Match Fishing

Nathan Thompson Ladygrove match
Today's venue is my local lake which is absolutely rammed with silvers and carp to 25lb, from previous experience I knew it was going to be an all-out silvers match with the hope no one catches a carp as a 15lb common in the last 10 mins as this would be a game changer.
My plan for today was pellet on the deck and maggot over ground bait should I need it. I’ve started at top 2 + 3 cad potting soaked BetaFin 2mm and 4mm pellets and a GO2 4.5mm expander on the hook.
I've caught Skimmers and Bream steady on this most of the morning until the fish backed off. Simple solution goes longer re-plum start again, this was the theme for the day until I cupped in some GO2 sweet super blend Groundbait.
 I've used the pellet line for the bigger stamp fish and the Groundbait line for the guaranteed roach bite which meant I was constantly putting fish in the net.
At the weigh in I've tipped the scales at 40lb which has given me the match win and the Masters trophy. But most importantly we've raised money for a great cause, Cancer Research.
Well done to Ryan Gibson as this year’s winner of the Challenger cup as he now qualifies for next year’s Masters.
Nathan Thompson

Maver Match by Nathan Thompson

I thought I'd try my luck at the Maver Match this at the beautiful Partridge lakes.

Peg 149 on Covey 6 was my station for the day and from the off I was pretty excited as it's an end peg with plenty of room. On arrival at the peg, I heard the usual talk about how the wind wasn't right, the moon was the wrong state and the pressure was to high but I still had faith that I could catch some fish. 

I started priming my caster short line straight from the off and fishing across on double red maggot fished over dead reds, 30 mins in and I thought I'd go shallow which didn't give me any joy but I decided to stick with it (big mistake). Before I knew it 2 hrs were gone I had 5lb in the net and my game was up.

After a quiet word with myself I mixed GO2 Carp Super Blend and a handful of GO2 Milled Betaine Pellets into a Groundbait to try get some fish into my edge, this was the answer but it was too little too late. I've finished the match with 30lb of small carp and F1's.

Going forward I should have started a lot slower and fished for a fish at a time, cad potting my groundbait in instead of cupping in. Every day is a school day and I'll be trying my luck again at Tunnel Barn farm. 

Nathan Thompson


Simon Willsmore gives us a rundown of his Riverfest Final
The Angling trust River fest final is one of the biggest matches in my calendar and I was really looking forward to this years event. My preparations started well in advance as there are potentially quite a few methods that can be used on this mighty river. Fishing the final for the last two years gave me some good experience to fall back on and by the time it came for practicing I felt ready. I spent four very enjoyable days practicing in the week leading up to the final catching some nice barbel on feeder tactics and some great weights of roach and dace (on the whip and long pole) when this river is on song its fantastic.

Anticipation is always high leading up to the final and one of the things on all of the competitors minds is the weather. The river level had been dropping which combined with warm temperatures provided ideal conditions in practice but unfortunately it did not last quite long enough. Come the weekend of the final the water temperature had gone from 9 degrees to 5 degrees as the cold rain that had fallen upstream started to filter in to the match length.

Day 1 of the final saw me draw a really good peg number 94 just by the road bridge in the town. A dream peg which holds resident roach and is very comfortable to fish. I assembled 3 flat floats, 3 bolo/stick float rods and a token waggler rod just in case the downstream wind got up. This peg generally is fished on the bolo or stick due to snags close in, but on plumbing up I didn't find it snaggy at all so decided to start on the pole.

Balling in 8 balls of sticky ground bait containing Spotted Fin Crushed Hemp and Milled Hemp for activity plus casters, hemp seed and live maggots was my initial gambit and followed up with regular balls potted in from a height and loose fed maggots and hemp. Running a 10g flatty through at half speed gave me sporadic spells of bites from really nice roach for about four hours until the level started to rise. The extra water and colour put the big roach off but I still managed half a dozen smaller fish to keep ticking over. This was one of the most enjoyable days fishing I have had on a river for a long time. My presentation had to be spot on to get a bite and I really had to persevere and concentrate.

