My family and I visit Whiteacres, the mecca of commercial match fishing, at least once a year and with the May half term approaching we set off for another week! Somehow, my match fishing gear always seems to come along too! Weird....
The first match for me was the Bronze Residents Match on the Wednesday. There had been two weeks of festivals before this week so I knew it would fish hard. 14 of us were on the low numbers and we all knew that you needed to draw 15/16/17 to stand a chance of winning so you can imagine my disappointment when I pulled out peg 4 at the draw!!
Arriving at the peg I had a bit of room to play with as pegs 3 and 5 were not in, this might not be so bad after all! I planned to fish a very simple match; Pellet feeder with 2mm micros and a 6mm hard pellet on the band, a short pole line with 8mm pellet on the deck feeding 6mm pellets and a margin rig for later on using sweetcorn.
At the 'all in' I went straight across to the far bank with the pellet feeder and the rod was nearly pulled out of may hands as I was sinking the line, the result of that was a chunky F1 of about 3lb and the first hour I must have put about 30lb in the net. I carried on dropping the odd fish in my net but the action had slowed right up, the middle of the match was a disaster and I struggled to put any sort of weight into my net. I tried the short pole line that I had been feeding but could not buy a bite, this was turning into a nightmare, luckily nobosy else was catching very much apart from a chap further up on peg 12 who always seemed to playing a fish!
I had been trickling some bait in my left hand margin all match and with an hour to go it was time to see if there were any monsters waiting down there, double sweetcorn is too hard for the head of ravenous roach that live in Twin Oaks and sure enough the tap tap tell tale signs of the roach suddenly stopped which usually means the big carp have arrived. Less than 60 seconds later the float slid away and I hooked something much bigger, eventually it rolled into the net and I think it was close to double figures, a couple of smaller carp followed and then it was all over, I think I had about 65lb which I hoped would be enough for a top 3 as I assumed the lads on 16 and 17 would empty it.
When the scales came round I had 71lb 14oz and this was easily enough for 2nd. The young lad on peg 12 won with 106lb of F1's and the lads on 16 and 17 only managed 20lb each! I was really happy with 2nd place and there was no way I could have put 107lb in to win the lake so it was all to play for in the Rover match tomorrow!
Thursday is Rover day, you queue up and pick a number out the hat, there were 47 anglers fishing so numbers 1-47 go into the hat. Whoever picks number 1 gets first choice of swim, number 2 gets second choice, you get the idea. All the lakes were included so I had 2 plans. If I picked a top 10 number I would drop on Twin Oaks, if not then I would have a nice day on Eery or Pollawyn as they are close to the car park!
At the draw the lad I was fishing next to yesterday came over for a chat, he had a bad day on Peg 2 yesterday and was hoping for a good number. You can imagine our shock when he pulled out number 1 ha ha!! I nearly bloody fell over when I reached in and pulled out number 3!! My new friend plumped for Twin Oaks 16 and I gambled on Twin Oaks 17 hoping nobody would choose the end peg 18 which would give me a bit more room.
By the time the match started nobody had arrived on peg 18 which was a result I felt I could really do some damage with all that room. I fished an identical match to yesterday, caught a load on the pellet feeder including some proper bigguns, couldn't get a bite on the short pole and pellet and even had a go on the pellet waggler as it scorching hot but nothing! Long pole shallow was the way to go but I am just not good enough to hold 14m or 16m of carbon and feed accurately so decided to fish to my strengths.
My new friend Lawrence next to me had a nightmare and just couldn't get anything going at all, I had a really good chance now! With an hour to go the margin came alive, with ROACH! I struggled to get an extra 10lb in the net eventually hooking a carp or two, the match ended and I had 90lb on my clicker, I knew I wouldn't win overall but I had a chance of making top 4 and winning some money for the second day in a row.
I knew the chap the other side of Lawrence had done ok, he always seemed to be playing a fish when I looked up and he said he had about 70lb in his nets, I thought I had closer to 90 but match anglers are very odd and rarely give away what they really think they have caught! When the scales arrived he weighed in 81lb which was enough to lead with just myself left to weigh and I knew it was going to be tight, I always over estimate my weights slightly so I don't go over the weight limit on the keepnets, so I was thinking we probably had a similar weight, so you can usually take off 10lb for the over estimating.
The scales arrived and I lifted out my second net which weighed 41lb, I went back for my first net and lifted, it was much heavier! it weighed 51lb and I had 92lb total which was enough to win both the twin oaks lakes! They pay out top 4 and I just hoped that some of the other lads on the other lakes hadn't caught much more but at the presentation I was beaten into 4th place by just three ounces! I had come 5th out of 47 anglers and some of these lads are seriously good so I was well chuffed and it capped a brilliant couple of days for me!
I love Whiteacres and I will be back once I have mastered fishing the long pole that is for sure!