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Des Shipp’s Pellet Waggler Masterclass


Des Shipp explains when fishing the waggler can give you the edge over other methods…

Fishing the waggler is a tactic that requires almost unparalleled hard work and perseverance. However, done correctly, in the right situation it can prove to be devastating, just as I proved in a recent Maver Match This qualifier at Gold Valley Lakes, where I qualified for the £65,000 grand final!


Why The Waggler?

The first and probably most obvious reason for choosing to fish a waggler over the pole is its versatility and range. You can simply fish much further out using a waggler than you can the pole; it is therefore suited perfectly for large lakes or up to features where the pole cannot reach or using a feeder isn’t suitable.

It also thrives on tightly pegged venues where fishing the waggler can create space for yourself by fishing an area of the lake nobody else is venturing into.

In modern commercial fishing, when somebody refers to the waggler, nine times out of 10 the pellet waggler is what is being referred to. However, I would be perfectly happy to reach for an insert or straight waggler should the conditions suit.

To help, here is a quick run through of what each variety is useful for:



Pellet Waggler

My number-one choice for carp in the upper layers and arguably the busiest method out there, but hard work definitely pays dividends!

A nice dumpy pattern helps with hooking fish; the buoyancy of the float can aid with self-hooking – don’t go too big, though, you are looking for a plop that imitates that of a pellet landing in the water when casting!


Insert Waggler

A sensitive pattern of waggler, perfect when a degree of finesse is needed, this is my go-to float of choice when fishing for roach, skimmers and even F1s on commercial fisheries using baits such as maggots, casters or worms.

The tip is thinner than the rest of the float and this aids sensitivity and bite indication.


Straight Waggler

A more buoyant alternative to the insert waggler, this has a multitude of uses.

The straight waggler comes into its own when there is a tow on the lake; its buoyancy means you are able to lay line on the bottom of the lake without the float being dragged under by the tow.

It also makes a brilliant float for fishing shallow for carp using baits such as meat or pellets; its structure means it has a dibber effect.

A Simple Hook bait!


Got It In The Locker?

Having the ability to fish with any type of waggler, and being completely comfortable in getting it out of the bag whenever I feel it’s suitable, puts me on the front foot at a lot of venues.

To use the Gold Valley Lakes Maver Match This qualifier as an example, I opted for a pellet-waggler approach to the match. On the day I drew Peg 50 on Gold Lake, which gave me plenty of room to go at and draw fish from. I knew that I stood a good chance of the match win from there!

It was a particularly hot day with plenty of fish cruising around the lake. I therefore expected to catch in the upper layers of the lake, an area where the pellet waggler is particularly prolific.

Gold Lake is large in size and is occupied by some big, wary carp. These tackle dodgers have seen it all before and are often the wisest occupants of a lake, so will back off from the hustle and bustle of anglers on the banks towards the middle of the lake… prime waggler territory. Due to the size of the fish often caught on this method, between 20 and 25 fish was almost certainly going to be good enough to do the business on the day.

I found having the rig set at three feet deep worked best, although ordinarily I would fish anywhere between 12 inches and two feet. The lakes at Gold Valley are quite deep so I felt that this extra depth meant I had given myself more of an area to target while still focusing on the upper layers of the swim.

My 23 fish on the day weighed in at 172lb which was just over 20lb clear of the runner-up; averaging just over four fish an hour but each of those weighing on average 7½lb it is clear to see how a weight can be built up quickly.

The key is to not stop working. Feed, cast (past feed area), feed, reel into feed area, feed, reel in and repeat. You should never have your rod or catapult out of your hand!


The Setup

This could not get any simpler!

Float size depends on how far I am likely to be casting, and on the day a 4g Preston Innovations Dura Pellet Wag was just about perfect. It features a small, interchangeable disk that stops the waggler from diving on landing, and being a small, dumpy float that is extremely buoyant helps with the hooking of fish as they can often hook themselves against the resistance of the float.

How the waggler enters the water will be the difference between getting a bite or not in the majority of cases. The float should enter the water with a nice ‘plop’ (similar to the noise of an 8mm pellet landing in the swim) and sit upright instantly. Not crash into the water, dive two feet down and slowly rise back to the surface! Like I said, this can be the difference between getting a bite and not and you would be surprised how far a little bit of practice goes.

The float is then attached using the Preston Innovations Float Stop Kit, which comes supplied ready to slide straight onto your reel line and each setup comprises four float stops and a link swivel.

One float stop sits above the float and the remaining three sit below the float and act as a boom to keep the rig from wrapping around itself, reducing the risk of getting tangled or running into any problems throughout the match. This is vitally important when casting and reeling in on a near constant basis.

You don't need locking shot with these!


My rod of choice depends on how I want it to perform. I have two main options, either an 11ft 6in Power Float, which has an all-through action that I like to use when bigger carp are on the cards, or a 12ft Super Float rod that I see as more of an all-rounder and its action is very ‘tippy’.

Both of these rods allow me to fish with relatively low-diameter lines as the action of the rods cushion any darts the fish may make. A 4 or 5lb Power Max reel line is as heavy as I would fish even when targeting big fish in this manner. You would be surprised how much stick it takes to have this snap.

To finish off the setup either a PR 36 or PR 38 hook tied to 0.15/0.17mm diameter Reflo Power will handle anything I am likely to come up against. A band in a hair and an 8mm pellet is my number-one bait of choice.


Work Hard, Reap The Rewards

Fishing the pellet waggler is all about hard work and getting into a rhythm. It is a method that needs your full attention in order to get it right on the day. Although you are only feeding on average three pellets at any one time you may do this three times every minute during the match and in between this you will either be casting, reeling in or playing a fish!

Similar to fishing shallow on the pole, finding the depth at which the fish want to feed will help with catch rate. A good starting point for the pellet waggler would be two feet. You then also need to work out whether the fish want to feed inside the feed area or off the back of the feed. It is therefore important to cast two metres or so past your feed area, feed, then reel into the feed; this will give you two opportunities to get a bite.

The key is to keep busy. If you are sat there impersonating a garden gnome you are doing something wrong. If nothing is happening then you need to make it happen. What you have got to remember is that when this method works, the size of the fish you are catching is generally big.

This is where match management comes into play; if the fish that you are catching are averaging 5lb a piece you only need four fish an hour to finish a standard five-hour match with 100lb. Breaking your session up in this way will help you to work out whether something needs to change or you are on the right track. However, it is those who keep working that will consistently produce weights capable of winning matches…


Venue File -

Woodland View Fishery

Location: Hay Lane, Droitwich, WR9 0AU.

Day ticket: £8

Contact: 01905 620872

Website: www.woodlandviewfishery.co.uk


Angler Profile -

Des Shipp

Age: 43

Lives: Bristol

Sponsors: Preston Innovations, Sonubaits


Sometimes you just have a day's fishing that you will never forget, well last Thursday I had one, catching my personal best match weight ever.


Forty years have flown by since the Sheffield Star first announced it was to host a major fishing competition for club match anglers. Who could possibly have thought that it would not only still be running today but positively thriving?

K Parkes netting

“This is the 20th year I have been involved (writes organiser Bob Roberts) and I’m proud to see it is as popular as ever. The late Colin Dyson asked me if I’d mind taking over his Green Un column (a local sports newspaper) in April 1997 until ‘he got a little better.’ Alas he never recovered but it’s a fitting tribute that the reigning Club Match Angler Champion is now presented with the Colin Dyson Memorial trophy, in his honour, a trophy provided by the late Jack Purchase to honour his memory.

The competition had dwindled since its heyday when breweries and tobacco firms were allowed to pump money into sports events and it was a struggle to raise the 40 anglers who took part in the 1997 final. Nowadays I get hundreds of entries each year and the competition to be crowned what’s effectively the champion of champions is intense.”

Clubs in the newspaper’s circulation are invited to submit their match results and hundreds respond. The match winners, more than 250 different anglers, some qualifying many times over, go through to the semi finals where each section winner is rewarded with a chance to fish the sponsored final. This is where dreams can be realised. Who wouldn’t want to be crowned Club Match Angler Champion in the UK’s biggest grass roots event?

Parkes’ Smashing Hat-Trick

Final Number Forty (22 Qualifying Finalists Fished)

Bank End Fisheries, Blaxton, Match Lake


A perfect day with broken cloud and a light breeze promised much at this perfectly manicured fishery. It certainly didn’t let us down. The lowest weight returned was a respectable 53 pounds while the average catch topped 91lbs.

Kevin Parkes, a 44-year-old joiner from Mosborough made history by winning the match and becoming the first angler ever to be crowned champion on three occasions – pretty good going considering a quarter of the field were previous champions making it probably the most difficult final ever to win but he achieved it the hard way smashing two number 4 sections, a top kit and trashed 5 rigs in the margin rushes.

Feeding a line just 12 inches from the bank with chopped worm, meat, maggots and groundbait, Parkes set off on pellet waggler, catching a couple of carp, before coming inside where he found the fish queuing up to pounce on his red maggot baited hook.