At the weigh in I totalled 24lb 4oz, putting me 4th on the day a long way behind eventual winner Paul Bick who had 46lb of barbel and chub but I was in the mix for day 2 and well happy.

Day 2 my luck ran out at the draw bag, peg 28 is generally regarded as about the worst peg in the match. It doesn't hold any barbel or chub which were the only fish feeding on the day. In milder conditions some small fish do come up to the peg but the weather over the weekend put paid to any chance of that happening. My match involved rotating between the feeder and sick float but I didn't get a bite and to be honest although I gave it a good go I couldn't have drawn any worse.

Luckily for me the whole venue had switched off and I had slipped down the rankings but only to eighth overall which gave me a very nice pick up and my 3rd top ten finish in the last 3 years. When I think back to Saturdays match and how enjoyable it was it feels like all the effort was worth it and I will do my best to be back next year. 

Big well done to Paul Bick who knows the river well and used his experience to hold on to his advantage from a difficult peg and also to Paul Downes and Nick West for their second and third placings
Simon Willsmore reports back on a successful Preston Pole Pairs Qualifier
Last Saturday 5th November 2016 Darren Davies and I fished the 2nd round of the Preston Pole Pairs Competition at Barston Lakes.

The 2016/17 competition is running under a different system to last year's league format, this year 3 pairs qualify from each qualifier and go forward to a big money final at Woodlands View in Droitwich.

Darren and I decided to book in for 4 matches; 2 at Barston Lakes and another 2 at local venue Gold Valley. We just missed out on the first qualifier at Barston a couple of weeks ago catching 110lb combined weight and were keen to try and do a bit better in the second qualifier using the experience gained in the first match. 

Our tactics for the first qualifier saw us use chopped worm and ground bait as our main attack but Darren found potting in live maggots long at 16.0m worked late on for some extra fish.

We decided on a two pronged approach for the second qualifier, where we would pot in maggots long at 14.5m from the start but initially kinder pot ground bait and worms at 13m and start on that line. 

We also had half a kilo of joker in reserve to kick start the peg late on. Both of us used "Spotted Fin Sweet Superblend" as our mix as it is really good for skimmers and we have both caught a lot of fish on it in the last year. With the weather going cold we added 30% brown crumb to tone it down and add some natural food value, all fish love brown crumb, especially skimmers our target fish.

On the day, our matches panned out slightly differently. Darren drew peg 114 on the road bank a great area and I drew peg 43 on the river bank also a good area, the weights had been bigger on the road bank in the first round and we had got a great peg on that side so we knew we were in with a chance and very confident in our tactics.

I had a slow start to the day on the shorter 13m line; basically I didn't have a bite! But when I went out to 14.5m after 45 minutes I started to catch an odd skimmer and bream, although I wasn't catching many fish they were a good size with a handful on 2lb plus fish coming to the maggots. While I was plodding away on this longer line I tried to keep potting in small balls of ground bait and worms plus some additional joker with a view to coming back on this line later on. I could see Darren catching well and a mid match phone call confirmed maggots were doing the business for him.

My match at this mid way point started to go a bit sideways as I couldn't catch from either line and my area of the lake seemed to be fishing very hard. I was very patient during this part of the match trying not to force my peg but it wasn't working.

At this point it was make or break time. There was 1 hour and 45 minutes remaining so I decided to pot in 3 big balls of ground bait containing 200ml of joker at 13m, with a view to leaving it for 30 minutes to settle and look to catch some fish late on from this line. The last hour is often the best time on a lot of matches especially difficult ones so I set my peg up for a grand finale... and it worked! A late run of good bream on bunches of bloodworm including one right on the whistle gave me a 28lb total which combined with Darren's 38lb of maggot caught fish we were through, taking 3rd place on the day and a place in the final. We both had the bonus of picking up our sections as well so the mood in the van was a happy one driving home.

