Well today was the day that i had waited for ages because it was finally time to pack my bags and set off to Tunnel barn for the pole fishing masters which was going to take place over three days , there would be five lakes to draw on these were ;
Each water would have fifteen anglers on it apart from High pool which would have thirty on it and after the first days random draw we would the fish each lake in a rotation which seemed a fair way to do things , although if you got some big name anglers (of which there are many ) in your rotation you would be stuck with them for the rest of the festival .The payout for the festival would be the overall top nine anglers and five peg sections plus there would also be a super pool on the day paying the top five weights , to be honest i wasn’t expecting to be troubling the leaders because there was going to be some extremely good anglers contesting the event and as long as i caught a few fish , learned a few things , plus of course enjoyed myself then that would do for me .
I decided to set off from Wigan at dinner time on the Sunday so i wouldn’t be too tired on the first day of the match because it was an early draw 8 o’clock and after an eventful three-hour trip down with various delays on the motorway plus my sat nav failed to pick up the hotel even though it was on the motorway services it looked like i had made the correct decision . After finally managing to book in at the hotel and unloading my gear i decided to try to find the fishery which was surprisingly easy as it was only eight miles away , on arrival at Tunnel barn farm fishery it has nine waters on the complex and of the five that were in the festival ;
Jennys was a lake which had an island reachable at 16m and held a bigger stamp of f1 with fishing across + down the edge working well .
Club was also a lake with a central island although this one is at a more manageable 13m and holds more proper carp .
High was more your typical snake lake although still a touch wide at 14m but i doubt that this would matter as its a numbers game on here so top kit shallow + margins is usually the main method .
House + extension both these waters are mature lakes with lots of different types of pegs they are the oldest on the complex and been fished a lot therefore the f1s are really cute making them hard to catch so to compensate this they have put in a lot of small stockies in .
There was also various club matches taking place and i had arrived just in time as most of them had started the weigh in , this gave me a good idea on how it was fishing because rumour had it that the fish had spawned in the days leading up to the festival and it seemed that i didn’t need to worry because most lakes were won with well over a ton plus there wasn’t any signs of splashing about in the margins which is always a good . After having had a walk round to find all the lakes in the draw bag and seeing+speaking too a few of the regulars i was ready to get started and couldn’t wait for the first day of the festival , i decided to head back to the hotel to grab some tea and get my gear ready i have a plan in mind i just hope it works for me over the next few days .
Monday 15th June , peg 25 Extension pool
Today was the first round of the daiwa pole fishing masters and after having a pretty lousy nights sleep i was eager to grab some breakfast before heading off on the twenty-minute trip to Tunnel barn farm , the draw was going to take place at 8am and we would fish 11 till 4 not really the best hours of the day especially with the sun beating down plus calm conditions .When i arrived the queue for the draw was already quite long and it looked like a who’s who of match fishing with all the big names attending , when it came for my turn out i pulled peg 25 on Extension pool this didn’t mean a great deal to me but when i got to my home for the day it looked really inviting with a lot of margin+far-bank vegetation the only downside really was the lack of a mud bank i just hoped that it wasn’t too deep across .
My plan off attack today was too ;
Start on the top kit between my nets for the first thirty minutes .
Before fishing across at 14m where when plumbed up i found 3ft which i felt was to deep .
All the time i would be feeding slop at 6m looking for any signs of fish swirling before going on it .
The last ninety minutes would be spent fishing in both margins hoping to get a bigger stamp of fish .
My bait was to revolve around worm+casters+pellets which had worked well on here recently and i have had some good results using it which made me more confident about using it , when the all in sounded i tapped in some feed in between my keepnets then lowered my worm hook bait in among it and it wasn’t long before my float disappeared but instead of the f1 i hoped for up popped a big skimmer , it took a couple of feeds to attract my target fish but when they turned up they did in numbers and i put a dozen in the net during a forty minute spell . The bites began to tail off with a couple of perch getting in on the act which is never a good sign and i wasted twenty minutes on this line without putting much into the net , i decided to try my shallow line even though i had seen no signs on it but after ten minutes without a bite i choose to leave it for the time being although i did continue to feed it .
After leaving my far-bank line for over an hour i expected that a few f1s would have settled there and for a change i was right because i went on a good run of fish putting twenty in the net during a sixty minute spell , so with half the match gone i was well on target for a good weight but for the next hour i struggled to put much into the net either by fishing across or shallow where there was plenty of fizzing coming up a sure sign that there wasn’t much happening up in the water . I set up a new line across towards my right while i began to prime my margin swims and yet again i had another good run of fish although they were off a much smaller stamp , with ninety minutes remaining i decided to spend it in the margin as this was my only chance of getting back on terms with those anglers around me and luckily it worked as i began catching some nice stamp f1s , by changing hook baits between a worm segment or double caster i kept the fish coming and when the perch made an appearance i just re-fed then swapped sides .
