Tom Scholey looks back at his four most memorable matches of 2013.
Maver Match This qualifier, White Acres Fishery, Newquay.
I have always dreamed of qualifying for a big money final. I had the honour of sitting behind Stewart Lister in the first ever Maver Match This event, and back then I set myself the goal of one day making the final myself. Truth be told though, I am very much like a kid in a sweet shop when it comes to my fishing – in that I like to try and do everything – so realistically I was only ever going to get half a dozen chances to fish qualifying matches in 2013.
After a couple of unsuccessful (but enjoyable) matches at Woodland View and Decoy Lakes, I opted to fish the qualifier at White Acres. Matt Godfrey and myself were down in Cornwall anyway, as we planned to fish the Preston Innovations Pairs Festival the following week, so it made sense to have a pop at the qualifier on the Saturday we arrived.
Historically, my drawing arm on the complexes Trelawney Lake is pretty poor – I generally end up sat in the very early or very high numbers, which can be difficult, so I was happy to pull out peg 15, which is at what is normally the right end of the lake, with a gentle breeze pushing into it.
I figured I had two chances of catching a weight big enough to win – I either had to get the resident carp and F1s feeding shallow, or catch bigger carp down the edge. With this in mind, I kept my plan relatively simple – I fed a short pole line with pellets where
I planned to start while my other swims developed, a margin swim, and a long pole line for which I set up both deck rigs and shallow rigs.
I could also see the odd fish cruising about, so I set up another shallow rig with a longer line, which I hoped to use for dobbing. This proved a wise move as I got off to a great start, dobbing an 8lb fish within seconds of the match starting, but other than another smaller dobbed fish later on in the first hour, I didn’t put much else in the net – and couldn’t see many other people catching either.
To cut a long story short, the only line that got going properly was the long pole shallow line, and I seemed able to nick the odd fish on this tactic right through the day. The last half hour turned out to be particularly hectic, and I must have added a further six or seven fish to my tally.
At the end of the five hour match I didn’t feel like I had caught that much – and in terms of fish count I probably hadn’t – but the thing I had going for me was there size. I weighed in with 134lb, and was delighted to hear that it was enough to win the match! With no fishing planned for the Sunday, its fair to say that Matt and I consumed a few beers that night!
Stainforth & Keadby Canal Thorne, Christmas Match
If there is one venue where I have consistently underperformed in the past, then it would have to be the Stainy. I have fished four Winters at the venue now, and managed only a handful of section wins. To put just how poorly I do on the Stainy into perspective, taking in every single match on any venue that I have fished this year, on average I have picked up money 60% of the time. By contrast, out of the eight matches that I have taken part in on the Stainy this year, I have only picked up once – and this has probably been my best ever year on the venue!
If there is one quality I have never possessed as an angler, or indeed as a person, it is speed – and this definitely costs me on the Stainy, not least because you are up against the best in the business. On an out and out bloodworm match, there are several anglers who are very difficult to beat, simply because they are so fast and efficient.
I have always known this, and though over the past four years I have got progressively closer to these anglers, I know in a fish race, even now I would still find myself some way behind them. In past years, some anglers have enjoyed limited success fishing other baits, such as bread, casters and hemp – winning matches with better stamp fish caught on these more selective baits. I have always taken the view though that the ‘right’ way to fish the canal is bloodworm – and that the only way I was going to improve was to keep going and doing it. In some respects, I don’t regret the decision, as fishing in this way has definitely improved my bloodworm fishing no end.
The last few weeks have been very different to usual though. With the milder temperatures that we have seen, it has been other baits that have ruled supreme – and those that have fished out and out bloodworm have found themselves someway behind.
Given my past poor performances, I can only presume that it is through a desire to be charitable that England International, Lee Kerry asked me and Matt Godfrey to fish the teams of three league on the canal with him this year. On the last league round before Christmas, we all went down a bloodworm route and got beat up by teams fishing other baits. For that reason, we all committed to go to the (none league) Christmas Match, which plenty of bread, hemp and casters!
