Garbolino Winter Festival – 2011

On all the major festivals at White Acres the actual section each angler competes in is drawn before arrival. With 180 anglers fishing those festivals I guess it would just take too long to draw each name out on the Saturday night. With the winter festival capped at 60 anglers it is a different ball game, in 2010 the fishery team decided to draw the section live in the bar on Saturday evening, the atmosphere was great and it made for a good evening. This year I was pleased to see the same format; the only trouble was I couldn’t make the draw as I was still travelling after visiting family. Jon Arthur was good enough to text me with the news that I was fishing in D section with him along with some very talented anglers including, Steve Hemingway, Steve Winters, Jason LeBosquet, Steve Mayo, Jack Valkenburg, Terry Winter, Alex Bates and local rods Andy Dare, Chris Hancock and Skip McCabe. It was not going to be easy, but then again it never is!

Our rotation around the lakes starts with a split section on Sycamore and the match lake followed by Twin Oaks, back to the match lake on Wednesday followed by Jennies and Trelawney. The festival is float only and carp are on the banned list, although F1 hybrids are allowed. With the very mild start to winter it was going to be interesting, no doubt those carp are still going to be feeding so avoiding them and finding the ‘Schumacher’s’ was going to be paramount.

T shirt weather

Weather wise it was a very bright start as we all assembled for the draw in the club house. I was hoping the bag of dreams was going to be good to me and give me a nice peg on Sycamore, I really fancied starting the week fishing for Roach and was more than happy when peg 5 stuck to my hand.  I arrived at the peg and there was hardly a cloud in the sky, I soon realised that I had left my sunglasses in the van, so was straight back to get them. I remember thinking that I should also take my overcoat and brolly, but it seemed daft in such nice weather.

I had made my mind up that it was going to be a pole match and that I was going to concentrate mainly on one line at 11.5m. My thinking was that Sycamore is normally Roach up in the water so I didn’t want to make it difficult for myself; I can always add sections to follow the fish out if necessary and would rather do that from 11.5m than 14m, obviously I left myself more options with my cunning plan.

I had two shallow rigs which were J Range  J10C floats 4 x 12, my depth rig to fish in around 6’ of water was a 4 x 16 and 4 x 14 J 15 floats the 4 x 14 could also double up to fish on the 5m line which meant I could fish it off bottom at 11.5m. The last rig was a 4 x 10 J15 which was going to be my edge rig for fishing next to the weed. On the bait table were casters, maggots, pinkies and worms (pellets are not allowed in this festival) I had two kilos of groundbait which was Yorkshire Baits Green Betaine and Green Swimstim. On the all in I fed my longer line with four balls of GB and two on the 5m line. I started straight away on the long line and had an 8 ounce skimmer first drop which is always nice! At the same time I noticed that someone had turned the lights out so my glasses were now redundant, I also felt a spot of rain, I just don’t believe it!

Fish came steady to start with a mixture of Skimmers and Roach taken on the maggot. I started pinging casters at my float, expecting the fish to come up in the water but try as I might I just could not catch shallow. I found this really strange as during the match I fed the best part of three pints of casters and tried really shallow to about 2 ½ foot deep. Never mind, mustn’t grumble! I was still catching on the deck at 11.5m but could not get them on my closer 5m line.  I fed caster just over the marginal weed and had a couple of goes during the day, I managed to catch roach in two fish bursts, it was bizarre. Towards the end of the match I had another go close and the sequence went something like this: Small Roach, Small Perch, bigger 12oz Perch, bumped fish felt like a good Perch, double caster 10lb Carp, aargh! That signalled the end of the match. I knew it was going to be tight with my neighbours and hoped it was going to go in my favour but unfortunately it didn’t as Skip McCabe recorded 26lb, Steve Winters had 24lb 9oz and my fish went 23lb 9oz it was tight but no cigar. It had been a really enjoyable match, even if I did get myself soaking wet, the rain was very persistent. As I put my gear in the van the first thing I saw was my brolly and waterproof coat, what a plonker!

Carp City

To say I was pleased with my draw on Tuesday was an understatement, it was peg 2 on Twin Oaks the previous day Timmy Rowe had taken a 35lb section winning net and the word was it was solid. It was however a horrible day weather wise, we had heavy rain most of the night and there was no let up in sight, but to add insult to injury we now had gale force winds, that were sending rollers down to my end of the lake.

