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National Glory

Kayleigh Smith explains how she won the 2014 Ladies National.
This year the Angling Trust Ladies National took place at Preston Innovation Boldings, and a total of 43 ladies fished over three lakes. I drew Peg 5 on Willows, and I had no idea what to expect or even where the lake was!

When I finally arrived at my peg, it seemed that a thunder storm had brought the fish shallow as they were topping all over.
My main plan of attack was to catch the fish shallow early on in the day, then maybe catch a few better ones later on down the edge. I also put a short line in at five metres, where I found about five feet of water. This was intended as a back-up line where I was going to flick casters in, just incase I was struggling.

With this in mind, I strung the shot out as I thought that loose feeding castors would cause fish to come off the bottom, so I would need to catch them on the drop. I also set up a feeder and a waggler just in case, but hoped not to need them.

At the start of the match, I fed half a pot of casters on my short line and started flicking 4mm pellets at about 14.5 metres. I decided to start short and see if I could pick any early fish up while feeding my shallow line. First drop in short I had an indication before the float dipped and I had a carp about 3lb. When I hit the bite, I threw a pinch of casters at the pole tip.

Next drop, I had a barbel then a tench. I was catching steadily but after a while I started having a few problems foul hooking fish. I decided to change the shotting pattern to a bulk and two droppers instead of the strung out rig and this seemed to solve the foul hooking problem.

The line died down after a couple of hours unfortunately, so I decided to pick my shallow rig up that I had being feeding from the start. I got a few fish straightaway which seemed to be better stamp F1s, but then it was back to catching nothing. I picked the waggler up and caught a few more F1s but these were a smaller stamp to the ones on the pole. All the time I was still feeding my casters short.

I had heard that Sam Sims had about 45lb in the first few hours, and I knew i would have about that as well, but it would be close. Gemma Matthews was opposite me and she had two fish that looked double figures. I was starting to worry, thinking that if people start catching big fish then they will soon catch up.

I fed my edge line just in case I needed it, but I thought while ever I can keep putting fish in the net my weight is building. During the last hour the fish were queuing up again on the short caster line, and I knew I was going to get a bite every drop, my only problem was I was running out of casters fast! I had only brought two pints with me, so in the last 15 minutes I kept alternating between feeding casters and pellets, as I needed to loose feed after every fish in order to get a bite. All out was called and I was excited but nervous at the same time. All I wanted was to qualify for the ladies Fish 'O' Mania next year, so I needed a top-six finish.

I had heard that Sam had struggled in the last hour but knew there could be people that had caught big fish late on. The scales started on the next peg to me so I walked round and watched the weigh in, the best on my lake up to me was Gemma Matthews with 21kg. I was told that Sam would also have about that. When we got round to my peg I was told that Sam had 24k., I weighed my first net of fish in and it went 22kg, then my second went just over 21kg, giving me a total of 43.550kg. I was quite shocked I had that much, the barbel I caught weighed a lot heavier than I thought!

When I got to meet up with everyone it became apparent that most had struggled, with the average weight been between 7-12kg. I was fishing for Suffolk County in a team with Charlotte Gore, Nula Gray and Leanne Knott. The team position goes on overall team weight, and the main team to beat is Sonu Bait Passies team, that consists of Emma Pickering, Sam Sims, Sam Perkins and Abbi Kendal.

All the individual results were gathered, and in fourth place was Abbi Kendall with 18kg, in 3rd was Gemma with 21.5kg then Sam Sims was 2nd with 24kg. I won the ladies national with a total of 43.5kg.

I knew from these results as well as talking to team mates that it would be very close to see who had won team gold. In third place was Warrington AA (Linda Cooke, Emma Drysdale, Pat Geary, Linda Locker). with a total of 52kg then in 2nd was Sonu Bait Passies (Abbi Kendall, Sam Perkins, Emma Pickering and Samantha Sim) with a total of 65.5kg. This meant that we had just managed to beat them to top spot with 67kg – it just goes to show every fish counts! My day couldn't have gone any better and it is a memory that will live with me forever!

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