The eagerly anticipated Bait Tech festival has come round again and with all the arrangements taken care of by my lodge companions, it was just a matter of turning up and fishing. I had got some nice fresh caster, 30 pints of it from Veals and some worms, so it amounted to 10 pints each and 2 kilos of worms each, for myself, Paul (Faiers) and Glenn (Calvert). The fourth lodge resident was, as in previous years, Chips Rafferty, Pauls Father-in –Law, many thanks for all the chalet maid duties he carried out during the week and for his company and stories.
We arrived midday on Saturday, it was too nice a day to waste, so onto Jenny’s for some practise, we all caught fairly well, although the F1’s and carp were fairly conspicuous by their absence. Saturday night was a trip to the bar to meet up with a few faces not seen since last year, but a fairly quiet night ensured we were ready for another practise session on the Sunday. This was a matter of some discussion and it ended up with us going to Twin oaks for a walk round and then onto Trelawny for a few hours, we caught, but not huge weights, mainly skimmers rather than carp and F1’s although several barbel showed as well, although they would just be bonus fish, not viable to target.
First day for me was to be Jenny’s/Trelawny and I managed to draw myself peg 19, the same peg I had fished on Saturday afternoon, so I had an idea of what to do and it would mainly revolve around fishing caster/worm short and meat at 7 or 8m, as on Saturday fishing longer had proved no better and peg 19 has an island fairly close, so an easy feeder chuck, but it didn’t produce a single fish on Saturday. As there was so much time I set up a feeder and a straight lead, the wind was really skimming the surface, so the waggler rods stayed in the bag. As the time drew closer to the 12.00 all-in and no one appeared on peg 20, I realised I would have an end peg, but decided against setting up a margin rig given the lack of carp in the area on Saturday.
I started by feeding some worm and caster in GB, short, then some meat at 7m, before trying the feeder, which as Saturday, was a fruitless exercise. I came in on the meat line and it was very slow, so a look on the short line with worm produced a run of fish, but a smaller stamp than I had on Saturday. I could see that the guys on the pegs to my left were struggling, but a bank walker told me Paul Holland on peg 15 was catching well. The 5 hours passed very quickly and by swapping between the meat line and the short line I managed to keep fish coming, no sign of a carp or the F1’s again. The scales started at me and I put 43lb odd on the scales, which was top in the section until Richie Hull who weighed 68lb and Paul Holland who had 140lb, so a third in section and with no carp showing I am not sure I was capable of catching another 26lb of silvers to take a second, so have to be reasonably satisfied with that result. Keeping an eye on the results for the rest of the week, I had top weight from the peg.
On to Tuesday and Trewaters, I drew peg 22, which is the peg or very close to where I practised last year and this may have clouded my rational thoughts, as on that day I caught plenty of F1’s on meat down the track, then even more on maggot short. Again the wind would render a waggler useless, so it stayed in the bag again, a straight lead and three pole rigs would suffice for my confident approach. One pole rig to fish maggot short, another would cover meat at any distance past about 6m where the depth was within an inch or two, the same all over. A margin rig, in case the carp would venture in there, as peg 21 was not in. My confidence in catching F1’s as last year was sadly misplaced and I spent far too long trying to make it work, whilst the correct approach seemed to be fish 16m and very, very lightly feed meat through a tosspot and sit it out for carp, the margins gave up a skimmer and a roach and I was left with egg on my face and an embarrassing last in section, I would say it’s a day to forget, but some important lessons learnt, which whilst painful, shouldn’t be forgotten.
Day three and a chance to redeem myself, Bolingey, I managed second on the lake last year, so hopefully I could regain some credibility and put yesterday behind me. Into the drawbag and out came 27, which won the lake the day before with 200lb – no pressure then……..
Apparently the bomb had been the killing method the day before, so I set one up and then a spare one, just in case of disaster. A waggler followed, as there were signs of fish moving in the upper layers of the water, all round the lake and three pole rigs. One to fish at 5m, another for 14m and a margin rig, to target the area on the opposite bank where a tree trunk is in the water.
I started on the bomb and bread, but it was slow going and I had to search around for fish, they didn’t seem to be in the deeper water, I had 3 or 4 on this before switching to meat, which was even slower. The lead rod went up the bank and I had a run of fish on the waggler, fished about 3’-4’ deep, all the fish coming to meat. I had some dead maggor and GB to put down the edge and with just over an hour to go I fed this into about 2’-2/12’ of water. There were immediate signs of fish over the bait so I went straight over it with 6 maggots on the hook and caught for the last hour, an expensive decision not to go down that edge earlier, as I weighed 147.04 coming 4th on the lake, with the top three weighing155.10, 155.02 and 150.12. One fish, the last one I netted was 14lb+, disappointing to have missed out on a frame placing, managing second in section and section money by default.
