I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Maver, Maver, Maver!
I had a new partner for the Maver Pairs event at Larford and I was looking forward to fishing with Jeb Attwood who I have known for a long time. We used to fish the same circuit when I frequented Gold Valley and Willow Park many moons ago. Jeb is a fantastic angler especially on the running line, and waggler in particular, he was fishing the Specimen Lake leaving me the Match Lake to play with. I had the honour of dipping in the bag of dreams; perhaps I should have let Jeb do the business! I pulled out peg 63 for him on the chalet bank and 61 for myself on the match lake. We were happy enough with our homes for the day and keen to get on with the match.
I really wanted to practice my match plan for next week’s grand final, and as this was a match with plenty of people on the bank, it was a great opportunity. For me, it was all about making the 5m meat line work and catching a few on the straight lead, I also had a shallow pole rig but I knew it really hadn’t been working. Method feeder was the back up for catching in the deep water and the margins. My peg like the others was tight with every peg in but I had a nice looking edge to my left. The match started and I fed some meat and hemp at 5m and went straight on the straight lead hoping for the tip to slam round, it obliged in the first couple of minutes and a nice F1 opened my account, I obviously wanted some more. A few minutes later a small carp gave an equally impressive bite but it slipped the hook at the net, never mind it was a contender for the smallest carp in the lake! Following that I just could not buy a bite but it was quite for everybody. I could see Tommy Hillier a few pegs down catching on the pole but could not see the stamp of fish. I followed on the pole line and started catching skimmers but not big the Larford big ones. This coincided with anglers around me catching on the straight lead. Oh man this was a pain; I went back on the lead but could not make it work.
I spent the match swopping between my lines eventually finishing with around 16 kilos having had a couple down the edge. My weight was not good enough, Andy Neal winning our section from the end peg with around 35 kilo. To be fair another kilo or two and I would have been closer to the top than the middle where I finished up. I left the match thinking I had learnt a lot and my match plan for that bank was now well and truly formulated. Jeb on the Specimen Lake faired similarly to me, finishing just above middle in the section. Still it was nice to have fished the match; there is something about matches with over a hundred anglers fishing!
Congratulations to Andy Kinder and Jamie Masson who won the pairs match with a three penalty points picking up a cool £1750.00 in the process.
Maver British Pole Championships
The following day it was a pole only even with all three lakes in. I really wanted to draw the Match Lake even though I knew in my heart the Specimen Lake was going to take some beating. In all honesty I had not considered the Arena Lake as there were only 12 pegs on it out of 120 but Mr Sod and his law had other ideas as peg 37 on Arena came out of the bag. I was standing next to Darren Cox who cheerfully told me that Simon Fry won his section from the peg the day before, but before I could answer, someone reminded Darren that Simon won on the method feeder fished in the middle of the lake! The method was allowed on Arena for the pairs match on.
I actually contemplated not fishing and spending the day watching the Match Lake, but that really is not my style, so I went to my peg and gave it a try. My plan was to fish up in the water on the long pole. I had a gallon of casters with me and hook bait was going to be three red maggots. A .30gram J13 float was my choice as it has a nice visible tip and makes a lovely splash; the shot on this occasion was bunched beneath the float which would allow the maggots to sink slowly with just the weight of the hook. I also had margin swims both left and right plus a close line which was top kit plus one in around 4 ½ foot of water, I intended feeding meat here and had my limit of 6 tins. I had a feeling that the carp were wising up to ground bait in the margins so I planned on feeding some chopped worm and casters to see if that would work. I needed something to work; it was an extremely tough section with the likes of Des Shipp, Jon Arthur and venue expert Ian Giddens amongst the twelve.
At the start I fed my close pole swims and started on the 14.5m firing casters hoping the shells would attract the carp to my swim. There were a few cruising but it was windy, blowing into my face so the fish were hard to see which prevented me dobbing for them. After an hour I had two for about 8lb so that part of the plan worked but I really expected to have a few more. After two hours the carp were in my margin, there were carp tails everywhere but all I could catch on worm was small Perch. It amazes me how brave those little fish are! I broke one of my rules and continued fishing for fish that I could see; I just hoped I could work something out but I didn’t!
I ended up catching six or seven carp on the short pole and also lost a few foul hookers finishing with around 17 kilos for about halfway in the section. Ian was the winner with over 30 kilos and Des second with around 27 kilo. As predicted all the major money went to the anglers on the Specimen Lake. That said there were some brilliant weights on the match lake Steve Mayo taking something like 49 kilo from the Bur Bank.
Congratulations to Mark Griffiths was this year’s Maver pole champion finishing with nearly 56 kilo from peg 70 on the Specimen Lake Mark finishing in front of Neil Machin with 54 kilos and Callum Dicks with 52 kilos.
The Maver Match This Mega Final!
