Today I headed down to the hugely impressive Weston pools fishery in Oswestry to contest the three-day spring festival and I was really looking forward to it as it’s probably my favourite fishery because every lake on the complex is out of the ordinary with a large head of different species including barbel , all of them are extremely hard fighting which is no doubt down to the high oxygen levels in the water due to the aerators being left on all the time.
After another early start I had a pretty stress free journey down arriving with plenty time to spare before I needed to book on, so I went for a quick walk around the complex to see if anything had changed since my last visit a couple of months ago where I struggled on Belvidere but the conditions wasn't great for catching carp & barbel and every lake looked immaculate, apart from canal which they had to shut due to a problem with the water this was a shame I usually do quite well on it and this meant they had to re-jig the pegging for the festival we also strangely had a few no shows .On arriving back to the cabin I had a chat with a few of the local lads that I hadn’t seen for a while and there was a lot of sponsored anglers knocking about plus nearly all the Welsh national squad so you could say it was going to be a tough but enjoyable couple of days, when everything had been sorted there would be a straight draw today with 10 anglers on Weir & Belvedere and 12 on Stretton & Clay pit, the second day would be another straight draw with all the lakes in except clay pit so it would be very tightly pegged and the last day would be the opposite rotation to the first day.
It was soon time for the draw and we had a minute’s silence for the people who lost their lives in the Manchester bombing the previous week which was a nice touch. Then the usual scramble ensued to try to get an early dip and I hung back towards the rear and when it was my turn to have a pick in the bag of doom I pulled out peg 17 on Weir, which I was reasonably pleased with as I got my best weight from this lake during the natural bait festival last year and after unpacking my gear I had a short walk to find my home for the next few hours. On arrival I found that I was one away from the aerator but like every peg on here I had two long reed lined margins plus plenty open water and another thing I like about this lake is the fact that you can’t really see many anglers around the lake so you can just concentrate on what's going on in front of you .
Top four line where I would be fishing corn so used a 4×14 MD diamond float with a wire stem because the tow can be quite bad on here and I hoped this would make it more stable, I had an inch spread bulk starting above the six-inch 012 Garbo hook length .
13m line where I was going to fish casters on the deck and used a 4×14 MD roob style float with a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern , main line was the usual 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo .
Shallow for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up one at 1ft the other at 2ft , on both I had a MD mini mag float which had a few number eleven stotz spread along the 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 garb
margin rig at the side of the reeds at four meters where I found a flat area in three-foot and with it being relatively protected from the wind I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern spread along the 014 Garbo main line and my hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo .
Bait for the day was ;
2 pints of corn
2 pints of casters
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
tub of assorted hard hook pellets
When the all in sounded I began on my four meter line as this was where I caught most of my fish the last time that I was on here and I deposited a large kinder pot full of corn then tried to keep my rig still over the top of it but it was towing quite badly so I needed to re adjust my rig to add a few inch of line on the deck, it took awhile for me to start getting indications which I kept missing but persevered with it as I expected the carp to turn up sooner or later but apart from a small stockie and a big skimmer the first hour was a waste of time. I had been loose feeding casters on my long line since the start and I began seeing a few swirls so I took the opportunity to pick up my shallow rig this produced a couple of decent ide straight away but then I kept missing bites which usually mean there all small fish present when using banded casters , I tried alternating the depths but never got back in touch with the fish so I dropped onto the deck underneath my shallow line and this produced a couple of barbel and f1s but it wasn't really working for me .
With half the match gone and not a great deal in the net I choose to drop onto my left hand margin were I had fed some pellets every thirty minutes since the match started and I hoped that it would produce to get me out of trouble although it was noticeable that it was fishing hard today so I wasn't that far behind, I began picking up the odd f1 and big crucian in the next hour but I needed to catch the carp if I was going to pull back on those anglers in my section. I had purposely left my right hand margin alone which is where my empty peg was so that it would be a safe area for the carp to back off into, I changed my bait to an 8mm pellets and taped in half a dozen 4mm pellets so I was fishing for one carp at a time and I set myself a target of ten before the all out, doing this worked really well for me as I managed seven big fish in the next hour before they backed off and I added on an extra section going towards the point of the margin this got me back among the fish but only f1's & stockies .
When the hooter sounded to signal the all out I felt that I hadn’t done enough to be in chance with getting the section as I had fifty pounds on my clicker plus my silvers, after packing up a had a chat with the other anglers in my section it seemed that a few had struggled but a couple admitted to a similar weight to me so it could be close and when the scales arrived at my peg 75lb was winning which also won the lake, my three nets went 62lb this put me second in section right to the Welsh international Darren frost who had 66lb so that pushed me back down to third and out of the default section money not the start of the festival I wanted although I did end up 5th on weir, but I did learn a great deal and I needed to catch silvers because all the other anglers had double figures of them which definitely cost me today.
