I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
Turbo-Carp and Fishing In A Goldfish Bowl!
My ‘long pole to the island week’ that I was looking forward to had a good start, but steadily declined as the week wore on, and by Sunday night I was tearing my hair out, or would have been if I had any! It all started well up at Barlborough on weds, the bad weather forecast had taken it’s toll on the attendance but there were still enough of us to have a decent match.
The decision was made to try to put anglers on the more sheltered pegs as big winds were predicted later in the day, and the good thing about the venue is the wood around the site, which give a degree of shelter from the elements. In fact, the new lake that is under development on the site of the old bluebell lake is surrounded by heavy woodland, and will be a bolthole for those days when the cold winter winds howl. Pete the owner has already got some good sized barbel lined up for the lake, so it will be something a bit different anall, watch this space for further developments.
I drew peg 21 on the wood side and fancied it for a few, it’s possibly the widest peg on the lake, but the trees would shelter me from a lot of the gusts, most of which were coming from behind me anyway. I made a great start, a carp after 5 minutes followed quickly by another 10 minutes later, all this after the first frost of the year had seen many scraping the car windscreens first thing. Half an hour in and with three carp in the net for around 9lb I was sitting pretty (well, not exactly ‘pretty’, but you know what I mean!) as I couldn’t see anyone else with a fish! I’ fed a bit of groundbait down the middle to target the skimmers later in the match, and as I was pondering whether to have an early look over it to rest the far side I hooked a carp as I was lifting my rig out for another drop. Obviously foul-hooked, it decided to go ballistic, charging off along the far shelf, with the swim erupting with bow waves as the resident carp took evasive action! I’d had a peg full of fish and that bloody daft thing had ballsed it all up for me!
Resting the far side would hopefully see them regroup, so I had a drop in down the middle. A small roach straight away wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but at least it was something to do while I waited for the far line to settle. Two or three bits later I re-fed the line and went back over. Indications on the float showed there were fish present, but they could have been small fish, so I tried my new secret weapon, my special F1 rig with the tiny hook and fine hooklength.
I’ve noticed that many of the anglers at Barlborough dismiss these tiny bites as silver fish, but I’m not 100% convinced of the fact, and on occasion I’ve had a couple of F1’s by striking at bites that on the face of it seem like tiny roach playing with the bait. I’ve started setting up a rig especially for these circumstances, and I’m sure it’s picked me extra fish up at times. It didn’t work today though, as it turned out the bites were actually from small silvers, hard work at 15 metres, and even more so as the odd carp was now starting to show to other anglers around the lake.
Another tiny indication saw me hit into a fish on the way up, another foul- hooked carp! This one decided to dive into the track, messing my skimmer line up, before shedding a scale, leaving me with a ‘silver dollar’ as a souvenir of the battle! My peg was a total mess now, so I started a new line down the track, same distance out as the first but with a couple more sections on and at 45 degrees to where I was fishing, hopefully this would be far enough away from any more disturbances caused by foul-hooked fish. It seemed the other anglers were experiencing the same problems, as through the winds you could regularly hear the ‘thwack-b*st*rd’ of fish making their escape! My new track line finally began to pay off, and all in all I probably had 4lb from this swim, skimmers and roach with the odd crucian thrown in, but was hoping for a late run again from across. It was something of a let-down though, as only an F1 and a barbel came from that far line over the last hour, and I finished the match cursing the early foul-hooked carp that did a demo job on the peg!
It’s quite a common scenario at this time of the year though if you think about it, as the fish move into their winter areas in numbers, and can’t decide whether to feed or not. 17lb 12 oz was winning when the scales arrived, and I felt I would be just short of that, but not too far behind. My 15.8 was one good fish shy, but was pushed into third by a lad three pegs along with 16lb 10oz, who was biteless until the last hour, when he’d landed ten carp from 22 peg, hooked as they turned up in his peg. Once again, only three of his fish were hooked properly, a sure sign of them settling in tightly for winter. I managed to hang onto the last frame place, despite Barnsley Blacks star Tim Hannon pushing me close from peg 36 on the island, but was left rueing the foul-hooked fish I lost.