I stayed on for a practice on Monday and fished the shallow bank with Tom Scholey; we wanted to try a couple of things out, trying to find that little edge in case I drew that bank. There were a few other qualifiers on the lake and it was fishing harder than expected. Opposite was the strong trio of Lee Kerry, Andy Leathers and Warren Martin they were catching but not as well as I am sure they expected. On our bank it was a similar story, the fish were not playing ball. I wanted to try the method but having fished it for 40 minutes without a bite gave up on that and went on the straight lead and started catching a few. Tom stayed on the method but all he could catch was small skimmers, which proved the point to me that it was to be the straight lead. The day’s practice really helped and I felt I learnt a lot. From around 3pm the venue switched on and there were carp feeding everywhere. On the other bank the lads were now really catching well, seemingly catching carp to order from the margins. I packed up at around 6pm happy with the day’s practice and decided that was enough for me until Saturday.
Friday arrived and I was travelling back up the M5 to Stourport for a nights stay in the 4 star Manor Hotel, courtesy of Maver, the traffic was terrible and I am glad that Vivien was keeping me company. The night itself was really great; a nice meal with all the other finalists and their partners, we all had a laugh as our video profiles were shown after a first class meal. The camaraderie was really good to say we were competing for £50,000 the following day! Eventually it was time for the draw and I must admit to feeling a little nervous at this stage. My turn arrived and it was onto the stage to have a dip in the Maver bag of dreams, on this occasion a win could really make dreams come true. I came out of the bag clutching peg 21 which really didn’t mean a thing to me until Phil Briscoe announced it was permanent peg 59 on the Burr Bank. The pegging has changed recently and I soon found I was around 5 pegs away from the aerator rope, nearer the cafe rather than the island where I really hoped to have drawn, but at least I was on the favoured side of the lake! The rest of the night was a blur, I remembered Andy Kinder drawing permanent peg 51 which was the peg I was dreaming off and Des Ship and Grant Albutt drawing the grass bank, Lee Kerry drew a really fancied peg on the island. I also commiserated with young Andy Power after he had drawn what he considered a no hoper!
Surprisingly, I actually slept some of the night before the match; I was convinced the excitement would have kept me awake! Before long we were enjoying breakfast and soon Tom Scholey and I were on our way to nearby Larford. When we arrived the venue looked superb, a really big effort had been made with a tented village, grandstand and plenty of flags flying, it really looked the part and made you feel like you were taking part in something big, which we were. Tom walked around with some of my gear whilst I got everything else ready; he was soon back saying he really liked the look of the peg. I couldn’t wait to get there!
The Mega match
The wind was blowing down the lake left to right and to say the forecast was for hardly any, it was a surprise. To my right I had Mosella’s Chris Hill on the next peg and to my left I had Lee Richards with an empty peg between us. My left margin looked great with and nice overhanging bush, a tiny bit of gardening made it perfect, I hoped the fish liked it! My plan was simple; I didn’t want to confuse myself. I planned to fish the margins both left and right feeding from the start and building up the feed as the match progressed especially if I had some interest, the carp let you know when they are there. I had two rigs for the edge both 4 x 10 J15 floats one set at depth the other set so I could lay some line on the bottom. Line and hooks were on the strong side with a .20 Cralusso bottom one kit had black J Range Black lastix and the other had purple. My next line was at 5m directly in front of me, this was a meat line and I hoped to catch Carp, F1’s and Skimmers from here. It was a SPRO .6gram float with a .14 hook length and a size 14’s Milo T213 hook. I had two J13 floats for shallow work but these were just in case others were catching shallow and I had to follow suit. I had two method feeders made up and one straight lead with a 2’ .16 Cralusso hook length to a PR36 size 16 hook.
Bait wise I had plenty, and it consisted of a gallon of casters, six tins of meat, fishery pellets in 6mm and 8mm which had been glugged with Yorkshire baits Copy Cat flavour, this makes the pellets last much longer before breaking down, an added advantage is that they also seem to fly straighter when catapulted out at distance. Some corn, hemp and worms along with four kilos of Green Betaine groundbait completed the offerings on my dining table.
Plenty of time to study the form
I guess I was ready with over an hour to spare, time to go over the plan in my head and also to relax and have a chat with my son Alex and a few spectators. I think it was an old buddy of mine Mark Harrington, who mentioned there were a lot of carp moving around in front of Perry Stone who was fishing the runners up final on the Specimen Lake. Knowing Perry’s prowess with the pellet waggler and the fact that Alex told me his odds were 12/1, I asked him if he would put a tenner on him to win! Alex just got the bet on before their match started at 11am.
