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 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 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 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.
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.