I decided to concentrate around the 5m line but hoping to get the fish closer up the shelf on the slope, I did set a rig for 11m but to be honest didn’t plumb it that well, the wind was a real pole breaker. I set up the rig in the hope that the wind would die later in the day. My rigs were all J8 floats which proved perfect in the choppy conditions, apart from the fact that I just could not get them to go under! That’s not entirely true but it sure felt like it. After I fed on the whistle I dropped in with a double red maggot hook bait to see the float shoot under immediately and yards of J Range pink hollow shoot out of the pole tip. Not what I wanted, starting today as yesterday had finished! It was a big carp as well and took some time to get in, it charged all through my swim, no doubt spooking all that swam!

I managed the odd fish but every time I started to put some together Mr Carp put in an appearance and the swim died. As the wind dropped I managed a few fish but it was too little too late, I could see Jason LeBosquet catching well on peg 5 but my neighbour on peg three Dutch International angler Jack Valkenburg and I were struggling. The wind died completely as the end of the match approached and with no ripple we could now see plumes of silt rising in the water, as hungry carp ate our feed and pushed the silvers away. Oh man, why don’t I get this problem when Carp are allowed! I finished with 15lb for stone last followed by Jack with 18lb Jason won the section with 28lb followed by Jon Arthur with 26lb

Anyone got a plummet

Wednesday saw us back on the match lake and I wasn’t that worried what peg I plucked from the bag of dreams, and end peg would have been nice but with some of the drawbags in this section it was unlikely, and so it proved when peg 18 came out of the bag for me. I had been chatting with Jon Arthur and he told me he fancied end peg 13 and to be honest I wasn’t surprised when he drew it, after all anyone with a moniker of ‘End Peg’ surely gets the name for a reason, he managed around three in the week; I was really surprised when I saw his car in the car park, parked one from the end!

Setting my box on the platform I slipped and one foot went straight into the margins; what’s more it sure felt cold and uncomfortable, I will definitely be plumbing the conventional way in future! On the plus side, it reminded me to get some more batteries for the thermometer; I guess there is always a reason why some things happen!

I had festival leader Skip McCabe to my left and once more Steve Winters to my right in rematch formation from the first day. I hoped to reverse the positions and to be honest was feeling confident on the peg. There were a few small Roach topping and I did set up a rig for them but I planned on fishing on the deck for Skimmers as I had recently caught them in our winter league. I had a .75 gram Cralusso Capri for the 13m line, I also plumbed at 9m where the depth was very similar. The closer line was my back up line and I wasn’t going to feed it until I had to. My thinking was that if I caught on the 13m line all well and good, if they were there I didn’t want to split them. I could feed 9m if needed and if it didn’t work I could revert back to 13m with nothing lost. I also had a 4 x 14 float set at depth for the 4m line where I could fish ‘top to bottom’ by loose feeding casters and a strung out rig looking for Roach and VIP’s. I did set up an edge rig for those very important perch but couldn’t fish it as both edges had 1000’s of pine needles floating around and I just could not get in.

At the start I fed reasonably aggressively with 5 big balls of Groundbait on the 13m line and a small ball on the 4m line, I started close but after 15 minutes was still biteless. Steve to my right wasn’t catching much but Skip was getting quite a few on his long line. I felt I had to move out, but it was slow I wondered if I had overdone it, but I was sure there were enough fish going to feed for the amount of that I gave them. Most people were struggling with the exception of pegs 26 and 27 they seemed to be catching and staying in touch with Skip.

After awhile I noticed Steve Mayo catching well, he was shallow at 13m they were small but he certainly was catching. Skip was also trying shallow and getting a few, I resisted the temptation. My line was just not working, the decision was to feed 4 more balls on 9m. This I did and it started to work, small skimmers to start with and the odd better one. I was now wondering if I should have started here? Skip was talking to Steve Mayo mentioning how he was bagging up and Steve Winters heard the conversation, which prompted him to go shallow. What’s more he caught some nice skimmers around 2 ½ deep. I wondered whether to switch but stuck with my plan and thankfully had a nice spell with some big skimmers and a couple of Bream. I lost a 1 ½ lb fish just before it went in the landing net. I ended up second in section to Steve Winter losing out by just over a pound; those lost fish always seem to cost me at the moment! The section didn’t fish that well but I’ll settle for 25lb of silvers in the winter.