After packing up I meet up with the rest of the anglers while we waited for the results and to do the draw for Sundays match, 166lb had won the match from peg 6 on Stretton but Belvidere had performed the best with eight of the twelve anglers catching over 90lb and obviously I would like to be on that lake, but it looked like I had run out of luck because when I went to have a go in the bag of doom I pulled out peg 16 on weir right at the side of where I was today and with nearly every peg in on the lake it was going to be very hard work but at least I could hopefully put into practice what I had learned.
The next day I headed off to my home for the next few hours I was a bit subdued as I expected the fishing to be a lot tougher today especially as I would be sat in the middle of five anglers and with three end pegs in my section I didn’t fancy my chances of getting good points but I would of course be giving it my best shot, after unpacking my gear I decided to set up a few rigs which I hoped would help me put the odd fish in the net and these where;
13m line which I had decided to change to pellets and used a 4×14 MD wire stemmed float with an inch spread bulk starting above my 012 Garbo four-inch hook length which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band.
Shallow for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up one at 1ft the other at 2ft , on both I had a MD mini mag float which had a few number eleven stotz spread along the 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo that had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
top four line which I also changed to pellets and used a 4×14 MD wire stemmed float with an inch spread bulk starting above my 012 Garbo four-inch hook length which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
margin rig for fishing at five meters along both margins and I used a lighter float then yesterday with an MD 012 maggot float with a bulk plus dropper as I felt that I would pick up a few fish on the drop in three-foot , my main line was the usual 014 Garbo and hook length was six-inch of 012 Garbo which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
Bait for the day was just ;
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
2 pints of casters
small tub of various size and colour hard pellets for the hook.
When the all in sounded I decided to feed a dozen pellets on my four meter and thirteen meter swims before going onto my left hand margin shallow with banded caster because my mate who fished this lake yesterday caught a lot of silvers by doing it , I had missed out on catching these fish which cost me a better finishing position and it didn’t take too long before I began getting indications, with a couple of big ide hitting the net in the first ten minutes I then had a run of tench and crucians which added about ten pounds to my net during my opening hour then things went a bit quiet. I kept loose feeding casters on my margin swim to try to draw the silvers back and I then had a look on my four meter line where I had kinder potted a few 4mm pellets every fifteen minutes so I expected a response straight away despite it fishing hard my float didn’t even move for half an hour not exactly what I wanted, a switch to my long line wasn't any better but by pinging three 4mm pellets every five minutes to try to draw something into the peg it took about thirty minutes before I finally caught a barbel it was very slow going all around the lake with not much being caught, so I spent the next couple of hours rotating my swims trying to catch what I could but with two hours of the match remaining I only had about twenty pounds in the net.
I decided to spent the rest of my time on my right margin which I had purposely neglected to feed so that it would create a safe area for the carp to sit in which is usually a good ploy on a high pressured water and I tapped in a few 4mm pellets before flicking my rig out so it fell along the slope before keeping my float still over the top of it, within ten minutes I had a carp in the net and I set myself a target of catching ten of them if I was going to do any good on the lake after my slow start to the match. I kept putting some fish in the net and it was noticeable that you would often get a couple quickly before waiting ages for a bite so I decided to rotate both my margin swims to see if I could get them working for me but strangely the left hand one never got going as I only had small skimmers or gudgeon from it, this left me concentrating more on the right hand side but I needed to rest it from time to time so I kept having a look on my four meter swim directly in front of me this produced a couple of carp and by rotating between them both had me catching the odd fish, just as the all out sounded I lost a decent carp which I felt could prove costly and despite me not quite hitting my target I was sure that I had caught enough to compete in the section.
When the scales arrived at my peg 47lb was winning the section my three nets went an agonising 43lb just missing out on the section by a couple of pounds but I suppose when your luck is out your luck is out and the lost carp cost me which was only to be expected on these tight matches the section I was in only had ten pounds difference between first to last, although I felt that I had done reasonably well from the peg I was on finishing fourth on the lake and yet again I had learned quite a bit plus enjoyed the day which is the important thing. On arriving back to the cabin we had a bbq and a pint while we waited for the results to be announced before doing the draw, I was in the rotation of Belvedere & Stretton so at least I wouldn’t be on weir again and when it came round for my turn in the bag of doom I hoped for a decent peg so I could finally catch a few fish, when peg 12 Stretton stuck to my hand I was reasonably pleased because 80lb had come of it today although yet again I would be up against it for good section points, as the lower numbers had produced all festival and the match was won from peg eight by Matt Godfrey with 130lb so there was a few fish present.
