Here as a bonus is a blog by the angler who finished second individually, JAMES GRANGER (Preston Innovations Delcac). The Brighton-based match fishing blogger explains to Angler’s Mail how he fared, and offering some insight into the venue.
MY “FEEDER OR BUST” WINTER LEAGUE FINAL
YES the Angling Trust Winter League final on the tidal Trent was a toughie, but it’s one I’ll have good memories of after a good result – second place from an average peg.
Being a national final, for many of us it means long-distance traveling to compete on a venue you don’t know very well. For me that’s from the south coast up to Lincolnshire several times to practice in order to try and be competitive.
On the day, I drew average peg – K4 at Laughterton (permanent peg 34). The pegs below are noted barbel swims and those above are better for skimmers and occasional bream.
After doing well in a previous open and having grown up fishing the tidal Adur, Ouse and Arun in Sussex, while those around me set up a mountain of gear I was confident of a few bites with my one-rod approach.
With the tide still coming up at the very start of the match my aim was to get plenty of bait into the swim as the water stopped at the top of the tide before running out almost half an hour into the match.
Experience has taught me that very little is caught on the feeder during this slack period, and while those around me left their casts in for longer with smallish feeders I kept casting my large open-end feeder packed with casters and a few chopped worms every 60-90 seconds until the river begun to run off.
Only when the tide begun to run off did I swap to a medium 70gr and later a 90gr open-end feeder to ensure it just held in the flow.
Some 50 minutes into the match and after changing from maggot to double dendra the tip dropped back before striking into what was obviously a good fish. After a carefully playing the fish and glad I was on sensible gear (0.15 Powerline to a 14 PR355) a 5 lb-plus bream was soon netted.
With good points guaranteed it gave me the confidence to continue attacking the swim and fishing big baits. This brought another seven skimmers averaging 1 lb each, five perch to 8 oz and another bream of 4 lb.
In total I fed almost 2 kilos of groundbait (Sonubaits Dutch Master feeder mix with added black dye) a kilo of worms and nearly three pints of casters. My runner-up weight was 8.220 kg, short of Liam Braddell’s winning 9.750. Matt Derry fishing for Starlets above me had just two fry for 5 gr and Mark Addy below me had two skimmers for a kilo.
Our Delcac team approach was a very positive ‘feeder or bust’ one, and although we expected a blank or two we knew that any fish we caught were generally going to be of a decent stamp and worth good points.
Although our seven catchers averaged 8.7 points we could not carry our three blanks on a day when scratching for fry got a lot of teams out of trouble. If each of our anglers that blanked had each caught a fry we would have gained another 15 points and shot from 8th to second – doh!!
Although the fishing was dire for most, it is an event that I feel should be kept on natural venues. The final two years ago on Furzton Lakes in Milton Keynes (where Delcac finished second) was fantastic and although the Trent is full of fish the Angling Trust chose not to listen to those who said it would be hard.
If fished on a different tide later in the year and anglers given more room (seen more generous swims on commercials) it would have been a fantastic match.
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