Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Another match, that makes four!

Setting up in the mist of a Sunday morning
On Sunday last, a group of MaggotDrowning.com forum members got together and met up for the annual MD's Southern Championship 2015. This year I was lucky enough to be invited to take part. Having never fished the venue before, I was a little nervous. This would also be only my forth match with all the previous matches being held at my regular haunt, Beaver fishery. The guys assured me that it was a fun day out and I would enjoy it. Reassured,  I put my name down and, at the crack of dawn on Sunday, headed off in the direction of Tricklebrook fishery.

With the best laid plans in place I still didn't manage to get to bed until well after midnight on Saturday. In fact It must have been after one as the alarm on my not-so-smart phone was telling me it would be going off in less than four hours... Groan.

My latest accessory
Bright as a button and full of the joys of spring (even though it is almost Autumn) I leapt out of bed and attempted to silence the incessant warbling of the alarm, only to accidentally set the thing to 'snooze'. After creeping around for ten minutes keeping a quiet as I could, in fear of waking the other half, the alarm started its unwelcome chorus and did the job for me...

To be fair, I am very lucky, Sue supports me in my fishing exploits, even if she is not that interested in sitting on the bank and having a go, she will sit and watch the odd video and I have even found her reading fishing magazines! She just rolled over and said "Have a nice day, don't forget your rolls and flask." Packing the van was done in the dark and my latest 'accessory' was loaded ready for use at the other end. All packed and on the road by 06:00AM.

The journey was interesting, to say the least. Having never been to Tricklebrook before It was down to Jane to navigate, I tell you, the woman can be really irritating whether her mater of fact directions. Thick fog patches made visibility in places almost zero. It cleared somewhat once we got down into the depths of Kent.  Jane? Sorry, she is the voice of the Sat Nav...

The fishery is clearly Signed and there is a small but adequate car park. The rules state that no cars are to be driven to the swims so it was a case of transporting all the gear to the peg.

I got there before seven o'clock to realise I was the first one of the team to arrive. The car park is at a lower level than the lakes with the match lake held by a shallow dam and a higher dam holding the specimen lake a few meters higher. None of this elevation is evident from the aerial photograph. I took the opportunity to walk around the lake, not that I could see much as by now the mist had got thicker. I made it around the match lake, had a peek at the specimen lake and reccied the location of the little boys room!

Back at the van I started to tackle up and load up the sack barrow ready to drag it up the slope to my peg. By this time a lot of the competitors had arrived and Mick (the guy who organised it) was about to start the draw. Peg 11. Hmmm... I had no idea if that is good or bad. All I wanted to do was not to be bottom of the list when it came to the weigh-in. Mick was keen to let us know that his granddaughter, Rosie was a bit of a wizard on the pole chasing those silvers.

The view from my drawn peg
Peg 11 turned out to be opposite the gap between the islands, in line with the end of the furthest. That'll do me. Mind you, I would of said that no matter what number I drew as I had no idea what was in the lake, let alone where they dined out. The fog was lifting slowly - very slowly.

At 10 o'clock Mick called the all-in and we were off. There were three pools, carp, silvers and total weight. I entered all three, just to just to add to the pool as I was not going to fish for silvers. In retrospect that was a mistake, but it is all about the learning for me. I had decided that I would stick to the method and it was good to try out my Two Dog groundbait at a different venue. Hook bait was bacon grill and corn. The sun on the grill toughens it up by lightly cooking it. The smell is making the mouth water but I resisted eating my own bait, you never know if I start that I could end up hooking myself!

Mmmm... Bacon!
Five minutes in and it is fish on. Bang, and the rod is bent over the drag is screaming and I realised it needed tightening. These fish are fighting harder than I was used to. I was using my new 9ft picker and thinking I might have made a mistake. Once I got over the shock I managed to land the fish and I was on my way. Over the next hour or so, I missed a couple and landed another. Then it went quiet.

As the day went on, the sun burnt off the mist and it was shirt-sleeve weather
It is here where, if I had gone over to the silvers, I might have made a greater weight. Instead I chose to stick with the feeder targeting the feisty carp. Looking around there were a lot of poles being used and Mike in the peg next to me was pulling out fish after fish on his. Bucking the trend was Richard on the opposite bank. using rod and line, he was pulling them out at an alarming rate.

After a a long quiet period the rod  was bent double again and this time I thought I had caught something huge. The line went taunt and the rod bent alarmingly. I had not experienced anything like this before. I gave the fish some line and then played the fish until I could get it ready to land. By this time I could see the fish and it was not that big, just another carp about the same size as the others in my net. This was a mirror as opposed to the commons I had caught during the morning. I had no idea how much more feisty these fish can be. I continued to fish for the rest of the day until the all out was called at 3:30PM.

At the weigh in I was second to be weighed. I had a bag of carp that weighed 15lb 6oz and gave me fifth overall and third in the carp pool. Full results can be found HERE. Although I was happy with that, far better than I had expected, I now know I should have alternated between targeting the carp and having a go at the silvers when it went quiet.

My bag of carp
Towards the end of the match, Mick in the peg next to me offered some helpful advice regarding my casting. I was applying far too much force to the cast causing the feeder to bounce back as the line hit the clip. I eased off a bit and the results were much improved. It is all about listening to others and trying to follow the advice. After the match, Mick was kind enough to spend a bit of time explaining where I was getting it wrong and how I could improve my technique. I am most grateful and will keep trying as practise makes perfect. I just wonder if I have enough years left to become perfect!

A well deserved victory
A great day was had by all and my willing helper scooped the trophy and celebrated in the time honoured way! It was really good to meet so many of the forum members and now I can't weight for the next one!

I am off to Beaver later in the week so I will put my new-found knowledge to the test in a nice day-long pleasure session in readiness for the last match of the season there in a couple of weeks time.