September 23rd and 24th
Today i was attending the natural bait festival at Weston pools fishery near Oswestry and it is somewhere that i always enjoy fishing because there is nothing like it around the North West area , i had contested the event last year to be honest i was well out of my depth getting smashed up on both days but sometimes that is how you learn and my recent form had been quite reasonable , i was confident of catching a few fish but i had put that improvement down to pellet fishing and that type of bait wasnt allowed in this festival so i had to have a bit of a rethink on what to use over the two days , especially as they had increased the limit allowed to eight pints and i settled on five units of maggots + two tins of corn for both days i felt this would allow me to cover my options which ever lake that i drew on .
On the morning of the first match i had an early than usual start because they wanted everybody to be at the fishery before nine o’clock so it would give them time to sort things out before the draw took place and with me travelling down on Friday i also had to contend with the rush hour traffic as well , so i decided to set off at seven o’clock and this got me there with plenty time to spare even after stopping of for breakfast at mcds on the way there . When i finally arrived at Weston pools there was plenty big names knocking about including a few of the Welsh national squad and lots of sponsored anglers plus the usual faces from Partridge lakes + Local lads , after confirming my attendance at the tackle shop we then had a bit of a wait before the draw was due to take place so i had a bit of a stroll round the lakes and then had a chat with a few friendly faces and i know plenty of people on the bank these days , it is times like these that it would be nice to travel down with someone so you could share the experience but most of the lads i fish with do not want to be taken out of their comfort zone which is a shame because you learn a hell of a lot competing against the class anglers .
When i got back to the club house it was nearly time to hit the draw bag but before that they confirmed the fishery rules and told us that there was going to be two lakes of 15 anglers which were canal+stretton then three lakes of 12 which were weir+belvedere+claypit so if you drew a lake with 12 the day after you would fish a 15 and the other way round if you drew the big number first , as the mad rush to pick a peg started i decided to hang back towards the rear while i waited for my turn and for hopefully a change luck i tried my left hand which got me peg six on weir pool after speaking to a few people i wasnt in the best area of the lake but will catch a few fish so things looked promising .
When i got to my home for the next few hours it looked really nice as do most pegs on here with a long reed lined margin on both sides but the one thing i like about Weir pool is that everybody has exactly the same set of features but one advantage that i had was the wind was blowing in my face , i decided on a rather simple match as i figured this would be the best way to catch a big weight so i just set up ;
Shallow , with the steep hill behind me i was limited to fishing eleven meters but the wind prevented me from being accurate with the catty any further out anyway , i set up two rigs one at a foot the other two foot i used a 0.1 matrix series three float with three number eleven stotz spread down the 012 garbo main line and attached was a six inch 010 garbo hook length .
Deck rig for under my shallow line and i used a 3×12 maggie float with a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern , main line was the usual 014 garbo and hook length was six inch of 012 garbo .
Top three swim , this is often a line which can produce really well on most lakes so i expected to catch most of my fish from here and with plenty carp in this lake i decided to up my gear a little , i used a 0.3 maggie float with a staggered bulk shotting pattern along the 014 garbo main line and attached was a six inch length of 014 garbo with a size 14 hook because i planned on fishing corn here .
Margin swim , top four to my right in a little cut out between the reeds where after plumbing up i found it to be eight inch shallower than my left hand swim , i used a 4×14 float with 014 garbo main line and 014 garbo hook length which had a size 16 hook attached because i was going to pot in maggots .
Bonus fish line which i pinched of Jamie Hughes and i expected to catch some big barbel from right between my keepnets so i needed to really beef up my tackle because the fish would drag me under the platform straight away , i used 016 garbo main line with a six inch length of 014 garbo hook length with a size 14 hook and elastic was solid size twenty .
I started my match on my top three swim directly in front of me with corn on the hook and as they usually catch well on the Weir throwing pellets round there float i decided to replicate that by using corn hopping the plop of it going in would attract some fish into my swim i was also keen not to over do it so that when the carp came in there would not be a lot of bait on the deck so that they would pick up my hook bait more easily , this worked remarkably well as i managed to catch eight fish in the first hour for nearly forty pounds and had only used a handful of bait but understandably bites began to drop off plus i was now catching the odd crucian which wasnt a good sign so i tried upping the feed with a large kinder pot but it didn’t really work out .
