I had booked myself and Tony Rixon into this match ages ago and was looking forward to it, makes a nice change to get to Barston and the great fishing it can offer.
Months of anticipation were pretty much dashed at the draw, peg 95, one of the least favoured areas, but there was the section to fish for and why not try and create an upset from here. Ages to set up, so I set up loads of kit to try and cover all the options. A 12/13' at 12' Tournament to chuck a method feeder as near to halfway as I could - I had tried to find a gravel bar, but there didn't appear to be one in any sort of reasonable casting difference. A 10' Tournament to fish the bomb and pellet and another to fish a method shorter - no idea why, I just had the time.... I think I must have the most unused feeder and lead rods in the country, the often stay in the bag and if they do get set up, rarely do more than a few minutes work!
Two wagglers set up, one at depth (which wasn't much - less than 3') and one shallow. 3 topkits, one with 10 solid, 0.16 rig with a 0.14 hooklength and a 18 Kaizen hook, this was a wire stemmed 0.3g NG Gimp. Another Gimp with same line and hooklength, this time with a 18 LWG tied with a band, finally, feeling optimistic, another pellet rig with 0.20 mainline and 0.16 hooklength, in case the carp moved in.
Bait tray was simple, pellets and corn, with 1kg of groundbait. I had thought about bringing worm and caster, but decided against it. On the all-in I fed a line at 13m with GB, pellets and corn, then launched a 45g method into the middle of the lake. 5 minutes with no signs and I refilled it and had another chuck. 5 more minutes and I just had a feeling it wasn't going to go round. I switched to the waggler at about 30m and all that brought was a missed bite and a skimmer. Another switch, this time to the pole and corn, I had 4 or 5 skimmers on this, but then they disappeared. I refed and went back in, it took a while, but I then had some indication that they'd come back, I finally caught another and they promptly disappeared again - this set the pattern for the rest of the match, they wouldn't settle in less than 3' of water and bright sun didn't help.
I rested the skimmer line by looking back on the waggler and had a big F1, but it was a lonesome fellow and no more bites on that. Back on the skimmer line and by now I was reaching for some dead maggots that I had in my bag, hoping this might hold them better than pellet and corn.
I could see the odd fish moving, but a long way out, so on with the biggest pellet waggler I had and 11mm pellets fed as far as I could ping them. First chuck and fish on, another big F1, frustratingly it was the only one, even with another 30 minutes of trying. Back on the skimmer line and this was getting harder and harder, still giving up an odd fish, but not many. Time to try the bomb and pellet where I had been feeding the 11mm pellets. This brought an immediate bite and a low double was soon netted, once again, it was a false dawn, as that was the one and only bite on the lead.
I managed another couple of smaller skimmers towards the end, on the pole line, but it was hard going. I was slightly surprised when my skimmers went 19lb and even more surprised when the 3 fish n the carp net went 20lb. The 39lb total was enough for joint second in section, the lowest weight section - something I have grown used to!!
As the match was being paid as top two in sections, that meant I was splitting the £50 for second, so break even on the match cost, winning £25... better than a poke in the eye I suppose. Already looking forward to next year!!
Weigh sheets below: