Top northern angler and Maver backed Matt Pillay reflects on the recent Maver Classic Final at the fantastic Maver Larford Lakes.
Well it's that time of year again for the Maver classic final. it's a prestigious event which I've really enjoyed over the years as Larford is a terrific venue and when you get some of the country's top anglers attending it makes for a very special event.
After a 3-hour drive (I might as well live on the moon) I got to the draw and managed to catch up with my old pals and patiently wait to draw which I don't mind admitting always gives me butterflies but I love it!
The old hairy palm goes in the bucket and I pulled Peg 76 on Speci which is a good area that always holds lots of skimmers and plenty of carp so after a few reconnaissance conversations it came to light my peg had been second on the lake the day before with 36 kilos of carp on the method at 45 turns. The only worrying thing was the massive shoals of skimmers and bream had shut up shop so it was very much going s**t or bust job.
Well on arrival at my peg I was a little disappointed with the pegging. I was the last in a line of seven anglers peg to peg, which was never going to be conductive to catching fish also with three anglers on the Maver bank it meant there were three end pegs to contend with. Things were not looking too rosy at this point but after a team talk with my pal and local legend Ian Giddins I decided on a four-way attack. I wanted to cover every eventuality so it was going to be Method feeder at 45 turns, I was also going to feed at 23 turns with an open ender with maggot and caster this was to be the banker line for bream and skimmers. Also a 14m-pole line fed with pellet and corn and the five-metre meat line.
The start of the match saw most people start cautiously feeding their pole line and fishing the bomb and pellet which to be fair was never an option as it just hadn't been working this year. I started with 10 large feeders packed with dead maggot and caster on the short line two big pots pellet and corn long and also a big pot caster and meat on the short pole. I really rate casters on the short line as the carp lap them up but even if they don't feed it makes a brilliant line for proper bream late on! Well lines fed its taken me 10 minutes and quite worryingly I haven't seen a fish caught. So out goes the Method game on.
After 45 minutes and seven casts and still not seen a fish caught this wasn't going to be fun! Eventually I get a pull on the hour mark which results in a 1lb bream which would of been winning the section at that point it was that hard! So with not much getting caught it was time to drop on my BANKER line at 23 turns. Surely that would go with a 0.12mm hooklength and a size 18 hook and single maggot hook bait? Not a sign and to cut a long story short our section was won with a dismal four carp to say it was disappointing was an understatement after much discussion after the match we all came to the conclusion that massive change in air pressure, a good foot of rain water and two days of angling pressure had taken its toll. Hopefully Monday will bring us some bites, well it can't get any worse can it?
Day Two arena Well after a few beers on the Sunday night I woke up just hoping for a good days sport. It's a bad feeling when after the first day your totally out of the running but there are still sections and lakes to be won to go for so with high hopes my draw was Peg 15 on Arena, GET IN!
The Arena has gone through a massive change last year as along with the already massive shoals of carp, Phil has taken the decision to stock it with 15,000 new stockies plus several ton of skimmers and bream which has resulted in a fantastic and varied type of fishing to say I was excited at the prospect of this excellent sport was an understatement!
Unloading the van I found I had some tough opposition in this section, for company I had the cheeky cockney Tony Curd to my left and living legend Darren Cox to my right. I also had Andy Neal on the end peg and Simon Fry on another and two more who's names escape me not so that's four end pegs with class anglers just to start. So it was going to be mega hard to say the least but Darren's peg had won the day before with 50+ kilos so it was all there to play for. Anyone that knows me knows I love the banter so with today being all or nothing I was was going to give and take a lot as it turned out. The plan of attack for the day was going to be at 11.5m feeding 4mm pellets with soft pellets on the hook and corn at five metres. I also fed groundbait and maggot down the side.
A Fairly straightforward plan but with my experience of Arena its the best way. Your peg is often black with carp shallow but you struggle to catch them I've seen loads of people waste their match chasing ghosts as I call them. So just a nice straightforward plan ideally I just wanted to get in a nice rhythm catching stockies long then come short for the carp later. Well I'd got set up quite quickly so decided to go up the cafe get some more pellets so on return I double checked everything. When this whistle goes I cup some pellet long pellet and corn short and fed a bit of bait in margin just in case as you never know on here! I shipped out and lowered my 4x14 sack up silver back in and just waited for it to settle but it just carried on down the hole –brilliant! I missed it, same again dropped rig down the hole same again at this point I had a suspicious sense come over me and out of the corner of my eye I could see Coxy with a wry smile. He'd only been and added two number 9s to my rig, then came the “are you missing bites mate?” I didn't reply or give him the satisfaction but I will get him back!
At this point Craig Elkin was flying two pegs away, Darren had a couple and Tony had caught a proper carp short. I was on the rack already, so after adjusting my rig and the depth just in case. This time my float settled lovely and sat for a fraction before shooting under and the two feet of elastic signalled a decent skimmer, thank you very much that'll do!
That’s how the first couple of hours went; Craig Elkin was getting a stocky a bung and was flying. Darren was catching a mixture of bream and stockies and I was catching all bream and skimmers, which were of a much better stamp. Tony and the lad on the end were into proper carp it was turning into a brilliant match.
The whole lake was fishing well so in my mind it was going to come down to who caught the most proper carp so I made the decision to target them I chose to feed just corn on the short line and semi big pot the long line with pellet and corn. This worked well and I started catching well. The only problem was Darren had really sorted the skimmers out and it was proper nip and tuck but the end pegs had really started to motor.
Andy Neal was like a machine landing big carp in double quick time and there was no stopping him. In the closing stages Tony had three huge carp for at least 30lb, which were big bonus fish that pushed him in front of the pack. Craig Elkin had crumbled and it was going to be close with Darren and me at the weigh in.
On our bank Tony came out on top with a brilliant 52 kilo an awesome performance to beat the end pegs. Darren and me couldn't of been closer with just 500g tipping the scales in my favour. I weighed 43kilo, Darren all I can say is that the best man won! Andy Neal blitzed the section with 74 kilo – top-angling mate!
So after the disappointment of Sunday it was all good again after some excellent fishing, the best company and brilliant crack this is what I love. A big well done to Simon Allen on winning, a top draw performance. So it wasn't my year but maybe next year so who knows? It is the Lindholme festival next for me so watch this space.