Wednesday, 6 April 2016

First match of the year...

Well, you have to smile!
Last year I entered four of the friendly matches, held at Beaver Fishery, starting with the June match. By that time, the weather had settled and the fish were up in the water. Now, in April (Wednesday 6th) my thinking was that the fish would be down on the bottom, so I was aiming to use the method feeder and out in open water. I set up my pole rigs with the bulk well down the rig to get the bait down in the water rapidly. A couple of lines for the feeder and a long and short pole line... That was the plan.

The day started off to plan, getting the van packed and on the road by 06:00. Running into traffic on the M25 was irritating but not the end of the world as I still got to the venue as the gate opened at 07:00. The draw had been posted and I drew what I would normally regard as a good peg.

Before the match - Happy with this peg
The weather at this point was fine. Dry and light cloud and not at all cold. I could park the van close to the peg and started to get set up. This year I have a totally different set up to last year as I now have a seat box and a pole to consider as well as my familiar feeder rods. You would think that the best part of two hours would be enough time set up, and you would be right. However for whatever reason, it was not enough time for me on Wednesday. I spent ages getting the seat box and all the accessories where they should be - or where I thought they should be! Fiddling about with the pole and rollers all took time. I was not sure what I was doing as I had never set up in a peg with a bank behind me and I was constantly having to go back to the van for bits and pieces I had left behind. By the time the all in was called I was still tackling up my feeder rod and I had not rigged/plumbed the pole top kits.

Throughout the match the weather was poor - to say the least
At this point the weather got darker and there was a chill in the air. However, clad in my Tellytubby outfit (curtsy of Aldi) and my favourite silly hat, I was perfectly warm. I finished off rigging my feeder rod and laid some bait down over three or four casts. Then I hooked a fish - Great! I was off to a start. Feeling confident I cast again, and again and nothing, not even a line-bite. I pre-baited the short pole line and continued to scare the fish away on the feeder line.

By now the weather was starting to reflect my mood...

I dumped a small cup of groundbait on the long line and fished maggot and corn over it. At this point the wind got up. My earlier enthusiasm for this peg was beginning to wane. The wind was gusting from left to right and by now if the light drizzling rain wasn't soaking everything, heavy downpours were making it almost impossible to see the float at times. Getting fed up with this and spending more time fighting the wind, I went back on the short pole line. I baited up and dropped the float in over the pre-baited area. The float settled quickly as it was supposed to (got that right then!) and then the tip dipped away. I struck and had a fish on. Nothing enormous but it was a fish, a small skimmer. I re-baited, cast and caught another one. Then nothing again.

Now everything is soaked. The pole will not slip through my hands yet everything else is as slippery as wet soap. I went back to the feeder for a bit, nothing there using my turf 'n' surf groundbait. I even tried the trusty Two Dog groundbait and that caught a couple of F1s and then dried up.

The wind dropped for a short while so I decided to have another go with the long pole. As I started to assemble the larger sections of the pole, there was a horrible gritty noise. I realised the end section of the short pole had picked up dirt from the bank. Now I had to stop and clean the joint and make a big mental note to order some pole bungs.

Lovely day by the afternoon - after the match!
I fished the rest of the match using the feeder when the wind was too much for me on the pole. I never really got anything going and ended up 12 out of 14. Not last but it was not my finest hour. The guy fishing next to me was a seasoned match angler and he only managed 19lb something. The winning weights were from the banks that were either into the wind or with the wind behind them. The rest of us were not having the best of days.  The weather was appalling for the duration of the match. Almost as soon as the match finished, the sun came out and it became calmer and dry - Typical! 

12/14... Could do better
Even though I only caught just under 11lb of mixed fish I did have an good day experience wise. Boy, did I learn a lot and now I have a shopping list. I need some bags, there is too much just sitting about in the back of the van, it all needs organising... and maybe a trolley... and some bungs... and....

I went home a shadow of my former self - at least I was not last!
But first, I will put this one down to experience and try and be a bit more flexible in my approach. Up to now, I have just winged it and fished the day as it came. On Wednesday I had a plan and stuck to it. Maybe somewhere between the two extremes would have been a better approach.