Top Six Weights:

1. Kevin Parkes 159-9 (Peg 5) £900

2. Graham Webster 134-0 (Peg 20) £675

3. Richard Wardle 128-3 (Peg 30) £550

4. Omar Munaser 126-6 (Peg 4) £375

5. Brian Searle 124-4 (Peg 26) £325

6. Rob Burgin 112-0 (Peg 28) £50

Prize winnings shown included cash and tackle (to the value of). Section winners also received cool bags retailing at £49.99

Special Mentions

A huge thanks go out to Sheffield newspapers for hosting the competition, Daiwa Sports for providing the fantastic prizes, Bank End Fisheries for providing the final venue, Pauline and Geoff Hurt – tireless and brilliantly efficient organisers (as always) and all the club match secretaries who submit their results, week-in and week-out.


Well this is my first year entering the Daiwa Pole Fishing Masters, which saw 112 anglers take to the prolific Tunnel Barn Farm Fisheries to compete over 3 days to become the UK pole champion. Anyone wanting to compete with the very best in angling then look no further than this event, its run by Pole Fishing and heavily backed by Daiwa and is certainly one of the hardest yet most exciting events to be involved with.

I had been waiting months for it to come around and couldn’t wait to get started, I had been given some info from lads who had fished the Inter Services national only days before and it was very clear that no one method was working hard and fast so I opted on the side of caution by taking several baits with me, but the main being Casters, Worm and Meat.

day 1 ext 17 2

Day 1 saw me draw a nightmare peg which I have had the pleasure of quite a few times Peg 17 on Extension Pool, I say it’s a nightmare as it’s only around 7-8m to the island in front, even by fishing in line with the platform to my right I only managed 11m tight to the island; I chose to do this to give me as much room as possible just in case I needed to start other swims throughout the match, I also targeted the platform to my left into the bay for the big carp that can often be caught down there, and finally a topkit and 1 feeding micro’s and soft pellet on the hook for anything that swims. Starting on my short line whilst building up the far bank swim also offering the fish somewhere to back off from those to my right who chose to go straight over from the off, again hoping this would give me a better chance as the match progressed. I was into a small F1 straight away close in which was a good start only around 12oz nothing of size, this followed quickly by another of around a pound, but then disaster struck just as I lifted to net the fish my elastic broke which in a competition like this is so much time wasted sorting out another rig. I set another kit up quickly and was back fishing again in a few minutes but I couldn’t believe it my elastic went again, both brand new a couple of days beforehand I have put it down to a bad batch which is getting sent back. From here I caught fairly steadily for most of the day with a quick run of fish off the island before it died, so stuck it out on the short line until I felt it was time to have a go down the margins in search of some lumps, it wasn’t to be I did manage 2 around 3-4lb each in my last 2 put ins but most of my F1’s where of much smaller stamp than what I could see others catching. At the weigh-in I felt I had fished a good match but felt I had been done by much bigger fish, I was surprised to see my 45lb weight put me 4th in the section with Paul Holland smashing everyone off fancied peg 22 with 114lb.

day 2 ext 24 2

Day 2 I not only pulled out the same lake again but even the same section but this time on what I felt was a much better peg 24, with a good 14.5m to the reeds on the far side I felt I had plenty of room to catch much more, I spoke to Ben Brighton who was on the same peg on day 1 and he said those around him all struggled, but I felt it could fish better than day 1 which we spent most of it in the rain. My plan was to fish caster at around 7m and follow them out towards the island, I plumbed the island in front of the reeds only to find nearly 3 feet of water so not exactly what you want when fishing long, I again went short this time with meat as most said it fished well with meat. I started short and had a good run of fish for 20 minutes before bites tailed off, time to switch to the caster line as signs of fish where now there, it was a fish a bung again for 20 minutes then it just switched off completely, I tried everything from going on the deck to short and long only picking up the odd fish. Then the heavens opened literally I have never fished in such a downpour and I fish in Scotland a lot, it was un-real; when it first came it covered half the lake and as if an invisible wall was in its way the half was still bright sunshine, then after a couple of minutes it moved across the whole venue for a good hour and half; once it disappeared everyone’s’ swims came alive and I could only keep trying whilst watching. I knew Andy Benwell had caught really well off yesterday’s winning peg 22 and Jordan Holloway also caught off peg 21, at the weigh-in I was gutted to see only 29lb go on the scales which put me last in my section, Andy had done 88lb by mostly fishing tight over to the bare bank where it was only around 12-15 inches deep, but I was so happy to see Jordan had obliterated everyone in our section and later found out the match with 141lb all on caster shallow.

day 3 ext 3 2

Day 3 I was well out of the running but felt I wanted Extension again just to round off the festival, and the only luck I really had was I managed to do it and pulled out peg 3, a good peg but a wide one, as its 16m rather than the 14.5m to the island. I had been told on this peg go with caster shallow at 8m then follow them out, and meat short that’s it. I had a steady first few hours picking up fish which I felt confident in I could see Jake Gallagher on peg 7 starting to catch quickly shallow, but for those around us it never got out of 2nd gear, the last 2 hours was horrendous as I struggled for bites like so many throughout the 3 days, even Sandra Scotthorne who also was on her 3rd visit to Extension was on peg 1 only had a handful of fish but then she managed to put a good run together and at the end just did me by a few pound and Dan Jones to my right who was my next peg partner on day 1 too also had a good run from the far side to finish up with 3rd In the section, Paul Holland was also back on Extension who managed to win with just 66lb.

It was an exhausting event where a few rookie mistakes have cost me, and in the company you are with these highlight just how costly they are, even just bad luck of elastic snapping can put you back a good 5-6 fish. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though I am lucky to have stayed with several of the best anglers in the world where I could pick their brains, look at their tackle and to be shown some valuable tricks.

I have always been a believer of if you don’t ask you don’t get, and after witnessing Matt Godfrey walk around asking as many anglers the same question just so he can be as accurate as possible was a real eye opener even with the talent he has; I now realise we can all ask more and no-one should be afraid too, they are all a book of knowledge. I know many believe including mates of my own that the top anglers only give you a fraction of what they know or out of date info but after seeing them help plenty of unknown anglers this week that perception couldn’t be further from the truth, yes they might not tell you everything after all they are match anglers too but they will certainly help 100%. I also appreciate these guys get thousands of questions but what I have learned is information is key to success don’t be afraid keep asking them at venues, through social media, emails etc. and don’t give up; it’s well worth just sitting back and watching all of these guys if they fish your local venues of how they do things, from swim choice, feeding patterns and even how to lay a rig. Again I know plenty of anglers who frequently say that having balanced tackle, line diameter, hook or float choice etc. makes no difference but seeing these guys in action even when I thought I was pretty good at something was quite amazing, they really do look at every aspect in detail and understand fishing, all part of good watercraft for what I witnessed this is going to be invaluable to me and will make a huge difference.

day 2 ext 24 4

I would just like to say a huge thank you to Tom Scholey, Matt Godfrey, Jake Fowles, Jordan Holloway, Ian Kent, Luke Sears & Ben Brighton for the laughs we had same again next year. A huge thank you to Joe Carass and all the staff already mentioned at DHP along with Daiwa for hosting such a fantastic event; and I have to thank Mike, Sarah, Les and the Staff at TBF for such a great venue and hospitality.


Like most anglers, I work five days a week and quite often work weekends. A couple of weeks ago I had a Wednesday off work, so I decided to have a go at the open match on Blundells Fishery in Warrington.

I fish here regularly at the weekends but I had never previously fished a midweek open match. With turnouts of more than 40 anglers at weekends, the midweek matches are normally about half that and I was excited by the amount of room we would all have.Screenshot_20160604-1957241.PNG

I fished the match the Saturday before and came fourth on the lake with 74lb but knew I would need about 120lb to win the match on the Wednesday.

They are always rover matches and I pulled out number 34 out of 60, so a pretty average draw. A lot of the early pegs were being taken in the area where the wind was blowing because fish have a tendency to follow the wind on a lot of venues.

I decided on Peg 17 because I knew it was an area that tends to hold a few fish, plus the wind was blowing into that end of the lake.

I started the match fishing short on maggots and nicked a few decent carp, while I fed my all-important shallow line with 6mm Focus pellets.DSC_0059.JPG

After an hour I decided to have a look on my shallow line and I didn't look back for the rest of the match.

I always like to use a light 0.1g float when fishing shallow and when I start missing bites I increase the float size when it becomes solid. I ended up fishing a 0.4g and F1s were simply hooking themselves.

A banded 6mm Focus pellet was the best bait by far and I ended up weighing 183lb 9oz. It was only good enough for 2nd overall, with 190lb winning the match. It was an enjoyable action-packed day and it shows that sometimes working weekends has its perks. It was certainly the best day’s fishing I have ever had on a Wednesday!  


After working all weekend, I had the bank holiday Monday off work, so I decided to go to my local fishery, Meadow View. The match was a special charity memorial for Dave Berry, the former fishery owner. It took place across the whole complex and with well over 40 anglers booked on, it was great to see so much support to celebrate a top bloke.

After purchasing a few tickets for the after-match raffle it was a draw time. The fishery consists of three lakes – Linnet, Thrush and Lark. The talk before the start was that you needed to draw on Linnet to have any chance of winning. When I pulled out Peg 38 on Lark I wasn't exactly running to it. Lark is the largest lake and can sometimes be a real challenge. I had a chat to a few on the regular anglers and they said that 13lb was the best weight from that end of the lake on the open match the day before.

