Fishomania – A Golden Day – Dave Roberts Match Diary

It’s fair to say that my expectations leading up to last Wednesdays Fisho qualifier at Hampshires’ Gold Valley Complex were what could only be described as realistic. Since first qualifying for Fishomania back in 2009 I’ve fished quite a few qualifiers on a variety of venues. Some have been truly awful, whereas others (usually the bigger venues) have offered better sport. Because of this with most venues I’ll often say ‘if I get a days fishing I’ll be happy’. That may be a negative mind set but it’s reality that with most fisho qualifiers it’s over at the draw. That can be a real downer when you’ve put lots of effort and money into preparation and travel.

Gold valley is one of those venues that although never predictable, is always very tough in areas with 130 anglers around it. I knew I’d have to draw well, but the fishing there is very much up my street. The lakes lend themselves to lots of running line work, especially pellet waggler. Since I really got into the commercial scene about 10 years ago, this is the one method that I’ve always felt at home with, and have had some of my best results using the tactic.

At the draw I pulled out peg 43 on Gold Lake. Smack bang in the middle of the lake. Gold is the biggest lake on the complex and running line work usually scores best. I’ve drawn this area on my last 3 visits to gold with mixed results. It’s usually a decent area for a few fish but there’s always a couple of pegs with an island/corner chuck that throw up better weights. With Former World Champ, Will Raison stood at the draw bucket I was looking for his reaction to peg 43. An intake of breath was at least a reaction although I didn’t know what kind at first. He made a noise like a plumber about to tell you your boiler is knackered and it’d gonnna cost you two grand to replace. He followed it with encouraging words. ‘That’s a good area for the pellet wag and bomb ’. I had no reason to doubt his summary so went off to my peg not thinking I was going to win the match, but that I might have a days fishing at the very least.

When I got to my peg a few things became apparent. The wind was a bit blustery but generally across my shoulder. Ideal for feeding 8mm pellets. It also appeared that despite every peg being in, the way the peg was on a slight point meant I had a bit of room to feed an area tight, and keep it to myself. Something that also sprung to mind was a match I’d fished in this area a few years back. On that day I caught very little early on but as the match progressed the fish started to feed within waggler range and I caught plenty late on. With that in mind, and without huge expectations I came up with a plan.

Virtually everyone’s starting plan at Gold is to chuck a method up to the central dividing rope whilst feeding up other lines. I decided that I was going to fish method for as long as possible without touching my pellet line in the hope that when I did go on it the fish would be settled. Experience told me that it wasn’t worth setting up a pole and I didn’t. I set up 5 running line rods which consisted of 2 x pellet waggler rods, 1 x method rod, 1 x straight lead and a big splasher float.

The rods were all from the tri-cast xrs range which are stunning blanks. The reel lines were all maxima. I just love the durability of this line and still load it on every reel I use.

Floats for the waggler were both DH Angling No.2 Pellet Wagglers in 4Swan and 2Swan. I’ve used many types of pellet waggler over the years and usually found the handmade ones to be best. The commercially made wagglers often look great but don’t cast very well. These DH floats seem to have found the right balance for durability and flight. The heavier rig, set on 5lb maxima is basically for searching through the depths to find where or how the fish are intercepting. The lighter float set on 4lb maxima is a killer when the fish are sat close to the surface but being spooked by a heavier splash. The lighter line means I can cast a lighter float further and usually create a lot more subtle landing noise than other anglers using thicker lines. This can lead to some really positive takes.

The Splasher float does exactly what it days on the tin. I could cast this 18 gram Preston innovations version right out to the rope in the hope of sneaking an odd fish that was hanging back but still interested by the noise equivalent to a loaded method feeder hitting the water. Again set on 5lb maxima this rig was finished (as with all my pellet waggler rigs) with an 0.19 Preston power hook length attached to a size 16 Guru Pellet waggler hook, and a drennan mini latex bait band.

The method and lead rod were also set on 5lb maxima and both incorporated a Guru QM1 size 14 with a bait band. 8mm pellet was going to be my main hook bait for all rigs today.

Bait wise I was going to feed 8mm Bait-Tech Carp & Coarse feed pellets to where I could land them neatly. These are brilliant pellets for feeding as they are so uniform in production that grouping pellets tightly with a catapult is easy. I also had some variant sizes of pellets for change bait. Groundbait for the method was neat Special G Green.

When the all in sounded it was out with the method (along with most of the field) for the waiting game. I actually didn’t have to wait long before the tip flew round and the first carp of the day was on its way in. Unfortunately about half way in the fish came off. I wasn’t too upset as I saw it as a good sign that fish were around. Unfortunately it took me another hour before I actually netted a carp although I did have 4 smallish skimmers in that period. It was clear the lake was fishing hard and apart from the odd fish on the opposite bank there wasn’t much happening at all. Well into the 2nd hour the anglers around me were going through their rigs trying different methods. I saw no one catch so just stuck to my plan although by this stage the method was becoming increasingly less interesting.

