Monday, 9 April 2012

First Horwich Old Anglers club match of the year

My first ever club match arrived on 1st April 2012 with the venue being Coppull Mill Lodge (

As with the majority of waters I will be fishing this season, this was a venue I had never seen before.

I managed to get a bit of info from a few people, mainly that it was very deep and full of silvers with bonus tench, especially if you drew the first and last pegs.  Now I don't like deep water one bit and I haven't really sussed skimmer fishing yet so I was immediately worried that this may not be a good venue to start my match fishing career with Horwich Old Anglers.

In the week or so before I could not stop thinking about how I planned to fish on the day. At one point I woke up at four in the morning and immediately my brain turned on and I couldn't sleep for an hour thinking about plans of attack!!

From the two matches I have now fished I have noticed just how much thought and research I now put into fishing before hand and not just turning up and seeing how I feel on the day.

Eventually I decided on two main attack plans. One would be a groundbait attack with maggots or pellets as the hook bait targeting skimmers and tench. I also decided on a short shallow line fishing casters for roach.

The day of match arrived and after a week of summer like weather, conditions had completely changed. An overnight frost and clear bright skies greeted my arrival at the lodge. Immediately I suspected a much more difficult match than I originally thought.

Time for the draw and I drew peg 12. Asking where I would find it I was told it was was in the far corner in the shade, the coldest part of the lake! Great!!

Plumbing up the first problem I came across was the massive reflection of the mill opposite in my peg. No matter what colour float I used I could barely see it.

I plumbed two lines at 11 metres, one at 10 o clock and one at 2 o clock. Both lines were around 10ft. The rigs for these lines were a 1g Drennan Tipo with 0.12 main line and 0.10 hook length with 18 Drennan silver fish maggot hook. I was using Middy Hi Viz yellow shock core matched to a pulla bung in my top kit. I planned on rotating between these two lines if catching well.

I also set a two plus two line for my shallow rig setting it at 4ft to start. Same rig as the deep rigs except a Drennan Caster dibber type float. Elastic was Middy Hi Viz number six solid.

At the all in I cupped in a large tennis ball sized amount of groundbait laced with maggots, pinkies and a few 4mm pellets into both swims and then left them to rest.

I then threw in 6-10 casters on my shallow line and immediately caught a 4oz roach. Happy days, not blanking!! After that I couldn't get another bite on this line.

After about 40 mins I shipped out to the 10 o clock swim with a 4mm expander pellet on the hook. After about ten mins I caught a small roach, not what I was after. Another long wait and I caught a tiny roach who's mouth was smaller than the pellet!! I was struggling badly with the reflection of the mill and missed a couple more shy bites.

I tried swapping to the 2 o clock line but got no bites there either. I swapped hook baits and lines regularly eventually snaffling another two very small roach on double pinkie.

After two and half hours or so I re-fed both lines with a golf ball sized amount of groundbait and left them to rest.

I went back to the shallow line chucking in 6-10 casters every 30 second and began to catch roach up to 10oz regularly. Looking around I could see most people around me were fishing long for bigger fish and not really catching so bar one more short look on the long line I decided to stay short and catch as many roach as I could hoping that I could amass a half decent weight of red fins.

It was interesting fishing as I was constantly chasing the fish, they didn't seem to want to settle at one level. I caught up to about a foot and then back down to over four foot. But I did manage to keep a steady stream of fishing coming to the net.

The all out was called and I reckoned I had around 5lb of red fins. I was really surprised and chuffed to see the scales go round to 6lb 5oz which was enough for 7th place out of 15. I was really chuffed with that. The top two weights came from peg 1 and 15, the two fliers, with weights of 11lb and 12lb of skimmers and tench.

I have to say I was pretty satisfied with my match performance. Looking back the only thing I may have changed was in the first half hour fishing shallow I stayed at four foot. Maybe if I had altered my depths and tried to find the roach I may have bagged a couple more. I also took way too much bait and mixed way too much groundbait. Something else I need to consider before matches to save myself some money!

