83 anglers turned out for this match, there was no peg fee taken out and there was no pools, and everyone had to bring a raffle prize, with the proceeds from the raffle going to local charities. Everyone was full of the christmas spirit, some even turned out with red father christmas hats on, there was a few faces in the draw queue who wouldn't normally have been there, so this xmas match appealed to them more than the usual 'open'.

At the draw I got peg 81 on middle lake, not a bad area, so off to the peg with the attitude, lets see what happens today! Middle lake was only pegged on one bank, so there was the potential for the carp to sit the other side of the rope and we would all struggle!!

The wind was a westerly, blowing down the lake from the clubhouse, normally westerlies are warm, but today it didn't feel like it as it was quite strong, we would have to see what the carp thought of it. I set up a long pole just in case, but I was 99% certain it was going to be a bomb or feeder to the rope and with very little feed and hopefully get a few 'tugs'.

At the start I cupped in some 4mm and micros on the 14.5m line and then cast a bomb to the rope, with meat on the hook. I didn't feed anything on this line to start with, just to see what was going to happen, you can always put some in, but you can't take it out. This type of fishing you don't need to concentrate on the tip, I prefer to look around the lake to build up a picture of what is happening, where the fish are and how they are being caught, so that I can adjust my approach if I need to, a bite from a carp on the lead is normally very positive, so I'm not likely to miss it, the only time I concentrate hard is when I need to look for shy line bites, so that I know fish are in the peg.

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My first cast I left for 15 minutes with a piece of 8mm punched meat and I never has a sign of a fish, my next cast was with double 8mm pellet and after 10 minutes the tip flew around and I had my first carp of the day, a smaller than average sized carp for the lake. I then had to wait 30 minutes for my next carp, again on double 8 mm pellet, by now the angler on peg 84, the down wind end peg had got 5 carp, it seemed the carp liked the wind as at the other end of the lake, in the flat calm water, they were really struggling to get a bite.

I then sat there without another sign for the next hour why the angler on 84 continued to catch, more out of boredom than anything else I picked up my pole to see if anything was on the pole line, first drop in I caught a skimmer and the same on the second and third casts, but the wind was making it hard to present properly, I had fish feeding on my bait, but couldn't catch them, so I went back on the lead. Still nothing changed on the lead and I spent the next two hours swapping between pole and lead without a bite, yet the end peg was still getting the odd fish, the angler on 83 next to him, never had a carp, this shows just how tightly carp can shoal up at this time of year, it reminded me of a saying from the late great Ivan Marks, 80% of the fish were in 20% of the pegs, it might have been even 90/10.

During the last hour I started to get a few bites on the long pole, the wind had eased slightly and some fish had moved within pole range, I caught 4 more skimmers and a small carp just at the death, the guy on the end peg had 13 carp and 3 bream on a small pellet feeder to win the match with 80lb, I had 25lb which was good enough for first out of the main prize list of 10, but everyone got a prize and I won a bottle of wine. The raffle was well supported and the prizes were brilliant, my travelling partner, Lewis, won a lovely hamper and that made his day as he only caught 2 skimmers for 1lb 8oz, John Raison had put up a £100 for the mystery weight, which was 1lb 7oz, as nobody had caught that weight Lewis thought he had won it until John announced that the winner had to have caught less than the weight and not more, it was won with 1lb, and we gave him some 'stick' on the way home, he could have done with the £100 as he was going out that night.

Not the best day I have ever had at Gold, but it was a good fun and everybody entered into the Xmas spirit. Gold Valley are running quite a few matches over the holiday period.

Saturday 27th OPEN MATCH draw 8am fish 10-3pm

Sunday 28th OPEN MATCH draw 8am fish 10-3pm

Monday 29th COSTCUTTER OPEN draw 8.30am fish 10-3pm

Wednesday 31st OPEN MATCH draw 8am fish 10-3pm

Friday 2nd January COSTCUTTER OPEN draw 8.30am fish 10-3pm

Saturday 3rd January OPEN MATCH draw 8am fish 10-3pm

Sunday 4th January RUSHMOOR LEAGUE draw 8am fish 10-3pm

If you would like to fish any of them, you can book in on 01252 336333 Gold Valley Lakes