Last months Bait-tech festival will be remembered for the blazing sunshine and lots of fish, this festival will be remembered for rain, rain and more rain, and not forgeting the strong winds, but then its the same for everybody.
The first day of the festival, I woke on the monday morning with rain hammering on the lodge roof, another typical wet and windy cornish day, a quick look out the window and I noticed the wind had changed direction from the cold northerlies to a calmer south westerly.
My festival was going to start at bolingey peg 41, I love bolingey, if Ive had a real bad festival I can always look forward to fishing it and it rarely disappoints. The only drawback with this draw is that peg 38 is in the same section, 38 is the 'form' peg lately, on the last day of the dynamite baits festival this peg had won the lake by 45lb and the section by 90lb, so when I saw Andy Neale had drawn it I thought that maybe the best I could hope for was second, but you never know, Mike and Andy normally run water into the lake at the end of a festival and maybe the water entering the lake had moved the fish, we will have to wait and see.
My match went to plan, I caught a few fish short at the start, then my main attack was long on the bottom, but the last hour when I expected to catch at 5m, it just never happened and I had to spend most of the last hour watching Harry Billing on 29 catching at 5m and steadily catching me up, in fact he was playing a big carp when the 'all out' was shouted.
Harry was the first to weigh in my section, he had 92lb 9oz, John Gray on 36 had 84lb and Andy Neale on 38 had 69lb, when I weighed in I had 92lb 8oz, I was 'gutted', beaten by an ounce, but then things are always tight. After the initial disappointment was over I remembered back to 2 years ago when Harry and I tied on points for second overall. after 5 days fishing and over 500lb of fish each, I beat him by 5oz, so I mustn't complain.
Tuesday, Match lake. I drew peg 47, the same peg I drew in the Bait-tech festival 4 weeks ago, I caught 95lb that day, I was a little disappointed with the draw as peg 45 is in this section, if a good angler draws this peg everybody else is fishing for second, this peg is capable of winning the lake.
My match started as I had hoped, I fished meat across to the island and caught 2 quick carp, then I foul hooked one and that was the end of that line, last time I drew this peg the wind was blowing down the arm and I caught for longer, but with no wind the fish didn't hand around for long and moved out into the central area of the lake.
My next line of attack was to fish for skimmers in the deep water with groundbait and worm, I caught steadily along with some roach, I spent the last half an hour trying to catch some lumps down the edge and caught one about 4lb. I finished with 51lb 2oz, peg 45 caught 11 carp for 51lb 9oz and it was to be the second day in a row I had been 'ounced'.
Wednesday, and the weather forecast for the day was horrendous, overnight rain had filled a bucket left on the patio and the forecast for the day was only slightly better. My home for the day was Trelawney peg 29, an OK peg, very little history of winning the section, usually you need to be one end or the other, depending on the wind, and thats exactly how it fished, I beat the 2 anglers up wind of me and everybody down wind beat me, this was one of those days that the quicker you can forget about and 'move on' the better. So after 3 days things were shaping up to be an 'if only ' festival.
Thursday, I drew peg 7 on Acorn, a quick check on the weigh sheets from the day before and all the fish were caught at the other end of the lake. When I arrived at my peg, my spirits were lifted when I could see the odd sign of a fish moving around the island in front of me, there was no wind, so I could fish the 16m to the island without too much trouble. The match started I kinder potted some meat tight to the island and started to get some signs of fish straight away, I caught a couple of F1s and a small carp within 15 minutes before it became obvious there was a lot of small roach over there and a change of approach was called for, so I swapped to pinging 6mm's and fished a hard banded 6mm on the hook, this solved the roach problem and I caught F1s and small carp steadily for about 3 hours, all the time I was feeding meat at 5m. With 2 hours to go I switched to the 5m line and things got better, I started catching carp averaging 4lb and caught steadily until the end of the match. I finished with 120lb 6oz for a section and lake win, things were getting better.
Friday was Porth, one of my favorite venues in the country, I drew peg 84 on the far bank, given the choice the end peg 89 would be mine, over the years this peg has won the lake numerous times. My normal approach to porth is to fish for roach and skimmers and only sit and chance it for the bream as a last resort. This was the last day of the festival and a lot of anglers had nothing to loose by a sh*t or bust approach, I hoped I could catch enough to beat the few bream that may be caught. In the past I have caught a lot of these bream when pleasure fishing and I think I understand enough about them to realise that the chances of catching them in a match is very unreliable. Last year in the Maver festival I drew in the 70s and blew out when I spent all the match fishing for them and never caught any, up to that point I was still in the race for the festival.
So I fished my normal porth match, start on the feeder and then switch to the pole and catch later on. The start on the feeder was slow by normal porth standards and after an hour and a half I had only caught 6 skimmers, but nobody in sight was doing much better. Then I switched to 13m, in about 8-9ft of water and started to catch the odd skimmer on redworms, Ian Paulley always let me have enough for my festival season and they are the best redworms I've ever used.
The next 2 and a half hours I caught skimmers steadily and then with an hour to go I caught a bonus 3lb bream on the pole, apart from this fish most of my skimmers were just swingable, the last hour was slow and the bites finicky, after 2 weeks of festivals the Porth skimmers get very tricky to catch and missed bites are a common problem. I weighed in 19lb 2oz for a lake win, the end peg 89 weighed in 10lb 2oz for second on the lake.
I now had 2 section wins and 2 seconds dropping a 3 points, giving me 34 points. Normally this make the top 10, in the past I have made the top 3 with these points, but not this year, I was 11th in a very high scoring festival, well done to Darren Cox with an almost perfect score, and all the others who made the top 10. Ive now got to wait 6 months before the Maver Festival, lets hope it stops raining by then and the hose pipe ban has been lifted.
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