Looking forward to the next match at Lathom fisheries on 22nd April now and I will hopefully get a practice or two in before then.

Friday, 16 March 2012

First ever match 11/03/12

So it finally arrived my first ever match.

I was invited to a friendly knock up by Tony, a member of my new club. This wasn't a club match and a bit of a friendly so nice chance to cut my teeth.

The venue was Manor House Farm at Garstang ( and we were to fish lake 4, the match lake.

Speaking to a few people it seemed it was more than likely going to be mainly a silvers match with the odd bonus carp as the carp hadn't started feeding yet.. The reckoned winning target would be 20-30lb.

Arriving at the venue I there was a jovial welcome and plenty of banter and I got to meet a few members of my new club (Horwich Old Anglers).

And so to the draw. I was told the bang on the far side was the favoured side with the corner areas obviously the favourites. So my time came to draw for the first ever time, hand in to the bag and much to my embarrassment I pulled out two brass disks stuck together!!! Queue the abuse!! Fortunately I didn't see the numbers so hand went back in and I split the disks and pulled out peg 9.

Low and behold peg nine was on the favoured side and one from the corner. Not a bad draw!!

Arriving at the peg I was opposite the corner of an island. Immediately I noticed fish, in particularly carp, topping regularly.  This made me sort of change my original plan. The weather was over cast with the odd light gust of wind and the very odd sunny spell and it was quite mild too.

I had with me a pint of maggots a pint of fluro pinkies and a pint of casters as well as micro pellets and 4mm sonubaits finperfect expander pellets.

The original plan was to fish two lines down the track. One with micros and pinkies and one with maggot and casters. However with seeing the carp I slightly changed the plan and decided to fish expander over micros targeting carp and skimmers.

I plumbed the two lines, one and two o clock (pellet line) and one at  11 o clock (maggot line). Finding the deepest water at between 9 and eleven metres at around 5 foot deep.

I also plummed a margin swim just in case fish did come in later in the day.

The all in was called and I was having to make up a rig for the margin as it was deeper than expected. So I finished doing this and then fed my two lines with half a small cup of my chosen bait. I then went back to plumbing up the margin.

Ten mins after the all in I finally started fishing choosing the pellet line to start. I was encouraged as there was fish topping in this are. The rigs I used were 4x14 pb float 0.12 main line to 0.10 hook length with a drennan silver maggot size 18 hook these were matched to Middy Shock Core yellow elastic.

Thirty mins later and no bites, oh dear. Fortunately nobody else around me seemed to be catching either. I then swapped to the maggot line. Same again no bites even though it was obvious fish were there.

I spent the next couple hours swapping between the two lines every half hour or so and topping up with a little bait after leaving each line. But no bites. Again only one or two fish had being caught by other anglers I could see.

After nearly three hours I was starting to panic. Was my worst nightmare going to come true? Blanking on my first match??

Finally I started to get a few liners on the pellet line and after ten mins the float gently dipped and a quick strike resulted in my first fish and poundish skimmer in the net. Phewwwww!!

Straight back on the line with a small toss pot of micros to top up I was expecting to catch again. But alas back to no bites.

The next angler around the corner to me was catching a few fish 2 + 2. So I decided as I wasn't getting bites to try a similar tactic in an area at the end of a tree at the side of my peg. I decided I would concentrate on small silvers so used mags and pinkies on this line. I used a similar rig but with  pb silver 4 x12 float.

Soon as I put in I started getting line bites and a short time later I picked up a small roach. After that I got no more indications. After 15 mins or so I went back out on my maggot line and immediately picked up another skimmer. But again after rehooking nothing was for biting. There was plenty of fish still showing but I just couldn't get them to feed, a problem most people seemed to have.

