Former British and World Carp Fishing Champion, Neil Rivers, returns for the second instalment of his website blog...
I left my last blog having fished a practice match for the BCAC qualifier on Orchard Place Farm. With the venue being only 20 minutes from my house it's easy to get to and also easy to keep in touch with what's happening on the lakes. Chris (Bonesy) my partner in crime for all our comps was due down on the Thursday night before the comp and the draw was at 9am on the Friday morning so the plan was to stay at my house, have a proper meal, which Soph my better half cooked and then get a good night’s sleep ready for the weekends fishing. Food was eaten, gear sorted and bait all prepped, we were now ready for whatever came our way. We were like school kids again sitting up talking about family, friends and fishing. I don't get to see Bones as much as I'd like as he lives 3 hours away but we speak most days and when it comes to comps we were as prepped and ready as ever. We were up before the 6am alarm went off, kettle was boiled, coffee made and we crept out the house as not to wake anyone else. We got to the lake just after first light, a few of the other pairs were doing their laps and it was nice to catch up with some of the other lads as we only see them when the competition season starts again. We made our first lap and I showed Bones where I had practiced over the last few weeks and where I had been having a few from, we saw a few fish in the usual spots and we noted them on our list of sightings.
We made our list on what we saw and what I had found out on my practice sessions down there. Everyone gathered for the draw at the on-site cafe and the nerves started to kick in a bit. Dave Barlow got everyone together went through the rules and started the draw, we managed to come out 3rd and got our 3rd choice of swim, which we were happy with. In our matches it's all about being organised and prepared. We set our swims up pretty much the same on all venues that we fish if the swims allow it so everything is familiar to us.
The plan was to go in softly with the bait and try and get an early bite. Maggots were the going bait, as they had done so well in practice and pretty much are the bait to use on this particular venue. We took 3 gallons with us - not a massive amount but enough to keep topping the swim up throughout the match and enough to hold the fish if they got on them. Some people think you have to put gallons and gallons of maggots in, but that's not the case in our experience.
At 11am the hooter went, we clipped up to our spots, I was on the left, Bones on the right. Out went 5 Spombs of maggots to the islands margins. Now it was time to sit back and wait for the midday hooter and the start of the match. Ian Beedell and Paul Poynter managed 3 nice fish to take an early lead and it seemed that a few fish were down the other end but as they do on Orchard the fish move around a lot and can move quickly so we didn't have to panic yet! We had our first bite a few hours in but unfortunately it was a small catfish, which didn’t count. However, not long after that Bones right hand rod managed a stuttering take and after a spirited fight I scooped up the first fish of our match - a mirror of about 14lb. The nerves were now settled and the rods re-baited and put straight back out on the money. Over the coming hours Bones put us another 3 carp on the scales whilst my side of the swim seemed lifeless.
By first light the next day we’d added just one other common however then all hell broke loose and Bones’ right hand rod kept rattling off about every hour! By 3pm on the Saturday afternoon we had landed 9 fish for 126lb 1oz. We were in the lead but only by a little as the fish had started to feed all over the lake. Ricky and Bill Dummer had started to catch and their fish were of a better stamp than ours but we kept to our plan and stayed focused.
Evening came and into darkness news came round that we had dropped into second place. We needed to do something so I moved my spot slightly and tried a heavier lead, and within an hour I'd put a 24lb mirror on the sheet, which was soon followed by a mid-double common! However that spot then soon dried up.
We managed one more through the night and then waited and prayed for Bones side to come to life as it had the previous morning. He managed 2 more before the hooter and we hoped that it would be enough. As it turned out it was enough as we managed 3rd place with 216lb 3oz from 14 fish meaning we had qualified for the semi-final at Brasenose One on the Linear Complex.I'd like to thank Dave Barlow and the marshals that helped run a great competition and well done to all the other anglers who took part especially the other qualifiers.