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Becoming A Master

Mark Poppleton reflects on this years Angling Trust Masters
I have personally fished this event for the last five years, twice guesting for other teams and for the last three years under my own teams banner South West MG. We are team of non-sponsored anglers from the South West who fish mainly commercial fisheries and we love the chance to fish against some of the best anglers in the country.

In previous years we have managed a 3rd overall team placing and I have managed a 2nd individual, the same year fellow team mate Nick merry came 3rd and it’s a personal goal of mine to win this competition, primarily as a team but also individually.

This year saw some of the very best anglers in the country gather in the Mallory Park café for the draw and from first impressions it was looking like the teams to beat were Steve Ringers Daiwa team, Drennan England that had the odd superstar angler including Sir Alan Scotthorne !! then there was the Mallory Masters with none other than Des Shipp but also lurking in the draw queue was DHPs own team of stars so to get a result in this match wasn’t going to be easy, game on!

The format of the match is quite simple, six team members split over six sections. One section was on Foundation Lake, two sections on Pool One, one section split between pretties and uglies, one on lakes four and five, and finally a split across lakes six and seven. As always a good team draw would be essential and I was quite happy with ours. I had generously managed to put most of the team on great pegs and left the bad for myself !

Team Draw

Nick Merry Lake 1 peg 1
Pete Bailey Lake 1 peg 25
Andy Fox Uglies peg 46
Ken Rayner Lake 7 peg 98
Tom Thick Foundation peg 31
Myself Lake 5 peg 80
 
We had a rough team plan but worked on the basis that each angler would fish his swim as he saw fit. My main concern was the overall lack of wind on some of the lakes which would make for some tricky fishing. On arriving at my peg I was pleased to have a nice looking margin that needed little “gardening” work but other than that it was flat calm and I wasn’t massively inspired.

I set about tackling up and decided on an all-out pole approach deciding to leave the feeder in the bag. I set up 2 shallow rigs on long lines in the hope of fishing casters shallow at around 14m, a 5m rig to fish corn over corn and hemp and finally an edge rig to fish bunches of maggots over groundbait in the last couple of hours.
 
After two hours setting up time we were ready start and it was straight out on the shallow rig with three dead reds on the hook and it didn’t disappoint with a nice 8lb mirror after about two minutes followed by around 40lb of fish over the next two hours. It was at this point that the whole lake just seemed to switch off. I had been trying several depths and also changing how I was feeding the peg but it just didn’t matter I wasn’t getting any indications and looking around there was only Chris Vandervliet on the far end peg getting any action but he was only catching really small carp.
 
I had now been ringing the changes for over an hour and was concerned my match was slipping away from me and after several looks on the short line with no indication I was very close to looking for the feeder rod, although reasoning that the guy to my right had fished it for 3 hours and only caught 5 or 6 fish it was probably not worth losing 10 mins to set it up.
 
It was now around 2pm with the match finishing at 4 it was time to think about feeding the margins and with the lake fishing so hard It was going to be a crucial choice as it could make or break the final result. My experience on The Glebe told me to put plenty of feed down the edge as they can be big hungry fish so I spent the next five minutes putting 10 large cups of groundbait with dead maggots down the edge with the intention of leaving it for around 30 mins while fishing the short line.
 
A few fish were now being caught on the lake again and word from Lake 4 which was also in my section was that it was also fishing very hard with top quality anglers like Nick Speed, Dave Swain and Geoff Ringer struggling, although the Glebe member on the end peg was having a better time of it and was looking best on the lake. I went in on the 5m line and was finally getting some indications and over the next 35 mins managed another four small commons up to around 4lb but all the time I was looking down the edge to look for signs of some fish arriving over the groundbait.
 
Finally at around 3.15pm I had some indications on the edge rig and after foolishly striking at a liner I managed to connect properly with a fish on a bunch of dead maggots which signalled a frantic last 40 mins where I managed to land 5 fish for 43lb buy feeding big cup of groundbait and maggots after every fish. I was really starting to get a feel for the swim, but as happens so often the whistle went, and I had to leave a swim full of feeding fish after struggling for most of the match to get them there.
 
Word on the bank was that 80lb would be a good weight on lake 4 and from what I could see on lake 5 Chris Vandervliet and Gary Barclay to my right had caught well late on but the lake looked like it was going to be won by the Marukyu angler on the end peg so we were keen to see what the scales would say.

We started to weigh on Lake 4 and the top weight ended up being 89lb 8oz which I thought would be a little too much for me to beat. On to our lake and Chris V had clicked 79lb and weighed 76lb so top points for honesty there. Gary ended up just ounces ahead of Chris and then the scales came my way. I put 89.12 on the take the lead in the section, I knew I had beaten the guy to my immediate left but was sure the end peg would have a ton plus and that’s how it ended up with the Marukyu angler winning the section with 108lb. I was happy with 2nd from the peg and knew it was a good team result.
 
The phone started going with the other lads reporting their results back and things were looking interesting with some good section results so we knew we would have a chance come the final results.
 
In the end we were very pleased to come 2nd in the match behind Steve Ringers awesome Daiwa team who ended on 22 points which at an average of 3.6 points per man is a cracking result.
 
Top Four Teams
 
Daiwa 22 Points
South West MG 28 Points
Press Pack 30 Points
Mallory Masters 33 Points
 
We are already looking forward to next year.
 

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