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Tuesday, I did a feature at Larford Lakes with Des, when we arrived the lakes were partly frozen and we did not know what to expect, the object of the feature was to demonstrate the finesse and feeding needed to catch shy feeding fish in cold water, and it was COLD, the feature should be out in the March issue of Match Fishing, which is due out end of February.

I needn't have worried about the ice as the fishing at Larford is always excellent and today was no different, I caught F1s, carp and skimmers, it was a terrific days days fishing for the time of the year. I probably caught nearly 80lb in a few hours fishing.

Wednesday it was off to Gold Valley for the wednesday open. Gold Valley is one of the few venues I fish where there is still a reasonable turnout, no matter what time of the year or day of the week, the fishing can be patchy, especially in the winter, but usually you get a good days fishing. During the winter months, carp win nearly every match, usually on the lead, so lots of people just set up one rod, and on a lot of pegs thats the right thing to do. I rarely restrict myself to such an approach and usually set up a pole for bream as a second option. If I draw one of the flyers, the pole usually stays in the holdall, but a lot of pegs respond to a 'dual' approach.

At this time of the year I fish bloodworm and joker in fishmeal ground bait, on the pole. This is an approach my Dorking team mates used to win the last Angling Trust semi final at Gold Valley.

The ground bait I use is Thatchers natural, to which I add a bag of Sensas Terre de Somme, I then whisk it up with a drill and add water until it just sticks together nicely, go careful with the water, if you add too much too quick you will finish up with a pile of clay, only any good for making coffee mugs out of. I swear by Thatchers at this time of the year, and a lot of other good anglers do, because of the low fishmeal content it is ideal for bream and skimmers in cold water, don't be fooled into thinking a fishmeal is a fishmeal, they are not all the same.

To the ground bait I add 350ml of russian joker and 200ml of dead red maggots to the mix and cup it all in at the start at 14.5m, that's a lot of balls and its hard work, I spread them over about a yard, from left to right, so if any undertow develops I can easily cover my bait, spreading the bait around also prevents too many foul hookers if you are lucky enough to have a lot of fish in your peg. Once I fed that lot I leave that line alone until the second half of the match, I keep an eye on the surface of the water above the bait, looking for tiny pin head bubbles as feeding fish will activate the ground bait and send very small bubbles up to the surface.

I then start my match fishing for the carp on a straight lead with meat or a method feeder wrapped with micros. Today's match I drew peg 23 on the canal bank of Gold lake, this is a good area for bream. At the start I cupped in joker and red maggot mix in ground bait at 14.5m and cast a piece of meat to the rope, during the first hour I had 3 'pulls' on the meat and landed 3 carp and one of them was a real bonus at 17lb, then I had a typical 2nd and 3rd hour at Gold, I never had a fish, but I kept an eye on my ground bait and after 2 and half hours I started to see a few pin pricks, I didn't pick up my pole straight away as I prefer to let any bream settle over the bait before I start catching them, but with 2 hours to go and not another sign on the the lead, I couldn't wait any longer.

As soon as I dropped in I had a line bite and it wasn't long before my first bream was in the keep net, for the next two hours it was constant action until the end of the match. I caught 22 bream for nearly 50lb, it was awesome fishing, the best days fishing I've had for a long time, with my carp I weighed 75lb and a nice win. The fishing at Gold can be brilliant, thats why I make the long journey from Bristol, and it keeps me in touch with bloodworm and joker fishing.

Saturday, it was back to Gold again, after such a good day on Wednesday, I couldn't wait to get back again. Todays match was on Syndicate lake and I had drawn peg 116, 118 is the peg to draw at the moment, Jeb Attwood won the last match on this lake with 198lb. 116 is a peg where you have a chance of catching carp and bream, so I was happy about the draw, even if my chances of winning from it were very slim.

I fished the same sort of match as as I did on Wednesday, feeding the 14.5m line with joker and fishmeal and I was feeling confident of catching on it. It took me 6 and half minutes at the start to cup in all my ground bait, during that time peg 118 had lost a carp and got one in, so I knew how I had to start the match, by casting a piece of meat to the rope, it wasn't long before I got my first carp, by which time 118 had 3, I knew deep down that this was going to happen and as long as 118 fished a sensible match he was going to win, the best I could hope for was to be the best of the rest, after an hour I had 3 carp. For the next couple of hours I kept getting the odd bite and was really confident of catching bream on the pole, with 2 hours to go I tried the pole, despite there not being any signs of fish over the ground bait, the float never moved, so back out on the lead hoping for another carp. I kept trying the pole every half an hour until the end, but never had a bite, the water on Syndicate is a lot clearer than Gold was on wednesday and with the bright sunshine I don't think the bream had confidence to move in on the pole line, I bet they did when the match was over and the sun started to drop behind the trees.

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I finished the match with 8 carp, all caught on meat, for a weight of 70lb and finished second to peg 118 who weighed 95lb, legered meat is not my favourite way of fishing, but it is great fun when the tip goes around. All in all, I had a great weeks fishing, especially as it is January and very cold, lets hope next week is just as good.