What goes up must come down…..with an almighty bump!

After my Fishomania qualification the week previous I was genuinely excited by the prospect of the Maver classic weekend at Larford Lakes. We fish this 2 day bank holiday event every year and always incorporate a cheeky night out in Worcester on the Sunday night. The event is by qualification only and sees a top quality line up with anglers from all over the UK competing. The result is based on section points over the 2 days. This year there were 5 lads from Hereford who had qualified and we were all buzzing in the lead up.

The draw on day one saw me on peg 26 of Larfords’ match lake. It’s not a bad area or peg usually, but in the lead up to the event had been fishing poorly. The peg is right opposite the island which does give you something to fish to but there is a lack of open water from which to draw fish. Larford can also be a bit end peg orientated at this time of year and when I looked at the section lay out there were 3 end pegs in the section. These would be hard to beat and I have to admit I was a little pessimistic about the prospects.

Usual tactics would be method or bomb to the island which I dually set up along with 5 pole rigs for varying applications including shallow, deep, short and margin, but with the success of recent weeks keeping me relaxed I also set up a pellet waggler. I could fire 8mm pellets to the island and actually fancied it for a few.

Unfortunately, as the match started so did the wind. It pretty much wiped out the long pole and after a couple of F1s on short pole it was clear it would have to be a running line approach to the island. It’s not that I don’t like method feeder, but given the choice I would always prefer watching a pellet waggler. Having constantly peppered the island with 8mm pellets for about half an hour, I picked up the waggler rod. The wind was straight across me and casting close to the island was a real struggle. When it did land where I wanted the line would catch the tow and very quickly move the float through the water at the pace of a steady river. Despite this, after 5 minutes or so I missed a bite and soon followed it with a small carp of about 3lb. Over the next 2 hours or so I kept picking up occasional fish and going into the last hour had 15 fish. They were small but no one around had caught much and if I could just have a good last hour I might force my way to score some good points. Unfortunately the margins I had primed didn’t materialise and with just 3 fish in the last hour I knew I had probably nowhere near the sort of weight needed to score a top 2 section finish.

Sure enough when the scales arrived my 63lb was only good enough for 5th in the section beaten by 2 end pegs and 2 pegs further down the lake. I wasn’t too disheartened as I’d had a days fishing and quite enjoyed the challenge of casting within inches of the island in the strong cross wind. The other comforting factor was the thought of a night out to follow….

First port of call was KFC where, over an obscene amount of chicken, the results of the Hereford boys were discussed. Basically we had 2 in the running with a section 2nd, and 3 of us were out of it and would only fishing for daily prizes the next day. With our stomachs lined with the Colonels finest it was back to the Worcester Hilton (Travelodge) for a quick change and shower, before heading into town for some much needed refreshment.

By the look of the group the following morning at the draw, it could only be assumed we’d had a good night although the exact details were a little sketchy.

Today I would move onto the Speci Lake, and with only a lake win or section to fish for I was hoping for an absolute belter. Peg 18 on the burr bank wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for but we had a bit of space so I thought I’d go at it in a thorough manner. I set up 5 running line rods incorporating 2 x Pellet Waggler, 1 x Lead, 1 x method and 1 x Spalsher waggler. On top of this I set up pole rigs to cover long pole, short pole and margins. I actually had a real nice looking margin and thought if the lake fished I’d definitely have a chance of a few late specimens, for which this lake is famous.

I also had Glyn Reynolds on the next peg for company. For anyone who has never met Glyn, he is a proud Welshman who takes great pride in hustling pound coins off Englishmen. The loss of a pound to the valley boy also results in the ceremony involving the defeated angler sporting a dodgy hat decorated with daffodils. I have suffered this shameful fate once before and was determined that today would not be the second time.

The match started and after a slow start on the method I had a frustrating spell on pellet waggler where I could see fish showing themselves right around where I’d been pinging 8mm pellets, but just not feeding. They were almost rolling over top of the float but in half hours fishing I never had a single dip on the float. They obviously weren’t feeding fish but it was strange all the same. I then started fishing straight lead and 8mm Carp & Coarse pellet over the same line and despite an odd liner nothing happened.

I then switched my attentions to my pole line. Fishing a 6mm Xpand hookbait I could pick up an odd skimmer but it was going nowhere and at this point it was looking like it was going to be a late show or nothing.

A spell back on the straight lead produced the first carp of the day but none followed. The anglers who were sitting it out on bomb and pellet were picking up occasional fish but I really wasn’t in the mood for it. With 2 hours to go I cupped into my left hand margin 8 cups full of Special G Green groudbait laced with a few dead red maggots. I then started fishing my 6 metre line. This is usually the hot line on this lake in the last 2 hours of a match. I’d primed it for fishing paste but once again nothing happened. As I persevered thinking the carp would surely turn up at some point Glyn had taken his tally to 5 carp on the bomb and was well ahead. With an hour to go, a dodgy hat wearing ceremony looked nailed on.

Without a fish off the 6 metre line I had absolutely no expectations of catching from my margin. So imagine my shock when first drop in on a bunch of maggots, I hooked and landed a lump of about 10lb. Suddenly I was interested. I re-fed with another cup of Special G and after a couple of minutes hooked another. This pattern continued for the remainder of the match and I ended with 7 carp. I had really enjoyed this part of the match but it just confounded my frustration of not being able to catch earlier in the match. I eventually weighed 70lb of which 60lb probably came in that last hour. It was good enough for 3rd in the section and some default section money. I got beaten unsurprisingly by the end peg and by a guy 4 pegs down who had some right donkeys for 75lb. However I didn’t actually see my fish being weighed as I was otherwise occupied……

As I write this I’m still unsure of the chain of events, but as I was weighing in I managed to step off the platform wrong and my foot went into the water. In panic and trying to right myself I somehow managed to lurch forward at an alarming speed and my nose, closely followed by my forehead, hit the bank with a sickening thud. Not only had a managed to fall face first, I had also managed to find the only rocky patch on an otherwise grass bank. As people rushed around me to help, I lay with my head in my hands unable to talk waiting for the pain to subside. Eventually I opened my eyes only to see a lot of blood. I knew I had done some damage and could tell by people’s reactions that I looked a state. A couple of anglers inspected my face and told me despite my nose being split it was probably worse than it looked.

I slowly got myself together. After I got packed away helped by the Hereford lads, I sat in the van in a pretty ropey state and still bleeding. I was in a bit of a shocked state really. My travelling partner Matt took me straight back to Hereford a & E and after a few hours and a cleanup I was clear to go home. I had a puncture wound to my nose, grazing to my forehead, concussion and some bad swelling. Luckily I hadn’t broken anything.

In all seriousness it was without doubt the strangest and most shocking thing that has happened to me on a fishing trip. I think it will make me more careful in future and is a stark reminder of how easily things can go wrong.

I’ve been touched by the messages (and piss takes) I’ve received since. Phil Briscoe and the team at Maver/Larford lakes have been on the phone to check I’m alright and I really am grateful to how kind and caring they have been.

It was a strange ending to an otherwise brilliant weekend which had a bit of everything. Well done to Glen Butler on winning the event overall with a perfect 2 point score.

As I was sitting in the van in my concussed state I received a visitor. It was Glyn Reynolds with a pound in hand. I’d forgotten all about the £1 side bet and my last hour heroics had won the day. Glyn magnanimously presented the coin and suddenly my head didn’t hurt so much.

It had been another great classic weekend and we’ll be back next year but for now I’ve had to cancel all modelling commitments!



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