Saturday saw me on Tim’s peg, 36 on the island. I’ve drawn it a few times now, with mixed results, but it was the place to be last winter and was dominating the matches. Recently it hadn’t been fishing anywhere near it’s potential, but I fancied it for a few today as we were definately getting into winter mode now! However, an hour in I only had a couple of small roach to show for my efforts, all my lines, both across and down the track, seemed dead. All along the wood side I could see elastics stretching, but again there were plenty twanging back as fish made their escape, most probably foul-hooked again. As if someone had flicked a switch, I had a run of bites over one of my track lines, resulting in a small crucian. Next drop a skimmer, then another two crucians and I was getting interested! It slowed after six or seven fish, but it was something to work on, so I re-fed and went across.
The elastic was ripped from the tip as I lowered the rig over one of my far lines, and a 3lb carp led me a merry dance round the peg, eventually ending up in the net hooked in the pectoral fin. From nowhere, the peg was alive with fish, and I was getting liners over all my lines, some of which I hadn’t even fed any bait over! A very frustrating afternoon followed, with odd looks over my track lines throwing up a few skimmers and crucians but the main bone of contention being my far swims, where on the final count I’d landed seven but lost six carp, only one of which was hooked in the lip! Once again, it seemed to be a common theme all around the lake, with no one having the answer.
There was a good spread of weights all round the lake though, which was a good sign, it can be a bit hard to get going in the depths of winter when you know the fish are all in one spot, as can happen on many venues. Early on in the match I’d resigned myself to be only fishing for the section, and that was looking dodgy as peg 32 placed 15lb on the scales. I fought my way through the mountain of carp scales that surrounded my gear and lifted my fish out; it was going to be close. 18lb 7oz saw me home and dry for the section win, and I was thankful for those ‘crucial crucians’, that would have made up 4lb or so of my total. 44lb won from the wood side, with 33lb second, both anglers suffering heavy losses, as many fish were foul-hooked again.
I was really looking forward to the match on Sunday, at Alex Mitchell’s new Lantra Lake at Aston Park Fishery. I’d been for a walk on there midweek to watch my mate Dale, and he’d pretty much had a fish a chuck. I commented to him that I didn’t fancy a couple of the pegs, and promptly drew one of them on the day! To make matters worse, everyone had a spare peg to either side except me and the organiser who was next door, on the other peg I’d not wanted to draw! And then to cap it all off, my mate Ian was on the other side of him! No one could ever accuse him of fiddling the draw I suppose!
Trouble with the pegs was twofold, neither of us could reach the island, and we were ‘sword fencing’ with our poles wit six section in front of us each, as we were sitting at right angles to each other. This ‘limited our options’ a little, shall we say, and I spent the next six hours moaning to myself under my breath! I don’t like to get on a match organisers back, I’ve done the job myself and it’s a thankless task trying to keep everyone happy, but as a case in point today a bit more thought as to where to place pegs wouldn’t have gone amiss. My match consisted of a day scratching around along the margins for odd bites from tiny carp and even tinier ‘sheriffs badges’, really tiny crucians that were a bugger to hit, but kept me entertained in the freezing cold wind that was blowing up to our end of the lake, just to make things even harder! My 4lb total wasn’t even close to a section win, let alone the frame, which saw Frank Perryman weigh 15lb 4oz to just pip my mate Dale Clark with 15.2.
Dale was cursing the loss of a small carp that dropped off as he swung it in, the only one he’d tried it with all day, but the practise had certainly paid off for him, and like I said afterwards, everyone loses fish when they’re getting a few, and it’s a case of learning from the mistakes you make and putting it right next time. The fish certainly seemed to be at the other end of the lake, all the weights came from there away from the cold water that seemed to have piled up at our end, and the maze of rigs dangling every six inches in the lake!
Proper mixed bag next week, Lindholme Bonsai weds, Grange farm sat then I’m off for another crack at those millions of small F1’s at Barnburgh on Sunday. Tight lines till next week.