On all the lakes the carp were cruising around under the surface, but I was told that they would be more interested in sunbathing rather than feeding. I fancied the chance of mugging a couple on the long pole early, so set up a few shallow rigs.

At the all-in, I picked up my mugging rig and flicked an 8mm Marukyu Focus Pellet in front of a big carp – it took it! After a good fight a 16lb mirror carp was in the net. Happy days.

I managed to mug another carp about 10 minutes later. This time the fish nearly took me to the other side of the lake. It was a good job I had a side puller on my top kit. It was a rare Meadow View grass carp (my favourite species of fish) and a real struggle to get in my landing net because it was so long.


At this stage of I had well over 20lb in the first 20 minutess, with just two fish!

Halfway into the match it was clear that the carp weren't playing ball, with only the odd small one being caught. I knew my two lumps were a real bonus, so I took a gamble to started feeding 6mm fishery pellets aggressively on my 16m pole line. The fish in Meadow View are big old carp and quite often back away from feed. However, decided that I had nothing to lose, with only a few anglers having a carp or two.

After 15 minutes of pinging pellets I hooked into an 8lb mirror carp. Then I didn't have a bite for over an hour.

In the last 30 minutes I had a good run of carp from 3lb to 6lb, all caught shallow at 16 metres pinging 6mm fishery pellets, with a 6mm banded Marukyu Focus Pellet on the hook.

When the scales came round to me the best weight on my lake was just over 30lb. I weighed 62lb 10oz, which comfortably won the lake. Once all the others were weighed in I had finished second overall, with the match being won off Linnet. It was a hard day’s fishing but a totally enjoyable one. The event was a great success and a pleasure to part of, with a lot of money raised for charity.


I didn't win anything on the raffle but I bought the missus and me a takeaway out of my winnings.

Overall a great sunny bank holiday Monday; it’s a shame every Monday can't be like that!

Tight lines and see you on the bank soon

Martin Stokes


Last weekend I managed to get out on open matches both days.
Saturday May 7th I went to the beautiful Partridge Lakes. With more than 80 anglers booked on, it has to be one of biggest open matches in the country.

I drew Peg 51 on Covey 3. It looked pretty good with loads of features to target but to be honest most pegs look the business at Partridge.

I started the match fishing towards a large reed bed on the far bank. I find that when the sun’s out, cover and shade can be great fish-holding areas. I caught seven small F1s in the first 30 minutes, so it was a good start. Worms and casters have been by far the best bait on Partridge Lakes of late. I like to give my worms a little extra flavour by adding a glug of Marukyu’s Boost Juice

After a good start across, the bites slowed down and I started to catch a few silver fish, which is never a good sign. I had a quick look on my shallow line at seven metres but nothing came from it. I had an empty peg to my right that seemed like a another good shaded area to target. After feeding a few Cad Pots of chopped worms and casters I was into a proper fight with a lively 5lb mirror carp. This line produced about eight carp and a few F1s. Bites were slow but when I got one they were decent fish.

With just over half of the match gone I was pretty much on a par with all the other anglers I could see.

The last hour I decided to fish short down the edge. By fishing a short pole you can feed a lot more aggressively and catch a bit quicker. I ended up catching about another 20 F1s. At the all-out the scales came round and the best weight on the lake was 36lb; I knew I had more than that. I weighed in 60lb 8oz, so I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, a peg around the corner that I couldn't see weighed just over 80lb to win the section.

I felt I fished a good match and don't think the peg was worth much more.

Another great day’s fishing at one of my favourite venues in the country and I can't wait until my next visit.

Tight lines, and see you soon.

Martin Stokes


Last weekend I managed to get out on open matches both days.
Saturday May 7th I went to the beautiful Partridge Lakes. With more than 80 anglers booked on, it has to be one of biggest open matches in the country.

I drew Peg 51 on Covey 3. It looked pretty good with loads of features to target but to be honest most pegs look the business at Partridge.

I started the match fishing towards a large reed bed on the far bank. I find that when the sun’s out, cover and shade can be great fish-holding areas. I caught seven small F1s in the first 30 minutes, so it was a good start. Worms and casters have been by far the best bait on Partridge Lakes of late. I like to give my worms a little extra flavour by adding a glug of Marukyu’s Boost Juice

After a good start across, the bites slowed down and I started to catch a few silver fish, which is never a good sign. I had a quick look on my shallow line at seven metres but nothing came from it. I had an empty peg to my right that seemed like a another good shaded area to target. After feeding a few Cad Pots of chopped worms and casters I was into a proper fight with a lively 5lb mirror carp. This line produced about eight carp and a few F1s. Bites were slow but when I got one they were decent fish.

With just over half of the match gone I was pretty much on a par with all the other anglers I could see.

The last hour I decided to fish short down the edge. By fishing a short pole you can feed a lot more aggressively and catch a bit quicker. I ended up catching about another 20 F1s. At the all-out the scales came round and the best weight on the lake was 36lb; I knew I had more than that. I weighed in 60lb 8oz, so I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, a peg around the corner that I couldn't see weighed just over 80lb to win the section.

I felt I fished a good match and don't think the peg was worth much more.

Another great day’s fishing at one of my favourite venues in the country and I can't wait until my next visit.

Tight lines, and see you soon.

Martin Stokes


Last Sunday, May 8th, I decided to stay local and have a go on the, in Lymm.

For anyone who doesn't know this fishery, it contains mainly big, old, wise carp that can sometimes be difficult to catch. The average size is about 6lb, with the odd proper munter going over 20lb.

My peg for the day was 31 on Lark, a pretty average draw because it was in the middle of the lake. I was pretty pleased when I could see a few big ghost carp swimming about shallow when I was setting up. Like a kid in a sweet shop, I couldn't wait to get my 16m pole out and mug a few.

I spent the first 30 minutes of the match dropping a piece of punched meat in front of any carp I could see, but they were more interested in sunbathing than feeding.

After a frustrating start I decided it would be a waste of time targeting fish shallow because these carp were clearly not feeding.

One of my favourite types of fishing at this time of year is the Method feeder. Using a banded 6mm Marukyu Focus pellet on the hook and some of the fishery’s own micros on the Method feeder, I had a few chucks about and was soon into my first carp, a nice fully scaled mirror of about 5lb.

Bites were slow coming but when I did hook a carp they nearly pulled the rod in every time! It was strange because hardly any fish were caught on the pole. I decided to stick with the Method feeder for the rest of the match because it was the only thing I could get a bite on.

After the five hours I had caught nine carp and two small skimmers which weighed 37lb, good enough for 2nd overall on the match with 24lb coming third. The bloke who won weighed in just over 43lb with only eight carp, so I only needed a few better sized fish for the win.

It was still an enjoyable day’s fishing. The beauty of Meadow View is that you can always get right back in contention with just one big carp, which can make for a really exciting match!

I had some absolutely awesome bites on the tip rod and it was nice to pick up few quid for my efforts.

Tight lines and see you soon

Martin Stokes


Sunday, April 24th – Partridge Lakes Open Match.

The last match of the week, I decided to have a go back on Partridge Lakes for the open match. With 85 anglers on it, it just goes to show how popular a venue it has become over the last few years.

I drew Peg 98, so it was my first time sat on Covey 4. I decided to start across on the worm and had a nightmare start, losing two big carp. One went straight through the stick-ups and the other straight under my peg. I spent the next three hours struggling to get a bite. I had a couple down the edge in front of the pallet to my right and a couple across but I was going nowhere. I could see Peg 97 catching well down the edge towards the bridge but I couldn't buy a bite. I then decided to focus on my far-bank lines for the rest of the match. I had three swims and decided to put a big pot of chopped worms and my ever-faithful Amino casters on each line. I spent the rest of the match alternating these three lines and caught steadily for the rest of the match.

I finished with 39lb 12oz and felt the peg was probably worth more. I should have spent more time fishing the far bank, rather than trying to catch them all over the peg. I guess you can't get it right every time.

Overall the complex fished pretty hard by Partridge’s high standards, probably because of the drop in temperature and the cold rain. You only needed 60-odd-lb to get in the top six!

I enjoyed a great week of fishing, with plenty of fish. The best bait on both venues without doubt were casters sprayed with Marukyu's Amino Coconutty and chopped worms.

Tight lines and see you out on the bank soon.

Martin Stokes 



On Saturday it was back to one of my local venues, Blundells Fishery, for the open match. After six weeks away from the place, I knew the fishing would be slightly different from my last match on the venue.

It has a rover match across all the lakes. With about 40 anglers on it you need to draw a low number to get on a decent peg. I drew ball 4. Happy days, so I went on Peg 59. This is at the end of an island and you have plenty of room and you cannot get boxed in by other anglers.


I got off to a good start, catching F1s steady for the first half of the match, switching between casters shallow and Amino-flavoured corn down the edge.

The last 90 minutes I really struggled for bites. The F1s followed the wind up the lake.

I ended up with 102lb 9oz, which was 6th overall in the match. The venue fished really well, with a standout weight of 177lb winning it! The fishing had certainly picked up a bit since my last visit.




So it was here, the first Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier of the year. I always get excited on qualifiers for these big-money matches. They can be a bit of a lottery, but if you draw a decent peg you can be in with a chance.

