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 (http://www.manorhousefisheries.co.uk/) 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!!