp for 21lb and a cracking 30lb net of skimmers, roach and perch for 51-12-0. Jamie wasn’t too far behind and ended with 8 carp for 39-0-0 to claim second on the opposite side of the lake.
The main thing that I learnt from my unsuccessful trip to Makins and watching Matt was to always keep your options open, especially when team points are concerned. I had gone with a stubborn mentality of catching carp and winning the match, but certain pegs aren’t capable of producing such weights. I wont be making the same mistake next week!
The following day saw me fish a much more familiar venue, the Stainy canal at Thorne, on the third round of the pairs league. Rob Wright and I, the 'dynamic duo', were lying in second place with 35lb, just behind James Dent and Andy Geldarts 44lb. The draw plays a massive part in the league as the venue has become ridiculously peggy of late. When I pulled out a couple of crackers we were both over the moon. I had drawn Peg 202, a real flyer, and Rob was going to 163, another very good area for a weight of small fish. These were two very good draws considering you needed to avoid the Scurbfield's and the Dunston's sections, as these weren’t producing consistent weights.
Fortunately for me and Rob, James and Andy had drawn awful with both of them being on the two sections of doom! Was this our chance to overtake them in the league?
After a long and muddy treck to my peg I decided to attack the swimjust like in the previous round. I was interested to see if my five fish rotation feeding strategy would work again, so after the normal first hour of catching the 25-35 fish, I re-fed the same as the previous round with a top up ball on each line. Things went really well for about twenty minutes and I thought that another good weight was on the cards.
I was in the middle of Steve Barraclough and Darran Bickerton, both of who were catching regularly. There was a side bet of a pound from Darran and five pound from Steve, so I needed to concentrate and keep my eye on the prize. I was having a steady match with regular top ups I was keeping the five fish rotation running smoothly.
I was catching quite well and started to get into a good rhythm, but it just didn’t feel the same as the last round and the short line was proving to be fruitless. A few hours in I decided to ditch the short line as all of my bites were coming from the two 13metres lines.
The sport was slowing up towards the end of the match for myself and a lot of the other anglers in my section. Darran had managed to snare a couple of bonus fish and I knew he was going to nick my quid off me. There was still the £5 side bet from Steve still to play for, so I plugged away and tried to keep the fish coming off the two long lines. The wind was causing a few problems towards the end, which hindered presentation slightly and as a result I think this had reduced the stamp of fish I caught.
I heard that Rob was catching really well so I persevered and made every fish count. I ended the match with around 130 fish, but all the way through I felt like my swim was slowing down. Usually at Thorne you get your best run of fish in the last hour, but this wasn’t the case on Sunday.
Along came the scales and I was fairly happy with my 8-8-0 effort, a good weight to keep us in contention in the league. Steve had weighed in 7lb and also struggled in the last hour of the match. At least I had a fiver coming my way! Darran was in a different section to myself and Steve and weighed in a big 10lb which comfortably won his section and my precious quid! I’ll have him next time!
I was left a bit depressed on the walk back as 9lb had won my section and I’m sure I could have had that it if wasn’t for that last hour were the sport died. My only thought was that I had too much leam in my mix and the cloud form the leam had brought in too many little fish. I’m going to go for a cheeky practice and get my mix right for the next crucial round!
Rob had done the business and weighed in a cracking 12-13-0, which was second in the match again! He's only been on the canal three times and framed twice, he thinks its easy this Thorne malarkey! Our accumulated 56lb was enough to take the lead in the league, but only by a pound. James and Andy had struggled and caught 10lb between them, which is still a great weight considering their draw. It’s all to play for now and we’ve got a real shot of winning, lets just hope I draw us another couple of fliers!