In the last hour  the carp seemed to wake up and a few people started to catch one or two. With no bites on any of my lines I decided to fish my margin swim. I had been feeding this every 20-30 mins with a mix of mags casters and micros.

On this line I used a stronger set up, a 4x10 carpa shelf float with 0.16-0.14 line with size 16 Kamasan 911 hook. This was matched to Middy Shock Core red elastic.

With double maggot on the hook I had a bite first put in but immediately bumped it off. Refeeding a few mags and casters it wasn't long before I got another bite, definitely a carp. After a short fight I again bumped it off. It wasn't long before I was bumping off another carp.

I then decided to change my rig on to my top kit with the yellow elastic hoping the lighter elastic and the fact I had a pulla bung would stop me bumping fish off.

Sure enough not long after fishing I hooked another carp, it went steaming off into the lake. After a 10 min battle I managed to slide the net under a 4lb+ carp. My hear was literally bouncing out of my chest and I was shaking so much I couldn't unhook the fish!

I have to say the puller bung is an amazing piece of kit. A few days before I had a few hours on a local commerical and landed a 10lb+ carp on the yellow elastic after a 20 min fight. Was absolutely awesome fight and I always felt in control even though I was fishing light.

After landing the fish it seemed to kill the margin swim, I never got another bite. I went back to the 2+2 line and after a few liners I foul hooked a 2lb carp in its tail fin that went crazy and took just as long as the bigger carp to land! Another small skimmer was taken on this line before it died.

I went back to the margin swim for the last ten mins apart from a few knocks I failed to get a bite.

The all out was called and I just had to sit and take a big breath and saviour the moment. My first match complete and although it was very difficult I really enjoyed it.

The scales made their way round and I weighed in 7-8-0 which placed me 11th out of 16. Didn't finish last!!!!!!! Wohoooooo!!! Better than I could have imagined!!
Top three came from the unfancied side of the lake two weights of 18lb and one of 15lb. It seemed everyone struggled until the last couple of hours when the carp finally woke up.

A really really enjoyable day. Plenty to think about and learn from. Roll on April 1st for my first club match!!! Can't wait!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Cunneries Fisheries, Chorley. 26th & 27 Jan 2012

Well what a way to start my blogs!!

As I am taking up match fishing this year I have decided to concentrate on commercial venues and the tactics associated with them. I have also decided to start writing a blog to keep a track of how I am doing and as a way of reviewing my fishing in an attempt to improve.

Having a couple days spare I decided I would start my 2012 fishing with a mini festival with the intention of practicing my pole fishing because, bar a bit of evening margin carp crunching, I have hardly used my pole over the last 12-18 months.

After asking around I picked Cunneries Fisheries in Chorley, Lancashire ( This is a newish commercial fishery consisting of a lake, a match canal and a snake lake.

The plan was to fish as if I was fishing a match so five hours fishing and around an hours prep. As the main intention was to practice the long pole I was going to fish either the match canal or snake lake with the long pole for as much time as possible and only fish short if I was struggling or in the last hour.

Thursday 26th

After around a 35 minute drive I arrived at the venue with blue skies, light winds and an almost empty car park.

I had decided to fish the snake lake as I was aware it had fished very well in a match the previous weekend. The snake lake is the newest lake on the complex (I think it only opened last year) and although it is not the prettiest (needs some trees & vegetation etc) it is full of F1s (as I was later to find out!).

I decided to fish on the middle arm of the lake on the right hand side, with the wind blowing against my back. Unfortunately I can't say which peg I fished as not many pegs had markings. The peg I picked was about half way down.

Not the prettiest lake but too busy catching fish to notice!

So with the time being 09.30 I gave myself one hour to set up and plumb two lines. However as soon as I started to plumb up the wind got noticeably stronger. I began to plumb my long line to the opposite banking but the wind began to whip up a frenzy and I really struggled plumbing. Eventually I settled at 9.5 metres finding around three foot. I then plumbed a second short line at about 4 sections out in around four foot of water.

