Tunnel barn , North vs South match

September 17th

Today was my last big match of the year which was the annual North vs South contest at Tunnel barn farm it was a charity match in aid of the England Disabled anglers team that do not get as much funding as the other teams and i was really looking forward to it especially after getting second in my section last year behind Des Shipp ( although he did double my weight ) i hoped that i could improve on that but with two hundred anglers here including some of your well-known superstars it would be a tall order but i feel that i have improved over the last few weeks now that soft pellets have started to come into contention again .

Tunnel barn farm was over a hundred miles from my house so an early start was needed and i began the long journey at 530 am getting to the fishery around 8 o’clock , this gave me time to grab a buttie and have a chat with a few of the lads that i hadn’t seen from last year before i knew it the draw was upon us , before that they read out the fishery rules then the mad rush to pick a peg started but it all went smoothly with two hundred anglers heading through the doors in under forty minutes which takes some organising ( been on 16 peg club matches which have taken longer ) when it came round to my turn i pulled out peg 13 on new pool which wasnt up there with my first choice of lakes i wanted but at least i had fished this lake before so i had a reasonable idea on what to expect and as it turned out i was in a similar area as well .


On getting to my home for the next few hours i was the first angler in a line of six and i had a venue regular to my left then a Mosella superstar at the side of him so i was up against it for good section points but i did have an empty peg to my right ( which was supposed to be fished but an angler decided to sit on the wrong lake ) i had a reed lined island at 14m plus the wind was blowing into the corner on my right hand side although it was flat calm in front of me so it all looked really promising for a few fish , that was until i got my plumbet out my margin was just a foot deep , it was only two foot deep on my top kit and it was then just three-foot all the way across to the far-bank reeds not good in the cooling conditions especially with all the recent rain ( i can not remember fishing a venue which was so shallow ) i was unsure on how best to attack the peg but after looking at the results from yesterday’s Friday flyer which took place on the same lake with Adam Wakelin winning it with just 80lb  ( low weight for tunnel barn ) i decided to concentrate on fishing with pellets picking up a few f1s before setting up new swims chasing the fish all over the peg very similar to an article i had read in last years Match Fishing Magazine by Joe Carass and in this depth of water i felt fishing shallow was out of the question which was good as my maggots were still waking up after being bagged up since Friday tea time .

I set up four rigs to cover my options ;

Top kit pellet rig where it was 2.5ft deep and i used a 4×12 roob float that had an inch apart spread bulk above the 0.10 four inch garbo hook length which had a size 16 guru pellet hook attached to it , my main line was the usual 0.14 garbo and elastic was 10-12 Ng green a bit lighter than i usually do but the f1s were a smaller stamp in this lake .

Top three and all over the peg pellet rig which was exactly the same as the above but it was in three-foot of water , i could have probably used the same rig at both depths but it is important to have a short amount of line between pole+float to help hit the shy bites from f1s .

Maggot rig in three-foot and i used a 4×12 maggie float which had a bulk plus two droppers my main line was the usual 014 garbo , a six-inch hook length of 010 with a size 16 guru maggie hook attached elastic was the same Ng green 10-12 .

Maggot rig for across at the side of the reeds in 2.5ft of water and as i would be pinging maggots across ( when they finally came back to life ) so i used a light 0.2 series three matrix float with a strung out shotting pattern to allow for a slow fall of the hook length as i was hoping to catch on the drop , my main line was 014 garbo with a six-inch hook length of 010 garbo which had a size 16 guru maggot hook attached .

My bait for today’s contest was slightly more than i would usually take but Tunnel barn has no bait limits and i didn’t want to be caught out by not having enough ;

Four pints of half a sleep red maggots

Four pints of fishery 4mm pellets

Two pints of fishery micros

Two pints of crushed expanders

Small tub of 4+6mm expanders

When the all in sounded i began my match on the top three pellet swim rather than my top kit because after putting my nets in i could still see the last few rings under the water were i had planned to fish my top kit line , even though i had pulled them back towards me and although the fish do come in close here i didn’t expect them to be there just yet after the disturbance of the nets going in . After looking around most of the anglers within eye shot had gone a good few sections beyond were i was fishing so i wondered if i had made the right decision but i didn’t have to worry because after tapping in a nugget of crushed expanders i began getting indications straight away and i managed eight f1s plus some hand sized skimmers in the first forty minutes by feeding six 4mm pellets every couple of minutes to attract the fish into my swim ( with tiny skimmers present i stayed away from feeding micros )