Welcome to Glum Land

Thursday and we were on Jennies, a lake I really like and peg three was my home for the day, I had Jon Arthur next to me on the end peg that had produced a section win the day before. The section was pegged with two anglers then miss a peg followed by two anglers, so everybody had some room to play with. I don’t really want to dwell too much on this match as it will send me to ‘Glum Land’ as it was a very frustrating day.

At the start Steve Winters and Jason LeBosquet on pegs 5 and 6 were into the lakes resident Schumacher’s and it seemed like those pesky F1’s were shoaled up tight, as both I and Chris Hancock on peg 7 could not get any bites or indications. I managed a few small Tench and Crucians but every time I started to get some bites I found myself attached to an angry Carp. The amazing thing was that Jon was not getting then; he was content on trying to empty the lake of its Tench population. Man, if I had any hair it would have littered the peg!

To cut this chapter short Jennies fished unbelievably well for some, with Steve Winters coming out on top with 71lb followed by Jason with 68lb Steve Hemingway was third with 53lb and poor old Jon was only fourth with 40lb. If I had been allowed to add Chris Hancock’s weight to mine I still would not have troubled Jon’s weight. Best this match is forgotten, quickly!

The last day

The last day saw our intrepid section on Trelawney and if ever there was a day that I needed the BODs to be kind it was today. The four end pegs were starting to dominate on the lake, so to have any chance of any ‘folding’ one of them would have been nice. You can imagine my horror as I was standing near to the back of the queue when I saw the four end pegs come out in the first six draws!  Steve Winters and I were left with pegs 26 and 27 even Jon Arthur had to settle for one from the end! It was not looking good especially as Steve Hemingway had drawn peg 23 and Steve Mayo the other end peg in our section. In effect it left the other four of us fishing for third place in the section, which to me was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard!

Still we all know that fish can swim so there is always hope, and we had the prospect of a day’s fishing which cannot be bad! I made the decision to concentrate my match on F1’s and largely ignore the lakes other silverfish, I figured that if I was to have any chance of competing in the section I needed around 40lb and I wasn’t going to get that kind of weight with Roach. I fished some light 4 x 10 and 4 x 12 J8 float rigs and fed four swims sparingly with a small amount of groundbait containing some dead red maggots with single and double baits on the hook. My swims were at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock at 13m and 5 metres and I spent the day rotating around the swims taking a few fish from each line, but mainly I was watching the two Steve’s empty their end pegs!

Steve Mayo took the verdict with 39lb from Steve H who had 37lb the rest of the section all had around 15lb each! Not much we could have done about it. If I had been chasing points it could have been a really good match trying for those few extra fish to get 3rd place but maybe that will be next year!

It was a great weeks fishing, even if a couple of days were frustrating carp wise but I enjoyed myself, the craic was really good. That was the last festival of 2011 but it will soon be spring and we can start all over again! Many congratulations to Callum Dicks on winning the festival for the third time, very impressive! Adam Wakelin put in a great performance to finish in runners up position knocking festival sponsor Darren Cox into third place.

I would just like to finish this by thanking the White Acres fishery team and all the staff on the park for making it a great week for the 60 anglers that took part. Many thanks to Darren Cox of Garbolino for providing sponsorship in the form of some great prizes, I it is very much appreciated by all.


  1. jason_smith_is

    Dec 10, 2011

    Allways a good read Stewart! just a quick Question…
    Do those barbel not come out when the temp drops? i remember bagging on them with worm from down the edge on peg 13, match lake in the october festivals???

    • Stewart

      Dec 10, 2011

      Hi Jason, Thanks for the comments.
      The Barbel are still showing but seem to be concentrated around pegs 19 – 20. A few are showing on odd pegs around the High Bank but never in any of my pegs! When Jon Arthur was on 13 he spent a long time fishing down the edge, I dont recall him mentioning Barbel.

  2. jason_smith_is

    Dec 10, 2011

    ahh right, just that from the reports on news reel and your blog ive not heard any mention of barbel in this siver fish festival, and i was wondering if they had “shut up shop” for the winter time? seems they are just like any other fish and “shoul up” in the colder months!
     keep us all updated on how white acres is fishing over winter and of course good luck in the winter league!
    i myself cant wait till im back down there next year!


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