Sensas Challenge Final, River Soar Loughborough
I always look forward to this weekend, its 4 days away with my Dorking team mates, we always have a good laugh, even if the fishing is not very good. This years practice days were a struggle, the first practice day on Thursday we fished on 'the greens' and I had a couple of pounds of roach on bloodworm and the friday I fished opposite the boats at Soar Lane, I only fished for a couple of hours and caught about alb before I went and watched cameron Hughes on the bream pegs at 'the deeps' he had caught 7 bream, I had a go on his gear and caught a 3lber straight away.
Over the Friday evening meal we had the usual team meeting and there was quite a lot of 'moaning' about the fishing, especially from Mr Shipps side of the table, apparently the recent winter league was very good, but at this time of the year the roach shoal, and there are large areas of the match length where you are trying to avoid a blank, some people were predicting as many as 50% of the field could blank, there were sections where everyone could blank!!!
On the Saturday morning I drew for the team and we never had a good peg amongst the 5 draws, thats the last time I'm drawing for the team, I thought. My draw was permanent peg 61 at Soar Lane, which is second peg out of the boats, the first 3 pegs in my section were opposite the boats and everyone expected these pegs to be top 3 in the section. I was confident of catching a fish but was expecting it to be later in the day as the fish spread out more, they must spend the night in and around the boats and when they want to feed, towards evening time, they spread out and the nearer you are to the boats the quicker you will catch, the farther you are away the longer it will take, if at all.
The wind was a strong down streamer so I decided to fish at 11.5m instead of the normal 13m, hoping to get better presentation. When the 10 minute pre baiting whistle went, I threw 8 balls of ground bait and leam at 11.5m, which was quite soft to make a bit of a cloud and then cupped 4 balls over the top, at 6m I cupped 6 balls of ground bait and leam and then at 13m down the peg I cupped 1 ball of chopped dendras in leam for the perch. This might sound like a lot of bait for what could be a poor day but there wasn't very much joker in any of the balls, the ground bait had been riddled and I used a lot of terre de somme, so the feed value was very low. It took me a full 10 minutes to feed all my bait.
I started by running through at 11.5m hoping for an early bite, but with no success, I tried all the 3 lines hoping for a quick fish, but nothing happened, it was going to be a day for concentration, patience and take my chance if given the opportunity. The strong downstream wind was making presentation very difficult, even though I was only fishing 11.5m it was very hard to present the bait at times.
After an hour I had not had a bite, a quick phone call to Gary Pook confirmed that nobody in the team has had a bite. After 2 hours of fishing I had my first bite, a half ounce perch and then next cast I caught a one ounce perch, before everything went quiet again, to my left was a dozen pegs opposite some boats and every one there had caught roach and some had skimmers, at the half way point the best weight was about 4lb.
Not much happened for the next couple of hours, only the odd fish was being caught to my right while to my left opposite the boats they were all catching regular and the Scotland angler on my left caught a 2kg tench on a flat float, I kept giving it a go but never had a bite. I knew the last hour was going to be the best hour, typical fish behaviour in clear water with bright sunshine, and sure enough I started to get a few bites, mainly from small perch. The wind was really blowing strong now and it was a real battle to get any form of bait presentation, I had a few fish on my feed but catching them was very difficult and when I managed to hook one there was a pike in my swim who kept swirling at any hooked fish, I lost 3 fish to the pike and they were the slightly better ones I hooked, It was a very frustrating last hour and at one point I felt like throwing everything in.
I finished the match with 12 fish in the net, all perch except 2 roach , they all weighed 540g for sixth in the section. Sean Ashby won the section and the match, he caught a 2lb 14oz perch with 10 minutes to go and with his roach and skimmers he weighed 3kg 550. The scottish lad was second with 2kg 300, I beat everyone to my right except the french angler who had 7 perch for 880g.
The team result was a disaster, Des, Lee and Pooky all blanked, Simon caught 2kg+ which was 2 chub and a perch to win his section, the team finished 13th out of 26.
Sundays match is normally harder on these 2 day events, so I let Pooky draw, he can get all the 'moaning', but he gave me a decent draw, the peg the day before Hadrian Whittle had finished second in his section with just over 2kg of roach skimmers and perch. When I got to my peg it was well sheltered from the wind by a big house and a pub on the opposite bank, it was so much nicer to fish than yesterday and I was really looking forward to it, the team had very little chance of winning anything and we hadn't drawn very well again. Des, Simon and Lee all had a very good chance of blanking.
I set up similar rigs to yesterday and fed it more or less the same, except I wasn't going to throw any balls, just cup everything. I was hoping there was some fish in my peg feeding on the bait from the day before,so I didn't want to scare them. When the whistle went I dropped in on my 13m line and second run through I caught a dumpy roach, for the first half an hour I caught these dumpy roach steadily before everything started to slow up. If I could run my float through at half pace I could get a bite, but even though I was sheltered from the worst of the wind, it was still difficult to present properly.
Darren Bickerton was on my left and he was catching at a similar rate to me, we both had pike trouble when playing a roach and towards the end of the match, when fishing for perch with lobworms, a pike took his bait and he eventually landed it, it was about 8lb and inside it was another pike about 2lb, luckily for me pike didn't count, because he had 2.
At the weigh in we knew it was going to be close between us, I weighed 1kg 740 and Darren weighed 1kg 500. The section was won by Kayleigh Smith with 2 perch for nearly 6lb, I was second and Darren was third. On the day Des won the match with 1 carp for nearly 20lb, it was his only bite of the weekend. After he landed the carp he packed up and went and sat in his van.