I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
White Acres Angling Festival
With more and more northern anglers making the pilgrimage to Southern bagging Mecca White Acres, Fishing4Fun editor Tom Scholey decided to join them on the recent Maver and Preston festivals. With competition including the likes of Alan and Sandra Scotthorne, Tommy Pickering, Darren Cox, Andy Geldart, and Dean Smith, things were never going to be easy…
As I discovered in March, competing against top anglers on an unfamiliar water makes winning anything very difficult. A lot of people question the point in going, but the amount you learn is phenomenal. Both by fishing with such quality anglers and quizzing them in the bar after the match, you pick up no end of new ideas and tips.
Even though I was realistic about my chances, I still went into the first week confident, and did my best to prepare properly. The first day saw me on what is probably the most prolific of all the waters used in the festivals, Bolingey Lake.
I drew peg 29, and when I asked around most anglers suggested it was at the wrong end of what can be a reasonable section, though not normally a brilliant one. I fished pellet and worm long and meat short, and going into the last hour I was worried, as I only had three small carp in the net, while everyone else seemed to be catching well. Luckily, my meat line really switched on late in the match, and I ended up with nine carp for 48lb. Dave Hillier won the section with 60lb, and I ended up 4th. I was a bit gutted as, if I had gone on the meat line earlier, I feel sure that I could have done enough to win the section, and given myself a good start.
The second day saw us on White Acres Match Lake, Pollawyn and I drew what almost everyone seemed to describe as the worst peg on the lake- peg two. It lived up to its reputation, and going into the final stages of the match, I only had a few small roach and skimmers in the net. A late 8lb carp from my meat line did little to boost my position in the section and I weighed 10-12-0 which left me sixth out of nine.
So after an indifferent first couple of matches, which left me unable to win the festival, I decided to try and fish for a lake win, while taking careful note of how the section winners fished to give me some idea for the following week’s event. Next day I was fortunate enough to draw 18 on Trelawney, an end peg and one of the few where you can reach the island with the pole.
Clint Elliott and Stewart Lister advised me to fish long up to the island feeding very little, and then fish a corn line at five metres. I was into fish straight away on the long line taking four in the first hour, including one which was pushing double figures. Things slowed up after this, but I was still taking the odd fish while trickling bait in on my corn line. With two hours to go I came off the island line and went on my shorter line. I took five fish in fairly rapid succession, though it has to be said they were a smaller stamp than I was catching on my long pole line. Things went quiet after this, and it was just a matter of switching between my two lines to try and keep fish going into the net for the remainder of the match.
I weighed 75-13-0 which was just enough to sneak the lake win, as I was run close by Dave Hillier’s 75-8-0 net. The beauty of going in the super pool down at White Acres is that when you win you tend to win big, so I scooped a handy £240 for my trouble. As an additional bonus, White Acres offer all anglers who win on a Wednesday a free week’s holiday and entry into the All Winner Festival the following year – an extra bonus!
As is often the case in this sometimes cruel sport, it was back down to earth with a bang the following day however, as Andy Powers gave me something of a battering of the next peg on Gwinear. I was on peg 52, while Andy was on 53, and he emptied it in the last couple of hours to end up with over 60lb compared to my 39-12-0, and again I recorded poor section points.
The final day saw me on Porth Reservoir, where weights of bream had been showing all week, with feeder proving the most consistent method. With this in mind, I left my pole in the caravan and decided on an out and out feeder attack. I caught well all match to end up with 8-10-0 for fourth in section, a reasonable result on what I have to admit is not my strongest method.
From Bad To Worse!
My overall result in the Maver Festival left me 71st, which I was a little disappointing as in March I had managed 56th place in my debut event, so I seemed to be going from bad to worse!
After a weekend of fun and frolics in Newquay, the first day of the Preston festival saw me back at Porth in what looked to be a really tough section. I had Ben Leach, Ian Didcote, Neil McKinnon and Tommy Pickering to beat to name but a few! To make matters worse, I was sandwiched between Tommy and Neil, so I really had my work cut out! I started on the feeder, and caught fairly steadily, Neil was catching quickly on the pole, but his fish seemed smaller, and Tommy didn’t seem to be doing too well in the early part of the match. After around an hour I latched into a better skimmer of around 2lb which I thought put me well in front.
In the second and third hours, my bites seemed to slow down however, while Neil caught steadily, and Tommy had a really good run, catching really quickly on the feeder. Despite catching late on the pole, I don’t think I ever really caught up with them after this, although at the time I thought I was closer to them than I actually was. Tommy weighed 14-11-0, Neil 13-8-0, while my net went 10-11-0. Unfortunately, this was essentially no good to any of us as at the other end of the section they had bagged up shallow on the waggler, Ian won the section with over 17lb.
