These 2 festivals were a real mixture of results for me, spring had still to arrive in this part of Cornwall and everything was a least a month behind, the fish were still in winter mode, some pegs were full of fish and some pegs hardly had any for both weeks. Normally at Whiteacres the weather is warmer than anywhere else in the country, but not this year, it was warmer back home in Bristol.
My first day of the Dynamite started well when I drew peg 7 on Jennys, I caught 65lb of mainly roach, shallow on casters at 5m, for a lake win, a lovely days fishing, Jennys was to be the most consistent lake in the festivals and hardly a carp was caught, maybe because of the fact that only one bank of the lake was pegged and carp could be seen topping on the opposite bank, the pleasure anglers were catching them on the lodge bank.
The second day I drew Twin Oaks 33, not a peg I would have chosen, the wind was blowing down the other end of the lake, and that was where all the fish were. Top 3 in the section were the end 3 pegs, I caught 20lb of F1s and 30lb roach, caught at top 5 with casters, for fourth in the section.
Wednesday, I drew peg 82 on the far side of Porth, this lake has not been fishing well so far this year and lots of people have different opinion as to why it was so bad, cormorants, pike or whatever, but one thing is for sure the water is very cold for the time of the year. Hardly any fish had been caught on the pole all week, I set up my usual pole rigs but the wind was so strong I never picked them up, so it was an out and out feeder match for me, I caught 4lb of small skimmers and one 4lb bream to win the section with 8lb, most days the lake was being won with around 10lb.
Thursday it was off to Bolingey, peg 33, an arm of the lake I keep drawing, but the lake is rarely won from this section. The wind was still blowing a gale and any long pole fishing was out of the question on my peg, so it was a method approach and a pole down the edge, I love fishing a long pole on this arm and have caught a lot of fish on it in the past, but today it was out of the question, so I fished a method until the fish came down the edge. I caught 9 carp by wrapping a mixture of groundbait and pellets around the method and fishing a 6mm on the hook, I underarmed the method to the 16m line. I fed a mixture of ground bait and caster down my edge and kept having a quick look, but it wasn't until the last 45 mins that I got my first sign, I then caught 3 large carp to boost my weight to 70lb for a section win.
I was now lying 8th in the festival and a section win on the last day could put me in the top 5, I was very hopeful when I went into the draw for the Match lake, that was until I drew 23, this peg had no form all week and is in with the high bank pegs 15,16 and 17. These pegs usually win this section and quite often the lake. To cut a long story short, I couldn't catch a carp and finished up with 36lb of skimmers on a long pole for fourth in the section.
This meant I just scrapped into the top 20 and I never caught a carp all week, apart from Bolingey, well done to everyone who made the top 10 and those that caught some very impressive weights.
Saturday was the Match This Qualifier, pegged on Pollawyn, Trelawyne and Twin Oaks, everyone knew which peg was going to win this match and when James Dent drew it for the second time in 2 days, everyone else was fishing for second place, well done mate.
I drew peg 22 on Twin Oaks, the wind was blowing down the other end of the lake again, I started off well on the method cast tight to the far bank, but this didnt last long, after 45 minutes I couldn't get a bite and had to watch the angler on 23 catch all day, nobody to my right caught much at all. This pattern was to happen to quite a few anglers during the coming week, including my team mate Tommy Hillier, there is something fish seem to like about peg 23???? I didn't fish the second half of the match, there was nothing to fish for, so I went around to peg 16 and watched 4 or 5 anglers, Haullin. Im glad I did, as I have never drawn anywhere near peg 16 and I learnt a few things for my when time comes.
Sunday was a chance to catch up on the rig tying and I had a few hours on Jennys, catching some lovely roach and skimmers.
Monday, the first day of the Milo, and I was hoping for a good draw to start the week off, but unfortunately when I drew 31 Trelawney I feared the worst, all the carp were down the other end of the lake, with the wind, and had been for the previous week. This is one of the few pegs where you can reach with a 16m pole, so that is where I started, I caught a 5lb carp straight away and then nothing but roach, its very frustrating and tiring fishing meat at 16m when all you can catch is roach. I hoped that I might catch down the edge to my left as the match went on, but this didn't happen, the mid match I fished for roach, I caught about 20lb of them topped with 2 F1s in the last 15 minutes for just under 30lb, I managed to beat the 3 anglers to my left, then everyone else caught carp and 100lb won the section.
Tuesday I was off to Porth, I drew 22 in the Meadow, this peg is very deep on the pole line, the original river bed runs very close on these pegs, so it is not a very good pole peg, combined with the undertow and wind in the same direction I wasn,t expecting to catch much on the pole.