Before long Phil Briscoe started our match with a hooter and I immediately cupped some casters in the left margin and deposited half a cup of meat and hemp on my 5m line. I put an 8mm pellet on the straight lead rig and cast around 25m out firing half a dozen pellets in the vicinity. Around me most started on the pole and they had a quick fish or two. Adam Wakelin a few to my left was soon into a big fish on the pole and Mavers Stu Ballard was catching on the method a few to my right. I was desperate for my tip to move round and signal my first fish that would settle me down but it was around 15 minutes before the tip moved and that was a skimmer, not what I wanted! I was convinced that the F1’s or Carp would turn up so I stuck to the lead feeding the pole line by hand. Soon I had a nice F1 which really settled me down. Tom was telling me that the guys that started on the pole were now slowing down but Stu Ballard was catching well on the method. Decision time, I stuck with the plan.
Slower than normal
It was clear that the lake was not fishing as well as most had hoped, we could see quite a few anglers and hear the commentary from Phil Briscoe and David Hall. Eventually my tip went round a few times and I had around 3 or 4 F1 carp, I was really surprised when Tom told me the first hour was up. I had a look on the 5m pole and caught a nice sized skimmer but it was followed by slightly iffy bites and some small Skimmers, so I was back on the straight lead. I started catching but there was long waits between some bites, it seemed if I changed something I would get a bite, smaller pellet, different line all picked up a few fish. Around the 2 ½ hour mark I think I had around 8 F1’s but what’s more important felt I was still in with a chance, no one was running away with the match. There had been the odd vortex down the edge but nothing settled, similarly on the 5m line. Back on the lead I managed to find another 5 or so F1’s but I lost one when my main line inexplicably snapped!
With 90 minutes left I went back on the 5m pole and a bite this time saw a lot of J Range Green Lastix come out of the pole as I hooked a carp. It was around 4lb and was very welcome; this was the time when it all needed it all to come good. We could see and hear from the commentary that Andy Powers, Grant Albutt and Jamie Hughes were catching. Next drop in and I hooked a much better fish that just didn’t want to come in. It eventually surfaced and I saw a great big Common that was into double figures, it really fought hard and tried to get under my keepnets, unfortunately I pulled a little too hard and the hook length snapped! I was really annoyed with myself and pleased that Tom was quite calming, telling me to get another hook on as there was more to be caught. This time I put on a size 12 T213 to a .18 bottom changed to a bigger piece of meat and was out again. It was obvious that there were a few fish there. It was a shame but I foul hooked and lost three but I did managed to catch four more.
At 4pm the match commentary focussed on the runners up final it was great to hear the anglers weights called as they weighed. I must admit to giving Perry a cheer as soon as it was clear that he won, thanks mate that put a few pounds in my pocket, obviously not as many as the £5,000 you received but I wasn’t grumbling!
Even going into the last 30 minutes I felt I had a chance in the match, unfortunately the fish seemed to disappear. I had a couple of goes in the margin but there was nothing there. During the last two hours I had fed a lot of groundbait in the right margin but there were no signs. With the match now in the last few minutes I knew that the match was over for me. I could see Andy catching the odd one on the straight lead and actually saw Grant Albutt snap his pole as he hooked a fish in the margins next to some Lily pads! The hooter soon sounded and the scales men were about to change somebody’s life!
Andy Power was fourth to weigh and he took the lead with 39 kilos, Grant pushed him close and he was no doubt cursing the one that snapped his pole, he was left 2 kilo short with 37 kilo. Jamie Hughes weighed 34 kilos and it didn’t change as they moved around the lake. I managed to put around 26 kilo on the scales which consisted of 11 kilos of F1’s and 15 kilos of carp, if only those fish had fed for a little longer! Andy followed the scales watching everybody weigh, I cannot imagine what was going through his young mind! When Graham Dack the last angler in the final weighed Andy just leapt in the lake! Well done mate, what a brilliant performance and many congratulations on becoming the inaugural winner of the Maver Mega Match Final.
The presentation was a great tribute to the day, and one that I am sure Andy will remember forever, what with the constant applause, the Daily Mirror girls, the fireworks, oh and the small matter of a cheque for £50,000!
What a fantastic competition this has been, I honestly feel it has been one of the best matches I have ever fished, I have enjoyed the whole experience starting from the day I qualified, yes I obviously feel a little disappointed, but I have come away from the match thinking I had a chance of winning up until near the end, what’s more I think that there are several others that thought they also had a chance, and that to me makes it a great match, well done all at Maver and Phil Briscoe for being the driving force behind the Maver Match This Mega final, you have certainly raised the bar!
Many thanks to Wayne who is perhaps better known as ‘Wrong Lake’ from South West Baits who supplied me with brilliant casters and maggots. Tom Scholey and my son Alex, thanks for your help in practice and during the match it was very much appreciated, sorry there are no Caddie’s percentage payments!
That’s it from me for a couple of weeks it’s time for a family holiday without fishing rods! When I get back fishing will be moving into a great time of the year as autumn approaches which signals the start of the festivals at White Acres plus some other bigger than normal matches. Until then keep those strings tight!