For the last four years I have been trying to get a ticket for Partridge Lakes without any luck, but this year I managed to get on both qualifiers. With 200 anglers fishing it, and about 30 reserves hoping to get a ticket, it was a sellout. The beauty of Partridge is that the match could be won on any lake.FB_IMG_1461658342569-01.jpeg

My home for the day was Peg 42 on Covey 2. The Coveys are the lakes the fishery uses in all its open matches, so I had a good idea of how I would fish the peg.


With all the pressure on the lake, I knew catching shallow would be a lot harder than the previous day. The peg had a lot of reeds to my left and I could see a few fish knocking the stick-ups. I knew this would be the best area of the peg to get a few bites.

At the all-in I decided to try and nick an early fish from the reeds. I went over to my left with just a big piece of worm on and within minutes I was into a decent fish. Following a hard fight I landed a mirror of about 7lb, which is really big for the Coveys. The average size is 1lb to2lb.

I went over to the same area and fed nothing again and a few minutes later I got another bite. This time the fish headed straight for the reeds and I lost it. I decided to rest that swim for a while. Because of all the commotion of losing that fish it would have spooked any others in that area of the peg.

I went over to the far bank but there were no signs of fish.

Like the previous day, I had been loose feeding a few casters on my shallow line. I had a look on that line an hour into the match, with the hope of catching a few ide or small chub. I had a good run of ide and put about 15lb of them in my nets before they moved out of the peg.

I decided I would focus on my left-hand margin for the rest of the match because this was the only area of the peg that I could constantly get bites from.

I ended up with 54lb 12oz, which was only good enough for 4th on the lake, and I just missed out on a section win. I had a really mixed bag of ide, chub and F1s but I never felt there was the volume of F1s on the peg to challenge for a place to qualify. It was still a great day out and a decent weight looking at the others on the lake. One qualifier down, three to go! DSC_0006-01.JPG


Tuesday, April 19th – Partridge Lakes Open

I decided to visit Partridge Lakes on the open match for a practice before the Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier the following day. I drew Peg 107 on Covey 5, not the best of draws, with the weather nice and sunny for a change.



On most of my visits to Partridge I seem to draw on Covey 5, so it’s probably a lake I know the best, having won a few quid off it. The stamp of F1s seems to be a lot smaller compared with Covey 1 to 4. Covey 5 and 6 are newer lakes, so you know you have to catch a few more fish. Both of the canal lakes (Spey and Marsh) were in the match, along with Covey 5 and 6.

At the draw the talk was that you needed to draw on Spey to have any chance of winning the match, and they were right.

I started the match by fishing across. I caught a couple of F1s on worm early on but felt it was too slow. My main plan of attack was to focus on my shallow caster line at seven metres. One thing I have been doing recently is spraying Marukyu's Amino Coconutty on my casters. I like looking for those little edges that get you that extra bite in matches.


The shallow line I always like to feed for the first hour before having a go on it. After 60 minutes I went on it and was into an 8oz ide within seconds. It wasn't the 2lb F1 I was hoping for but it was clear there were a few fish to be caught. After a good hour of catching ide and the odd F1, the bites slowed, so I decided to have a go down the edges. After spending 15 minutes down both sides all I had to show was a few small skimmers, but at least I had rested my shallow line, hopefully resulting in the fish feeding a bit more confidently on the casters without a line in the water.

Another look on my shallow line and this time a decent F1 was ripping my elastic out. I caught ide, small chub and a few F1s steadily for the rest of the match, resulting in 64lb 14oz, which was good enough for 4th on the lake.

It was a pretty decent result. I had beaten every angler I could see but the section was won from the other end of the lake. It gave me a boost and a bit on confidence going into my Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier the following day, which was the major reason for entering the match.



The Build Up

Round 1 of the Supercup had soon came round and following a practice session over the Easter weekend the Stockton Heath Angling Group (S.H.A.G) team were confident in the days leading up to the match which was being held at Goose Green Fishery near Alderley Edge. The practice session went well for the majority and we were able to use the information gained to help formulate a plan to follow on the day of the match. This would largely focus on catching a weight of Roach on the short pole line, Skimmers on the long pole and the potential of a bonus fish or two on the feeder early on. Going into the match I had given everybody a target weight of between 20 & 25lb which I believed would be good enough per man for us to do the business with some sections capable of more, others maybe not quite as good.

The Match

Following a quick walk round the venue with the Trafford AC captain whilst pegging out we soon got on with the draw. The layout of the Supercup is pretty simple, 6 anglers per team, 2 man sections (one per team..) and a simple case of beating the one opposition angler in your own section, the highest number of section wins per team win.

Each section had been situated in areas as evenly matched as possible, this meant the initial draw wasn’t massively important, however the placement of our own anglers across the lake was, we got draw ‘A’ which were the odd numbers and between the team did our own draw; from this I got peg 3, the opposite bank from where I was during practice.


Following the team plan I had three main lines set up;
– 6 metres (Caster)- here I had three rigs set up to cover the 7 feet deep swim. I had both a 0.5g & 0.4g AS3 float set up for fishing on the deck. The bigger of the two patterns with a bulk and droppers and the lighter with a strung out shotting pattern, a 0.10 diameter hooklength and a size 16 Gama Green hook completed both setups. The same hooklengths were also used on a lighter 4×12 Chianti rig set up for catching shallow.
– 13 metres (Groundbait & Pellet)- here I had a depth of 10 feet, a 1 Gram Drennan AS6 float down to a 0.10 diameter hooklength tied to a size 16 B911 hook, size 8 Dura Hollo the elastic used.
– Method Feeder

I kicked the match off by putting 5 balls of groundbait on my long pole line, I had opted for a 50/50 mix of Sonubaits F1 dark and brown crumb, a mix I am confident Skimmers, Roach and carp will all happily feed over. In the mix I had mixed in some micro pellets and a few grains of corn.

I started off on my method feeder line a few feet from the island, but with just a single Roach to show for my efforts and with others around me also chucking across to the island and struggling it was clear that the fish didn’t really want to be across there.

I had been feeding casters regularly by hand on my short pole line and the line instantly produced bites, I found that my bulked shot rig worked best as there seemed to be alot of fish competing in the swim so getting to them quickly worked well, the fish in the venue were definitely not rig shy. The next hour produced well from this line and although the roach were not of a particularly good stamp I was catching alot very quickly.

When the line started to slow down I decided to give it a rest and have a look on my longer pole line to see if any fish had settled over my initial feed. It took a couple of minutes but a quick indication on the float and my first skimmer of the day had fallen for my 4mm pellet hookbait, this one around 6oz in weight.

My next few put ins all resulted in small roach taking the bait on the drop and I didn’t feel my bait was getting chance to get to the bottom without them intercepting it. I decided a grain of corn may be a better option to help filter out some better fish. I wasn’t wrong, I waited a little longer for bites but my next couple of fish were of good quality. A hybrid of around 1lb,  another skimmer of a similar size and my first proper slab of the day, probably approaching 3lb.

The next 20minutes saw me alternating between corn and pellet hookbaits to try and entice further bites but the swim had slowed up, I’m not a fan of feeding over the top of Skimmers as I feel it spooks them but fealt I needed to introduce more bait. Another couple of balls of groundbait went in and back onto my short line I went in order to let some more fish settle…

The rest of the match was a case of alternating between the two pole lines trying not to exhaust either one but at the same time trying to keep putting fish in the net. My short line constantly produced bites but unlike in our practice session where I was catching plenty of Roach in the 6-8oz bracket the majority of my fish were around 2-3oz. My long line seemed to produce 3 or 4 fish at a time and then slow up completely, it seemed as though the fish would move in quickly over the feed, eat everything then leave, in hindsight a particle rich initial feed potentially double what I had put in may have held the fish for longer.

I managed a couple more smaller skimmers, another nice hybrid and a Bream along with plenty of Roach before the all out sounded. The opposition in my section had struggled for large parts of the match and I was confident I had beaten him, looking around I could see others on my own team had struggled and other sections were going to be close…

The Weigh In

The weigh in got underway quickly and from what my team were saying it could potentially be a close one. We had almost certainly lost two of the sections it on the flip side we’d also won atleast two, the remaining two sections were going to be close..

Section A got us started and we knew our guy had struggled, a bit of a whitewash saw Trafford AC get the point with a weight of 25lb 13oz compared to the 8lb 15oz of the Stockton Heath rod.

Section B was where both myself and the Trafford captain had drawn, hopefully an opportunity to restore some order. I was first to weigh in and my net of mainly Roach with a couple of bonus fish weighed in at 23lb 9oz comparing to the 12lb 3oz of the opposition, we were back level!


Following this we had a section loss in section C, annoyingly just 3lb in it including a 10lb carp caught by the Trafford Angler which wiped out what had been a solid performance by our man who had worked hard for 17lb 4oz of small roach.

Another instant reply though and in section D we came out on top again by a good margin at this point with 4 out of the 6 sections weighed in it was all square.

However, the next two sections didn’t go to plan, a match winning weight came from the Trafford Angler and venue regular in E section with a weight of 36lb, a winning margin of 21lb.

With one more section to weigh and sitting at 3-2 down we needed a win in the final section, further to that a big win as the cumulative weight for Trafford was also much greater. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and a narrow section loss meant we ended up 4-2 down on the day.

