One of the UK's finest carp match anglers, Neil Rivers, returns with instalment number 3 to his web blog series...
At the end of my last blog I left you with me and Bonesy qualifying in 3rd position at Orchard Place Farm to progress into the BCAC semi-final at Brasenose One on the Linear complex in July. I mentioned that we would then be fishing at B1 for the doubles qualifying round in the UK Carp Cup, which is where I will kick off this new instalment.
Leading up to the weekend’s event the weather had been pretty grim, it had been blowing an easterly for a week or so and the air pressure had been really high, which doesn't make for great angling conditions. I kept an eye on the weather and spoke to Bonesy on the phone daily trying to get an idea of what sort of tactics we would need to employ. For anyone that doesn't know B1 it is a big open rectangular gravel pit, with depths down to 18ft in places. It can get hit by strong winds from all directions and is massively affected by the weather conditions. We had kept an ear and eye open on Facebook watching the catch reports leading up to the weekend. People were now catching over beds of bait and there were a few big hits happening, which was promising…
The week leading up to the match went very slowly. I am now posted in Plymouth during the week with work so all my tackle had to be ready and prepped whilst at Orchard ready for the following weekend. We had tied 80 Zig Rigs, 50 solid PVA bag rigs and a few pop up rigs too - we were prepared!
Bones sorted the bait out, we would take a mixture of corn, hemp, boilies and pellets for solid bags if need be. I travelled up to Linear on the Thursday afternoon and met Bones who had already done a few laps of the lake already and had seen a fair few shows. We then met up with Karl Pitcher (England team mate) and Brad Greening for a quick chat and it was decided that we would go and get some proper food as when the comp starts we don't usually get time to eat well. We found a local pub had a nice steak and ale pie finished off with a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. The food was fantastic which set us up for a nice early night in our bivvys on the end of B1 with alarms set for first light.
We were up before the alarms went off as per usual when it's draw day. The kettle went on, brews were made and the start of a few laps commenced. We saw a few fish show, but the one thing we did notice was how cold it was on the Hardwick/Smith side of the lake. The easterly wind was hacking in to the causeway end and it was bitterly cold on the end of it.
After about 5-6 laps we had made a list of the pegs we didn't want, and the top 6 we needed to be in with a chance of qualifying. In this event the top 4 go through to the semi-final. We registered and got ready for the 9am draw, everyone was a bit nervous, which is normally the way. We came out 7th and managed to get our 3rd choice swim, which was peg 14 on the Hardwick/Smith side on the end of the easterly wind. We were in for a cold weekend!
The cars were then driven round to our swim and unpacked. We then set about sorting the swim up in a way to give us as much protection from the wind as possible. Being comfortable in our peg helps us to be organised and ensures we get the most from our angling. I know it sounds a funny thing to do, but on countless occasions we've seen anglers set right up in the pegs down by the rods and then not be able to cast properly because their bivvys are in the way!
The first hooter went at 11am, which signalled the period for baiting up and feature finding. We had a lead about and it seemed to be pretty much the same, smooth sandy areas with the odd bit of Chod. Bones picked a spot at 100yds to his right and I was just going to go out on Zigs. Bones put 15 spods of bait out ready for the midday hooter and had planned to start on the deck whilst I went in on Zigs.
My rods were marked up at 120yds and Zigs were attached with different colours and at different depths. The plan was to search my area with different colours and depths and to the combo that the fish were happy with.
The hooter went at midday and the match had now started. About 20 minutes in and we had our first bite to Bones’ rod over the bait. I was nearest to the rod so I hit the take (when we fish matches the rods are ‘ours’, not ‘mine and his’). I played the fish in gingerly as you do with the fish bite but it eventually gave up and a nice sized common lay in the net, which tipped the scales to 26lb – a great start! Nothing happened for the next couple of hours until I had a bite on one of my Zig rods. I'd kept changing depth slightly to try and find where they were and eventually I located some. I played this one in, which turned out to be a low double mirror. We soon had another bite on the Zig so made the tactical call to swap all rods to Zigs, which were set to the successful depth.
As we went in to the dark we sat in 2nd place on 61lb. The clocks hadn't gone back yet so it was dark by about 6.30-7pm. We had another bite at about 10.30pm and that is when our action really started. Throughout the night we had a bite around every 45 minutes and by morning we had accumulated 211lb.
This was great but as the Saturday went on we couldn't buy a bite! Alex Lister and Carl Sharp who were opposite us caught fish all day to take the lead on 320lb whilst Rob and Brad Greening also caught fish to overtake us into 2nd. All we could do was cross our fingers that Saturday night mirrored Friday! We had noticed that the guys on the opposite bank had caught their fish spodding slop over Zigs, where we had caught ours on single Zigs. So the plan for the night was to put a bed of bait out at 100yds in the middle of our rods and then come morning we would move the rods back to the bait and see if we could hold them.
Throughout the night we had another 10 takes landing mirrors and commons of all sizes. The game plan of baiting up worked and we were able to nick a few fish in the day time before the hooter.
At the end we were knackered but also buzzing as we ended up with 496lb 4oz from our 26 fish banked. This was enough to see us qualify to another semi-final in July. I’d like to say a massive thank you to the marshals who did the weighing and all the other competitors who took part it was another great event to be part of.
So that’s it for this month. Next month I’ll be writing my text from the banks of Crete Lakes in France for my belated 40th birthday present - so fingers crossed!