Going into a festival on the back of a poor run isn't ideal, but it's also an opportunity to turn things around.
This year as usual the Lodge comprised of myself, Paul Faiers and Glenn Calvert, we usually have Paul's Father-in-Law along with us, Chips, but his health took a turn for the worse and he couldn't come this year, so best wishes to Chips and hope he is improving.
We went down early Saturday, as Glenn wanted to watch the football, but clean living folk like me and Faiersy weren't having any of that, so we went onto Python for the afternoon and I had a great afternoon, 80-90lb of F1's, skimmers, perch and roach, whilst Paul had at least 50lb. That was the first time I had fished it, but was warned not to get too carried away, as that sort of weight wouldn't come out in a match.
A couple of beers in the evening, just to be sociable and meet up with old friends, led to a couple more and it was nearly 09.00 Sunday before any of us rose. We had a day on Pollawyn, it wasn't hectic, until towards the end when I caught well short on meat, including a Barbel that wasn't far off 6lb.
A much quieter night and up Monday for the draw, I managed peg 38 on Bolingey, not a bad draw, so I was hopeful of catching a few.
I had Steve Nadin opposite, so if it was to be tough at least a familiar face to share the moans with.....
I set up a shallow waggler to fish down to the end bank, a lead rod and several topkits, to cover the margin, short meat, long meat and as there were odd fish showing themselves, a shallow rig, I think if the sun had come out, it might have been a mugging day, but it wasn't quite warm and sunny enough.
Baits were meat, corn and dead maggots, I had a double figure fish straight away on the waggler/meat cast down to the first overhanging bush, before I fed anything, shortly after another, but that was it until much later in the match when I had one more from this line.
It was a struggle, one of those days when catching a fish would spook the others from that line and I worked away swapping lines and ended the day with 86lb, which was 4lb shy of winning the section, but at least a second in section wasn't a disastrous start.
Day two, Pollawyn, a lake I have had reasonable section results on, so fairly confident, out of the draw tin comes 36 another end peg, but not a corner. For some reason I didn't take anymore pictures, so just words from here on in. I had a basic plan, but just before the start Paul walked down from Jenny's wanting to borrow a bait tub, he pointed out all the carp basking at the end of the lake, 3 pegs away, but at Whiteacres you can fish halfway to the next angler, regardless of distance, so I spent 20 minutes trying to avoid tress and cast to the fish - pointless and it had thrown me.
I got it completely wrong, peg 34 has a ledge and rushes, which were shaking with fish movement, he was catching carp on the bomb and bread, it narrows up at 36 so I could reach my shelfless, rushless far bank with the pole. The wind was also funnelling into the peg making things difficult. I could also see those on the high bank catching well and I persisted trying to catch carp - why?? the high bank isn't in my section!! Towards the end I made up some groundbait and chopped some worms, that brought me 18lb skimmers in an hour, last in the section and realisation that 32lb was second in section,, 5 hours of worm fishing would have seen me do that, I'm convinced - no excuses, totally blew it.
Day three and it was Twin Oaks / Trelawny, I fancied Twin Oaks and managed to secure a peg on there, trouble is the wind and the fish were ending up towards peg 1, I drew 18 which had been last the day before. It was looking likely that I was going to join that result, as with 3 and 1/4 hours gone I hadn't had a bite, not a single indication that there was a fish in the peg. Then at 3.15 I had a carp on the bomb, then next cast another, that was it, not another bite on it. A cast with the shallow waggler to search the water a bit more saw the float bury and a spirited 3lb tench was netted, then a 4oz roach, which was the last bite on that. I did manage some big skimmers, F1's and a couple of carp down the edge in the last 3/4 of an hour which saw me beat peg 16 and peg 8 (I think) saving the shame of coming last two days in a row, but that was festival over.
Day four, Trewaters/Jenny's, I tried the PMA to get me a draw on Jenny's as Trewaters is a bit of a bogie water for me, but it wasn't to be and I got Trewaters, but a decent draw, 37- although it had been last the day before, see the pattern emerging!!! You can just reach the island with 16m, or at least you could if it wasn't so windy that it made it a fairly pointless exercise for most of the match. Also there are a couple of yellow bushes at 16m down the LH edge, these often produce, again the wind was making it tricky, as it was pushing the 16m of pole into the bank. (Is that enough excuses??)
I had Dan White to my right and he stuck to a couple of short lines, we were fairly neck and neck until the last 90 minutes when I went chasing fish down the edge and Dan slaughtered them on his 5m line, taking the section with 100lb to my low 70's. A couple of other weights from the other end of the lake pushed down to a miserable mid section position and I am heading for my worst ever Bait Tech festival result.
Day 5 and just the lake and a bit of pride to fish for, out comes 13 on Acorn, a lake I've never fished, it had been 4th in section the day before. Chatting to Alan Scotthorne before the start (he was on Canal) and he advised me that very frugal feeding was the way to go. I set up a deep and shallow waggler, a lead rod and several topkits, a margin rig, a long meat rig, a short meat rig and a shallow rig. Word was that even with 8mm meat on previous days anglers were getting 'roached' out, especially if feeding heavily.
I started on the waggler tight to the island and was soon several fish behind peg 15, where an old boy was catching well on popped up bread into the wides (peg 15 is half as wide again as 13). A swap to meat short kindering 3 cubes in saw me take 3 fish in the first hour, the guy on 15 obviously hadn't taken advice from Alan S and was throwing handfuls of meat in, he went over it and was soon getting one a bung, whilst most of the rest of us on the lake sat looking on, somewhat bemused. In response I did start a really positive line at 11m towards peg 15 and that did give me one bite which was a fouler that got away. A dismal day to round off the festival, wet, grey, very difficult fishing at least I wasn't the only one struggling as 15, won the lake, Rob Wotton was 2nd, 17 had a few and the rest of us all weighed 40lb or less.
So, that was my worst ever finish, must go back and put that right, the result aside, it was as ever, a good week, in good company, even if I wimped out of going out on Thursday night and stayed in the lodge watching fishing DVD's ( I wasn' t the only one).