Jamie draws Peg 11 on the island of Moat Pool. It’s opposite the peg where he had 289lb to win the open match at the weekend – a favourable area. “I quite fancy it here, but I’m concerned as I’ve seen a lot of fish in the bottom corner of the lake as we drove on. Still, we’ll have a go!” he smiles.
Basing his attack around the pole, Jamie is giving himself four different options of catching. The first ploy is a short-pole swim at four metres, followed by a shallow rig for 14 metres. He also sets up a mugging rig comprising a dibber float set eight inches deep, with a long line of six feet between the float and pole tip, allowing him to swing the rig out to cruising fish. Finally, a margin rig comes out to play.
Jamie’s Pre-Match Plan
“I normally set up a feeder rod on these swims, but with this being an afternoon match I really fancy catching on the pole. I’ve seen an odd fish cruising about on the surface like they were at the weekend, so hopefully I’ll be able to mug them by swinging a rig out to them.
“Because of these fish cruising around, I’m also going to feed a shallow swim quite aggressively with 6mm pellets. There is so much water to go at here, I don’t think there’s any scope for negativity. Plenty of noise and commotion by feeding aggressively with 6mms will hopefully bring them in.
“The two other attacks in my armoury are a short-pole swim, and the margins. I’ll feed a short-pole swim as and when I need to go on it. This is just four sections out, and is normally a banker for nicking one or two big fish. I’m not going to feed the margins until halfway through the match, to try and trick the fish and make them think an angler is packing up and throwing his bait in. I think you’ll need a big weight to win tonight – probably over 150lb – so I’m being positive!”
When pinging pellets on the pole, Jamie replaces his catapult elastic with thick, super strong elastic. This helps group the feed tight.
As the match starts, Jamie baits up his dobbing rig with an 8mm pellet, and stands up with his sunglasses on to try and spot a fish to mug.
Spotting a cruising fish to his right, he ships out and plops the pellet right in front of the fish. As it lands, however, it spooks the fish, which swirls and swims off away from him! “That’s not a good sign!” Jamie comments. “If the fish are feeding, they normally home in on the plop of the pellet and take it immediately!”
Jamie is spending a lot of time out of the water, simply looking for fish to mug. He waits with his baited rig, stood up, looking for the odd big fish cruising about. They are few and far between, however.
All of a sudden, two big ones appear, and shipping out to them one takes his pellet seconds after it lands! As the float shoots under, he strikes, but misses the bite and the two fish disappear in anger.
It’s time to start feeding, and Jamie picks up his catapult to fire in 6mm pellets at 14 metres. “I can’t waste any more time trying to mug fish now,” he comments. “It’s not looking as promising as I thought it would be. Hopefully I’ll be able to have an hour or so fishing shallow now and put a couple of fish in the net. It doesn’t bother me too much that we haven’t caught early. The fish in here are massive, I may only need a dozen of them for 130lb or more!”
Once all the mugging fish disappear, Jamie begins feeding in an attempt to draw in some fish to catch shallow at 14 metres.
After half an hour of feeding and fishing shallow, things are difficult for Jamie. He’s had just one skimmer around 10oz, despite trying three different depths. “I’ve caught best here just 12 inches deep this year, but not had a bite there tonight. Dropping down to two feet and even three feet has only resulted in a skimmer. It’s not looking good, and I can’t see any fish moving now.”
A couple of fish move into the swim on the edge of Jamie’s feed, and he quickly ships in, grabbing his mugging rig to ship out and drop it in front of them, but they simply ignore the bait. “Oh no!” he says as they swim off. “Something’s not right tonight.”
In dull conditions, and especially when fishing close to cover in the margins, paint your float tip with white Tipp-Ex
Daz Oldham, a venue regular and expert, appears behind Jamie. “What you doing walking about?” Jamie asks. “I’ve not had a bite, and I’m the end peg,” Daz laughs. “Nobody is catching much at all, all the fish have been spawning the last couple of days and have totally switched off.”
After another shift on the shallow swim without a bite, Jamie decides to try the short swim. He cups in half a pot made up of a mixture of meat, corn and 6mm pellets. Interestingly, he cups it in from around half a metre above the surface. “This swim is a bit like a semi-margin. It’s not quite time for the fish to come into the edges yet, but they could be mooching around the bottom of the near shelf. I like to make a bit of noise when I cup in to try and draw in a fish or two.”
The short swim just four metres out is fed with a pot of bait, before Jamie drops on this immediately. Unfortunately, it’s only the small fish that give him an indication.
Straight in on top of the feed with an 8mm cube of meat on the hook results in a super-fast bite for Jamie, which he misses. “Damn! That looked like a carp bite!”
After feeding again here, Jamie gets another bite, which again he misses. Looking at his float, however, he’s getting lots of little dips and indications. “They’re little silver fish,” he comments. “There don’t seem to be any carp feeding properly at all. Out of all the times I’ve been here, I’ve never had little indications and bites from nuisance fish like this.” All the time, Jamie is still feeding his shallow swim too. “I may be able to pop out and nick a big one out there, so I’m keeping it fed.”
