So, that time of year has come round again and it was time for the Weston Pools Match/Pole Fishing Natural Baits Festival. Sponsored by Tri-Cast and FabTrays.
Having fished this event for the first time last year I was really looking forward to it this time around. Weston Pools is a fishery I visit regularly and already this year I have had my fair share of success at the venue, namely during the FabTray Festival in early August where I managed to finish in 2nd place overall after the five-day event. So, I know the place fairly well and was confident that should I get my tactics right I would stand a chance of a good finish this time around. Obviously, that is often easier said than done and the calibre of angler in attendance meant my work would be cut out! Regardless, my target was a top five position from the 70 anglers taking part.
This year I was keeping it very simple. My main attack was going to be maggots or caster depending on the draw which would target a bit of everything from the mixed stocking at the venue, and corn and hemp to fish short in order to target the bigger carp.
I managed to get myself in nice and early to the draw queue and pulled out 17 on Weir. This is not a bad peg by any means. But there are far better areas of the lake to be. Once I've started setting up, my neighbour for the day was Match Fishing’s Jake Fowles who arrived and sat on 18. We had a chat about the sections. The great news was that I was first in the section running from 17-6. With that, I was a lot more confident than being in with 14 & 15 especially with Welsh International Ben Roberts on 14 and Richie O'Connor on 15, both venue experts and tough to beat on any day. My main attack was going to be Casters at 13meters. Corn short and down my edges. I've started on my top kit plus one on Corn whilst I primed my shallow line. After 5 minutes I've had my first fish, 4lb mirror in the net. Not a bad start. Then two small stockies, the line then died. Not wanting to go on my shallow line too soon, I've plumbed up a new line to my right. I've sat there without a bite for 20 mins. I could see the whole lake was struggling in the first hour with only a few Carp coming out of my section. Time to try my shallow line. I'd feed this heavily for the first hour. I started off on a Jigga set at three feet which would help me to gauge what depth the fish were feeding at. First slap over and my elastics ripped out, only a small stockie, but a positive sign. The following hour has seen me have a fish every single drop in on this line, however, there were a lot of 8-12oz fishing coming out amongst the occasional big F1 up to 4lb.
Persevering on this line for the third and fourth hour while I introduced bait in my margins in the hope for a late flurry was the plan from here. I could see all my section and no one was really catching exceptionally well, and I was on one a bung. Last hour I've looked down my edge, no indications after 10 minutes so it was back up the bank with that rig and back onto my shallow line for the remainder of the end of the match.
Given the rotten hangover, I was suffering with from the night before I'd not paid my normal attention to what was going In my net. Admitting to a steady 90-100lb to Jake next door. I was confident I'd got the section win but surprised even myself when the scales came round and I weighed 152lb. Which won the lake and most importantly gave me one point. After chatting to some of the lads there seemed to be only weight above that. 154lb by Keiran Marsden. So a second in the match and Festival. Just the start I wanted.
Unlike a lot of other venues, Weston does the draw the night before for the second day of the festival, straight after the first day’s match has finished. It’s Not something I'm a massive fan of as it can ruin your evening if you draw a stinker, but the great thing with Weston is that even a bad peg on its day can through up a weight.
With the sections being Canal & Weir or Stretton & Belvedere. I was in the queue for Stretton + Belvedere. I've drawn 18 Stretton. Not a good peg if I’m honest! Looking at the sheets from Day 1 could see 18 hadn't been drawn. I really didn't fancy it with zero bait going in the peg. There were some Carp caught on peg 22 though so I could only hope for the best.
As it happens I know this peg well, having drawn it in last years event and during the August festival. There are a lot of ide in this area so my approach was much the same as day one. Caster at 11meters. Corn to my right pallet and on the black platform to my left, plus top kit plus one.
This time I took some hemp to my peg as this had worked well for some of the lads who had fished the lake the day before. My section has run from 10-18. With Andy Neil on 12 and the match being won off 14 the day before I wasn't confident on getting my second section win that was surely going to be needed. I've started short again while feeding shallow. I've had two small crucians in the first 30min. My Tackle Saver teammate David Smith was on 17 and catching ide well long. So not wanting to fall behind I've gone to my shallow line. Surprisingly I've not caught any ide like David was. I've had to wait for bites but was catching decent F1's when the float did go under, these never really came in any numbers though.
After two hours I had about 35lb. I've introduced corn and hemp to my platforms for about an hour while fishing my 11mtr line still and nicking the odd F1. Two hours to go and I felt I was about 3rd in the section. Time to look on the pallets. I've gone down to my right and straight into a carp. This snapped me, back in and into another and lost that too. I couldn't help think they were going to cost me! Back in and had a quick run of four commons and mirrors to about 3lb each before the line became iffy with missed bites and tiny indications.
Following a re-feed to my right I've managed to sneak a couple from my left-hand margin so decided that rather than plunder one line I would rotate both and focus the rest of the match on these two swims. Picking off odd fish from each. I didn't feel I'd done enough for the section. The wait for the weigh-in felt like an eternity. Watching the section get weighed it was going to be tight. With each angler in the section weighing in upwards of 80 and 90lb. The scales have arrived at my peg and my three weighs have me a total of 107lb! The section win was mine. A perfect two points and a total weight of 259-4.
The talk after the match was Kieran had managed a section win, so it would all come down to our weights. With Kieran managing 94lb from a lesser fancied peg on canal it looked like I'd won the festival. At the presentation, this was confirmed. I was 2017 Weston Pools Match/Pole Fishing Natural Baits Champion. My name alongside the likes of Andy Bennett and Joe Carass who both hold this title before me It was a very proud moment. Having put everything into my fishing this year chasing a lot of big match qualifiers unsuccessfully I felt it was finally paying off.
A massive thank you to Richie and Cagsy Parry and all at Weston Pools for a well-run festival. To TackleSaver for their support and fantastic bait for the weekend.
I’d like to dedicate the win to my Dad who I lost three months ago to Cancer. For you big-man. He put up with years of listening to me chatting nonsense about a sport he knew nothing about but was always there to listen.