First up was the first evening match of the year at Woodhouse Grange near Doncaster. Fished on the Kingfisher Lake, I pulled peg two at the draw, and not knowing much about the Lake or Venue, I decided to approach the peg with an open mind and see what I could sort out.
The peg has a reedy island at 14.5m, and a great margin to the left towards Peg 1 which was not drawn.
I set up to fish on the deck at 13m, with shallow rigs for over the top, maggots short at the bottom of the shelf, and a margin line in front of Peg 1. I also set up a waggler for chucking down the side of the island.
I knew that the Lake holds good numbers of proper carp, together with a recent stocking of 8oz F1’s, and it was these that provided the early action, with six coming in quick succession on the long line. All was going well, until a proper ‘un picked up my soft pellet hookbait and buried me in the rushes on the island! This was the pattern for the next half hour, picking fish up on the deck and shallow. The fish were really holding around the island, and the temptation was there to stick at it. Shipping back quickly was impossible because of the thick Leylandii hedge. The fish would not leave the relative security of the rushes, and it was quickly becoming a fruitless and frustrating task trying to land fish that knew exactly where they wanted to go once hooked.
I’d been feeding a line away to the left of the island, in front of peg 1, with the idea of fishing a small mugging waggler. This produced a steady run of fish through the middle of the match, and the brief looks on the margin line proved uneventful. I felt the match was slipping away from me, my catch rate wasn’t nearly quick enough, and I was quickly running out of options. With this, I tried what is quickly becoming my get out of jail method – dead maggot at the bottom of the near shelf. I’d been feeding this line all match, but aside from one early F1, it was not going my way. I dumped a big Frenzee 250ml pot, and fed by hand over the top whilst I had a last look on the margin line, which yielded a lovely 5lb common immediately, before becoming barren once more!!
Starting on the deck on the 5m line, I started getting a few indications, but felt it just wasn’t right. I started catching a few of the Lakes bigger F1’s and smaller mirror Carp, around the 2lb stamp, all welcome additions to the bag at this stage.
Still feeding just dead maggot through a medium soft pot, a big swirl prompted a try of the shallow rigs over the top. Rotating between 8” deep using a Frenzee FD201, 18” deep using a 0.3g FM1 and up to 2.5ft with a Jigga, a steady procession of mirrors to the 3-4lb stamp made their way to the net. During the last hour, I clicked 48lb of my 98lb finishing weight, which was good enough for 2nd on the day, with a level 100lb taking the main prize. I was left wondering if I’d made different decisions, particularly the timing of the 5m line, could I have done enough. I’m convinced that the answer is ‘yes’, so a case of ‘can do better!!’
Then, on Friday 7th June, I invited myself onto a match at the Glebe, one of my favourite venues. Planting myself on Peg 82 on Pool 5 at the draw, I was convinced I’d drawn myself out of it. There was plenty of room on the match, and some of the draws on Pool 1 looked really tasty, and so it proved with the top three coming from there.
As is often the case at the Glebe, I felt that I’d be up against it with the end pegs on the Lake, and as on my previous match here on the UK Champs a few weeks ago, I was one peg away!
82/83/84 are the widest pegs on the complex, and the strong crosswind pretty much put paid to the waggler tight across which had proven so productive a few weeks previous. I put my faith in a 30g Frenzee Accucast cage feeder, tight over in 30” of water, a straight lead for 2/3 across and the obligatory 13m up and down and margin rigs on the pole.
Just as the match was starting, the heavens opened. It rained, and it rained and it rained!
The first 45 minutes was spent regularly casting the feeder across, with little reward other than an 8oz Skimmer. Peg 85, in the corner, was catching Carp, and opening up a bit of a lead so it was time for Plan B!
Out came the pole, and the deck Rig, a 0.75g Frenzee F05, fished with a tight bulk and a No.10 dropper 6” away from the hook. Soft Pellet, over hard 4’s was the bait of choice. I was straight into a run of Carp, and as is so often the case, I thought ‘Here we go!!’. I was soon cursing the weather further, as the wind blew harder and harder – I think probably went off the Beaufort Scale (OK – so I exaggerate!). Before long, holding the pole was impossible, so in desperation I under-armed the straight-lead, with hair rigged corn on the hook on the 13m line, and the rod was round before it was on the rest! A good run on this line was short-lived, the line just faded. I was cupping 4mm’s over the top with the pole, as accurate feeding in that wind was a complete non-starter.
And so it was onto the margins, before I wanted to, but needs must and all that. I’d been feeding a combination of groundbait and dead-red maggot in 2ft of water on the left margin, and neat dead red maggots in 3ft of water in the right-hand margin, and it was here where I started. A gudgeon! Then an airborne 2lb Skimmer. Then, Clunk! A proper one. The pattern of Skimmer / Carp / Skimmer – Carp continued for a while, but at the first sign of it starting to fade I topped up with a big pot of maggots and tried the Groundbait line to the left. SOLID! Straight away, I was into a run of good fish. On both lines, I was feeding with a medium soft-pot, then topping up before moving to the other side.
This approach kept the fish coming right until the whistle. My 152lb was enough to win the Lake, which netted me the section money. Under the circumstances, I was chuffed to bits with the results, it was now time to get home and dry the gear out.
I mentioned earlier in the Blog about the dead maggot approach, and I think it’s worth going into a bit more detail. By big potting to create a hot-spot, and then feeding over the top by hand and/or with a soft pot, I’ve managed to draw big fish into the swim and catch them late on a number of times this season already. These late flourishes have completely transformed the match. The first match discussed in this Blog at Woodhouse Grange, I doubled my weight in the last hour.
Typically, I’ll take along 4pts of quality dead maggots, and start with the big pot around halfway into the match, and feed over the top that for at least an hour before going over it. Rigs are dead simple – a spread bulk over the bottom half of the rig for on the deck, and strung out shotting for shallow. It’s always worth experimenting how to place the rig in the swim too, as the different ways can often yield very different results.
Tight Lines, Lee