So here we go it was time for the last match of the festival and after the heavy overnight rain plus grey skies I hoped that it might be a good days fishing with the fish having a feed , we was only allowed on the lakes after ten o’clock so I managed to have a quick word with a few of the anglers who had fished Stretton over the last couple of days but to be honest I already had a plan in mind and was looking forward to finally catching a few fish. When the gates to the lakes opened I made my way round to peg 12 on Stretton which would be my home for the next few hours and it was situated at the end of the leg meaning I had a bit of open water to target plus two empty pegs either side of me so it all looked promising, I decided to set up a few rigs to cover my options:
13m line where it was six-foot deep and as it wasn't towing through I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus two dropper shotting pattern which was spread along the 014 Garbo main line, attached to it was a six-inch 012 Garbo hook length with a size 18 guru lwg hook.
shallow line for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up at different depths both had a MD mini mag float with a bulk above the six-inch 012 Garbo hook length attached to it was a size 18 guru lwg hook with a mini bait band as I was going to be using banded caster.
Top three-line where the shelf flattened out and I used a 4×12 MD roob styled float which had a spread bulk above the four-inch 012 Garbo hook length that had a size 18 guru lwg hook with a micro bait band.
margin rig for fishing at the side of both platforms where it was 3ft deep so I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus dropper spread along the 014 Garbo main line which had a six-inch 012 Garbo hook length attached.
Bait for the day was:
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
2 pints of casters
small tub of mixed hard pellets for the hook
When the all in sounded I had a quick look on my left hand margin at the side of the platform where I had felt a couple of fish when I plumbed up earlier and I hoped that I might snare a carp or two before they vacated my swim, I lowered my rig in so my 8mm pellet went in quietly as possible and after a couple of minutes I had an indication on the float which resulted in a hand sized crucians not exactly what I had in mind but I decided to give it another go, I’m glad that I did because my float had only just settled when a sharp lift of the pole resulted in the elastic streaming out of the pole tip and after a spirited fight I had a near double figure carp in the net . As there was still a few fish in the swim I decided to keep fishing the platform and began tapping in a few 4mm pellets from a couple of feet above the water which helped draw the carp back into the area, I kept alternating how I laid my rig in and dropping my pellet in right at the side of the bank helped me add some weight to my net but after an hour bites began to tail off.
I had a look on my top three-line towards my left and tapped in a couple of 4mm pellets before lowering my rig in slowly among it as they fell, by lifting & dropping I managed to attract a few bites first from small crucians then the odd big f1 or carp but if I over fed it the fizzing was awful causing me to have line bites of foul hooked fish and I had to keep setting up new swims, surprisingly I found it best not to feed more than two pellets at a time with an 8mm on the hook and then sit it out waiting for a proper bite this resulted in a few more carp and for the next few hours I was happy putting a few fish in the net. For the past hour I had loose fed casters quite heavily by hand at four meters towards my right hand margin where there was some over hanging vegetation and I hoped that I might catch a few f1s shallow underneath it, I started on the deck first getting bites straight away but not from the expected species as I had a raft of small ide + gudgeon and I even tried shallow which didn’t improve things so I decided to stop feeding it in case it interfered with my margin swim on that side.
With the last two hours fast approaching I decided to spend it rotating my two margin swims and I picked up some nice carp for the rest of the match but strangely my right hand side produced a much smaller stamp plus more f1s, apart from losing the odd fish and getting snapped I felt that I had fished an ok match but I couldn’t see anyone in my section so I was unsure how I had done. As I began packing my gear away a couple of my neighbours came down to see how we had got on and with us all admitting to a low eighty pounds I could be a very close run thing, when the scales arrived at my peg 91lb was winning the section I knew I hadn’t got that but my three nets went 83lb and as I followed the weighers up to the remaining anglers they both beat me by a couple of pounds pushing me down to 4th so yet again a solitary lost fish cost me second in section which was about right for my festival.
So I had finished in a disappointing 14th place with nine points and lack of recent venue knowledge cost me as it took me awhile to get back to grips with the place, but of course I still really enjoyed myself even if the fishing was not up to its usual standard although in my opinion this made the festival even better because every section was extremely tight with nearly all of those I contested being split by just ten pounds, I would like to thank Weston pools for running the festival plus all the anglers contesting the matches and I can't wait to get back there for another match.
Re-Blogged with kind permission from Gary Mathews. If you wouold like to follow Gary and his blog, check it out here https://matthews580.com/