When the all out sounded i was unsure on how i had got on as it was a rather frustrating match catching well in patches but suffered a few too many quiet spells to be in contention for the section because the lads towards the windward end had caught well over the ton , as the scalesmen arrived at my peg i needed 120lb to get into the top two in my section but i could only manage 87lb which was good enough to finish third and i suppose that was ok on my first ever visit here although if i had managed to get a few shallow in the quiet mid-match spell it might have been a bit different .
Tomorrow i will be on High pool and i will probably have some big names in my section with the calibre of angler in my rotation but I’m really looking forward to it and you need to fish against the best to improve which is what every match angler wants to do .
Tuesday 16th June , High pool peg 34
Today was day two of pole fishing masters at Tunnel barn and my rotation of thirty anglers would all be on High pool , so after yet another lousy nights sleep i headed off to the venue and i decided to pick up some maggots for fishing shallow before joining the queue for the draw . When it came round to my go i pulled out peg 34 which didn’t mean a great deal because i hadn’t fished here before although i did have a look at all the lakes which will be used in the festival on the Sunday when i came down , one advantage of fishing High pool is the fact you can park at the side of your peg so no pushing of the trolley in the sunny + calm conditions and i made sure i used sun block after suffering burnt arms yesterday .
On arriving at my peg it was at the end of one of the straights and like all the pegs on here the margins had plenty of reed cover plus i had the point of the island to target and for a change a mud bank to target although with it being 16m away i doubt that i would be venturing across that much especially as the stamp of fish are quite small making it more of a fish race ( not something i am particularly good at doing ) on settling in at my peg i had come up with a plan on how best to try to get the most from my peg :
Start on the top kit between my keep nets although on plumbing up i found it to be nearly 5ft i felt this might be a bit too deep .
While i was fishing it i would be loose feeding maggots at six meters to hopefully give them a bit of confidence before fishing it although with the wind a bit blustery i had to use my catty this probably meant i wasnt feeding heavily enough .
I set up a margin swim on my top three towards the corner to my left and the shallowest water i could find was two foot yet again not ideal but the margin to my right was even deeper .
I was a bit luckier when plumbing up across because i managed to find an ideal depth of 18 inch in a couple of spots and i planned to go on this line towards the back-end of the match hopefully allowing the fish a bit of a safe zone in the peg .
My bait was the usual ;
1/2 kilo worm
1 pint micro pellets
4 pints maggots
When the all in sounded i went straight onto my top kit line with a kinder pot full of worm+pellet mush and an inch segment of worm on the hook , as usual it took a couple of feeds before i had my first indication which resulted in a big skimmer hitting the net but it wasn’t long before the f1s made an appearance . In my first hour i put 15 fish in the net and all the time i was catching i had fired in maggots at six meters , when i saw a swirl i decided to pick up my shallow rig set at 1ft but i kept missing bites on maggots and it wasn’t long before i found out why when a 2oz roach was netted i kept plugging away adding only a couple of ide to my weight . With the shallow line not producing as i would like i went back on my top kit between my nets and started kinder potting on the margin swim , my top kit line wasnt working like at the start of the match so i went onto the left hand swim still using worm on the hook and feeding worm mush through a kinder pot and this swim started producing instantly with f1 after f1 coming to the bank after half of the match had passed i reckoned that i had 40lb in the net i just hoped that i could keep it going .
For the next hour the top end of the lake where i was seemed to shut down as everyone struggled for bites which is what i thought would happen and it was now time to fish across in my safe area but before i did i decided to feed the top kit swim with two cupping kits full of maggots to try to force some fish back on to this area , i put a full pot of worm slop across the far-bank mud line then went over the top with a piece of worm on the hook it didn’t take long before i had my first fish which i bumped off on the way in and i then had a mini run of a few f1s but they was a lot smaller than i had previously caught and i didn’t feel the bites were coming quick enough to warrant fishing at 16m so i decided to leave this line .
With ninety minutes remaining i chose to concentrate on my margin swim because this would hopefully keep me in with a chance of getting a good section position , i kept plugging away on my original margin swim but bites had slowed down considerably so i decided to set up a new line further towards the left hand corner after plumbing up i found it to be nearly a foot deeper even tight up to the reeds i had to cut down one of my rigs to use and as it was a good bit deeper i choose to feed and fish maggots . After tapping in a big kinder pot full of bait i lowered my hook bait among it but i was having trouble getting the maggots to the deck with small silvers intercepting it on the way down and if it got to the deck i would get a bite from an f1 with this in mind i thought that i would try a segment of worm as it is heavier and after all it was my best hook bait this worked extremely well and in the last forty minutes i added 15 fish to my net although they were mainly barbel .
The all out soon sounded and i felt that i had a good chance of finishing in the top two of the section i was the first to weigh in at the top end of the lake and my 65 mixed bag of fish went 57lb which was more than i had thought ( even did my usual trick of leaving an f1 in my net ) luckily for me it did not alter the outcome of the section as my weight was 10lb clear and i had won my first ever festival section , this also put me on 4pts after two matches which makes me 25th overall and i just hope that i can get another good draw so i can finish off my festival in style but to be honest getting a section win in this company was more than i had hoped for before i had set off to fish the pole fishing masters .
