The Sunday open at Bake Lakes was on Dunes, I was looking forward to the day as the lake has [&hellip
Fishing Your First Match
Taking the step up from pleasure angler to match angler is regarded by many as a daunting move. After all, you are going from a pastime when the result is almost secondary to the day out, to a pastime where the result counts for everything.
From a tactical point of view, the gulf between the two occupations are not as great as you may think however. The chances are, that if you are considering stepping up to fishing matches then you are quite a pro active angler anyway, who is concerned about the effectiveness of what he does, and it is this quality that makes a good match angler.
Realistically, you should expect a teething period before you win any money, and a golden rule, difficult as it is to stick to, is try not to get frustrated by poor results. Instead, be objective, think what you could or should have done better and build from there. It may be that you have just been unlucky at the drawbag, it is not uncommon for world champions to go months without winning a bean, sometimes there is nothing you can do as an angler to turn a bad peg into one which will win money. At the end of the day, all you can do as a match angler is catch the fish in your area of the lake.
Many top anglers believe that you should go to a peg at the beginning of the match with this in mind, and make an assessment of a target weight before you begin to even tackle up.
It is pointless, for example catching 100 roach for 10lb of you are on a carp lake where 100lb is needed to win. There is often more to winning a match than simply catching more fish than everyone else.
A good starting point when deciding what to fish for is looking at recent match results for a venue. From here, you should be able to decide on what weight you will need to compete, and then you can go about deciding the best ways to catch that weight.
When pleasure fishing, this decision is of course made relatively simple, you see an island you chuck to it, if the tip goes around all the better. There is no time constraint put on you, and if you’re plan doesn’t work it doesn’t matter.
In matches of course, the emphasis has to be on giving yourself options. Obviously, to a large extent the peg will dictate what you are going to do, in terms of the features it has got in it, but as long as you always try to give yourself somewhere to go, you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Try to have two or three lines all at different parts of your swim. For point of example, say you have a feeder line, a long pole line and a short pole / margin line. This way there is plenty of room between all your lines, and you are not in danger of splitting your fish. An added bonus, is that any short line can be fed by hand, saving you valuable time throughout the match.
It is of course important to consider the practicality of what you are doing when feeding these lines, and not get too carried away. Feeding too many lines can be as damaging as not feeding enough, as fish can fill up on a line your not fishing, and then move on without you having chance to catch them!
A much cited fable in match fishing with regards to feeding is “you can put it in but you can’t take it out” (no euphemism intended) and it pays to bear this in mind when feeding lines. To summarize, always give yourself options by plumbing up several lines, but don’t undo those options by feeding too much early in the match and ruining your peg.
Perhaps the most important part of match fishing cannot be summarized in an article, it is the watercraft and ability to read what is going on in your peg on the day. Never be afraid to start a new line or try something different if your not catching, and try to always be thinking of what you could do to improve your catch rate if you are.
A final piece of advice to a new match angler would be to keep an eye on the clock at all times, and bear in mind the amount of time you have left in relation to what you have in the net. Say for example, you think 50lb will be needed to win the match on the day, and with an hour to go you have 20lb in the net, it is fair to assume you will need a big weight in the last hour to compete.
This would be the time therefore to exclude all other options and fish for big fish on. After all, working the lines you have been fishing on the day and catching another 10lb probably isn’t going to do you much good. Instead, make a tactical decision, rule everything else out and sit for a lump. If the float goes under three times, you could win the match, even if the early part of the day has been a real struggle for you. Try to think about things logically, and always give yourself the best possible chance of achieving the weight you are aiming for.