Old Hough winter league


December 18th , peg eight boulders lake

Today was my last round of my winter league at Old Hough in Cheshire and as i was lying in sixth place due to missing a couple of rounds , i felt that i would be up against it to get in the overall money positions but i had framed in four of the previous five matches that i had fished and more importantly i had enjoyed catching a few silvers which is always nice in the cold weather . My thirty mile trip down to the fishery for the last time this year went really smoothly which made a nice change because as you all know the M6 can be a proper nightmare at times and i arrived with plenty of time to spare , i managed a quick walk around the two lakes in the draw bag and i really fancied another try on Boulders because it held a bigger stamp of fish so would obviously be easier to get a winning weight although as on Goose there was definitely a few areas you don’t want to sit in . The weather for the contest was the same as it had been for the last month with calm bright conditions and around six degrees this had made the fishing really hard everywhere , the Thursday open match taking place on these lakes had been a proper struggle with lots of anglers failing to break into double figures so all the talk at the draw was of how hard it might be today but it was the same for everyone and you just had to get on with it , when the mad rush began to have a dip in the bag of doom i managed to sneak in near the front of the queue and i was quite happy to see peg eight on Boulders lake stick to my mitt , in the earlier rounds of the winter league we had decided to leave this area out as it is never usually put in on the opens but the last couple of matches it had been put in and framed on every occasion so i was hopeful of catching a few fish .

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On settling in at my home for the next few hours i had quite a lot of areas to target ;

I had about five meters along the side of the island which didn’t have a great deal of cover and as it was over 14m away i would need to ship back twice because i had a hill quite close behind , so i decided to begin my match dobbin bread in that area and after plumbing up i found it to be around 2ft deep which wasnt ideal , i used a 0.2 matrix series three float which had two number eleven stotz spread down the 014 garbo main line and my hook length was 010 garbo which had a size 18 guru pellet hook attached .

I put in two swims in the deepest water i could find which was five foot this was positioned in open water at eleven meters either side of the island and i used a 4×12 RW maggie float with a bulk plus two dropper shotting pattern my main line was the usual 014 garbo and hook length was 010 garbo which had a size twenty guru maggot hook attached .

My other rig was for the bottom of the far shelf at four-foot deep and it was also the same depth at the side of some lily pads towards my left which was close enough for me to feed by hand , i used a 4×10 RW maggie float with a staggered bulk shotting pattern which would give me a slow fall of my hook bait my main line was the usual 014 garbo and hook length was 010 garbo which had a size twenty guru maggot hook attached .

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Bait for the day was ;

1 pint of red and white maggots

1/2 pint of corn

1 pint of ground-bait

1 slice of bread

small tub of 2mm expanders

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When the all in sounded signalling the start of the match i shipped out to the island and began working my disk of bread all along the far bank , i was poking my rig into any likely looking area i did get the odd sign which i missed and i put this down to small roach , it was only when i pulled my rig a couple of feet away from the cover going into a some slightly deeper water that i managed a carp about three pounds and i had an ide soon after but i then struggled to get any more indications , i even tried maggots tight to the cover in case any more ide was sat in the area but this didn’t produce any bites either and i felt that if you are usually going to catch dobbin for carp there would be a little nest of fish in a certain area but because i had only managed that solitary fish i decided to put in a few grains of corn at both points of the island .

With an hour of the match gone i went onto my left hand channel swim where i had been pinging six maggots every five minutes and i hopped that a few ide might have settled on the feed as i had seen a couple of top in the area before the match started , but because nobody had drawn the early numbered pegs i feared the fish might back of into the space and after letting my rig fall through the water i began getting middered by tiny silvers , so i changed my shotting to a bulk+dropper as this would allow me to get my bait to the bottom quicker and this kind of worked for me because i did manage a couple of better fish but they wasnt the usual stamp for in here plus they also wasnt there in any numbers either .

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I changed to my right hand channel swim where i had fed a ball of ground-bait at the start of the match i did this because there was a lot of hand sized skimmers in this lake and i felt that i could add a couple of pounds of them into my net while i pondered on my next move , but even they was proving hard to catch it just seemed that there wasnt many fish willing to have a feed today and everybody on my lake was struggling too , it was noticeable that only a few ide had come out so far and thinking about it after the match i wasnt quick enough in changing my feeding to target other species as i expected ide to produce the bulk of my weight today .

My next move was to go on to my four-foot rig at the bottom of the far slope and began by just trickling in a couple of maggots in case i had over done it with the feed on my other lines plus i could always increase the amount if i needed too , i started by catching a few 4oz roach but at least they was bigger than any of the other silvers that i had managed and i was also adding some weight to my net , after a while it went a bit quiet  i was on the verge of increasing the amount of bait that i was feeding when my float slide under and i had a bonus f1 in the net although like usual on these two lakes it was a loner , but the disturbance had upset the silvers on this line so i decided to have ago with corn were i cupped a few grains in earlier incase there was any more bonus fish in the area but a bite less ten minutes on each line soon had me picking up my dobbin rig and this did produce another ide but nothing in any numbers .

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I had continued to feed my left hand channel swim with a catty while i had fished else were so i decided to drop back on it to see if anything had settled there and i did pick up a couple of net fish among the small silvers , with just ninety minutes of the match remaining i had a decision to make because i needed to attract a bigger stamp of fish into my peg as i could see a lad to my right catching the odd big ide and i felt he was eating into my lead , i choose to feed a ball of ground-bait onto my left hand channel swim and bulk all my shotting above the hook length which would enable me to fish expanders , while it settled i rotated my other swims to no avail so i spent the rest of my match on left hand line and luckily for me i began catching a few hand sized skimmers by swapping between expanders and maggots i managed a couple of bonus net crucians+tench , in the last hour i must have added three pounds to my net which doesn’t sound a great deal but when you’re only looking for 15lb to win it was a rather substantial part of my final weight .

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As i began packing up everyone was saying that i had won the lake as nobody else had managed a carp and it would be nice to finish the winter league like i started it with a match win on boulders lake, as it turned out i did manage to finish first but without my good last hour i wouldn’t have managed it as i weighed in with just over 14lb for the third match running at Old Hough and second was 11lb with third just 8lb , Goose lake fished a bit better with 20lb winning then 11lb second and 10lb third . When i got back to the car park they was starting to reckon up the overall winter league points and i had beaten a few of the lads today which was above me in the table at the beginning of the day so i hoped that i had done enough to get into the money , as it turned out i had managed to scrape into fifth overall with 15 points from six matches which was last place in the money but it was really close as 10 points came first then just five points covered five places , to be honest i was quite happy with how my league panned out because after missing my two dropper matches due to clashes with the partridge lakes winter league i was always going to be up against it and apart from the one match where i finished sixth on the lake from a really bad peg i fished well with two wins , two seconds and a third .

So with that out-of-the-way i will now be targeting Partridge lakes for the next couple of months with both the individual and team of four winter leagues on my agenda .

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