Weds 17th June , peg 17 Club pool
Today was the last round of the pole fishing masters at Tunnel barn farm and after my previous days section win on High pool i was looking forward to finishing the festival in style , although that would be really tough with the anglers contesting the event and i would surely end up with a couple of big names in my section . So after booking out off the hotel were you guessed it i had another bad night’s sleep so i grabbed a bacon buttie before heading to the venue where i had a look at the two pools which would be in the draw bag these where Jennys +Club and i had read a lot about Jennys in the fishing magazines i really fancied fishing it especially with all the big weights coming off it in the last few days .
At 830 it was time for the draw and it seemed a lot quieter than on earlier days as it turned out a few people had chosen to go home early because they had no chance of finishing high in the table , i felt that this was inappropriate especially with empty pegs giving those anglers an advantage as weight could play a big part in the final outcome . When it came round to my turn out i pulled peg 17 on Club pool not what i wanted as it was one of the low weight waters which in fact might do me a favor , but on getting to the water it was noticeable that the wind had increased considerably during the morning and the temps had also dropped too with rain also forecast i felt this could make the fish have a feed although with all the bait going in they could also shut up shop .
As i began setting up Luke sears turned up and sat to my right ( ok i will be looking for second in the section ) but then Lee kerry and Alan scothorne plus a sponsored browning angler this was turning into my worst draw that i could get ( just hope i can do myself proud and not finish last ) the one good thing is that i was at the right side of the lake with the wind blowing my way too , my peg was 14m wide with reed lined far-bank but yet again no mud bank and i also had a nice margin on each side .
Yet again i decided to keep it simple just like on my previous two matches and would start on my ;
Top kit between my keep nets for the first hour .
Across for the middle of the match at the side of the rushes .
Margin either side which i would feed with different baits to see which would be best .
My bait was to be the usual worm+pellet approach along with a couple of pints of mixed maggots which i had remaining from yesterdays match .
At 11 o’clock the whistle sounded for the all in and while everyone went straight across i fished between my nets this had been really successful for me on the other matches here so i expected today to be no different but for some reason it didn’t work producing only a tench plus a couple of f1s and to be honest i spent too long on it wasting my first hour which cost me big time as you will find out later , all the time i had fished close in Luke sears had been dobbing fish with meat and had caught over twenty pound although the other anglers to my left were struggling it looked like it could be a long day ahead .
Before going across as this didn’t seem to be working for the other anglers in my section i decided to try the far shelf at 4ft deep after a couple of feeds of worm mush through a kinder pot i began getting indications at first they were 8oz skimmers but the f1s soon moved in and at nearly 2lb a piece i was soon putting a weight together , although it took me awhile to work out that the indications where just slight dinks and if left to develop into your proper bites nine times out of ten they did not . After an hour this line began to slow down so rather than fish it out i moved two meters to my right and started again this got me back among the f1s but it wasn’t as prolific as my original one but by swapping between them both i kept my weight ticking over .
With two hours remaining i began feeding my margin swims the right hand one with 4mm pellets + maggots the left hand one with pellets + worm mush while this settled i went across into the cutout between the reeds where it was 2ft deep this was the shallowest depth that i could find , my first drop on this line produced a little dink on the float which i missed and then i bumped off three fish on the trot ( not good ) i couldn’t work out why this was happening and i was on the verge of giving it a rest when my elastic came flying out resulting in a spirited five-minute fight with an 8lb carp hitting the net ( bonus ) no other indications came from this swim and with the last hour fast approaching it was margin time .
I started to my left on my worm rig first drop my float buried with a big f1 hitting the net quickly followed by another and if they kept coming at this pace i could be on for a good weight but yet again bites began to tail off and this is something which i have suffered with for a while now , when i went onto my right hand swim it failed to produce a bite which was strange and in the last two hours me and Luke traded fish but i just couldn’t get my nose in front . When the all out sounded i had caught 35 f1s plus some silvers and the odd carp , before the scales arrived Lee kerry came over for a chat to see how we had got on because he needed a top two finish to stay in contention for the overall places soon it was the moment of truth .
Luckily i had managed to finish third in the section which i felt was a good achievement but a few things cost me a better finishing position mainly time management and not changing swims quickly enough , you just cant do mistakes like that when competing against these calibre of angler and at the end i finished with 7 points with two thirds and a section win this should put me in the top third of the table fingers crossed . I have really enjoyed the Tunnel barn farm pole fishing masters festival pitting my limited angling skills against the pros it was an extremely well run contest and i cant wait to get back there which might be quicker than i first thought .
The next match on the agenda is the little matter of a fisho qualifier at Partridge lakes these big matches are coming thick and fast at the moment , I’m so glad that i left club matches and knockups behind so if you’re thinking about improving your angling abilities then go and compete against the big boys you wont regret it .