There are quite a few qualifiers left to fish so check out Pole fishing magazines website for full details if you fancy a go at qualifying for the final.

Technical details:

Rigs: Drennan AS 6 Pole floats on 0.014mm Drennan Supplex to 0.010 Double Strength 15cm hooklength to a B911 F1 size 16.

Elastic: Preston no5.

Hook baits: Live Maggots or bunches of bloodworm. 

Ground bait: Spotted Fin Sweet Super blend and 30% brown crumb.

Post match conclusion: Always have a solid plan but ensure you have a back up in terms of feeding and your approach. Feeding small amounts of bait in the initial stages of the match gave me the option of being more positive later on with my feed. This is not the normal way to fish when using joker for skimmers, but on this occasion it worked well on the day. I could possibly have fed a large bed of ground bait at the start containing joker (considering that's how I caught at the end) but it may have had a detrimental effect to my peg.
Match round up by Myles Levy
Thought I’d do a catch up of a few of my matches lately as I’ve been having a run of form since using the Spotted Fin range.
Viaduct fishery was my the destination for my first Maver Match This of the year and I was hoping for a draw on the prolific Campbell Lake. I got my wish! The only snag was it was at the opposite end to where the bulk of fish were getting caught, still this lake is stuffed with fish and I had a chance. The first 3 hours were very slow by Viaduct standards and a measly 50lb was on my clicker, not ideal! I then decided to gamble and really attack the edge. The mix I’ve settled on is GO2 Milled Betaine with some GO2 Carp Super Blend added. This is mixed very damp and the result is a mix the sinks like a stone and gives off a lovely strong smell. 5 pots of this were deposited down the edge and left for 20 minutes. This transformed the peg and fish were tailing up on the spot! In the last hour and a half I put over 100lb in the net all from the same spot down the edge. I’d catch two fish, put a pot of the mix in and then repeat. Come the weigh in my catch totaled 155lb, which was winning the match until the very last angler weighed in! His catch was well over 200lb so I knew that wasn’t on the cards from my draw. Still my 2nd got me into the British Pole Championships so not a complete disaster.

My next match took me to Monk Lakes in Kent for another crack at the MMT. My draw put me on peg 66 on Lake Two and I don’t mind admitting it was a complete flyer, I thought I’d have a great chance of qualifying. Well things didn’t go exactly to plan! The lake just switched off and the first two hours were a write off for everyone on the lake. With nothing to lose, much like Viaduct I really attacked both edges with the same mix. This sparked the peg into life and I caught consistently till the end. The scales revealed a weight of 191lb, which easily won the lake. Unfortunately there was a weight of 193lb on a different lake so yet again I had to be content with second place.

For the last match I was back at Monk for the 3rd of the summer league. My team captain handed me 123 on Lake Three which, again is a very good! When I got to the peg there was an awful lot of fish swimming round and I got off to a great start catching 100lb in the first two hours by mugging fish on a GO2 6mm expander. All the while I’d been throwing small balls of Milled Betaine down my right hand edge and after two hours it was time to try it. It was absolutely solid! Every time I hooked a fish I’d throw a golf ball of groundbait in and the next fish was waiting for me. By the end I was shattered and after weighing in 6 keepnets worth of fish I’d amassed 307lb, which is a crazy day by anyone’s standard! This was enough to win the match and was a welcome relief after playing bridesmaid so much lately.
Having now been with Spotted Fin for a few months I’m starting to get to know the products and I’ve got to say they really are fantastic and I now have massive confidence in them. It’s an extremely versatile range and covers all of my fishing situations perfectly.
WhiteAcres Milo Festival 2016, Jake Gallagher

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!


Bolingey Bagging

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.


So close.

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.

Lady Luck

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!

The Result

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. 


Tight Lines.