I looked at the watch and it was just half way through. I had a carp and some skimmers for about 10lb. Although I hadn’t seen a fish move on my pellet line I was getting odd liners on the method. Then the guy on my left hooked a smallish carp on his bomb and pellet set up. This was my cue to try this line. I chucked a single 8mm pellet out on the bomb rod, right on top of my feed. I was getting more liners now but still no bite. I’m not the most patient on the straight lead and soon had the waggler rod in my hand. I had the depth set at about 2 feet deep and after 10 or so casts hadn’t had a bite. I was sure there were fish there so I then dropped the depth to about 3 and a half feet. First cast, and within seconds of the waggler hitting the water the rod arched round as a carp took very aggressively. Pretty soon I had 3 fish and felt like there was a chance of catching a few more. I then switched to the lighter waggler and went on to have another 7 before looking at the clock and seeing there was exactly an hour left.

Word on the bank was that a guy on the opposite bank had 9 carp after 2 hours, so at this stage I wasn’t even thinking that a match win could be on the cards. I just thought that I could possibly frame if I carried on catching. Unfortunately with everyone around me now hammering their pellet waggler lines the fish started backing off. The wind also became very blustery and it was hard to keep things so tight. After 15 fishless minutes I picked up the bigger splasher waggler. I cast it right out to the rope and within 5 seconds the float disappeared and I was into carp number 12.

After a couple more casts number 13 was hooked and as I was landing it Next Mr Tweetomania, Andy Ford, turned up with the Sky cameras. He asked how it was going. When I replied I had 13 fish he said ’13!!…..bloody hell Robbo’ I replied ‘Why? What’s the best you’ve heard of?’ ‘Erm….13…!’ was the answer and suddenly it was game on. After a minute or so of freaking out I pulled myself together and thought right head down Robbo! There was 20 minutes left but it had gone very quiet. After pulling out of a fish on the splasher I decided to get my head down on the deeper pellet waggler set at about 2 feet. I set myself the target of catching 2 more fish. After 5 minutes of constant feed, cast, feed, cast, I hooked one only for it to come off. This was frustrating to say the least but straight away I hooked another. I was chuffed to see a fish of about 9lb which fought very tamely in the net and with time running out just prayed for one more bite. It came quite quickly and this time the smallest fish of the day (about 3lb) was landed just as the final whistle went. Match over.

I sat and looked at the lake for a while. I knew I’d had an excellent match and at least given myself a chance. I didn’t think I’d have enough as there were a few people admitting to 9 or 10 fish with an hour to go. The feeling was that Perry Stone was the man to beat with 13 fish. I still felt someone else would have gone under the radar. As I started a nervous pack away I was aware that the cameras were hanging around my area. Previous experience told me this was a good sign. Then they went off to Syndicate Lake for Perry Stones’ weigh in.

Again I tried to pack away and was buoyed when they weren’t gone for too long. Andy Ford was straight back with the news. 93lb was Perry’s weight and it was believed I would be the only one with enough to challenge. I have to say at this stage that although I’m no expert on the venue, this was an exceptional weight from the area that he was in. I started trying to do maths. If my 15 fish averaged 5lb it wasn’t enough. If they were 6lb a piece it was close. A set of scales came and weighed right up to the next peg to me, but I had to wait for Will Raison to come round from the other side of our lake with another set. The guy on the next peg had weighed 6 carp for 36lb so I knew my fish would average similar. This was going to be close.

As Will came around 85lb was the best weight on the other side which bought more relief as they had been the early runners. It’s amazing in these situations how your mind works. I was praying I had enough and just wanted to know ASAP. I had 7 carp in one net and eight in the other. I decided to weigh the 7 first. If this was over 47lb (half of Perry’s weight) I would surely have enough in the other net. First weigh, 48lb and I knew I was in business. Second weigh 55lb including a few skimmers and if bankside talk was to be believed, I had done it. I still wasn’t sure but I knew the majority had weighed and the cameras had gone back to the club house. I had one minor heart attack when one lad told me he thought syndicate lake had been won with 130lb but once he said it was Perry Stone I knew he was wrong. And that was it, after 6 years I was back in the fishomania final.

I always felt I’d get back to fishomania and 6 years seems a long time but in that time I’ve fished plenty of qualifiers and despite framing and winning a few sections I genuinely can’t remember a missed chance. What is more pleasing is that when an opportunity arose I took full advantage.

The past couple of years has been tough on my fishing career. I started a new business in 2013 and running that coupled with having 2 young children has made time on the bank less frequent and more precious. At Christmas we lost my mother very suddenly and it’s been hard to find any focus. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason and qualifying for Fishomania is the best possible thing that could happen to me right now. Once again the sport I have loved since I first picked up a rod at the age of 4 has come to the rescue.

As for the final itself I know only too well after the 2009 final how harsh Cudmore can be. There will be good areas and there will be pegs that won’t have a chance. I’m relishing the challenge and just hope for that bit of luck that anyone needs in these events.

Cudmore here we come!




One Response to Fishomania – A Golden Day – Dave Roberts Match Diary

  1. Dave Smith May 4, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Congratulations on the win Dave and a very well written write up.

    Things had better improve on Arena at Cudmore otherwise the final this year will be a farce. A very recent match on there was won with just 7lb whilst quite a few guys blanked. Some of the lads fishing that match have won at Heronbrook & White Acres and they’re no mugs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.