I finally came around to finishing the Hayfield and Thorne pair’s leagues a few weeks ago, and I must say I’ve had a great two leagues! I’ve learned loads, and thoroughly enjoyed them, let me tell you more about the final stages!
Final Round - Hayfield
This was the final round of the Hayfield pair’s, there was three of four pairs in contention for first place, but whoever was going to win needed to draw their socks off as the venue had become extremely peggy!
The draw would no doubt play a huge part in the final result. I had drawn Peg 63 an end peg that I was very confident of picking up the vital section win. Peg 59 has won the section twice in the last two rounds, and Mark Warren (the Island lake master!) had drawn it. I had drawn partner Steve Baraclough Peg 32 on Adams, an average peg, but I had heard a rumor that the carp were shoaled up in that end of the lake so I was sure he would get a few pull rounds.
I decided to fish one line at 13 metres with bloodworm and joker. There were some border problems with the worm and joker which meant very little came into the country, so I had about half the amount I would usually take and had no option of feeding another swim with this.
For the first hour and a half I might as well have fished in the puddle behind me; I didn’t have a single indication from a carp. There wasn’t much happening in my section, with four out of the six anglers blanking. Mark on Peg 57 was the first to stray from the tip and was instantly rewarded with roach on the pole. I thought I’d give it another ten minutes on the tip and see how he went on.
I had a very good start on the pole with a pound or two in the first twenty minutes. The sport continued throughout the match with the odd better roach, and a pound plus skimmer making an appearance, despite being hooked in the eye! It was nip and tuck between Mark and myself, and by the end I knew it would be close. Mark had weighed in 10lb, a very good weight considering the lakes form. I was the last angler on the lake to weigh in, when I put 9-4-0 on the scales. I was gutted with this, and felt I’d messed up when Steve rang me telling me he had won his section with 28lb!
It was tight between the top three. Unfortunately with my second and Steve’s win we had to settle for third place on the day and in the league. Those twelve ounces were very costly; it cost us about 300 quid! We would have won the pairs on the day and claimed second spot, but that’s fishing. Tommy Pickering and Mick Vials had the same points as us, but beat me and Steve through section count back. They had fished brilliantly throughout the league to claim second. That left Mark Warren and Nathan Hughes in the place of Sean Ashby and Cameron Hughes to take the league. They fished very well throughout the league and beat some stiff competition, well done lads.
Thorne - Final Round
This league was incredibly tight at the top, with six pairs in contention, and only five pound separating us and from sixth place. The draw was going to play a huge part in our success, so we needed to a bit of luck from the Draw Gods.
Happy Days! I had drawn Peg 170, one form the end at Wykewell Bridge. I was really happy with this peg and I knew there were some fish to be caught. Rob was sent to Peg 197, a very good area which had really good form. I knew he would do well form there so I was very confident of the league win. Looking back, I couldn’t have drawn us any better!
I really like the 170’s area and I’ve been lucky enough to draw it a few times this series. I had a fellow foreign companion for company on the next peg, a really funny lad called Romeo. He can fish a bit too, it must be his international prowess, and I had my hands full trying to beat him. I think he and everyone in my section must have been sick of me singing Taylor Swift’s Love Story song; ‘Romeo save me I’ve be feeling so alone’. He smiles every time I sing it to him, but he must be getting sick of it!
My setup was simple, one line at ten metres in 8 foot of water which is the optimum depth on this canal, the fish just keep much more confidently in it. I then found the same depth at 13 metres left and right and that was it. After speaking to Lee Kerry a couple of weeks ago on the way home, he had won the match on the previous round and caught everything over a soil and joker feed. I also know that James Dent another regular winner on the canal catches over soil. So with this in mind I decided to change my feeding over the previous rounds and feed only one line with ground bait and soil short, and the other two longer lines with soil alone, all containing plenty of joker.
The match started quite well with the odd roach and better stamp fish taking a liking to my bloodworm hookbait. It was at the half hour mark when the sport really kicked off. I had nice stamp roach queuing up and my weight was ticking over nicely, but the real battle was with the wind, it was terrible I could barley hold the pole at times.
At the hour mark I had a nice lift bite and I connected to something big, a nice skimmer of about a pound. The wind tried its best to lose me the fish, but I had it, a real bonus on a tough day. The match went really well for me with three more small skimmers hitting the net. I was also catching roach regularly, so I kept battling on through the horrendous wind. It didn’t ease up all day, and I had to fish my short line for long periods of the match as I simply couldn’t hold anything further than seven sections of pole, it was that bad! Luckily the short line was good, but the fish were much smaller than the long line, it must be down to the ground bait that I fed. Well needless to say I have learnt a valuable lesson and the effectiveness of soil.
The match flew by and I thought I had around 7 or 8lb going into the last ten minutes, it was a good job the match was coming to an end as I had ran out of bait with not a single joker left.
Had we done enough to secure the win?
Andy Geldart on the end peg 160 had caught steadily all day and I knew it would be between me and him for the section. I had weighed in 10-15-0, a little bit more than I admitted to! There was a 9lb weight form Cameron Hughes on Peg 168 and 8lb form Romeo. I was really happy to win the section and I was just hoping I might sneak into the frame, and
was over the moon when I heard that I had won the match by a mere 5oz! Baptiste Courtellemont, a young French international angler had come second with 10-10-0. It’s funny how fishing works, I had dropped lucky and it made up for my close miss at Hayfield, its swings and roundabouts this fishing game.
We had done it! We had won the series! It was a real proud moment for myself and Rob when Mark Silman read our names out as league winners. Some pairs had really struggled on the day due to the canals form and the cold temperatures, but thankfully the draw gods were kind to us. Lee Kerry and Steve Barraclough had claimed second spot, with James Dent and Andy Geldart really suffering over the past two rounds with bad draws, claiming third.
Mark has run a brilliant series again and without people like Mark running them, there wouldn’t be a league to fish in the first place. We had accumulated 90-13-0 of fish, a brilliant weight looking back at it as the canal was far from its best. Rob played a huge part in the win, and he has really shown his class to perform against the best in the business. Especially when you think he has only seen the canal six times! I would like to thank him for fishing it with me and we’ll be back again next year to hopefully retain it! Bring it on!