Reports are coming down the bank that a chap with just three carp is winning the match. Spawning has definitely put the dampers on things, and to add to the misery it’s also started raining. It’s time for Jamie to feed the margins.
“I’m going for it now. I’m sure that some fish will switch on now, and I’m confident in catching half-a-dozen big lads down the edge late on. I’ve picked just one side to fish, to my left, because this has a lot of cover from a large overhanging tree. I also think that feeding two margins can cause you to split fish up, especially when it’s hard like this. Eight big pots of loose groundbait and just a handful of corn and dead maggots are going in.”
After trying shallow again with no bites at all, Jamie feeds a big pot of groundbait down the edge, and goes straight in on top of it. He is fishing tight to the bank, and has to lean right out on his box to see his float. “There are two or three little things that make a big difference here,” he notes. “The first is to fish as long as you can down the edge. The fish are big and very wise, and don’t seem to settle in the margins close to you. They’re also very crafty when they come in the edge, and if you don’t fish tight to the bank they’ll come in and give you a load of liners, before spooking out of your swim without taking the bait.
“I try and avoid this by fishing right in against the bank, and feeding a little bit away from it – just eight inches or so. This way, it’s rare a fish can get behind your rig to give you liners, and most bites will be positive, with cleanly hooked fish.”
Sitting patiently, Jamie gets what looks like a liner. “There’s one there!” he smiles. All of a sudden, the float wallops under, but striking, Jamie is met with an 8oz perch that has engulfed his five dead red maggots on his hook! “This isn’t good…”
The first bite down the edge looks like a carp, but turns out to be a tiny perch!
Things are really getting desperate for Jamie. “I had my heart set on catching down the edge, and it just isn’t happening. The fish clearly aren’t feeding, and I’ve got this match totally wrong. In reality, I should have fished a feeder or bomb and pellet cone to nick just an add fish throughout the match, and been really patient.”
After feeding his edge several times trying to push it for a fish, Jamie is rewarded with just a handful of perch.
With the rain pouring down, Jamie gets up and assembles a feeder rod. “This is just for peace of mind!” he laughs. “When it’s hard like this, I normally fish a patient feeder match. Let’s see if I can steal a few on it late on.”
Setting up a large feeder, packed with groundbait, micros and corn, with three pieces of corn on the hook, Jamie underarm casts it over his 13m pole swim where he’s been feeding pellets.
The large cage feeder is packed with micro pellets and a little corn.
While packing up his pole rigs, the tip shudders around. “I knew it!” he says, with a disappointed look on his face. It’s a big fish, and after a healthy scrap Jamie shuffles a 12lb mirror into the net.
Jamie suddenly realises he should have fished the feeder all night!
After a few liners and indications, a less vigorous bite sees a 1lb skimmer come to the net. “I could have won this match. After catching that big weight at the weekend, I thought it would be good. I bet just half a dozen carp will end up winning now. I’d have caught that if I’d have just fished this feeder.”
A few more indications reveal that there’s an odd fish mooching around in the bottom in open water, before another vigorous bite nearly pulls the rod in! Picking up though, there’s nothing there! “Aargh! It’s been one of those evenings!”
A positive bite on the feeder sees another fish hooked. This time, it’s a little smaller than the last, but proof that the feeder is the method of the night – his last bite before the end of the match.
When the scales arrive, Jamie weighs 26lb. Although he’s disappointed, there are lots of people who have done worse. However, the guy to his right has weighed in 59lb, and won the match, by mugging a couple of carp on the pole, and also fishing a pellet waggler in the middle of the lake. Frustratingly, had Jamie caught one more carp, he’d have won the section.
Jamie is shocked to hear that just 59lb is winning the match. He feels that he could have easily caught that had he known the fishing was going to be difficult due to fish spawning.
“What can I say? I’m absolutely gutted. I’ve got it totally wrong tonight, but it has been a big lesson for me and hopefully anyone reading the article too. It comes back to that same old lesson in fishing: you never know what is going to happen!
“If I were to come back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t do anything different at the start other than set up a bomb and pellet cone rod. I fished a feeder in the match because I didn’t have any pellets soaked up ready for it. After an hour, I’d have realised just how difficult things were going to be, and I could have totally changed my plan.
“It was a case of targeting just six to eight carp, by setting a trap with the feeder or pellet cone rod, and waiting for a carp to move over it and suck it up. If a Method feeder was allowed, that is undoubtedly what you would fish. Maybe then, I could have also left the margins until the last hour, and fed them then. Sometimes feeding them really late can work for an odd last-gasp lump! It’s all hindsight, but lessons learnt!
A disappointing result, but a few lessons learnt for next time when the going is tough.
Daiwa Hallcroft Fishery
Location: Hallcroft Road, Retford DN22 7RA
Contact: 01777 710448
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