MATCH BLOG (Tues): how to win big money fishing competitions
WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays mean Steve Collett, focussing mainly on match fishing but also delving into his styles of pleasure fishing and specialist angling.
We hope you enjoy the blog, and share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the icons above, or by the “old skool” method of telling fellow anglers! Feel free also to comment by using the special space at the bottom on this page.
LES THOMPSON’S SECRETS OF WINNING BIG MONEY FISHING MATCHES
A COUPLE of weeks ago a good pal of mine, Les Thompson became the second winner of the £50,000 Maver Match This final at Larford Lakes in Worcestershire.
The night before I spoke to Les and asked him how his preparation for this mega money fishing match had gone, how he felt, and if he thought he could do it. He was amazingly blasé about the whole thing, then he said to me: “Steve, given half a chance or a good peg, and I’ll be in with a shout. I just need a good draw.”
Now I know the amount of practise that Les puts in on F1 venues and the amount of detail he pays attention to must work, as he has also strung up an impressive amount of wins and placings this year on various match fishing festivals. But is it the attention to detail or is it something else ?
I decided to pick his brains for this week’s Anglers Mail blog, to hopefully give you an insight into Les’s match fishing success…
Les, after watching you net yourself £50k last weekend I know myself and a few Angler’s Mail blog followers would love to know just how you go about winning a mega money match. The pressure must be immense, but you looked pretty cool to me, even when things went a little quiet towards the end. How do you do this? Or was it a front?
Nothing can prepare you for what your feeling when you sit down on a fancied peg with 50,000 pounds up for grabs and only two weeks to go before my wedding!
To be honest, I just treat big finals as just another match. If you’d ask me to this day how many people were watching I couldn’t tell you. I was so focused on what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it, mainly because I’d put so much time into the venue I could tell you how I was going to fish every part of the lake.
I was so I tune with it and so was my bank runner Stu Ballard and they made a big difference, and my confidence was high for this reason. I knew times of the match to feed, switch lines etc. on all parts of the lake. The fact I qualified so early also helped.
In the last week I fished my match over in my mind so many times – for me that helps, and of course experience plays a big part. I have seen anglers in big money finals lose their way listening to the crowd and panicking; everything goes to pot, the match is lost at that point, and I wasn’t going down that route.
As a mere mortal watching you, lots of things seemed to be going on in your peg. One minute they were there the next gone, but you seemed to know what was going on, when the fish switched off, when they moved out, when to change things. Is this experience on the water or is this some supernatural power anglers like yourself, Des Shipp and a few others seem to have what is it ?
No superpowers mate, just time on the bank through the years. The more you get out the more you learn and the more you catch! And being in that sort of a situation before and storing it away for later use.
Yes better anglers can read situations better than others so maybe that’s the power certain anglers possess. Learning about the species your catching helps as well being in tune with there behaviour can put more fish in the net , just like a golfer’s swing gets better and handicap lower the more they go
It’s not just this match you won, you and I have been pals for over 16 years now and during that time you have won a few, including being in the Fish O Mania final. How do you go about this, and what one piece of advice would you give to the aspiring club angler wanting to have a shot at these big money events?
The most important thing to do is have a plan, then get any information you can even if you know the venue like the back of your hand. The guy who’s emptied it last hour but won nothing on the last match there can have that bit of information that unlocks the peg if you draw it.
Fish to your strengths and make it work for you by being positive these are winner-takes-all qualifiers and finals so eight lines in your peg catches a lot of nothing and you’ll nine times out of ten fall short of your target weight.
When got through to Fish O Mania I set-up three pellet wagglers and a bomb as it was a great peg for that style of fishing. Lots of anglers around me did this and set up the pole if it’s not there you won’t be tempted to pick it up!
In the Match This final I had four lines: margins that I would only fish if saw movement; Method feeder to the island if all I had worked out was wrong; short pole which I was using for first half hour; and then the only line I planned to fish all day, 13m to then move out when the fish backed off. So really I had only a two-line plan to win and the margins would be a bonus.
Now one thing I really want to ask is that on Saturday you told me you were using size 20 hooks 0.10 line and No. 8 elastic, a set up. Or associated with winter, what was the thinking behind this ? I am sure that the Anglers Mail readers would like to know why?
My thinking for the ultra light approach was born out of the amount of time I had spent on the venue and spending time on Boldings, a venue I used for staying in touch with the F1 species when there were no matches a Larford. For me to fish I had lived on these two venues since I got through to the (Maver Match This) final with the one goal in mind – to give myself the best possible chance that if I drew the area I wanted I could win it.
So back to the choice of set up, it came about after I watched sport get increasingly harder after the amount of matches that the match lake had on before the final – festival, British Pole Championships, Maver Pairs, Opens and club matches. So the fish weren’t getting much rest. And after sacrificing matches to try out the rigs to see how many more bites I was getting on winter rigs to summer rigs it was so apparent it was better.
So why size 20 hooks ?
Well if you have a look at a F1′s mouth you will see it has a tiny ridge, no matter how big the fish is, either 1lb or 3lb it’s the same size ridge. Anything bigger goes into a really hard part of the mouth resulting in pulling out or hooks blunting quickly. But you need to balance this out of course with light elastics.
So after putting £50k in the bank, making your old man and the rest of the family, and me, very proud… what next ?
Firstly I’ve got lots of commitments to carry out for my sponsors Matrix and Bait Tech then I’m going for the UK Champs again next year after a couple of years out following the birth of my son. I’ll also be doing Fish O Manias and of course trying to defend the Match This title, just as Andy Power nearly did this year. Hopefully it will be the magical £100,000 cheque that Phil Briscoe’s efforts deserve but most of all I will keep enjoying my fishing and the company of my friends I’ve made through the sport
Thanks a lot for that Les, I really appreciate you giving us an Angler’s Mail exclusive insight into your success and I wish you all the very best in the future, and Ill see you next week becoming an honest man!
This week my award goes out to young Samantha Sims, winner again of this year’s Ladies Fish O Mania, and many more too. She is really having a good spell, and she went and won again this week at Furzton lakes in Milton Keynes.
Now what makes these wins even more amazing is that she very rarely gets time to fish, she has three youngsters, and has to travel from right down near Brighton to fish many matches around the country, as well as representing her country as part of the England Ladies team.
I really take my hat off to this girl, an amazing angler who I am sure will be a World Champion in years to come.
STEVE COLLETT’S NEXT MATCH FISHING BLOG WILL BE HERE NEXT TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18.
Remember we now have a new fishing blog here every day >> CLICK HERE TO READ MORELike Angler's Mail? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.