My first match of the New Year saw me return to Hillview for their regular Sunday open, This week spread over three of the canal pools, 2,3 and 4. I drew on canal 2 which isn’t the best to draw compared to the canal 3 and 4 as you tend to catch early on this pool and then generally at some point it switch’s off and bites become hard to get. But being an end peg with the wind blowing down to my end of the pool I was hopeful of doing well and winning the section and with half a chance of competing with canals 3 and 4.
On arrival at my peg it was like a mud bath. They have recently been doing some ground works at the fishery and the area around my peg had suffered the worse of the recent rain and there was barely a blade of grass left. I had to be careful setting up, the last thing I wanted was to slip over and break my pole and I had to make sure all my kit was positioned so I didn’t need to get off my seat box when the match started. Everything needed to be close to home.
Starting down the track on soft pellets
With the weather unusually mild for the start of January with the temperature around 12 degrees I felt pellets would be the better option, but I had maggots just in case. I set up rigs for down the track, over to the far bank and the margins, starting the match off fishing a 4mm Sonubaits soft Pro Expander pellet at 2+3 down the track, cad potting in some fishery 4mm’s capped off with fishery micro’s. It wasn’t long before bites came and I began to catch some small carp and F1’s. So pellets seemed to be the way forward. The first hour was good, catching around 25lb here but this line was now beginning to slow down (as you expect on canal 2) The fish were getting smaller so I played around with a 6mm hook bait and also corn just to see if I could tempt any bigger carp to feed but this didn’t work and the fish I was catching were still on the smaller side. So this line now needed resting and I began to prime my right hand margin going down to the next pallet in the corner of the pool.
Into the margins
I used the same tactics in the margin fishing a foot off the bank up to the next pallet with soft expanders but using a 6mm this time. It wasn’t long before I began to catch here and the stamp of fish was bigger, around 2-3lb. The wind was ruling out fishing over to the far bank and this corner margin was protected from the wind and the fish seemed to be there so all was good. I just hopped I could catch some more before the expected ‘switch off’ canal 2 does all the time. The next hour was fantastic, I was catching well fishing the 6mm Sonubaits Pro Expander hook bait and feeding fishery 4mm’s and micro’s via a small cad pot over the top. It felt like I was fishing in the summer, the float was dipping down nearly every put in and I must have caught around 40lb here during the next hour or so. Looking up the section I couldn’t really see if the other anglers were also catching. I had a very good angler Matty Hamilton on the next peg to me who’s always in the frame but as I was fishing with my back to him I didn’t really know if he was catching. I just hoped not and I now had around 60lb which was already a good weight for the time of the year.
The Switch off
As expected the big switch off happened. It’s strange but this always seems to happen on canal 2 here. You catch well for the first half of the match and then struggle to catch anything. Today this happened around 2.00pm. I just couldn’t buy a bite anywhere despite moving around the peg and switching between pellets, corn and even maggots. The final 1.5 hours was a real struggle. The margin where I’d caught well earlier seemed devoid of fish and I couldn’t catch anywhere. So I just sat if out back in the margin hoping that if a hooked a fish at least there was half a change of it being a decent one. I just hoped everybody else in the section to also suffering the same. I think I only caught 3 carp during this last 1.5 hours.
I was the last person to weigh in. The other canals. 3 & 4 had produced on a few pegs with 91lb being the top weight with an 88lb second and 76lb third. I didn’t think I could beat that having drawn on canal 2. I had it in my head that I was just fishing for the section anyway. But I had no idea how my section had fished and when the scales arrived the top weight was 48lb. A big smile appeared on my face, I knew I could beat that. My two keepnets weighed in at 76lb. So an easy section win this time. My year had started well with a decent draw. Peg 67 was the end peg in the section and with the wind blowing down to my end of the pool any of the other anglers would have caught off my peg today! In fact my 76lb was equal 3rd in the match!
Best Rig of the day
This was the margin rig which was about 2 foot deep so I used a 4×12 Preston F1 Pellet pole float on 0.17mm Guru N Gauge mainline with 5 no. 9 and 1 no.10 split shot with 1 inch gaps above a pre tied size 16 Preston SFL-B 0.11mm 6 inch Ready Rig baited with a 6mm Sonu baits 6mm Pro Expander pellet. This was set up on 13 Preston Dura Slip as I was fishing close to a pallet with legs and I needed to bully the fish away from the pallet so they didn’t go under it.