For the first time since January I awoke on a Sunday morning knowing I was going fishing! I was thankful to Glenn Bailey for not only picking me up but also lifting my tackle to his car. We stopped at a burger van on the A38 and bumped into Rod Wootten, who I haven't seen for some time, and we briefly discussed the demise of Cider Farm. As for Shiplate I had never heard of the place before and found out all I could. There are 3 lakes one large speci lake (bream into doubles as well as all the carp) and two "sausage" canal type lakes. The match was on the two canals with one containing lots of bream and skimmers and some carp, the other being very new having lots of small carp and silvers (this lake is still going to have more fish put in).
As we pulled in Dean Malin was stood by my door waiting for a viewing of my bag! Anyway onto the draw, due to my current issues Tony Rixon let me draw 15 mins before everyone else and I pulled peg 5 on West Lake, a peg where Dean Malin recently had 97lb off when pleasure fishing. Bela Bakos, Dean and Paul Elms then carried my gear to my peg, thank you lads I would never have got there without your help! To my left Anton Page was setting up (with my old pole) but he had two speci anglers opposite him which was not going to help.
The peg was 16 metres wide, and whilst the far bank would be the best bet for carp I was not going to fish that long. I plumbed a line at 5mtrs to my left (but never had a bite) a line at 8 mtrs where it was about 4ft deep and a line at 14 mtrs where the depth was a few inches less than the middle. I used 0.3g PB Inter 1 floats, with 0.16 to 0.14 Exceed line and a 16 B911 hook on both lines. I decided that I would feed positive as you need a fair bit of bait to hold 100lb of bream (perhaps a tad ambitious for my first match for ages!) and I put 150ml of micros and 4mm pellets in at 8 mtrs and nearly 250ml of the same at 14 mtrs. My plan was to fish the 8 mtr line for as long as possible and to let the big slabs settle in across.
As the match began the odd carp was hooked, and mainly lost, by those fishing across but it was quiet for most except Russ Peck on peg 3 who had a few skimmers. I had a 1lb skimmer on a 4mm soft pellet after about 15 mins but then no other bites despite trying various hookbaits. I then tried my old river bream hook bait 3 red maggots and this induced some sport. I took a few more skimmers on this but it was a long wait between bites and not long after the hour I went to 14 mtrs and had not a bite! I was not too worried at this stage as it can take a while for bream to get on the feed, and back on the 8 mtr line I had a 5lb slab but again no bites. Going across again I had a couple of 2lb skimmers and maggot seemed best on the hook, and I did lose a foul hooked carp. There was no pattern to the bites and feeding any bait seemed to put them off.
Halfway through and it was hard for all except Martin Alexander who started to catch skimmers regularly and did so for 2 hours. I had another 5lb slab and a 5lb carp across in two casts and then not a bite for an hour. Russ Peck was now catching carp and so I went and put a big pots of pellets on my two lines. It was a gamble and it sort of paid off in that I had a couple more skimmers (lost two more foulers) and took a bream of 6lb. Anton had been bashed up for 5 hours (and Alan Oram let him know it!) but then the carp anglers went and he caught some skimmers and carp to finish strongly.
My bream and skimmers (and 1 ruffe) weighed 28lb 11oz and the lonely carp 5lb 10oz, 34lb was 3rd on my lake behind Russ Peck 58lb (winner) and Martin Alexander 42lb. As I was in Russ's section I got the section by default, which was more than I thought I would get, I was just happy to be there. In hindsight I fed way to much and both Anton and myself felt casters would have been a good bait. I should mention on the lake I was on the two ends were a struggle and it was definitely a case of draw in the middle of the lake. For full result see Tony's blog, and as he was drawn on the other lake I'd be interested to see how he approached it, even if he didn't catch much. My thoughts on the fishery were it has a lot of potential, and the fish seem to be very healthy, a bit of tweaking may help. I would love to fish the main lake, might give it a go pleasure fishing later in the year. Thanks to Jason Radford who carried my box and carryall back (I think the weight may have shrunk him) and to Glenn for taking my holdall and Alan Oram my nets!
I wonder if I am eligible for the coffin dodgers matches?