I was off to Shearsby Valley Lakes to take part in the first winter series match. The incentive of fishing these matches is that the top two finishers then qualify for the final in March with money being paid into the final pot throughout the eight matches.
Having not fished the venue in a few years it was nice to revisit the place. The surroundings and the upkeep and maintenance is top notch and it has always been a good place to go to have some friendly banter.
Having just about remembered how to get there I was straight in the café for a breakfast and a coffee. The match was on Willow which wasn’t a lake that I had fished before. With winter in full swing I had a look for info on the Internet prior to coming down and learned that a 100lb-plus bag had been taken a week before from the one of the pegs in the 20s. It sounded like the fish had shoaled up.
With the clock hitting 0900hrs it was time for the draw. In went my left hand and out came Peg 26, an end peg. “Come on,” I thought, “bound to be a few fish there!”
So out came the kit and a quick run from the car park to my peg found me sat on my box looking at the lake. With me having an end peg and a bank running to my right, the first port of call would be to set up a margin rig and find some depth down the edge where the fish might be hiding. After carefully plumbing up I managed to find a hole 11 metres down the side where the depth was a foot deeper.
Setup for this line was double No8 elastic set on a pulla bung. Line was the new Browning Hybrid Mono line, 0.12mm to a 6in 0.10mm hooklength and a B911 size 18 hook. Float choice was a Sackup Silverback 4x10. The plan was to feed very little and just drip feed a few 3mm dampened-down pellets and one or two pieces of corn, switching between corn and a 4mm expander as hook bait. If it got really hard then a double maggot.
My other line was at 11 metres, straight out to the front where I had found 4ft of water. This was at the bottom of a sloping ledge that came off an underwater bar running left to right then gradually sloping off flat. My setup for here was double No6 elastic set on a pulla with the same line and hooks as before. Float choice was a heavier 4x12 Sackup Silverback with a strung-out bulk. As with the margin swim, my feed would be 3mm dampened down pellet fed sparingly with a few pieces of corn.
These were the only two lines I set up for the match. With the all in being called it was off to work…
With no movement on the float for the first 15 minutes I sat and watched the angler to the left on me catch two or threefish in quick succession. To be honest it didn’t concern me as we had just started and there was a long way to go. I was fishing pellet on the hook but made a change over to double red maggot as the lad to the left was catching on that. After another 20 minutes the float shot under and carp number one was in the net after a nice little scrap!
The float went out again and then came a run of roach to about 1lb. With nobody really bagging on the lake and the lad to my left slowing right down I was happy with my progress so far.
Just on the two-hour mark the float shot under again and in came a 5lb carp. Now I was happy with the way my match was going. I knew it wasn't going to be full-on action and that every bite counted.
At this point I had started to take notice of one of the other lads a few pegs down who had now increased his pole length to 16 metres towards the island and was now starting to catch a steady run of carp to 5lb apiece. By the talk on the bank the fish were shoaled up by the island in the middle of the lake and a piece of corn was enough to tempt them into a bite.
My bites had started to slow down so into the left-hand edge I went. The float buried and a 2lb carp was in the net! The next hour saw me adjusting the depth of my margin rig and searching for any carp that might be sat tight to the bank further up the edge. This brought a few more carp but they were only about 1lb apiece.
By this time the lad fishing 16 metres of pole to the island was putting a steady bag of carp together and was clearly out in front, leading the match by a clear 20-30lb.
When the all out was called I knew I hadn’t won the match due to the lad a few pegs down putting at least 20 carp in his keepnet. I felt I may have done enough for second in the match, though, and put 22lb onto the scales – only to be beaten by a 27lb weight. The winner had 68lb, so I was going to have to settle for third overall. I was still happy with this due to the fact that it was the first time in a few years I had fished the place.
After talking to some of the other lads about how my peg just dried up I learnt that it was commonplace for my peg and it had done the same thing in the last two or three matches, catching steady for the first few hours only for it to die halfway through.
Well done to the winner with a fine bag of carp and a weight of 68lb. It’s always nice to draw on the fish but you’ve also got to have the angling skill to catch them and get them in the net. This is what the winner clearly did, adding a section to his pole and ringing the changes to get his rewards.
My next match sees me back down Shearsby trying to qualify for the final in March. I must be mad to go out in this weather!
Chris Glover is 29 years old from Nottingham and works for the British Army as a careers adviser. He is a member of Team Sackup, sponsored by Browning and the Angling Bait Club and writes a regular blog on his own website.