The alarm clock went off at 4am for this match, Des and I were off to deepest darkest Kent for the final round of the Angling Trust Winter league. It was Des's first appearance for Dorking in the this years winter league and my second, with most of the matches a 400 mile round trip we only wanted to fish if the team were 'desperate' and this match they were, Delcac were winning the league and there was a very good chance we wouldn't win it, it we had to do our best.

The 3 and a half hour journey flew by as Des is great company, plenty of 'moaning' and pxxs taking, there was even a bit of fishing talk, and we arrived at the draw just as it got light, knowing very little about the venue, Des had fished it once before about 6 years ago on a Maver pairs qualifier, he caught 220lb and won the match.

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Steve Sanders did the team draw and guess what, Des drew the same peg again, the peg even won the match the day before FFS. I drew peg 7 on Bramleys lake, my basic approach to this peg was like most of the other pegs, was to start short and then go long when the bites dried up and use the feeder or waggler if the pole stopped producing, most people on my lake seemed to have a similar idea. So when the match started I cupped in some micros at top 6, some more at 14.5m off to the left and some corn at 14.5m off to the right.

When I started at top 6 it didn't take long to get a bite on 4mm expander and most people, that I could see, who started on this line caught more or less straight away. In the first 45 mins I probably caught 6 small carp on this line before things started to go quiet, so a switch to the 14.5m line produced a bite almost immediately, for the next 2 hours or so I caught small carp, about 1lb each, regularly.

The bites were very shy and most of the bites came on the drop, so regular feeding feeding with a kinder cup, followed by lifting and dropping would produce a bite or two. The float had to be shotted to a dimple and the bait had to be fished at dead depth to hit the bites, typical small carp in cold water.

The wind changed direction for the last 2 hours and it became a bit of a struggle, the sun was in my eyes, the wind was blowing right to left and it became a struggle to get regular bites. I caught a couple of carp on corn, swapped to a feeder cast to the island and caught a few more, I had to keep swapping and changing to get a bite. I was hoping for a good last hour, but it never happened, just the odd bite and small carp. With about 15 minutes to go, I could hear a loud noise coming towards us and getting louder every second as it came through the trees, then anglers on the other lakes started to shout, then suddenly out of nowhere a very loud and strong gust of wind 'hit' our lake, I was holding 14m of pole at the time, and it swung me around with its strength, luckily nothing broke, the for the rest of the match I couldn't get a bite.

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At the weigh in I had 44lb, I managed to beat the Delcac angler in my section, Des won his section with 71lb and was just out of the main frame. The team match was won by Wickford, we were second, Delcac was third on weight and Banstead was fourth. This meant that Delcac won the league, well done lads, and we finished second.

Hartleylands lake is a lovely venue, awesome fishing in the summer with plenty of 200lb+ nets of small carp, its a pity its not 150 miles closer.