When bites began to fade i plumbed up a new swim straight in front of me and started again yet again i didn’t have to wait too long before i had my first f1 , i was still throwing in a few 4mm pellets around the float and it was noticeable that i would get a bite almost instantly when i kinder potted a small piece of crushed expander although i did have a run of three lost fish ( which even at this early stage in the match i felt they would cost me at the all out ) i don’t think they was foul hooked because when hooked they darted off towards my left but with the pegging extremely tight i had to clamp down on the elastic to stop them going into my neighbours swim and with the disturbance in the shallow water it killed this line a bit prematurely .

So i decided to add a section and replumb up which was about six-inch deeper on this swim i got fewer indications but the fish were off a bigger stamp so i choose to put a 6mm expander on the hook which worked quite well , i did miss the odd bite coming back with half a hook bait but  i put this down to small skimmers so i was happy to sit and wait for a proper dip of the float . When half of the contest past i was reasonably happy as i had thirty f1s in the net plus about five pounds of silvers but i then had a less than fruitful hour putting hardly anything into the net and i choose to pot in some maggots ( now that they had come back to life ) six meters to my right where there was a bit of room and while this settled i put in a new swim a section further out but this time i kinder potted in some maggots , i laid my rig in so that it would allow for a slow fall of the double maggot hook bait and i got plenty indications but they wasnt from the required species with lots of small silvers coming to the bank .

I noticed a few bubbles coming up from my maggot swim so i quickly changed rigs and dropped on it , i didn’t have to wait too long before i began catching and these were the ones that i wanted with some nice stamp f1s heading my way , after a while it went quiet so i put in another cup full of maggots and plumbed up a new swim for pellets this produced a couple more f1s among the skimmers but it was noticeable that now the wind had changed direction blowing the skum towards my left the bites were hard to come by . All of a sudden my maggot swim erupted like a jacuzzi so i took the opportunity to drop on to it and my float had only just settled before the elastic ripped out of my pole , i then had a quite a fight with a big carp on very light tackle and luckily i managed to keep it away from my neighbouring angler before scooping it into the net which was a nice bonus .

With ninety minutes of the match remaining i was bursting for a pee but couldn’t risk getting up disturbing my swims with the water being so shallow and i was also feeling a bit fatigued from my long day , it definitely had a bearing on the remaining time of my match as i got really lazy in not setting up new swims and i didn’t even go across to the far-bank reeds which i had left till late on as i expected the f1s to settle there in numbers and it just goes to show how these things can affect your fishing especially when you are unfit . It was soon time for the all out and i was unsure how i had got on i reckoned that i had beat those lads within eye shot but with my section having 12 anglers in so there was plenty people who i could not see , when the scales came round my way i had 82lb to beat but my 48 f1s plus mixed bag of silvers only went 80lb so yet again i managed second in section for about the 5th match running ( when will my luck change )

When i got back to the cabin i had a word with a couple of the lads i knew and it seemed that lots of people had struggled to put a run of fish together especially on high pool which is the one lake that i fancied drawing today , the match was won from extension peg 22 with 150lb strangely for Tunnel Barn there was only five tons from the two hundred people here even though it was six-hour match and my weight got me 15th out of all the anglers attending the event which i am pleased about but feel that i had a chance of catching a ton if i had been a bit more on the ball towards the end of the match .


But the main reason we were here was to raise money for the England disabled team which was nearly two grand and of course the North won for the second year running (never in doubt with the quality we had in the North)  although it was a lot closer than any of us wanted with just three points separating the two teams , i would like to thank Gary Bull and Carl Shepherdson plus all the other people ( too many to mention ) for taking the time to support such a good cause .


So on to the next match at the weekend which will be the Natural Bait Festival at Weston Pools and to be honest i can’t bloody wait .


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