We all have bad days when it comes to fishing, but being a competitive angler, it’s fair to say I get more wound up than most when things don’t go to plan.
I try to stick to two golden rules though – and the main one is to be constructive. If I don’t catch from a particular peg, I try to avoid blaming the peg and venue at all costs. Afterall, when you look back on a bad day, more often than not, there are things that you could have done differently to get a result – which is why certain anglers manage to perform so consistently well .
The second rule is to keep fishing in context. As the saying goes,’ it is only fishing’, As much as I HATE getting beaten, it is inevitable that it will happen, and I don’t want my competitive nature to have a negative effect on my behaviour, as it can do with some anglers. I do my very best to walk off the bank, take away what I have learned, and move forward positively.
As much as it pains, me to say it I have had both of my above ‘rules’ tested to the limit over the last couple of weeks, with the biggest blow striking me when I thought I was home and dry!
Last weekend, me and my motley crew fished the Heronbrook Easter Festival, and this week, we have fished the Monkhall Pole Fishing Festival, and negatives aside, I have had two great weekends fishing in excellent company. We have had a giggle, and a good few pints that is for sure!
Since the news broke about getting picked for Drennan Team England, I noticed a real change in my partner in crime at Pole Fishing, Matt Godfrey. He has started watching what he is eating and - wait for it - even stopped drinking! In the run up to Heronbrook, he was determined that he would be tee total for evermore. But the minute we strolled into the first bar in the lovely Staffordshire town of Stone, I saw his resolve disappear like a PVA bag in a tepid pool of F1s. He was on it!
A few people have commented to me that it isn’t just ‘Tom & Matt’ any more. Its now ‘Tom , Matt and Brad’ as Bradley Gibbons seems to be with us all the time. We both love his company and what was the gruesome twosome is now a threesome. Just to clarify though, Brad is ALWAYS in the middle.
To be fair, Sir Bradley of Berkshire possesses qualities that neither Matt nor I boast. He talks properly for one thing, and takes great pride in telling everyone he is from ‘Royal Windsor.’ To be honest, that’s a pack of lies, I’ve been to his house a couple of times and its in the middle of nowhere – there no river or castle anywhere near it, but it certainly seems to have the desired effect when he talks to the ladies.
Frankie Gianoncelli also joined us on the journey. Frankie is always great entertainment value, and it has been sometime since he has been on one of our little soirees. To be fair, based on this weekend’s performance it is quite clear why he isn’t let out much. After a few pints on Friday night, he ‘lent’ his £300 watch to some stranger in a bar– and then he had to drive 40 minutes the following day to get it back!
We were also joined both weekends by Sheffield lad Joe Cotterill, or ‘batman’ as he is more commonly known, due to his distinctive hat. He seemed to really enjoy himself, despite some very average draws, so I reckon he will become a regular feature in our trips away.
On to the fishing. I am not going to bore you with every inane detail, but I genuinely don’t think that I could have drawn any worse at Heronbrook, and even with my positive, constructive thinking hat on, it is difficult to work out how I could have mustered any kind of result from the pegs that I drew.
To put them in some kind of context, on the third day of the festival, three people out of the 60 taking part packed up early and went home because they were struggling to catch. Two of them were on two of the pegs that I had drawn on the two days previous. All I had to console myself with was the fact that I had beaten a few of the people around me, and that good old Matt had three blistering days fishing, and managed to sneak into the frame and win us some beer tokens.
On to Monkhall and I was determined to iron out a result. My first day draw put me on a lake called Hawk, which I was told had a good head of proper carp, as well as some F1s. I had an island at around 18 metres, but with the wind howling down the lake, and the event being pole only, I didn’t feel that fishing up to it would be a very wise move. I opted to start by fishing at 12 metres, potting in a small quantity of casters, hemp, corn and 4mm pellets, and fishing over the top with either worm or corn.
Big mistake! My tactic, which was aimed towards catching carp, picked up only the occasional F1, and two hours into the match I still hadn’t seen a proper carp caught! Anglers who had gone down the road of fishing pellets were picking up F1s much more consistently, and I knew I had to change.
I gritted my teeth, and strained every sinew in my body clingling on to 17m of pole to present a 6mm banded pellet as near to the island as I could. I just wanted to get in some shallow water, with the hope of catching proper carp and clawing back the lead on the anglers who had caught from the start.
My plan worked to an extent, I caught ten carp in the final half of the match to finish with 61-4-0 which did enough to get me second in the section. Bradley won the section with 66-4-0, fishing five metres most of the match with soft pellets – exactly what I should have done.
There were four of us sharing, myself,Bradley, Frankie and Matt, and after the first day we had three section winners and me with a second –so our chance of picking up some money in the overall stakes was looking good.
A great night followed in Bridgnorth, which is one of the nicest towns to go out in that I have ever been to. There was a real gang of us, Aidan Mansfield, Ben Stamford, Ben Roberts, Darren Frost, Ian Ward, Scott Doodson, Sean Barber, Ben Taylor and Lewis Huddleston. We had an awesome night!
Still, I was reasonably fresh the next morning, and headed off to my peg, number 20 on Owl Pool. Again, the wind was a problem , but with the peg to my left not drawn, I fancied catching plenty of fish short.
It ended up being one of the most pleasant, and simple matches that I have had in a long time. I caught several small F1s on a top four with pellets to start with, before switching to a top kit line fed with maggots. I caught a fish every single put in, lots of small F1s, some quality silver fish and three carp. I ended the match with 83-7-0, which was enough for a comfortable section and lake win.
I was just delighted to have ended what had been a fairly shocking run of form, and when I got back to the results, and was told that I had done enough to scrape 3rd overall, and the £300 cash that went with it, I was absolutely over the moon! I was informed that there were five of us tied on 3pts, and I had the best weight. The bad run had come to an end in style, and it seemed that lady luck had finally smiled on me.
We divied up the cash and we (well, Matt mainly) had won over £1,600 over the two weekends between us, so we drove home with £430 each. I was one happy bunny.
That was until I sat down at my desk this morning, and started to do a news story about the event for the Pole Fishing website.
I wanted to list the top five, and with everyone from second place down having three points and being tied on weight, I started adding up the weights of all the people who had three points. This was when I realised that Darren Frost had more weight than me. I checked it twice, and even rang the organiser, Ben Stamford to get him to check that all the individual weighs had been added up correctly to arrive at the totals. But there was no getting away from it, Ben had made a mistake, Frosty was third and I was fourth -and we owed him £300.
I couldn’t help but think that fate had delivered a particularly bitter blow. Ben was equally gutted, but I run enough matches myself to know that these mistakes happen, it’s just one of those things.
Frosty on the other hand, was very happy when I rung him to break the good news! “Oh mate – I would love to tell you I am gutted for you, but I can’t, I’m delighted!” he exclaimed. I love the Welsh boys, but I must admit I did make a couple of references to sheep when he came out with that!
In all seriousness, Darren fished two brilliant matches, and is an awesome angler and a thoroughly nice bloke, so fair play to him.
He tells me he is going to use the money to pay for a full size sheep costume for his travelling partner, Ben Roberts to wear the next time they go away together!