This month I attended the Daiwa Pole Fishing Masters, a three-day festival at Tunnel Barn Farm. The main reason for me fi shing this festival was a chance for me to sharpen up my F1- catching skills.
I am not lucky enough to live in a part of the country where there are any F1 venues. I was brought up fishing either for carp or on natural silver-fish venues, so this was a chance to fish against those who have dedicated themselves to this discipline.
Last year I was lucky enough to finish second behind the human F1 himself Andy Bennett, so this year I was looking to go one better!
Day one’s draw put me on House 12, which I was a little disappointed with. It’s a little deeper here than the rest of the pegs, with an island at an arm-breaking 20 metres away. My section ran from end Peg 1, where someone called Will Raison drew, round to Peg 14 to my right. Dale Shepherd on fancied Peg 6 between the islands was also going to be hard to beat.
I drew this lake last year and caught on maggots feeding out of my hand at six metres both shallow and on the deck, so I hoped this would work for me again. I also opted to fish meat in the margins in two feet of water and plumbed up to the island, but since it was still four feet deep tight over, I hoped I would not need to go there.
I started the match at four metres with pellets, often a good starting ploy at Tunnel. I potted in small thumbnails of micros each drop and had half-a-dozen quick F1s, but had to keep moving to a different spot after every couple of fish. The pellet line soon dried up, so I moved on to the maggot line. Initially it produced plenty of bites, but mainly from skimmers and small stockie F1s.
I could see Dale catching F1s regularly over to the island, so I knew I was behind him and felt I needed a bigger fish or two to catch up. I started to catapult meat over to the island, where I could possibly catch a bonus carp or two shallow. First drop-in over there I caught what I was after – a 5lb mirror along with another carp and a big F1. I decided to quit while I was ahead and concentrate on the maggot line – waving 19 metres of pole around isn’t fun!
The maggot line seemed to go from strength to strength, along with a better stamp of F1. My rigs comprised a simple 4×14 Chianti with a strung-out shotting pattern on the deck, and again a 4×10 Chianti for my shallow rig. Hooklengths were four inches of 0.10mm Reflo Power to a size 16 PR 490, matched to 10 Dura Hollo.
A late run in the margins with meat gave me a run of better F1s to fi nish with 103lb, ahead of Dale with 94lb and Will with 90lb. A great start.
High Pool Peg 42 was my home on day two. I wasn’t too disappointed with this draw as everyone in this section the day before had caught fish, although most of the weights were the other end of the section. The peg itself actually plumbed up terribly: you’re faced with an island 14 metres away, but the slope is virtually vertical without any shallow ledges to fish on.
The nearside slope is also much steeper than other pegs I’ve drawn on this lake, with seven feet down the middle, so tactically that kind of made my mind up for me – I needed to catch shallow. This time I chose to fish casters shallow: with this lake fishing quite well, I felt the extra noise from casters would help draw the fish.
The day’s weather forecast was for a wet one, although surprisingly Matt Pillay next door thought otherwise, sitting in shorts and applying his sun cream!
Like the day before I started on pellets short where I had a couple of quick fish, but it soon became hard to catch them with the slope too steep to keep the fish in one place, and the bottom of it too silty, causing missed bites. I was on to the shallow line a little earlier than I had hoped, but really it was the only option.
My shallow rig this time was again a 10 Dura Hollo, with an inline 4×10 Preston Pink float to help stop tangles, shotted with a bulk and one dropper, with a 4in hooklength of 0.11mm Power to a size 20 PR 36 with a band on a hair to fish a banded caster. Casters attached this way make a great, durable bait that you can catch multiple fish on without re-baiting, and also importantly leaving your hook exposed.
I caught consistently for the first few hours but it didn’t seem that a massive weight was on the cards. That was until the mother of all rainstorms came – it was by far the heaviest rain I have ever fished in and really seemed like the end of the world was upon us!
Throughout this storm the fish seemed to start topping everywhere. I decided to start feeding more aggressively, and really started bagging; unbelievable really when you consider how hard it was raining. In the last two hours the fish really switched on and I ended up with 120lb, which won my section by quite a margin, and also earned me fourth overall on the day.