This was actually an open on a Monday rather than the normal Sunday due to the Sunday being New Years day and with the Monday being the default Bank Holiday it saw a good turnout of anglers, plus the weather was fairly mild and not much wind was forecasted even though it was the 1st week in January.
So all four canals were in for this match. I hoped for canal 3 but when peg 95 on canal 4 clung to my hand, an end peg I wasn’t disappointed. However with no wind blowing down into my end of the pool like it normally does I just hoped some fish could still be caught.
Despite the weather turning mild it was still cold. The pools had been frozen over the previous week and I was mindful of not putting in to much feed and killing my peg. So I decided to dobb an 8mm disk of bread along the far bank, 6 inches off the bottom at the start of the match without feeding anything anywhere. I set this up on a small 4×10 F1 Pellet float with all the no.10 shot direct below the float so the bread would have a slow natural fall through the water. But after a biteless 40 minutes it was clear I wasn’t going to catch on dobbing bread today.
But although I hadn’t fed any lines I was able to gauge what the other anglers had been doing during this 40 minutes spell. I hadn’t seen anything being caught on my pool, yet the angler opposite me on canal 3 was catching well dobbing maggots shallow. (For some reason I didn’t try this which probably may have been a mistake). It was time of do something different anyway and maggots at this time of the year are really the go to bait but generally this works best here at Hillview for later in the match once a maggot line has been primed. So I opted to fish a 4mm soft Sonubaits Pro Expander over a little micro next on a 2+1 line to my right hoping to catch a better stamp of fish than the angler opposite who was catching on his dobbed maggots, but these fish where generally on the small side. I was playing catch up and needed to catch a better stamp of fish. I hoped fishing a soft 4mm pellet would be the better option. I caught a few but this wasn’t good and I soon switched to fishing the 4mm Pro Expander to my right in front of the last peg on the pool going into the corner. Normally good for a few but all I could catch was small Silvers here. I played around with corn and even a 6mm Expander on the hook but it was clear no carp or F1’s were around this area.
Two hours in to the match now and I still hadn’t seen a fish been caught on my pool. The recent cold frosty nights had done the damage it appeared. Nothing was feeding. So at this point it as clear I needed to catch anything and switched to maggots next.
An early switch to two maggot lines
The plan was to fish two maggot lines. One to my left at 10 O’clock at 2+2 down the middle of the pool which I planned to feed positively by slowly building up the loose fed maggots for the last hour and then a negative maggot line over towards the aerator at around 10 metres towards the far bank. I planned to feed minimal feed here and to see what I could catch. By this time the angler on the next peg had now caught a fish with maggots and this seemed the way to go for the rest of the match!
The aerator line soon produced fish but it was a waiting game for each fish. But at least I was catching a few fish and I persevered with this line for the next two hours just picking off the odd fish. From what I could see on my pool I was doing OK. The other anglers were also picking off the odd fish with maggots down the track but generally it was tough going for all anglers on canal 4. As we came into the last hour my positively fed line finally came good as I’d hoped and I was able to string together an good run of small Carp and F1’s to actually have something half decent to weigh in.
Being an end peg I was first to weigh and my fish went to 38lb 15oz which I already knew had beaten the two anglers to my left and as far as I could see. I just hoped the anglers at the other end of the pool had also struggled. They had, and two of these anglers DNW’d but I’d heard them say the other end peg had caught. So the question was just how much? As I was first to weigh in I packed away my gear onto my trolley and headed off to the car park hoping to hear if my 38lb was good enough to frame and win the section. Luckily the other end peg had weighed in 24lb and so my 38lb of hard caught fish was enough to win the section.
Best rig of the day
This was a strung out 4×12 F1 fine float set up on 0.15mm Guru N-Gauge with strung out no.11’s down the line for a very slow drop through the water with a size 18 (0.11mm) 6 inch Preston SFL-B Ready Rig as the hook length, set up on 11 green Preston Dura Slip elastic.