Penultimate day for me was to be Pollawyn, which hadn’t been fishing as well as it can and a poor draw on peg 2 was home for the day. Tackled up with plenty of time, had a chat with some of the anglers on the end of the spit, Adam Wakelin was on 24 and he said “try and enjoy it mate, that’s a shit draw……” The wind was whipping down the channel that peg 2 is in and creating a heavy undertow back towards the main lake, so once again the waggler rods stayed in the bag, two topkits for the open water, one for topkit+1 and one for 9m, no point in going further in the wind. Also a margin rig as Alex Nadin had drawn the peg the day before and had two carp down the edge, but still was at the wrong end of the section.
I did set up a bomb rod to fish right across and first put in on bread hooked an F1, which shook its head when it popped up in front of me and shook the hook out….. great start!! Nothing else forthcoming on the lead, so I adopted a similar plan to fishing Jenny’s, worm and caster short, meat long, no GB with the worm and caster this time.
I had a decent run of fish on the worm, big roach, skimmers and perch, before switching to the meat line, this produced a couple of hybrids, but was much, much slower than the caster and worm line. I kept plugging away and trying to keep warm as the peg is shady and windy. The margin line was no good for carp, three skimmers being the sum total for my efforts there. For entertainment I had Adam Wakelin on peg 24, fishing the wrong side of a big tree for the last few minutes, he hooked a fish and proceeded to add pole sections until he could lift the pole over the tree and bring it round for netting, a barbell, he then repeated the exercise with a carp – very soft hollow was the order of the day. I was last on the lake to weigh and fully expected my carp-less net to give me another lowly section placing, even though I had had an enjoyable days fishing, I was surprised when my weight of 25lb odd was enough for second in section, maybe I could have caught the 6lb I needed had I not spent time in the margins. Got back to the lodge to find that Mr Silverfish Faiers had had a second on Bolingey from peg 7 with 118lb, he’s now a carp convert……
Last day, the week seemed to go by very quickly, with fishing in the day and some good company in the evenings. Twin Oaks, I have only drawn this lake once before on my first visit, so know very little about it. Peg 15 stuck to my paw from the drawbag, apparently it can be a good peg in the right area and carp are the target, not F1’s. Some advice from lodge companions Paul and Glenn, along with some more from Des (Shipp) and I went off to the peg feeling confident I would catch. All the bait in the bag, with the exception of the meat and bread could have been left in the lodge fridge, as they were the only two to grace my sidetray.
I set up two bomb rods, a waggler rod (on Des’s advice) and a pole rig for 5m, I did set up a margin rig, just because I had so much time, but it was put away unused and the margin remained unfed. For company I had Adam Wakelin to my left on 13 and Paul Holland on 16, who was looking for a section win to keep up his chance of the festival win. Starting on the bread I had three fish inside the first 20 minutes, which I clicked at 19lb, so a good start. The bread stopped producing bites so I went onto meat, feeding 8mm cubes across and kept the odd fish coming, if I went too close to the far bank, I got liners and nothing else, so I had to drop it 3’-4’ short and wait for a bite, that reduced the liners. That was indicating the fish were sat up in the water, so as soon as the wind allowed I dropped over with the waggler and caught on that 2nd cast, when I hooked my second fish on it, there were wagglers flying out from the pegs either side, but the wind once again picked up and made it very difficult to present.
I went back on the bomb and tried to grab a couple of casts with the waggler when there was a long enough lull in the wind, but the fish had slowed down now, going into the last hour I was ahead of the pegs either side, but not by much, as Paul had struggled to catch on the bomb, but had managed some on the long pole. The last hour was my undoing and handed the festival win to Paul, as he managed 8 or 9 fish from his 5m line, whereas my 4 or 5 from the same line, meant that he had overtaken me. The scales proved that to be the case, with Paul winning the lake with 146.11, my fish went 125.10 for second spot and Adam with 120.10 for third.
Had a long chat with Paul after the match, he had worked so hard to catch up and admitted that after 90 minutes he wanted to cry and pack up, as he couldn’t catch, suffice to say he didn’t and he fished well all week for a much deserved festival win.
I ended up 39th, but for a couple of dropped points I would have had a solid top 20 finish which would have been good, the last in section cost me top 30, its so tight on these festivals, a dropped point or two is a real blow.
Some thoughts on the festival are that taking all that worm and caster was a waste of time, meat was the way to go. Its very difficult to compete with the top guys who are fishing most days of the week, the better strategy might be to go and fish every match to win it, rather than worry about section points. Its imperative to try and get some good information on the pegs as 5 hours seems very short when you are used to 6 hour matches on venues you know.
I did loads of prep and only used a few hooks and a couple of rigs…..
It was nice not having to take waders, platform, different rods and microbarbed hooks for Porth.
Already looking forward to next year, although my Preston Festival Invite has just landed in my inbox, tempted, very tempted..... anyone want to share a caravan?