Unfortunately a short lived Supercup experience for Stockton Heath Angling Group in their first year in the competition! Things could have easily gone the other way with a bit more luck on our side. Two of the sections being lost by a very narrow margin but that’s just fishing!

On a personal note my match went well, I’ve caught steadily throughout the match and was able to rotate my lines to keep fish coming ensuring I did enough to beat my man to win the section.

A big good luck to Trafford AC in the next round and onwards in the competition!


I have had a couple of big matches over the last two weeks at a very local venue, Lakeview Fisheries. Being only five miles from my house I decided it had to be one of the Fish ‘O’ Mania tickets I would apply for. I had already been fishing the complex quite a lot during winter for Lakeview’s Middy Extreme winter series. These are matches fished every Wednesday and Saturday and the winner from each goes through to a final where £1,000 is up for grabs, plus plenty of section prizes to be won. I managed to qualify back in January for the £1,000 match. This final was to be fished on the Saturday, March 19th, only one week before the Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier, so it would make good practice if nothing else.

On the day of the final around 50 anglers made the draw. With cold weather and the fish shoaling together, a good draw would be essential to win. I drew Peg 9 on Canal Pool, a peg that had held a few fish on previous weeks, so I was quite happy.

Once I had finished setting up I had a rig plumbed for every possible eventuality, from dobbing bread a foot deep to pellet and maggot rigs for fishing full depth down the track, hoping to maximise my chances of getting it right on the day and to learn what was and wasn’t working. I learnt very quickly that the fish that had been sitting in this area had moved further down the lake to Pegs 4 to 6. I really struggled to catch anything early in the match, only putting four F1s and one carp in my net in the first three and a half hours! With an hour and a half left I decided to feed more positively in an attempt to stop any passing fish. I fed groundbait and maggots tight against the next platform and fed all my other lines more regularly.

This had an immediate effect and although I didn’t spend the last hour hauling, I did catch another five F1s and two small carp, weighing in 25lb.

Steve Haywood won the lake with 45lb and the match was won from a different lake altogether. On the plus side, I had learnt a lot and felt much better about the following week. Although I had caught fish late by feeding regularly, the guys who had drawn on a lot of fish had done the damage dobbing bread and/or maggots.


With all this in mind, I spent a long time preparing hooklengths and rigs suited to what I would need for the following week. I made all my rigs up on 0.13mm Preston Reflo Power, giving me the option to fish 0.11mm hooklengths for F1s or 0.13mm hooklengths if I had more large carp in my peg. For fishing Lakeview I like to use Preston PB Inter 1 and PB Inter 8 floats. The Inter 1s are great for all the pellet fishing down the middle of the lake in the deeper water, usually in a 0.3 or 0.4g, and all the shot bulked above a 4in hooklength. The Inter 8s are great for shallow water, so I use these in 4x10 and 4x12 for fishing tight to islands or dobbing shallow. When I am dobbing I try to use small No11 shot and spread them the full length of the rig. This allows the bait to sink very slow, looking more natural.

It was soon the day of the Fish ‘O' Mania and all the talk on the morning revolved around people wanting to draw pegs on Reef or Oasis pools. These haven't been fished a lot recently but due to them holding 10lb-plus fish it could always throw up good weights on such a busy match! At the draw the nerves kicked in, as they always do for me on big matches. I managed to draw Peg 19 on Reef but, to be honest, this really didn't mean a lot. Being the only lake on the complex that I have never fished, I really didn't know what to expect!


I plumbed about mapping my peg and found it was fairly deep, averaging five and a half to six feet. After spotting one or two fish swim past only a foot or so below the surface I knew it was worth starting off shallow with maggot and dobbing bread. 
I spent the first two hours dobbing bread two feet deep tight across to the island in three feet of water using my 4x10 rig. This went well, putting 14 carp in my net for roughly 45lb. Unfortunately, due to the horrific wind and rain, a few anglers began to pack away in the third hour, leaving four empty pegs on the end of the lake. It seemed clear that I was losing my fish as soon as these anglers left the lake. The fish swam past me and the next guy into the undisturbed water and could be seen topping in these empty pegs. I only caught two fish in the 4th hour but both being 9lb carp I couldn't complain, boosting my weight nicely when I caught least.

The last hour was also difficult but changing to fishing pellets at full depth to my right at the very limit of my peg and catching four smaller carp and losing four due to foul hooking, I had done all that I could.

The word spread that two anglers on Oasis had caught in excess of 100lb. I was sure I had secured a section win and possibly frame over all. With 130 anglers on eight lakes you can never tell who has caught from where until the final weigh.

I weighed 76lb and had clearly won my lake and I’d had a lovely day.

At the presentation I found out that I had managed third overall. It’s always nice to frame in such a big match!

I am absolutely over the moon to congratulate my good friend Sam Brown on the match win and qualifying spot for the Fish ‘O’ Mania semi-final, weighing 149lb! He absolutely deserves it and I am so happy for him.


Top Five Overall

1st Sam Brown 149lb 14oz – Peg 17 Oasis

2nd Wayne Heywood 124lb 5oz – Peg 14 Oasis

3rd Ben Sharp 76lb – Peg 19 Reef

4th Barry Bush – Peg 16 Oasis

5th Luke Dobson – Peg 18 Reef


Thanks for reading my blog and you will hear more from me very soon. 

Ben Sharp


The Ultimate F1 Fishing Guide.

Martin Stokes runs through his favourite Marukyu Products to help catch one of the most popular species of fish our commercial fisheries the F1 carp.

F1s are one of my favourite species of fish to catch throughout the year, they have now become one of the leading stockings in commercial fisheries all over the country. Due to their size and fast growth rates they have become a real winner with both the commercial fisheries owners and modern day match anglers such as myself.

In the summer, the F1 venues I fish, you need to catch 100, 200 and sometimes 300lb of them to win matches. But even in the winter they still continue to feed in the colder water when other fish slow down.

Personally my best weight of them is over 217lb, I have fished some matches and caught over 170lb of them, and come nowhere in the match.

My rig choice and bait choice changes throughout the year when targeting F1s. So here's a bit of a season to season guide, to my approach when catching them ...

Scopex, Coconutty and The One are my three personal favourites when fishing for F1's.


Winter .......

The hardest time of year to catch them, light rigs are a must. The way you feed your peg, is the key, with too much feed and you can completely destroy your peg. The fastest you can find the depth the F1s want to be in, the better day you will have. Once I have found this depth, fish to different areas of my peg with the same depth. This gives me the best chance of catching a good weight throughout the day. Catch one or two f1s from one area then change to another area, don't expect the fish to feed in the same area all day.

My bait choice is simple, I have a lot of success this winter on double white maggots that have been sprayed with Marukyu's Amino+ Scopex feeding Amino Maggots, when fishing deep venues I like using small balls of Groundbait to help get the bait on the bottom, Marukyu's Luxus Black Fishmeal is perfect for this, as it contains a small amount of food source but a lot of attractors which helps encourage f1s to feed.

The Favourite Winter F1 Pole Rig.

Drennan AS3 0.3g

0.11 Preston Power Line

0.10 Preston Power Line

Drennan Silverfish Pellet size 18

Spring ........

The time of year, F1s start to wake up a bit more, but feeding is still important. Up the feed a little bit, but don't chuck to much in. Fish tidy with medium sized cat pots rather than the smaller ones.

A great way of catching F1s in spring is the method feeder, dead maggots or a band 4mm/6mm Amino Pellet is a perfect hookbait. I go to White Acres at the start of April and the amount of F1s you can catch on Jenny's lake using the method feeder is unreal. The new 2mm Marukyu Sticky Pellets are great, I always tend to go for the Sweet Fishmeal flavour when catching F1s. One of the great things about the new sticky pellets is that you can soak small amounts quickly, rather than soak too much at the start of the match, and end up chucking the away after the match.

My Favourite Spring Setup.

9ft light feeder rod ( I use the 9ft CarbonActive by Preston Innovations)

6lb Guru Drag Line.

15g Small Preston method feeder (inline)

Preston Quick change bead.

PR36 (18) (micro bait band) 0.15 hooklength


Baggin Time!!!  Big weights are on the cards this time of year. There are only two ways I like to fish in summer, margins and shallow. It's almost becomes a fishing race at this time of year. Big weights can be achieved by just fishing a top kit down the margins. Loose feeding and big pots can really work, loose feed to draw fish into your peg and cup in big pots to keep the F1s feeding on the bottom.

My favourite summer method has to be fishing shallow on the pole, I like to fish as far out as I can throw my bait. Hard pellets are my go to bait, 4mm/6mm Amino Pellets are perfect for loose feeding, I like the noise of hard pellets, I really think sound plays a massive part in shallow fishing. A bag of Marukyu's Skrill pellets are always in my bag bait this time of year, they can be a great edge for shallow fishing, because there dark colour seems to always get an extra bite or two. Feeding sloppy groundbait can also be great when shallow fishing,  Luxus Active Sweet fishmeal with a splash of liquid krill is my go to mix. You can get away with heavier rigs when the F1s really start having it, stronger lines also reduce the amount of tangles when fishing the pole.

