Angler's Mail match expert Dave Coster (pictured below) of top tackle brand Hardy Greys reveals his latest match fishing tips and tricks on his quest to win a popular North East match series...
EVERY year after the harsh North East winter finally departs I have the Greys Individual Spring League at Whittle Dene Reservoirs, near Hexham to look forward to.
This year, after several matches I found myself in second place and on the next round drew next to the league leader, a very talented young angler called Nick Jose. We were on the shallows on the Lower Reservoir and after an hour into the match it soon became apparent the area was heaving with small fish.
The feeder was a waste of time with small gudgeon whittling away at everything I tried on the hook and with the long pole it was much the same result. I spotted Nick craftily bringing a 4m whip into play, so I quickly fixed up a 4m rig and followed suit.
We enjoyed a great battle for the rest of the match. Feeding small balls of groundbait and flicking a few maggots over the top resulted in a bite a chuck. It was then just a case of trying to pull in the odd bonus fish, much needed because generally the gudgeon and small roach were probably only averaging two to the ounce.
Odd small perch were putting in an appearance and as these fish were a tad bigger, I started chopping some worm into my groundbait. This resulted in a lot more perch than Nick seemed to be catching. By the end of the event I reckoned I had done him, with 320 fish, made up of one third gudgeon, one third blade roach and the rest perch. Sure enough the perch trick did it for me, Nick weighed 11 lb 9oz while I recorded 12lb 9oz. With two matches left I was in with a chance!
At the next draw I ended up with a peg just 100 metres further down from where I had enjoyed all the small fish action the week before. You’ve guessed it, not a bite on the whip this time! Even worse, not a bite on the long pole either. I quickly decided to go feeder or bust. It took two hours to get the first indication on my quivertip, fishing a groundbait feeder a good distance out.
A smattering of small roach and perch was all I had going into the fourth hour of the match, but suddenly the skimmers moved in. With seven in the keepnet approaching the last hour and not much happening around the reservoir, I was beginning to fancy my chances of a much needed win. It just didn’t happen as only two more skimmers were added to my haul. Of course, young Nick won the match and I lost ground in the league, ending up fifth on the day. Just one more decent skimmer would have made a huge difference, but that’s match fishing!
The final match saw me drawing the Farm Bank and not a bad peg. I couldn’t catch the league leader but was still in contention for runners-up spot, providing I could beat my nearest rival, Steve Wood. After an hour the feeder hadn’t produced so much as a knock, so I switched to the pole and started catching a few 2 to 3oz roach. After another half an hour I thought I’d give the feeder another look but it was still dead out there. So this time is was going to be the long pole or bust.
I managed a few more roach and then the swim went quiet. Normally with roach this signals something bigger has moved in so I anchored a bigger bait well over depth and caught a decent skimmer. Several more followed and then they died away too. Try as I might I couldn’t get the fish back and ended up with 10 lb 3oz, two decent skimmers behind Steve, but comfortably enough to ensure third place overall.
I took some friendly ribbing from the Northerners at the prize giving pictured above – from left: DC (3rd), Nick Jose (1st), Steve Wood (2nd) and Stuart Lister (4th) – but this exiled Southerner will be fighting back hard next year!
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