I had a different plan of attack in mind from each swim due to the information I had already gained.
On the long line feeding small nuggets of groundbait (Sonubaits F1) laced with maggots with double maggot on the hook. For the short line I intended to fish a 6mm expander (Ringers) over micro pellets.

On both lines I was using a Nick Gilbert Gimp XT 0.3g float 0.14 to 0.12 with a size 18 Kamasan B911 hook.

So 10.30 came and I began my session. Straight on on the long line and got blown all over the place, struggled badly to feed the line. After a minute or so I managed to feed it but I decided to scrap the plan and concentrate on the short line. If the wind did die down then I would try reverting back to this line.

So I quickly changed rigs and potted in a pinch of micro pellets. After about ten minutes I potted in another pinch of pellets and a short time later the float slightly dipped, a gentle strike and I was into my first F1 of the day. A small F1 of 4 or 5oz safely netted. Not a blanker!!! Happy days!!

First fish of the day!

Next put in, again feeding a pinch of micros, resulting in another shy bite and another F1 in the net around 7-8oz. This pattern continued for next half hour next four further F1s to 1lb and a nice fish of over 2lb. Then it died. No bites or knocks for the next half hour or so. Strange.

F1 of over 2lb

About 40 minutes later and still biteless, the bailiff turned up to collect his cash (£5). Chatting with him he asked if I was fishing bottom, to which I told him I was. I was then told to come off the bottom as it doesn't take much feeding to bring them off the bottom and and start feeding.

Sure enough I came of the bottom by a foot and straight away I was getting liners. After a second pinch of micros I was back into F1s of up to a pound.

Couple of hours in and catching steadily disaster struck. Along with the high winds came a heavy shower. Time to get the brolly out. Brolly arm goes on the box followed by my brolly. I then turned round to look at the clouds in the distance to see if the shower was here for long. Next thing I hear is a big crash as my brolly takes off taking my seat box with it straight into my peg!!

I lunge to try and catch it, miss it and stand on my power top of my pole which had come dislodged from the tulip on the box. S%*T F**K B*&%*&%S and a few other expletives where then duly unleashed!!

I eventually managed to drag my box, minus the top half of the brolly, out of the water only to see a reel case containing a reel floating to the middle and then sinking!! Unbelievable!!!

My brolly was upside down in the middle of my peg and I was unable to reach it to pull it out. Now in a foul mood I was quite surprised with myself when I decided I would continue fishing and not pack in!

Trashed power kit!

So I moved two pegs down and inspected all my kit. One top kit completely trashed and unusable, and all my pellets and maggots gone. So I pumped some more 6mm expanders and I had some 4mm feed pellets in my bag and used these instead of micros. I plummed a similar short line and began fishing a foot off the bottom. Straight away getting line bites and eventually after shallowing another foot I was again into fish. For the rest of the afternoon I managed to steadily catch F1s to just over a pound.

At the end of my five hours I had 47 F1s in the bag. I fished a little longer to get a nice round figure of 50 fish! Weight wise I gave a conservative average of half a pound per fish, so approximately 25lb of F1s. Not a bad winter net of fish at all!!

I managed to locate the bailiff fishing on another lake and fortunately he had a grapple hook and rope and we managed to retrieve the brolly and save the peg. The brolly was missing its lock and a couple of rods had ripped away from the material. I also managed to retrieve three bait boxes and a box of stoz from the far island!

So that was day one of my two day festival!! I learned a bit and was very keen to get back the following day.

Friday 27th

Following the same format as the previous day I decided to fish a five hour session with one hour prep time.

I had to fish a bit later today as I needed to call in to the tackle shop for some pellets as I lost the majority of mine in the box incident! I decided on trying different pellets this time round. I bought a packet of Sonu Baits Fin Perfect 1mm feed pellets and 4mm Expander pellets.

The weather when I arrived was clear blue sky and a couple degrees colder than the previous day. At the time there was hardly any wind.