All the time i had fired maggots onto my shallow swim and i started on my deck rig until i had seen signs of them up in the water but i only picked up a couple of f1s at full depth , i was getting indications on my float showing that they was shallow but when i went on my deeper shallow rig i struggled to hit the bites and on my one foot rig i didn’t even get any bites , it was really confusing and i spent way too long putting hardly anything in the net which wasnt want i wanted after my good start so i didn’t bother with it anymore preferring to concentrate on my close in swims .
Back on my top three line and i picked up a couple more carp+f1s but they wasnt there in any numbers , with two hours of the match remaining i began to pot in some maggots on to my right hand margin and while this settled i had a quick look between my nets if i didn’t get an indication within a minute i would move onto another swim , but no sooner had my float settled than it shot under and this is when the fun started as the barbel tried to drag me under the platform even the size 20 elastic was struggling to keep them out , you had to be really on the ball when the float buried and i had to lunge forward as soon as i had any movement which was really fun as my top kit bent in ninety degree angles , you would probably only get a couple of goes at it before they backed off so it was important i didn’t waste too much time on it without catching .
On my margin swim i began catching straight away and i found it best to keep topping up with a kinder pot then lowering my rig in among it as it fell and i would get a proper bite as soon as it settled , with the margin being nearly four foot deep you was always going to get line bites so i ended up taking a shot of my rig so i could read the bristle better and this helped me put more fish in the net but im not sure i got my feeding correct because they kept backing off , a quick look on my keep net line produced a couple more barbel including one about five pounds which surprisingly swam straight into the open water which made a nice change . In the last ninety minutes i fished the perfect match picking up a couple of fish from each line as i kept rotating the swims and i didn’t lose a single one , the all out came way too soon for my liking and i had 97lb on my clicker plus my silver net which i had put in all my f1s so i reckoned that i had a good ton .
After packing up i knew that i had beat five of the lads on the other side of the lake which i could see and i had to wait for the scales to confirm things , i did not have to wait long before they turned up to start the weigh in and as i had packed my gear away i decided to follow them round to see how everybody had got on because you can’t see many anglers from where i was sitting , there was a 123lb weight from peg two that was still in front when they reached me and my three nets went 143lb which was a lot more than i thought i had , luckily i had decided to put my f1s in the silvers net and these went nearly forty pounds because i normally put them in with the carp which would have put me over the net limit i had also stupidly only brought three nets with me so i had been really fortunate in being able to manage my weight , the rest of the anglers on my lake couldn’t beat my weight so i had somehow managed to finish top which was my best result in any match so far and to be honest i couldn’t really believe it but everything went to plan apart from the middle part when i tried to force them shallow .
Back at the club house they had put on some food while we waited for the placings to get sorted after having a drink and a chat with a few people the time flew by , before i knew it was time for the results and not only had i won my lake i was also the 8th best weight on the day but Weston pools had fished extremely well with thirty tons coming from the 72 anglers and over 6000lb of fish being caught , after all that had got sorted it was time for the draw to take place for the next day and i would be on either Stretton or Canal the former had produced a remarkable ten tons from fifteen anglers where the latter had been a bit of a struggle so obviously i wanted to be on Stretton , yet again i hung back towards the end of the queue i used my left hand to pick out my peg this resulted in me getting Stretton five which was down the arm of the lake out of the main bowl and i had fished this area a couple of times before so i knew what to expect but you really needed the wind to be blowing my way to have a chance of a good weight , after grabbing another drink and having a chat with a few of the lads that had fished the lake i was going to be on tomorrow i made my way on the short drive to my bed and breakfast .
After a pretty crap nights sleep yet again when i stay over somewhere i made my way to the fishery feeling a bit crappy and because we wasnt allowed on to the bank before 1030 am everyone was hanging about on the car park chatting about what they thought would happen today especially as the weather had turned a bit colder with rain + strong winds forecast , it was soon time to make our way to the pegs and as i settled in at my peg i was still not feeling a hundred percent but i felt that i needed at least a top three finish out of the 15 anglers to stand a chance of getting into the top ten anglers overall , but it would be difficult as i had some very good people on Stretton and i decided that my best way to achieve it was not to over complicate things and just fish the same swims as on Weir but i had to use new rigs because it was at least a foot deeper on this lake ;
Top three both to my right and left like the previous day i was going to fish corn just flicking in a couple of pieces around the float every couple of minutes , with the water towing through quite hard i decided to use a heavier 4×14 speedy float with a staggered bulk along the 014 garbo main line and hook length was also 014 garbo .
