On the final day there were five of us with two wins and a chance of winning; luckily I had a decent weight already if it came down to that.
I drew Peg 22 on Club, which I was a bit unsure about. It is apparently a good peg but the previous two days had seen 120lb weights come from the other end of the section, with my peg coming last. Furthermore I had the F1 bagger himself, Andy Bennett, two pegs down, who was also on two wins, along with venue expert Pete Rice between us. I knew if I could beat Andy I would probably win the festival.
I actually drew this lake on the last day last year, and caught most of my fish on casters on the bottom at six metres down the middle. Therefore I was hoping this would work again. I also had the island at 14 metres away, where I chose to fish pellets.
As before I started the match short with pellets, which produced a few quick fish. It was obviously fishing hard, with not much being caught. I stuck with pellets for the first hour but regularly started new lines at various distances to keep fish coming. I then tried across to the island with pellets but surprisingly had no bites.
Moving on to casters down the middle it was slow going but I was picking up the odd fish shallow, but no bites underneath on the deck yet. I decided I had nothing to lose with the island swim so started loose feeding casters to try and catch shallow there too.
By swapping between these two lines I could keep fish coming but struggled to catch more than two fish on the same line. To be honest, I hadn’t been taking a lot of notice of what Andy had caught but had a feeling it was close. Into the last hour the F1s thankfully starting to switch on; I started to catch regularly on the deck down the middle on casters for the remainder.
At the end I was happy about the way my match went and had a feeling I had more numbers of fi sh than Andy. I didn’t realise, though, that his fish were mainly carp whereas I had only caught F1s. I did, however, lose a fi sh right on the final whistle, which I prayed would not cost me…
I weighed in 85lb, agonisingly just 1lb short of Andy! Unbelievably, I found out that he also pulled out of a fish at the same time but managed to scoop it with his landing net! That did in fact cost me winning the festival, which Andy ended up winning, just 2oz in front of Des Shipp! I guess it was just meant to be!
I ended up sixth overall, a little disappointing but at least I came close. A big thanks to the fishery and team at DHP for running an awesome event.
After winning the first round at Lindholme, all I really wanted were half-decent points to keep me near the top of the leaderboard to keep my title hopes alive. The Glebe is a new venue for this year; I have only fished it a few times and with it being a club water there wasn’t really a chance to practise it. It is, however, an awesomely prolific place, with carp being the main target. I felt 100lb would be needed to win most sections and 200lb to win the match.
I was first into the draw bag and pulled out Peg 70 in the middle of Pool Four, a peg I actually drew in a Match This qualifier last year. Luckily I also drew this lake again earlier this year, so had an idea how to approach it, although on both occasions the pegs to my right in the wider part of the lake had produced most of the weights, with the end peg winning both times. To be honest I was a little disappointed but still aimed to finish top three in the section.
I decided not to start on the feeder to the far bank as most do, as it was a slow starter on my previous two visits. Instead I fished nine metres out with 8mm pellets. As the regulars also seem to fish corn short I felt that by fishing a little further out, and with the extra noise from the pellets it might draw fish into my peg to give me a good start before coming shorter or longer. To be honest it worked a treat, although the fish were a small stamp at around 3lb apiece. I had around eight in the first hour alone before they seemed to back away.
A few quick casts on the feeder only produced the odd fish, and with Luke Sears and Mike McMillan either side of me being more patient with the feeder for most of the match, I felt if I did so too we would cancel each other out.
I started a new line at 14 metres, again pinging pellets and had another run of fish here before they became difficult to catch. The problem was because it was too deep, at eight feet, and silty, it was causing me to foul hook the odd fish. It then became a case of switching tactics all the time but struggling to catch more than a couple of fish on any one method.
Everybody to my left seemed to also be struggling; however, when I looked right there was always someone with their elastic out! Out of desperation I started blasting casters on the long-pole line to try and catch shallow over it. It worked to an extent and seemed to be better than pellets, along with a bigger stamp of fish, but it still wasn’t quite enough. Time was running out so I looked to the margins, which I’d fed with corn. I had five late carp down there to end up with around 30 carp.
I weighed in 113lb, which beat everyone to my left, but unfortunately nearly everyone to my right had beaten me, in what turned out to be a really tight top five. I was gutted to end up fifth, but another 24lb could have won me the section. It’s hard to say in hindsight that I would have done a lot different, but I definitely think a section win was achievable.
I was unlucky to lose a couple of bigger fish towards the end, and perhaps if I had tried to force the margins sooner? One noticeable point was that nearly everyone that beat me also caught 20 to 40lb of big skimmers, while I hadn’t caught any. A lot of these skimmers were actually caught in the margins, so maybe I should have been more patient earlier on with that line and taken what came, or tried to find a way to target them.
Lesson learnt, next time I’ll be ready for them!