My Favourite Summer Pole Rig

Drennan Crystal Dipper 0.2g

0.15 Preston Power Line

Size 18 Matrix Riggers

Autumn .......

Autumn is a lot like spring,  there are a couple of the things that I like to change. Pole rigs have to be a little lighter than summer, margin fishing still plays a massive part in my fishing in the early months of autumn, 4mm expander pellets flavoured with your favourite Amino+ Spray are great, but if I only had one hookbait at this time of year it would be a Red 6mm JPZ pellet. Feeding soaked 2mm Amino pellets or 4mm Jpelletz, they both seem work great along side the JPZ's.

The method feeder can be a great option, sometimes using ground bait can work better than pellets, As the weather turns cooler, F1s can sometimes shy away from  pellets, maybe because they have seen a lot of pellets over the summer months.

My Favourite Autumn Pole Rig.

JH series 3 4x12

0.13 Preston Power Line (main line)

0.11 Preston Power Line (hooklength)

Drennan Silverfish Pellet (size 18)

The F1 carp craze is going from strength to strength, so get out on the banks and catch some of these great fish! (Well, I would say that, because they are my favourite).

See you on the bank soon and tight lines

Martin Stokes


Our new blogger Ben Sharp reports back from Castle Ashby AT Winter League that was held on the 27th February.

The Build-Up

Following on from a couple of good results in my most recent matches, I decided that I would try something a little different from the standard matches where F1 or carp are the dominant species. This would come in the form of a silvers-only match at Hampton Springs Fishery in Malpas, Chester.

I had been meaning to make an appearance here before now but other matches or events had prevented me from making the trip. Instead, Helen Dagnall and Dave Brooks, who had been asking me to book on with them, just rubbed it in telling me how well it had been fishing!

However, a free Sunday and I booked myself onto the match.

I had been keeping an eye on results and had also read a feature about Jamie Hughes at the venue, so with this information I didn’t think I could go far wrong.


The Venue

Hampton Springs consists of eight fishable lakes with plenty of variety across the complex, with waters containing a mix of pretty much every species possible – carp, F1s, tench, barbel, skimmer/bream, big perch, roach and ide, to name but a few! The complex also has good toilet facilities and an on-site café, with parking next to every lake.


The Draw

I arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare before the draw, following the 35-mile journey from Lymm. This gave me a good opportunity to look at the lakes. Four would be included in the day’s match: Poplars, Alice, Rock and Meadow.

Although the original plan was for the draw to be in the standard pegged layout, because of the expected heavy winds the organisers decided that a rover-style draw would give the competitors a bit more of a chance to pick pegs out of the wind and in areas that would produce fish.

Although this was without a doubt a good idea, and one that made perfect sense, for me, making my first appearance at the venue since the summer and not knowing it or its pegs like the rest of the 20 or so anglers, who had all fished Hampton Springs on an almost weekly basis over the last couple of months, it meant deciding on where I would pick to fish from was going to be difficult!

From the draw bag No7 stuck to my hand (meaning I had 7th pick of any of the pegs on the four lakes included). Not a bad pick but by the time it was my turn to pick a couple of pegs that I did fancy had already gone. In the end I ‘panic picked’ Peg 22 on Meadows, the same lake I fished in the summer.


The Match

On arrival at my peg it was instantly apparent what my first mistake of the day was. Instead of being sensible and picking a peg where the wind would be off my back, I had chosen to fish with the wind cutting from left to right up the length of the lake. Not ideal!

I decided to set up three rigs, focusing on two main lines. One line at 13 metres, which comprised a 0.4g AS5 float (which I have noticed perform very well in windy conditions. Its slim profile seems to cut through the water rather than being effected too much by any tow or wind) down to a 0.10mm-diameter hooklength and a size 18 B911 F1 hook. This was teamed up to a size 8 Dura Hollo elastic. The swim was five and a half feet deep.

My second line, the one I envisaged I would catch the majority of my fish from was at siix metres. Here I found six feet of water, the deepest part of the peg, and I set up two separate rigs. The first consisted of a 4x14 Carpa Chimp float, a pattern with a rugby-ball-shaped body and a wire stem. My thinking being to have a wire stem to keep the rig nice and stable in the windy conditions. This was down to a 0.08mm hooklength and a size 16 Gama Green hook.

Rig two used the same hooklength but a 0.4g AS3 float.

My plan was simple, start on the long line feeding micros and fishing a dead red maggot or two over the top, hoping to catch a couple of decent fish from here. Skimmers, F1s, crucian carp, maybe, bearing in mind ‘proper’ carp did not count.

I would build my short 6m line up feeding casters, hoping to catch a real mixed bag of species from here once it had been primed.

At 10.30am the match started. I fed a small amount of casters on my short line. Just enough to cover the bottom of my cup, probably 20 to 25 just to put a little pile of bait into the swim but knowing I was hoping to loose feed this swim by hand, where the wind would allow it.

On my long line I cupped in a small amount of micro pellets with a small pinch of dead maggots mixed in and followed it straight in with a 4mm Bait-Tech Xpand pellet on the hook.

Despite the wind making it extremely difficult to present a bait on this line I did expect it to produce a few fish.

However, this wasn’t the case and after a difficult first 40 minutes where presenting a bait was near impossible with the wind and also happened to be biteless, I had no other choice but to see if any fish had settled over my short line. I had been feeding five or six casters on a regular basis by hand over this line.

It didn’t take long before my first fish of the day was in my net, a roach of about 6oz. I’d have taken these all day! My next few put-ins also produced roach, all ranging between a couple of ounces and 6oz.

After eight or nine my next put-in took alot longer to get an indication. When the float did finally dip I seemed to bump something of a decent size.

I went straight back in following a change of hook bait and got a bite within a minute of laying my rig in. This time I did manage to hook the fish, only to pull out of it just as it was coming up to the surface! I suspected it was a big perch, which the venue is known to house. They are renowned for having really bony mouths, and not setting the hook properly can often result in them getting off.

No matter, I continued to pick up roach and ide from my short line, continuing to loose feed casters over the top.

Ninety minutes into the match I’d had 15 to 20 roach and ide, all falling to a single-caster hook bait.

Similar to earlier in the match, my line went quiet. This time, however, I was prepared for what I expected was about to happen. When the float dipped I went for a proper strike into the fish to ensure that I set the hook properly. This time it wasn’t going to get off and I slipped my net under a lovely big perch.

At this point it did seem that a few slightly bigger fish had moved into the swim and pushed the roach and ide away. I was waiting longer for bites but my next couple of fish were a skimmer of just over 1lb and a scrappy crucian carp again around the 1lb mark. However, after a good run of fish it seemed as though coming onto this line earlier than I wanted was starting to show. I always feel that this line needs around an hour for the fish to properly settle over it.

I took this time to give my long line another go to see if any fish were sat waiting for me there, and also to give my 6m line the chance to build back up, with fish hopefully settling back over my feed.

The long line did finally produce a couple of fish on this second visit, although only little blades of skimmers of a couple of ounces. I had tried dead maggot and pellet on the hook with no real success. Before long the wind picked up once again, making this line redundant yet again.

With just under two hours remaining, and approximately 10lb in the net, I was really in need of a good run of fish between now and the end of the match. The guy on the peg to my left had thrown his four or five small fish back and packed up for the day. The angler to my right was also struggling and finding it hard to get regular bites from his swims. The only person who seemed to be catching relatively consistently was Mark Davies directly opposite. He had caught a couple of F1s along with a barbel and a good-sized perch.

Going back onto my 6m line I was almost instantly into fish, again roach and ide being the most regular species.

After a few of these the swim went quiet once again. This time, however, it was not a perch. Instead, I found myself playing a good-sized barbel on my size 6 Preston Innovations Slip elastic. I have this teamed up with a Puller bung, which was essential in helping me land these hard-fighting fish.

Over the next hour I managed to put another three in my net, each as hard fighting as the other and all between 11/2lb and 21/2lb. I actually found that laying my rig in about a foot past where I was feeding bait got me bites when fishing right on top of the feed wouldn’t. Following these barbel I hooked my first carp of the match. I had done well to avoid them up until this point! Annoyingly, it proceeded to effortlessly stretch my elastic right up to the aerator to the right of my swim, wrapping my rig into the obstacle and ruining it. Typical!

Luckily I had a spare rig set up, which meant I didn’t lose too much time. Unfortunately, the commotion must have caused the other fish to spook and it took a little while for my next bites.

I proceeded to put what fish I could manage in the net up to the end of the match, with mainly small ide falling for my caster or maggot hook bait. Again I found I was able to pick fish up fishing past my feed area.

With a couple of minutes remaining, almost simultaneously, Mark and I hooked decent fish. His didn’t seem to put up much of a fight and he managed to get it into his net, a perch that I could see from across the lake to be a good few pounds. My fish took a bit more persuading and with the all-out passing there was no need to overly rush the fish in, although the prying eyes of my competition around the lake were wishing the fish off my hook. A barbel of around 2lb was the outcome and a good end to the match.


The Weigh-In

Meadow was the second lake to be weighed in, following on from Rock Pool, where the biggest weight was Paul Cooper with 23lb 2oz from Peg 28 (The peg I was told was favourite for the day’s match).