Margin swim at the side of the empty left hand platform where it was four foot deep so i used a 4×14 float with an inch spread bulk above the six inch 014 garbo hook length .
Top six deck line which was underneath my shallow hand feed maggot swim and i used a 4×14 maggie float with a bulk plus two dropper shotting pattern , my main line was the usual 014 garbo which had a six inch 012 garbo hook length .
I had two shallow rigs set up , one at three foot and the other two foot because i didn’t expect the fish to be really shallow in the weather conditions plus i could always shorten them if they did come further up , i used a 0.2 matrix series three float with 012 garbo main line and a six inch 010 garbo hook length .
Bait for the day was the same as the previous day ;
Six pints of maggots
Two pints of corn
I started my match by fishing on my top three towards my left with corn on the hook and i was throwing the odd piece over the top of the float but it wasnt as hectic as on Weir , it took a good twenty minutes before i had my first bite and then i pulled out of my first two carp which wasnt the start that i wanted with so much at stake , indications on my original line where very hard to come by so i swapped to my right hand swim and after a couple of feeds through a kinder pot i finally began to catch a few carp they was a nice stamp as well . The first hour flew by and i had not really added a lot to my net but i had fed my shallow swim since the start so that was my next port of call , i began on my deck rig but i struggled to get my bait to the bottom with small silvers intercepting the maggots on the way down and i had to alter my shotting pattern putting all the weight just above the hook length , this helped a bit if i did manage to get it to the bottom i would get a nice sized ide or f1 and i went on a good run of catching twenty fish in the next hour but looking round i could see other anglers catching carp from their margins so i had a decision to make on what to do next .
Even though i had caught well on the deck i felt that i was catching the wrong species and was falling behind the other anglers within eye shot so i decided to change tact going all out for carp+f1s , i went back onto my top three swims i chose to big pot maggots on one line to see what response this got me i hoped this might help some f1s+ide to be caught there and by alternating between the two i managed to start catching some nice sized fish , but it was only when i dropped down to an 012 hook length with a 16 hook did i start bagging although this meant i had to be more careful when playing fish and i did lose the odd carp as i tried to get the balance right .With ninety minutes remaining i thought that it was time to drop onto my margin swim at the side of the empty platform and i began big potting in maggots but all i could manage where liners , it was only when i changed to kinder potting in corn did i start catching fish and i had a run of eight carp quite quickly although i do not think i got my feeding quite right as i had a thirty minute spell of foul hooking fish which resulted in a couple of trashed rigs . I decided to leave my margin line to settle down for a bit and went back on my top three this resulted in a couple of near double figure carp , after about twenty minutes i dropped back on my margin thankfully it had settled down a bit and i picked up the odd three pound carp up to the all out which i hoped had got me back into contention .
After packing up a few of the other anglers had made their way to my end of the lake to see how we had got on and a few of them admitted to catching about a ton which is similar to what i felt that i had , it was soon time for the weigh in i hoped that i had done enough to get a top three finish Andy Bennett was first and he put 145lb on the scales which was enough for the lake win , my net went exactly 100lb and i felt it wouldn’t be enough as it turned out i was right because at the other end of the lake there was a 130lb , 104lb , 103lb which knocked me back down to fifth on the lake the latter two weights had really got to me as i only needed one more carp and i must have lost nearly ten during the course of the match but i suppose that’s the way it goes sometimes .
So i ended up with six points from the two matches which was a lot less than i expected before i started the festival and after packing up i made my way to the club house to see who had won what , as it turned out i had finished joint eighth overall which i was made up with but that was until i found out four points would have come forth and that is where i would have finished if i had managed one more carp on the final day so i was feeling a mixture of gutted and pleased at the same time , especially as i doubt that i would get a better chance against the calibre of angler on show over the two days but hopefully i will continue to improve before my next festival at Weston pools in May and i would like to thank everyone involved in running the competition because as per usual it all went smoothly .
I’m going to be fishing Herronbrook then back to Weston pools in the next couple of weeks before the start of my winter league at Old Hough and the teams of four at Partridge lakes i cant believe how quick this year has gone .