I drew the peg next to where I had been the previous week, and opted to fish bread at 13m and casters at 16m. I did feed some joker – but only to kick start my caster line! What followed was easily the most enjoyable day I have ever had at Thorne. I caught on casters for 4 ½ hours, taking some monstrous roach – with a couple of them going well over the 1lb mark. When the scales arrived I dropped 17lb 11oz in the weighnet – a new PB for me at Thorne, and enough for fourth on the match. I even got a nice box of chocolates and a bottle of wine for my efforts!
I have always said that confidence is the most important thing to take to a match with you. Until now, I have never had much of it with me when I have been to Thorne, but now things are different. By incorporating casters into my plan, I feel sure I can win – and am hopeful that 2014 will bring some far more lucrative Thorne expeditions than have been the norm in past years!
Garbolino Winter Festival, Final Day
One of my long term angling ambitions is to win one of the major White Acres Festivals, and though I haven’t got there yet, this year Cornwall has been very kind to me. Matt and myself won the Parkdean Pairs Festival earlier in the year (and as I like to remind him all to often, it was me who carried him for a change that week.) I also managed a tenth place finish in the Garbolino Winter Festival – and though my performances were far from faultless, I felt I eeked out some very good results against stiff competition.
My favourite was the final day – when I drew next to Adam Wakelin on the High Bank of the Match Lake. Adam’s record in Cornwall speaks for itself, a former Parkdean Master, and winner of the Winter Festival back in 2012 – I knew I would have to be on the top of my game to beat him and get the section win I needed to stand a chance of framing.
What made the day even more interesting was that we both opted to fish our pegs totally differently. Adam set his stall out to target roach shallow, and I fished for skimmers on the bottom with groundbait and maggots.
The difficulty we both faced all day was working out how much we had compared to each other, as Adam’s roach were dumpy, and coming very quickly, but I was catching good skimmers intermittently. I felt I took a good lead in the first hour, but halfway through the fourth hour I had a really bad spell, putting nothing in the net for about 40 minutes. As the end of the match neared, I felt sure Adam had pulled in front, and when he panned a big bonus F1 I knew I was in trouble. It was time for a gamble. I put two good pots of groundbait on my short pole swim – and lady luck smiled at me as I had a 2lb and a 1lb skimmer in the last ten minutes! When the scales arrived, I weighed 30lb 12oz, while Adam finished just a few fish behind with a big 28lb.
The section win proved crucial, as it snuck me into tenth place on the festival – and the day proved one of the most enjoyable, and memorable next peg battles that I have ever had.
Preston Innovations World Club Classic, Great Ouse, September 28th/ 29th
A big river, crammed full of roach that are ravenous to feed – it is the sort of venue that angling fairytales are made of. Truth be told, I think we caught the Great Ouse at just the right time when this event was staged, and the fact that bloodworm and joker was introduced in large quantities saw the match length fill up with fish, that switched on to the feed.
I practiced with my Matrix Dynamite Trentmen team, and we deduced that the key was to feed balls of joker, hemp, soil and groundbait on the long pole and fish maggots over the top to pick out the better fish. As it turned out, our tactics from a team point of view were perhaps a little negative – Barnsley stormed the event by fishing more positively than anybody else on the bank, but we did enough to secure the third place cheque.
From a personal point of view, I had a lovely couple of days. On day one, I drew at the right end of D section, and ended up being the only none Barnsley angler to win my section with 7.3 kilos of roach, narrowly beating Simon Willsmore.
Dorking had their revenge on the second day though, Callum Dicks pipped me by just a few grams for a second section win, and I recorded an almost identical weight to day one. Despite this minor disappointment, I was chuffed to death that the team managed to frame, and was very proud to finish fifth individual in such good company.
Lets hope that 2014 proves to be as enjoyable, and fish filled as this year! On behalf of the Pole Fishing team, Happy New Year!