At the end of my previous blog I wrote about how much I enjoyed my first main WhiteAcres festival and couldn't wait to get back…a week later and I was! The annual Milo festival was to commence on the 9th of May and just 2 days before I decided to book onto the match and secure one of the last remaining places!
It was a proper bottle job but thankfully close friend, Paul Holland managed to arrange last minute bait for me and offered to share accommodation for the week…result!
After everything I’d learnt from the Guru festival, I was mega keen to correct my mistakes and give it a proper go this time round. My draw for the week was E section which was one day ahead of my last festival meaning I'd be on Bolingey the first day and Porth the last. To me the rotation of lakes and who you have in your group is irrelevant. I take each day as it comes and everyone is beatable!
Starting on Bolingey the first day I drew peg 25 on the back lake. From what I gathered this was a poor draw and not the bunghole I wanted! Apparently due to it being a bad peg, it was in a section of other average pegs which levelled out my chances of scoring decent points. I have a reputation of being a bit lucky and after seeing that peg 26 to my left hadn't been drawn, I was a happy boy! After setting up the standard approach I started my match focusing on the central island in front of me with the view of going onto the pole later in the match. The first 3 hours of the match weren't exactly hectic. In this time i'd managed just 30lbs worth of fish on a variety of methods and done all I can to put something in the net before they had a proper feast up in the last 2 hours.
It soon approached 3pm and with 2 hours left, I turned my attentions to the short pole with meat and the edge to my left. From here on the 2 pole lines became stronger and stronger and managed to put together a steady run of fish from both lines to end up with 109lb. On the day this was good enough for 3rd in section and 4th in the match. Unfortunately, Simon fry and the lad on peg 20 managed to beat me by just 3 and 4lb! Just one fish short and its cost me 2 massive points. This would come back to haunt me at the end of the week.
Day 2 and once again it was Pollawyn or otherwise known as ' scratch lake'.
Peg 12 was my draw and a reliable section peg always worth a top 3 usually. With Pollawyn fishing hard recently, I’d set up an array of tackle to cope with all scenarios. Similar to last week I started on waggler just dobbing a bit of meat towards the odd carp that were settled down the arm before they went off into main bowl of the lake. This failed to produce and therefore switched to a bomb with meat to bring me 2 carp and 3 barbel. From here on I put together the odd skimmer by fishing top 5 with casters shallow and come the weigh in managed a mixed bag of 38lb. Just like the previous day I managed a 3rd in section and was beaten by peg 13 who had 41lb, largely due to a 16lb carp landed after the whistle! Luck really wasn't on my side this week.
If I wanted to do any good in the festival I now needed 3 section wins in the last 3 days. My only hope was to draw an out and out flyer on twin oaks and catch a boat load of fish! This didn't go to plan and 23 on Trelawney was picked out instead. Regardless, this is a brilliant peg and features the wide bay that many people would always run to. In my section of 9 I had Kieron rich on peg 31 and Alan Scotthorne next door on 25. throughout the match I managed to have a steady day catching a mixture of f1s and carp on the pole with hard pellets. By the halfway point I was leading the section and steadily plodding along maintaining a lead. This was until Alan got his head down on the waggler and caught up with a very quick run of big fish! By the last hour we were both fish for fish and had a proper battle going on. It was extremely close and without a doubt the closest I've ever been pushed in a peg to peg battle. A lost big carp right on the edge of the landing net just before the end of the match spelt disaster, followed by me looking at Alan to see him playing a fish himself. Come the weigh in Alan's 108lb proved too much for me and I was left following behind with 105lb…so close! I'd cost myself yet another massive point and by now should of been on 2 wins and a 2nd if things had gone my way. Although defeated, I was happy enough to know that I had kept up to pace with a 5 times World Champion and really enjoyed the match. Alan took some time out after the match to show me how he had caught and for that I was humble in defeat.
2 days remained and I was still chasing that all important section win. today was the turn of the 'little lakes', acorn, canal and Trewaters. The later venue was the preferred and when I drew end peg 53 at Trewaters, I was over the moon!
Towards the corner of the bottom lake was the brilliant peg 53, an in-form peg that is always worth plenty of action. It was a warm day and I was greeted with plenty of carp on the top and swirling when I got to my peg. At the start of the match I shipped out a shallow rig and proceeded to slap the rig 4 or 5 times to draw some fish in. Within the first 15 minutes I’d had 5 fish without feeding and was well and truly on my way. Just like yesterday, I was next to a Scotthorne again. This time it was Sandra and after noticing she was catching by feeding quite heavily, I picked up the catapult and began feeding some pellets. From here on I caught until the end of the match and placed a total of 113lb on the scales for a section, lake and match win! Finally, a decent result.
By this point apparently I was 14th overall on the leader board and needed another section win to give me 33 out of 36 points.
Porth was saved till the last day and as mentioned in my previous blog, I didn't go too well last time! 81 was my home for the final day and the peg next door to where I had been in the guru festival. Porth had been fishing exceptionally well all week and large numbers of the big bream had fed every day with weights up to 40lb being caught on the pole. The weather was blazing hot sunshine and very little wind, not ideal bream conditions but you never know in fishing! I wasn't going to get caught out this time again and set up everything to cover all options. The typical feeder rod at 30 turns was my starting method to play it safe and put a base weight together. For the first hour I had caught a number of small skimmers and was settled into the match. A look on the pole after an hour brought some hand sized skimmers before the float shot under and followed me connecting with a large foul hooked bream a foot from the surface! In a bid not to lose a near 7lb bream I played it like my life depended on it but unfortunately lost it. For the remaining 4 hours I rotated these 2 lines and put what I could in the net. With literally a minute of match left, I shipped out with a whole worm on the hook, laid the rig out past my pole tip and lowered the float. It settled, went under and resulted in a 6lb bream netted just after the whistle! Result!
I was first to weigh in and plonked 14lb on the scales to give me the all-important section win! Within the last minute of the match I had gone from possibly 5th to 1st in section!
I ended the festival with 33 points and feared a top 10 finish was just out of reach. Lodge partner, Paul, had managed 34 points and felt this would just scrape top 10. If nothing else, then at least we could celebrate his result. Later that evening we all gathered to hear the results and when 10th place was read out with 33 points I knew I had made the top 10! I finished in 9th place along with Paul in 6th. I was chuffed with such a high placing for my 2nd festival but also disappointed deep down as with just a little bit more luck I could of finished 2nd overall!
Well Done to the ultra-consistent Alan Scotthorne on winning the festival and all other anglers who completed the top 10 line up. Back down for 2 weeks again for the Maver and Preston festivals later this year so stay tuned for more reports then.