There are arguments for both cases, if you lose by a big margin you can claim you were never going to win but if you narrowly miss out you torture yourself asking what else could you have done to reduce that tiny margin. There are anglers out there though, the ones hungry for knowledge, who see every loss as a chance to learn, no matter how big the match and how close they are to winning.
One such angler is Matrix-backed Cameron Cross, a great young angler who’s improving at a rapid rate and this is all thanks to his mentality when it comes to losing.
I’ve always had quite a positive attitude to losing, I think most young anglers have - it’s probably because it’s so rare you win you get used to losing, that said if you learn something with every loss then eventually you improve. Just last week I fished the commercial national here at Lindholme for Matrix Trentman. We had a fantastic team performance and finished second behind Barnsley Blacks, by just a single point! I can tell you now that a result like that leaves you with mixed emotions, elation for getting a silver medal in a huge team match, but also a nagging disappointment that you didn’t win. Now the fact we didn’t win wasn’t my fault, in fact no one was to blame, but for the last few days I haven’t been able to shake the thought out of my head that maybe, just maybe I could have done more to get that all important point. In fact I needed just 80g to get another point, that kind of loss can eat away at you, so you either use it as another chance to learn or you sulk, and that’s why we’re here today, to sulk!
Actually we’ve come back to the very same peg I was on for the national, Laurels peg 8. In the national I weighed 5kg 780g which consisted of a small F1, some silvers and one big ghost carp. But having time to think about the match, and how hard it fished, I want to try approaching my peg in a different way to see if it makes a difference.
In the national I fished pellets at 13m, maggot at 5m and worm and caster in the margins. I had however caught very little in the margins and I had caught a better fish at 5m after beginning to introduce a few micros with my maggots.
My new plan is to stick with pellets at 13m, I didn’t catch on this line in the national, I think this was mainly because of the tight pegging, I felt I fished this line well so I just want to see if I catch on it today by fishing the same way just for peace of mind. As I had quite a few silvers at 5m and these obviously scored me valuable points, I don’t want to feed anything that’ll deter these, so I’m going to stick with maggots at 5m but I will keep introducing a few micros just to hopefully pull in a few additional bonus fish. My final line is the margins where I’ll just feed caster by hand, I fed worm and caster in the national and targeted this line towards bonus fish, on reflection if I’d simply fed casters by hand and scaled down my rig this could’ve been another line to produce silvers and maybe given me the extra 80g for another point.
Cameron’s 13m line was more productive in his second session than in the National.
On the subject of rigs I’ve kept most rigs the same, in fact they are the same rigs I used in the national, I always fish quite fine rigs so I don’t feel that I could’ve gained any advantage by fishing lighter, I always do this for matches I do think could be hard, if you start fine then you know if you’re not catching it’s nothing to do with your rigs and you know to concentrate on another area such as your feeding.
Today all of my rigs are made up on 0.12 Power Micron main line and all feature slim bodied 4 x14 floats. My maggot and edge caster rigs incorporate a size 18 Silver Barbless on a 0.10 hooklength and are fished at dead depth and shotted with strung shotting spaced out over the final 18 inches of the rig. The pellet rig is 0.12 main line to a 0.12 hooklength and a size 18 carp rigger hook with a small band so I can present a hard 4mm pellet just on the bottom. Elastic choice is Matrix 8 hollow for the natural baits and 10 hollow for the pellet rig.
Hook-bait choice was kept simple, with pellets…
… live red maggots…
… and casters.
As I’ll just be concentrating on those three swims I have kept my bait choice simple, I don’t like to bring too many variations as it can become too easy to start swapping and changing baits rather than concentrating on making what you have with you work. I’ve brought 2 pints of maggots, 2 pints of casters, around a mint of micros and a bag of 4mm although I don’t expect to feed even half of that bag.
I’m going to start long at 13m on my hard pellet line while I try to build up my other lines, on this far line I’m just going to introduce 4-5 pellets at a time to see what response I get, don’t forget I didn’t get a bite on this line in the national so I don’t want to put in masses of bait if the fish aren’t there.
I feed this line every 4-5 minutes and I keep lifting and dropping my rig to try to tempt a fish, it takes 20 minutes but eventually the float dips and I’m into my first fish, it’s a nice f1 and when I get another 10 minutes later it settles my mind that I’m fishing this swim correctly and the reason I didn’t catch on this line previously was simply due to the amount of anglers fishing in such a tight area.
I’m here to learn so it’d be pointless fishing 13m all day, I’m going to get straight on the short 5m line and see how it responds. It’s been primed for the last 35 minutes and first drop on here I’m rewarded with a small roach, it’s a good sign and I’m hoping for plenty of those with a few bonus fish mixed in. By introducing a small amount of micros every 5 minutes, in addition to the maggots that are going in every minute, I’m hoping a few f1’s and even proper carp will show on this line.
Thirty minutes pass on this line and I’ve had a few roach and then I hook my first decent fish, after a spirited fight it pops up and I manage to scoop it into the net, it’s a lovely ghost carp, not as big as the one in the national, but a bonus all the same. A few more roach follow before the magic starts, I bag three decent F1s in as many drops to give my catch a massive boost, they’re gone again as quick as they arrived but I’ve doubled my weight in just 15 minutes.
Over the next 2 hours this pattern continues, I catch odd silvers before one or two F1s will show completely without warning before disappearing again. I’m tempted to cut out the maggots and just fish micros on this line but I know if this was a team match adding silvers in the quiet periods is always the best policy.
Approaching the last hour I need to try the margin caster line, if my 5m line wasn’t producing I would’ve tried it sooner but it’ll be interesting to see how it fishes after being fed for most of the session. I don’t have to wait long to find out as first drop a small F1 takes a fancy to my double caster hook bait, a few roach follow before a big skimmer joins the party, a few more of those would be nice.
The F1s show again though and much like the 5m line I catch two before they’re gone again; they just don’t seem to want to settle anywhere today. After five quiet minutes I get a bite but this feels like a much better fish. Several metres of light hollow elastic are torn from my pole and it takes a couple of minutes to get the fish back towards me, my first thoughts were a foul hooked carp but the way this is sticking to the bottom I’ve got a feeling it’s a barbel. I pull as hard as I dare on 0.10 line and eventually the fish surrenders and a barbel around 2lb is slipped into the net.
I manage a few more fish on this line and a switch to 5m produces a few more roach and an F1 and I decide to end the session there. I’ve had a really enjoyable day and I feel like it’s been an important exercise. Admittedly conditions are different, there’s much less pressure on the lake so it’s obvious my catch will improve, but that’s not such a bad thing. The 13m line proved I was fishing it in a way that would catch fish, the fish just wouldn’t feed in the national at that length when both banks are pegged.
Cam could have done with this bonus barbel in the match.
I’ve caught a lot of fish at 5m, both silvers at F1s proving that I could’ve fed maggots and micros all match and it wouldn’t have affected my catch rate with silvers, but may have brought in an important additional F1. Finally I’ve caught really well in the margins, a variety of species and this I think is due to fishing much finer and feeding for those smaller species rather than committing to catching just bonus fish proving that sometimes getting bites is more important that catching big fish.
You may be wondering what was the point of this exercise, after all it won’t change the result and if anything it’s proven that maybe I could’ve caught more in the national, but to me I’ve learnt something and if I can take that into my next match, and then improve on it again, I know eventually this’ll make me a better angler.
This is what he could have had…
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