I started on the feeder and caught 4 small fish in the first 6 chucks, then couldn't get a bite, this has been the pattern for a lot of people at Porth recently. I quickly had a look on the pole line, couldn't get a bite so I picked up my waggler rod and started to spray casters as far as the wind would allow me, it didn't take long to get my first bite, a tiny roach all of half an ounce, in a short space of time I was getting a bite a chuck but they were so small I was missing loads, the wind was getting stronger and at times I was struggling to keep the casters tight, so I started to feed them in my Thatchers groundbait, this improved things a lot, I was able to feed more accurately, keep the fished grouped closer together and the real bonus was it attracted more tiny skimmers and fewer small roach, the skimmers were a lot easier to hit the bites, as the match went on I caught more and more tiny skimmers and the last half an hour was really good.
I fished the waggler about 6ft in 15ft of water and at one spell in the match, after about 4 hours, when the wind was too bad, I threw my feeder on top of my waggler line expecting to get a few bites from the bait that had dropped threw the fish, I couldn't get a bite, all the fish were in the top half of the water, I would really had struggled if I had fished a feeder for 5 hours like a lot of people did.
I weighed in 9lb 9oz, approx 120 small skimmers and roach, for a lake win, a result I was very happy with from this peg.
Porth, in my opinion, has a lot of moods, it is a big piece of water, easily effected by the wind and rain, it colours up very quickly after a heavy down pour or it can be clear for months on end, a lot of the bream feed at night when the water is clear, these bream also hang around the deeper water for most of the year, It has natural predators, cormorants and pike, and never sees an anglers bait for 6 months or more over the winter, and have to survive on natural food, which isn't always on the bottom, because of all these natural factors they are a lot less predictable than a small piece of water that is easily managed. Anyone who goes to Porth with any one method in mind will get it right sometimes, but will get it wrong a lot of the time.
Wednesday, it was off to Bolingey, the carp in Bolingey were still shoaled up in one small area of each arm, the same area was winning the section on most days, so when I drew peg 21 I was not happy, this area of the lake hadn't produced much in any of the spring festivals this year, Alan Scothorne was at the next peg 22 and there is always a bit of extra competition when hes at the next peg, Dorking v Barnsley etc, I started on the method cast tight to the island and caught 4 small carp in the first hour, then I could'nt get a bite until the last hour, when I caught another 3 small carp on the long pole. Alan was able to long line and reach the island from his peg and he caught a few small carp followed by a run of F1s, at the weigh in it was going to be tight. I weighed first 30lb 14oz, then Alan weighed, he had 31lb 8oz, when he realised he had beat me he gave out a roar like he had scored a goal at wembley, all in good fun, but his joy soon ended when he found out he was not in the same section as he, he only beat 1 in his section, where as I beat 4 in my section, I should have had a pound with him.
By now my festival was over, 2 halfway in the section, I couldn't make the top 10, so the remaining 2 days I would be trying to win the lake.
Thursday, I drew peg 23 on the match lake, again, no chance of a lake win here, hardly any carp have been caught of this peg all year, so I based my approach around the skimmers, Des caught 60lb of them on this peg on tuesday. High bank pegs 15.16 and 17 are in this section, and these pegs always win it and usually the lake. Alan Scothorne was on 15, so we were all fishing for second.
I started at 16m, as close to the island as I can get, caught a 5lb carp straight away, then just roach, the second time this week this has happened to me, then I quickly swapped to the skimmers line and caught steadily until the end, I weighed 68lb for second in the section, Alan won it with 75lb.
Last day I drew 18 on Jennys, by now Jennys was starting to produce some big weights of skimmers, there had been 3 weights between 99lb amd 107lb, all at top 4 with worms, awesome fishing, so when I drew peg 18 I was looking forward to a good day after the skimmers.
I started the match on the feeder cast to the island, couldn't get a bite, so I didn't need a lot of encouragement to pick up the short pole and I started to catch skimmers straight away, these skimmers weren't as easy to catch as I was expecting, missed bites and bumped fish was a sign that they had been hammered earlier in the week. I spent the rest of the match catching steadily, but getting frustrated at times with the missed bites and lost fish. I finished with 73lb of skimmers and second in the section, my section was won on peg 16, Ant King fished a good match to catch 91 F1s for 90lb, on the method, while I could not get a bite on it, 2 pegs away. Normally at this time of the year the F1s would not be shoaled up around the aerator and moving around the lake more, with everyone catching some, usually shallow on pellets, as in previous years.
The trouble I was getting on the last day with missed bites and bumped fish, made me think back to previous festivals on the last day, when I have experienced the same problem, I remember one match at Bolingey when after an hour I could get a bite a chuck but couldn't hook anything, I have also had the same problem with roach at Porth, Im sure it must be the effect of one or two weeks intense angling pressure, and probably a trip to the keep net or two, we never stop learning.
I had now fished 11 matches in two weeks at Whiteacres and only caught 2 carp, excluding Bolingey, but had some great weights of silvers, every year its a bit different, roll on the Autumn festivals, but before then I have a lot of bloodworm rigs to make before Serbia in June.