I fished a different peg this time, as if I had a different peg in a match. This time I picked a peg on the end of the centre arm. No particular reason for picking this peg!

Today was a simple plan, 4mm pellet over a pinch of micro pellets. I decided I would only fish five sections out trying to catch at a faster rate. I targeted 75 F1s after the previous days performance.

I plummed just one land finding around four foot of water straight in front of me. I was hoping to get the fish feeding up in the water quickly so I could try fishing a pollyball rig which my girlfriends dad had given me to try.

1050am was the all in time. Shipping out and potting a pinch of 2mm pellets I began. After a few mins I began to get line bites. Another pinch of micros and the first fish of the day was in the net. Again a F1 around 1lb.

First F1 of the day

After that it was steady fishing, catching regularly, again F1s up to around the pound mark. I was pleased with how I was fishing and the fish were slowly rising off the bottom. The only problem I encountered was a hole in my landing net (that a mouse in my shed had made) meaning some fish fell through the net!! Now that could be costly in a match!!

The weather however turned nasty and the rest of the session was spent in either clear slightly windy spells or gale force wind and hail showers!!

Half way through the session the fishing died. No explicit reason it just died. For the next half hour I changed my depth going deeper and shallower with no joy. Then I remember I had read an article by Steve Ringer on F1 fishing in this months Match Fishing magazine. He stated when ever he fishes a pellet line it will always die and as soon as it does immediately plumb another line.

So if its good enough for Mr Ringer its defiantly good enough for me. So I immediately changed to a line at around 2 o clock, this time four sections out. I decided not to plumb it, to save time, and just fish two and half foot straight way.

This worked a treat and I immediately started catching. After a few fish I decided I would give the pollyball as bash.

The rig was set at a foot deep at the most. As soon as I put it out came a massive hail down pour. After ten minutes I got my first pollyball fish. I found the tactic of spinning the rig to make a splash sound difficult and with the hail I felt when I was getting it to splash it was only making the same sort of sound as the hail. This, coupled with the fact I was waiting longer for a bite, made me decide to switch back to the deeper rig.

Again once I started on this rig around two foot I started catching F1s every put in.

In the last half hour I decided to try the pollyball again. Again as soon as I put it out another massive hail storm followed by rain downpour arrived. I slogged on catching a couple more fish on the pollyball but not at the rate I would have liked.

Finally the five hours ended and I had caught 73 F1s, just two shy of my target. If I again applied the half pound a fish I was looking at 30 odd pound of winter F1s. I really cant complain at that.

Packing up was the hardest part of the day. I was so wet and cold as the storm continued I couldn't zip my rod bag up as I couldn't feel my fingers!!!

A quick note on the pellets. I have to say I much preferred the Ringers expanders. They stayed on the hook much longer and stayed on after missed strikes. With the Fin perfects I was very unconfident that the bait was still on and a few times I was left with no bait on the hook and no bite indication at all.
I think I may research expanders and see what others use.

Positives over the two days

1) I fished in poor conditions and I didn't give up. That is really unusual for me!
2) On the second day I changed lines instead of preserving with the dead line
3) I felt I was definitely learning as the two days went on and managed to put lessons into practice.

Negatives/Things to work on

1) Reading the swim better, I need to learn when fishing that fish wont stay on the bottom when feeding and know when to start altering depth. I could have caught a lot more fish, especially on the first day, if I had this in my head.
2) Landing fish quicker. I need to learn to land fish with my top four instead of breaking down to my top two to land. I tried practicing this but it seemed to take me longer to land.
3) Better preparation before hand. I ended up messing around trying to tie rigs and bastardise other rigs whilst I was fishing as I only had one appropriate rig when I arrived.

Finally!! Sorry for the extra long blog but it was an event packed two days. Hopefully future blogs won't be so long and so mishap laden!! Any comments feedback would be gratefully appreciated.