16 Teams entered this competition hosted by the Essex Police. The event was a teams of 4 and we had a strong team of Andy Bowness, Wayne Thompson, Dan Simper and local rod Charlie Styles which made up our Prison Service Team.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse of late and getting the right approach early would be critical. In practice plenty of fish were caught and a small plan was formulating but as with all practice sessions the fish would react differently under match conditions.
At the draw my usually reliable drawing hand seemed to have let me down as the opinion from a venue regular was far from encouraging. Myself and Dan Simper were heading to Wood lake with Wayne revisiting Stepfield (only a peg away from where he had practised the day before) and Charlie on Pathfield.
Arriving at my peg there were signs of fish shallow and moving around the inside line. In past years these fish have been difficult to catch and seeing them draws you in to fishing for them, without much success.
Setting up I started with the margin lines, F01m margin floats in 0.4 were coupled to 0.19 mainline, 0.17 hook lengths and strong size 16 wide gape hooks, if I hooked them I wanted a chance of holding them! My other rigs consisted of FM5 floats to 0.17 mainline with 0.15 hook lengths and size 16 hooks.
My plan was to fish a line at top kit +1, and top kit +2, Duplicate rigs were set for both lines with one rig with a band and the other for straight hooking a soft pellet.
At the all in soaked 4mm Dynamite pellets were potted in and a 6mm soft PRO Expander pellet was dropped over the top. The float was motionless for a few minutes before a few dips on the float got me interested. After lifting and dropping and working the bait the float disappeared and an angry carp was moving off into the centre of the lake. The way in which it ran told me it was foul hooked and sure enough after a short fight the rig pulled free. Next drop and the float buried this time with a slow moving plodding fish on the end telling me this was correctly hooked. After a short fight my first carp of around 4lb was safely in the net.
This pattern continued throughout the first 4hours of the match and I had to pick off the odd fish swapping between a soft and a hard pellet approach. In the last hour the temptation was too much and I had to try for the numerous carp that had occupied the margins and were readily feeding over my free samples of 4 & 6mm pellets, as predicted they were difficult to catch and I only managed the 1 whilst neighbouring anglers were fairing much better. At the final whistle in knew that I should have done much better and that lost fish would be costly.
As the scales went round it was clear that the rest of the section had fished very hard and that my result may not be too bad.
Back at the café and feedback from the other lads was good, Charlie had won his section and Wayne was second in his, myself and Dan had drawn the worst lake and our results were crucial.
As the results were calculated and announced we were shocked to learn that we had tied in first place with Essex Police on their home water. Weight countback was called into play and we were pushed into 2nd place by only 15lb.
A fantastic result and more to come!