I was first to weigh in on Meadow following a DNW from Peg 24. I had guessed at between 18lb and 20lb so wasn’t too far out when my mixed net of fish registered 22lb 8oz, putting me into 2nd place. Already that early lost perch had cost me!

To my right had a good run of fish late in the match and weighed in with 11lb 4oz.

On Meadows the weights seemed less consistent than some of the other lakes, with a couple of people choosing not to weigh in following a difficult day. Mark, who had had a few more bonus fish than me and a 3lb perch last chuck, weighed in with 24lb 12oz, enough to secure himself 2nd overall in the match and meaning I had the second highest weight on the lake.

With Alice and Poplars left to weigh in and those who had been on those lakes admitting to having caught quite a lot, it was looking unlikely that I would make it into the frame, which was the top five overall.

To my surprise, I managed to sneak into 5th overall. Andy Spencer won the match from Alice Lake with 29lb and Wendy Locker slotted into fourth place, beating me by 2oz! In fact, there was just 2lb 4oz between 5th and 2nd.

The Results

1st – Andy Spencer – 29lb (Alice)
2nd – Mark Davies – 24lb 12oz (Meadow)
3rd – Paul Cooper – 23lb 4oz (Rock)
4th – Wendy Locker – 22lb 10oz (Poplar)
5th – Jake Fowles – 22lb 8oz (Meadow)



It was a very enjoyable day at Hampton Springs Fishery. I decided on fishing this match knowing it was a change from the norm and I wasn’t disappointed. Catching eight species during the match meant I never really knew what I was going to hook next. If the wind had stayed down I believe I could have stayed on my long line for longer, giving my short line more opportunity to develop, which ultimately would have meant that I would have caught more consistently throughout the match. For the second match in succession a lost fish has almost certainly cost me a place or more in the overall standings. It’s something I need to eradicate from my performances. Nevertheless, I am happy with the end result, keeping up my run of framing in every match I have fished in 2016!

Please ‘Like’ my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jakefowlesfishing/?fref=ts



When I arrived the lake we were fishing was very coloured and really cold so I knew that it was going to fish very hard.

I drew an area that doesn’t really produce but the upside of it was that I had a lot of room. The weather was really bad with wind and rain but I had the wind over my back, which meant I could present my bait well, which is key in cold-water conditions.


A group member, Darren Tracey, who commented on a post that we put on our Facebook page asking to show us your fisheries, suggested our next outing for a review day. So we contacted Darren and arranged a date to meet up and fish with him and another group member, Barry Smith, who also asked if we could review the venue, Greens Lane Ponds.


Its been an eventful winter for Myles Levy, but one that has seen him have a great deal of success at Tunnel Barn Farm!

Match Fishing’s Joe Carass just had to get the laptop out and tell you about his latest exploits!


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has something he needs to get off his chest!


Fish 'O' Mania champion, Andy Geldart, talks preparation...

Becoming a sponsored angler is something that many people have aspirations for. Drennan’s Jon Arthur lends some sound advice for any wannabe anglers out there.


The art of being a draw bag maestro...

Craig Butterfield reflects on a recent feature with a difference.


Stewart Lister reflects on an enjoyable Veterans Festival.

Martin Holmes tells you how he won this year’s Preston Innovations Festival at White Acres.


Ex England star, Lee Thornton on why team fishing is going nowhere.

Tom Scholey on a great weeks fishing, and a lesson learned the hard way.

Tom Scholey on what the Angling Trust do right.

Lee Kerry on bagging 513lb.

Tom Scholey recalls a match when things didn't quite go according to plan!

Tom Scholey ponders why some match anglers are so secretive.

Craig Butterfield on why sponsorship isn't always what people think...

Joe Carass recounts an extremely busy few weeks that has seen him catch a lot of fish and receive a few batterings too!


Frankie Gianoncelli recalls two brilliant recent matches, when worms have worked well for him!

Our Terminator sets his sights on the country's hottest young angler.

Top matchman Roy Marlow and crew go in search of big game fish...

Tom Scholey on why a post-match pint is vital for the sport.

Ellis Driscoll on winning the Drennan Coca Cola Festival at White Acres.

Dubious observations of a Match Fishing reader...

The man that could end your career…

The Man Who Could End Your Career!

Guest blogger, Dale Calvert, recollects a recent practice session at his local Wrightington Fisheries.


Match Fishing and Pole Fishing Group Editor, Jon Arthur, picks his England Float and Feeder teams.


Joe Carass looks back on the recent success of the Match Fishing Drawbags!


Our new blogger Nick Speed has been in great form lately but just how did he do this week?

Franke Gianoncelli argues that commercial fisheries hold the furture for match fishing.

Joe Carass was staring down the barrel at the weekend but a blinding last hour saw him come good!

Tom Scholey on why Alex Bones is wrong to say modern match methods require a similar amount of skill.


Joe Carass ponders over which flagship pole really is the best available!

Without wishing to get enthralled in a tit-for-tat battle, Tom Scholey’s blog reply to my editorial in February’s edition of Match Fishing entitled ‘The Pursuit Of Perfection’ needs addressing.

Are some methods more skillful than others? Tom Scholey thinks so!

Rob decides to go back to the venue known as roach heaven!

Joe Carass has been back to do battle in the Tunnel Barn Farm Winter League with a hint of success too!

It has certainly been an interesting week for Joe, with mice and more than a few F1s occupying his time!

Rob Wootton returns to the venue that can only be described as roach soup!  

The long and the short of it!


It’s been a good week for Joe’s Match Fishing Drawbags team and here he tells all!

Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has had more than a slice of luck this week!

This week Joe has been back to Tunnel Barn where things haven’t quite gone as planned!


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has had a good weekend at his regular haunt – Tunnel Barn Farm!


Every one seems to only talk about success stories here’s something Rob Wootton thinks we can all relate to...


Joe Carass reflects on a couple of successful weeks at the prolific Tunnel Barn Farm!


Joe Carass reflects on a summer of fishing that has seen him have more than a few up’s and down’s!


Middy’s Andy Quarmby has been on fire again recently thanks to thinking outside the box!


Middy backed Andy Quarmby has been winning a lot of matches lately and it’s all thanks to making good decisions!

Recent matches have highlighted one thing to me, making a key decision in a match is the difference between winning and being an also ran. Yes I know this may sound obvious but my recent encounters at Pans Hill highlight this quite well I think

Pans Hill Sunday match 29th July (Pans Lake)

Pans lake, for those who have never been, is a typical 14m wide snake with typical depths. It has a large head of mirrors and commons 1-3lb and F1s 6oz-2lb. Typical winning match weights in summer are usually between 80-130lb with plenty of bites to be had.

Recently Pans has not been fishing that great, it has had a blue-green algae bloom since April and whilst it hasn’t had a harm full effect of the fish, they have not been feeding like they should. In fact 83lb is the highest match weight so far this year on this lake.

My usual attack is basically fishing micros and 4mm’s tight across, with two lines, one in a foot of water, and the other in 10” (if you can find this depth! the summers rainfall has meant the lake is brim-full) This simple attack has won me countless matches in the previous 18 months.

However on Sundays match as there were only a few of us, we all received generous pegging and plenty of room. A quick walk around the lake to get the feel of it told me it was going to fish its head off. Recent evening weights had been 70-80lb and the weather looked spot on, plus the fact fish were crashing, and swirling all over gave me a slight hint.

Hoping for a draw on pegs 8-18, I was most disappointed when Peg 3 stuck in my hand! The drawing Gods were definitely against me yet again. After countless moaning, I finally got to my peg and set about what to do. I plumbed up my usual far bank rigs but could only find 18” of water and there was a bit of weed causing trouble. It was at this point I made a key decision, and to go against the grain on what I usually do, and attack the edge. In my head 120-150lb was a target weight and in 18” of water across it was not going to happen. I would still fish and feed these lines for a good start but it was a margin attack that I fancied. So with this is mind I spent a good 20 minutes trimming the edge removing annoying stick-ups etc. Plumbing in the edge I found 8inches of water and then 14inches slightly further out… Perfect!

Bait was five pints of soaked micros, 4mm expanders, and some 6mm meat for the hook. 
Rigs compiled of a 4x12 Middy XK55 Series 2, 0.12mm lo-viz line and an 18 93-13 finished off with double 6-8 orange Middy elastic with a puller and we were all set!

On the whistle I fed the margin and went across, after feeding a small pot of micros I was instantly met with tails and swirls, and missed bites! I did catch a few but I knew it just was not right, I was also catching smaller fish. After 30 minutes it went up the bank and down the edge I went on the 14in deep rig. I instantly caught f1s but interestingly, the mirrors and commons were nowhere to be seen. I was not concerned as the pegs I could see, 5 and 8 were both catching well. I was falling behind. Even on the 14in deep rig I was missing bites, so took the decision to fish 8in, in the edge. I would never usually do this so early in a match, and also I generally find 8inches is too shallow, and they spook and a big weight is not easy, but I was desperate.

In a nutshell, it worked perfectly, and six hours later I won comfortably with 148lb, with 114lb in second place.  After the match I had a chat with second place and a few others (I always talk to other anglers to get a picture of what’s gone on) and the general consensus was they had all suffered small fish and missed bites, and also they had not been able to fish dead tight due to grass and weed problems etc.