On day two I headed off to Bolingey, and drew what was described to me as “the best peg in Cornwall”- Peg 20. The only problem with drawing good pegs at White Acres is that you are always in a section with all the other good pegs, so doing well is often very hard, as a big weight is required. A look on the board at the previous day’s result showed that just 47lb had come off it, though I was aware that it had won the lake a couple of times in the previous week.
With venue experts Gary Skerritt and Tony Wynnick in my section, I knew I would be up against it however, and with Marc Jones pegged to my right, but not in my section I felt sure there would be a lot of competition for fish!
I started the match on the bomb taking a few early fish, though the stamp seemed small. I had a go on the long pole which at 17.5 metres put me just off the island. I didn’t get as many bites on this as I did on the bomb, so I went back on the lead. I had been feeding a short line with corn all day, and as the end of the match approached I thought it time to give this line a try, as often bigger fish move on it late on in the day. I caught well for the first 40 minutes of the last hour, until I made the fatal mistake of putting another net in – I never had another bite for the last 20 minutes!
I weighed 87lb which was good enough for third in section. Tony Wynnick, to my right weighed in 153lb, but was just pipped by Gary Skerritt who weighed in a few ounces more to take the lake win. Luckily, with these two framing weights above me, I managed to scrape the section win by default. All in all, I wasn’t happy with my performance however, as I felt that the peg was worth a lot more.
Hardly A High Point!
Day three saw my section on the Match Lake, and I was pleased to draw what again seemed a reasonable area. Peg 25 is on the famous high bank, and Adam Rooney had come third off it the day before with 105lb. Unfortunately, third in the match for Adam also meant third in the section, as the two pegs to his right had fished a lot better.
After taking advice from several anglers, I decided to base my attack around a meat feeder approach in the early part of the match and the pole lines long and short later on. I had also been told that bomb and pellet fished two thirds of the way across the lake can work well, so I kept flicking a few pellets there for the occasional look.
The early part of the match saw me take three fish in three chucks on the meat feeder, and with one of them being a good double figure fish I was happy with the way things had started. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to be getting any better as the match went on, in fact the opposite was true, and it seemed I was not the only angler struggling for bites, as those around me weren’t catching either. Further down the section, I was told peg 28 was fishing well, with Vince Brown catching on bomb and pellet fished to the aereator. I had a few late fish on the pole, but to be honest I encountered difficulty landing them, despite using quite a heavy 15 elastic. The deep water combined with the fairly large average stamp of fish meant I was often having to land fish on a top four or five. I will definitely be investing in some pull bungs for next year!
In the last half hour, things went from bad to worse for me, as first my number six section then my number five snapped on the strike, no doubt finally giving way to some damage inflicted at an earlier time. I was gutted after this, and to be honest my head went for the remainder of the match, 46lb 5oz put me second to last in section.
Day four saw me draw peg 27 on Twin Oaks, around half way around the lake, on a week when most of the time the sections had been won from the end pegs. Steve Cooke was one man lucky enough to be on such a peg, and made no mistake in winning the lake with 119-6-0. The rest of the lake fished quite hard, Ben Leach had the next best weight with 56-4-0, my 23-2-0 leaving me sixth in section.
The final day of my holiday saw me on Gwinear, and the people that had described my earlier draw on Bolingey as the best peg in Cornwall now told me I was sat on the worst. What I saw as the only disadvantage of being on a good peg, i.e. having to beat a lot of other good pegs, obviously works both ways however, and being on a bad peg puts you in a section with a lot of other pegs that aren’t so great.
For this reason I decided to fish for silver fish with chopped worm and caster over groundbait for the majority of the match, but still have a look for the carp on the long pole to start, and down the edge late on. An early look for carp produced no response, so I plugged away for the roach and skimmers, which proved quite hard work. After around an hour of catching these, a bonus carp moved over the line which I managed to land, a good fish of around 8lb. With this in the net I felt confident I was doing well in the section and carried on fishing for the silvers, hoping for another bonus fish. A look down the edge late on in the match produced no bites, though Ben Leach opposite me managed a late lump around a similar size to mine which I felt sure would push him in front of me.
So it proved at the weigh in, his 23-4-0 net taking the section win, with me ending up third with 16-2-0. I was a little disappointed, as in the overall standing that left me 116th, my worst result so far. Definitely going backwards!
However, I am confident of doing better when I get more familiar with the water and I was, after all coming back £270 richer with a free holiday for next year so I can’t wait to get back down in the Spring to see if I can improve! All that remains is to say a big thank you to all the fisheries team for organising such a fantastic festival, and a well done to festival winners Timmy Rowe and Steve Ringer, as well as to the 2007 Parkdean Masters Champion, Des Shipp.