What a difference to last years Baitec Festival, last year we had 20 plus degrees and glorious sunshine, this was the complete opposite, frosts, easterly winds and torrential rain. This years event was a week earlier than the previous year, but with March being one of the coldest on record, everyone shivered and got wet, at least we didn't get the snow that some parts of the country got.
The first day of the festival we all woke to a sharp frost and an easterly wind, this was more like the middle of winter, than spring and the fish behaved accordingly. My first day was Bolingey, if anyone is going to get a big weight the first day, Bolingey is your best chance, especially as it has hardly been fished for 6 months. Out of the hat came peg 31, not the best arm to win the lake, at least I was on one of the wider pegs on the arm, this had to be good when the fish were still in winter mode.
I decided to fish meat and corn together, normally I just fish meat at Bolingey, but with the water so clear and cold, corn had to worth a try. My basic plan in these arms is to start long and try and catch shorter later in the day, it worked fine I caught 20 odd carp, mainly on corn, for 111lb 11oz and a section win and third on the lake. The carp were shoaled up in the widest area of the arm and didn't start spreading out until later in the day, I didn't want to be on the pegs to my left, they really struggled.
Second day, it was off to 'scratch' lake, or Pollawyn as it is known, peg 9, I was not happy, years ago this peg had a chance of winning the section, when there was a tree overhanging a long margin to my left, but the tree has gone and so have the fish. I struggled to catch 'silvers' and finished up with one very small carp amongst my net of skimmers, I never had a bite down the margin and could only catch very small roach when I fished for them, I weighed in 20lb for fourth in the section, Phil Ringer won the section with 75lb and the two end pegs beat me.
Along the high bank to my right, on peg 27, Pete Wilde was having a fantastic days fishing meat on a waggler, he weighed in 261lb, at one point the anglers around him were cheering because he wound in WITHOUT a fish on, well done Pete.
Wednesday was the best day of the week, still had a frost, but the wind was light and the sun came out, it almost felt like spring. Treewaters was my home for the day, peg 47, my last 4 trips to Treewaters I have drawn the same peg, thats a 1 in 104,976 chance, and each time I have finished second in the section, today was the same, I caught 46lb at 16m to the island, Steve Ringer won the the lake with 69lb off peg 41 and Phil Ringer was third with 41lb.
Thursday morning we all woke to one of the worst days weather I have ever had to fish in, gale force south easterlies with gusts up to 50mph and torrential rain, one of those days when you just want to stay in bed. But its all part of a festival and I drew peg 23 on Twin Oaks, a good peg with recent form, but today the wind was blowing up the other end of the lake, had it been a south westerly I would have been rubbing my hands. When I got to my peg the wind was horrendous, I couldn't hold anymore than 5 sections, and the rain was almost horizontal. I set up a meat feeder rod, for the far margin, a top five rig with meat and a top 5 caster rig down the edge. I had a very slow start to the day, not a bite on the feeder, yet anglers on the other end of the lake were catching steadily, I feared I would need to be at the other end of the lake to win this section, I kept feeding casters down the edge, and slowly I started to catch the odd F1, going into the fourth hour I had a really good spell and felt I was catching up, then the last hour everything slowed down again. I weighed 46lb for a section win, I can honesty say that this was the worst weather conditions I have ever fished in, at one point in the match my hands were so cold I could not put the bait on the hook, I had to sit on my hands for a while, until they warmed up, by the end of the day I couldnt stop shaking and even the trusty Goretex couldn't keep this weather out, some of the other anglers in my section looked 'ill' with the cold.
After this result, I had 2 wins, a second and a fourth, this put me fifth in the festival and I knew that with a win on my last day at Porth, I would finish in the top 3 and if results went my way, I could even win it. Porth has always been kind to me in the past, and I was really looking forward to it.
When I woke up on Friday, the weather hadn't changed, I really wasnt looking forward to another day fishing in those conditions, so into the draw bag I went and out came peg 83, I was really disappointed, Des had drawn this peg on Tuesday and struggled for a pound, when 14lb won the section, this peg had been bad all week, I don't think anyone had broke 2lb off it, yet the last time I drew it, in an autumn festival, I won the lake with 19lb.
When I arrived at the Porth car park the first thing that struck me was the amount of water that was running over the dam, see pictures above, the day before it was a trickle, and the water was chocolate. We really had a massive amount of rain in the previous 24 hours, the local news was full of reports about flooding, I knew this was going to be a struggle.
I started off fishing my usual Porth match on the feeder, and couldn't get a bite, I had 3 pole lines, which I tried at various times during the day, never had a bite, I tried a short feeder line and a long feeder line, never had a bite. About half way through the day I had a tiny bite on the feeder and caught a 2oz skimmer, that was my lot for the day, the angler to my left had one bite, a 3oz roach and the angler next to him had one bite a 4lb 5oz bream to win the section. This was the worst I have ever seen Porth, spoilt by the weather.
My 2oz was enough to beat 4 anglers in my section, which left me 19th overall in the festival, next years Baitec is back to the normal date when hopefully the weather will be better.
Mark Harper won the lake with 4 bream for 19lb 15oz, look at the mud!!
A sad note for me was the number of anglers who never fished on the last day, despite it being against the rules, approx 40 anglers never went to their pegs. In one section at Trelawney there was only 4 anglers, including one angler who was in with a chance of winning the festival, he only had to beat 3 anglers to get 9 points, not his fault, but it did spoil the festival for me, while others had a full section of 9 to fish against.
Role on the Dynamite Festival in 3 weeks time, its got to be warmer by then????