If I had fished my normal match I would not have won, I am certain of this.

After the match I was told that the Tuesday evening match would be on Pans as it had fished so well. And this is where another key decision came. I then decided to stop on an hour (the missus really loved this idea!) but seriously, I find it amazing that people don’t do this more often. If I’ve had a frustrating day I always try and have an hour to get my head around it and get my confidence back. Even if I realise I’ve made a real mess of it, at least I’ve learnt why it went wrong, instead of wondering what, if and why. As I was dying to try pellet shallow, as so many good f1s had shown in the match. For 90 minutes after the match I absolutely emptied it with decent sized f1s and a few mirrors thrown up. It was literally a fish as soon as it went in. So with that in mind I booked on the evening match.

Tuesday evening match
Eleven hopefuls turned up for this match, and with a nice warm evening it looked like being a cracker with 100lb possible. In the draw bag again, and the complete flier Peg 9 was used tonight…Surely it had my name on it…. But out came Peg 5. Oh come on surely it’s a mistake I enquired, but no, it was 5 and not 9.

My plan was empty it shallow and then empty it in edge after giving them 90 minutes to settle. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

As I got to my peg, I immediately noticed the water looked a tad clearer, I could see an inch in the margin and alarm bells went off immediately. I assembled the same margin rig as Sunday, and two shallow rigs. One was 10in deep with a short lash for F1s, and one was 6in deep but with a 3ft lash for mugging some mirrors / commons that often annoy you by swimming near the surface and laughing at you. The rigs had 0.14mm Hi-Viz bottoms as expected to bag up, double 6-8 again, size 18 93-13 for edge, and size 18 eyed KM-1 for shallow with a micro band on a hair.

Bait was micros and 6mm meat in edge, and hard 4mm pellet for feed and hook.

On the whistle I fed my margin and went shallow. Immediately the margin clouded up. Maybe I was wrong after all I thought to myself. Anyway, first 40 minutes went well, I mugged about six 2lb mirrors, and had a few decent f1s shallow but it wasn’t easy. A quick look in the margin and immediately caught a fish, then the margin went clear, ie no fish! I Switched to the other side margin and caught a fish, and that went clear! It was at this point that I realised that a big weight in the edge was just not going to happen, but as I had nothing else set up, I would concentrate shallow and pick a few off in the edge. To cut a long story short, it worked ok, I had some good spells shallow and a few in the edge, along with copious amounts of frustration!

At the weigh in Peg 1 who caught steady all match had 72lb, so we were fishing for second place. Amazingly my ‘few fish’ went 79lb to take top spot.

The back up weights were 30-40lb, as people had fished tight in the edge and not been able to queue them up. Interestingly the 72lb was caught in the edge but in 24” of water.

Driving home I was quite pleased with myself. I felt certain if id fished in the edge as planned I would not have won. And also had I not fished on the Sunday and got the confidence to attack it shallow I would not have won

Next time you go fishing, think about that important decision, and don’t always follow the sheep! And if you’ve had a poor day and struggled with something, stop on an hour and sort it instead of going home to watch GB come 10th in some Olympic event


Open a paper, put on the T.V or radio it’s the hot topic in the country right now. Craig Butterfield has his say...


Joe Carass Recounts the recent second round of the UK Champs, could he capitalise on a good first round?


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass talks about the first round of the prestigious UK Champs!


Harry Billing ended with a good result in the White Acres Garbolino Spring Classic. Here’s how he got on…

Stan Piecha reflects on the opening round of the Drennan KO Cup.


Top northern angler and Maver backed Matt Pillay reflects on the recent Maver Classic Final at the fantastic Maver Larford Lakes.


Consistency is something we all strive for as match anglers, everyone can draw a good peg and have the odd good result but getting consistently good results is much more difficult.


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass tells of a few recent successes thanks to some all-important confidence.


Match ace Harry Billing looks back at his White Acres Bait-Tech Festival campaign…


Like many of you I love a gadget, fishing related or otherwise. I’ve been fishing for many, many years and have lost count of the number of reels I’ve filled with line or braid in my time as an angler!


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass looks at the Japanese bait revolution Marukyu!


I haven’t read all of this month’s Match Fishing magazine yet but the bits I have read really got me thinking.


Do we sometimes overcomplicate things on the bank? Andy May thinks so…


Regular blog contributor Tony Curd looks at a few potential highlights of the season ahead…

While nearly every lake in the country has been frozen solid which has resulted in cancelled events, I spent some time planning the spring and summer of my year with regards to which of the big events I will be focusing on this season, it seems I’m rather ambitious this year as I seem to have decided on doing virtually everything there is to be involved with! Maybe one day I’ll manage to keep things controlled and sensible but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one I’m afraid! 

Last week the Angling Trust released the results of the Fish’O’Mania draw and I was pleased to receive 8 tickets this year which is great, as you would have learnt from my previous blog ‘Fisho’ is a big part of my season and consumes a lot of time this year will be no exception and I received tickets for the following qualifiers: Peatling Pools, Larford, The Oaks, Barford Lakes, Tunnel Barn Farm, Boldings, Woodlands Thirsk and Lindholme Lakes.

There is a hell of a lot of miles in those qualifiers so I’ll be hoping it’s my lucky day again on one of the earlier events! 

Continuing a trend of the last 5 years or so I’ll be heading off to White Acres for the Dynamite and Milo Festivals, which are back-to-back this season. I really love fishing at White Acres, the buzz and atmosphere is unrivalled in my opinion, unfortunately the draw bag on these events has taken a serious dislike to myself over the last few years and not offered any chance of having a really good week but I hope to put that right this time as to win one of the festivals is a huge achievement and one I’d dearly like to experience some day.

On the Saturday between the two festivals there is, conveniently, a Match This Qualifier on the venue and you’d be mad not to get on it if you’re down there at the time as fishing is often about making the most of the opportunities that present themselves. 

Back in November I spent a bit of time fishing at Larford Lakes in Worcestershire trying to qualify for the Classic Final. My first match saw me miss out on qualifying by 8lb which was gutting but fortunately a favourable draw on my second visit helped me to a match win with 145lb of F1s on the match lake which ensured qualification for the two day final in May.
I wanted to get in on this one as it’s a competition I haven’t really had the time to try and qualify for in the past due to being involved in winter leagues etc. so to get it so early on was excellent. I have a Fisho qualifier at Larford the day before the final begins so I should be able to get a heads up on what’s happening at the venue from this, which can be invaluable at times.
Another event that will be featuring in my season is Match Fishing’s own Drennan Knockout Cup.

I’ve enjoyed fishing this in the past few years, and was going well last year making the last 32 before having to drop out as a result of my injury discussed in the previous blog, really good timing that was as you will tell from the regularity that it crops up in these articles! The venues for this year’s competition are just as good as it ever has been, with a wide range of different venues, top commercials, with some good natural venues included. It truly is an ‘all rounder’s’ dream event, and with the very best anglers the country has to offer taking part, mistakes are not an option!

As you can see spring and early summer is set to be a busy time, with so many events on at a similar time, it’s a great time of year to be out fishing though so the more the better, and no doubt as soon as it starts I’ll be looking towards the Autumn…

Darren Cox pays a quick visit to one of his all-time favourite angling destinations, White Acres Holiday Park in Cornwall.

Former Fish ‘O’ Mania finalist, Tony Curd, shares his thoughts on one of the most prestigious competitions in the match fishing calendar.


We all love new bits of kit so here is guest blogger Steve Cooke’s verdict on his latest acquisition...

Tony Curd's first blog for Match Fishing kicks off with the Colemans Cottage Individual Winter League.

Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has been on The Tunnel Barn Winter League this where he had to go to great lengths to secure a decent result for the team.


Guest blogger, Craig Butterfield, recollects a day that has potentially scarred him for the rest of his life...

Guest blogger, Craig Butterfield, reckons it's only a matter of time before the traditional Full English is replaced by protein shakes...

Joe Carass reminisces over an item of tackle that he has particularly fond memories of.


This morning I had a lengthy chat with Wayne Swinscoe about his colossal 53lb of roach from the Town Welland and it got me thinking about the species in general.


Middy's Craig Butterfield talks silver fish match rules, but are they more of a headache than a good way to stir up winter competition?


I felt a little sorry for Match Fishing editor Alex Bones for the mauling he got in response to his editorial in the January issue of the magazine. If you didn’t read it, he was critical of a number of postings on various forums, which were, not to put to fine a point on it, simply rude, or ill-informed.


What a week it has been for features! The cold weather is truly making its mark with Sheffield and other areas in receipt of snow.


I hear so many people using the word to describe people these days that the word has almost lost the impact that it once had. Who are the ACTUAL legends of angling?


Social networking and new media has been high on my to do list this month with us trying to find new ways of keeping in touch with our readers.


Some exciting new tackle awaited us at this weekend’s Tackle & guns show extravaganza.


Well it has been a hectic month for me. For a start I had the awesome Evesham Festival to fish. This was my first experience of the Evesham weekend so I was hoping to get amongst the considerable prize money!


With the big money Match This final playing host to a superb line up of hopefuls this weekend promises to be a good one.


Welcome to my first blog entry as I’ve now returned to Match Fishing magazine as editor, after leaving just over 7 years ago.


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