The Big Money Trail – Tom Downing

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been travelling across the country to participate in a couple of the new Golden Reel Qualifiers! Due to working commitments I only initially entered two qualifiers but with the entry system being really simple there is nothing stopping me entering more at a later date!

The first of my qualifiers was at Larford Lakes in Worcester. A venue that I fish every year and really enjoy, although I have never fished it this early in the year my approach would have to be altered slightly than how I would in the heat of the summer! With the match being on the same weekend as the Big One Tackle Show I managed to get the Saturday off of work and travel down to Farnborough to meet all of the guys and spend some time on the Bait-Tech stand. It was a really good day meeting the team, both from the match side and the carp side of things and awesome to put some faces to names. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay all day as I had planned to drive to Kidderminster to stay overnight so I didn’t have to far to drive on match day. Saying that nearly 6 hours of driving and 300 plus miles was certainly enough for one day! A quick pint and some food and it was off to bed. On the morning of the match I met up with a couple of mates who fish on the local scene, Ian and Duncan for breakfast and headed to the fishery.

On arrival at the fishery we were greeted with bright sunshine, no ripple and fish moving absolutely everywhere! We had a quick walk round and it didn’t really help where we would like to draw but I personally fancied somewhere on the match lake! So at the draw when I pulled out 86 on the Specimen lake end bank I wasn’t to sure what to expect in truth! By this time the wind had picked up a little blowing straight into my peg and it really looked spot on!  I started setting up and there were fish crashing everywhere in the corner to my right! With Mick Bull on the end peg a lot of people were expecting him to empty it!

My plan for the day was to fish a method feeder at range using fishery micros mixed 50/50 with Bait-Tech Karma. Then a pellet waggler and a bomb rod fished where I could feed comfortably , a short meat line and a pellet line fished at ’10 o’clock, 2 o’clock and finally an edge rig either side of me .

At the all in I fed my meat line with a bit of Super Seed Hemp mixed with plain 8mm meat and 8mm N-Tice Poloni and went straight out on the pellet waggler. A nice simple set up were I fished  2ssg Drake waggler that I could quickly switch to a heavier one if the wind got up too much! I started of fishing at 4ft deep as in the past I’ve found the fish on the ‘speci’ lake like a nice slow fall. Feed wise again its fishery pellets which are quite heavy so I used a Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse 8mm for a slightly slower fall! First chuck the floats gone under and I was into my first fish and the best possible start I could have hoped for. It was a good fish as-well up around the double figure mark. The next cast I’ve foul hooked and bumped one so I switched to a rod set up at 3ft and another good sized fish shortly followed.

After 40 minutes I was sat on four fish and in all honesty I thought I was going to be in for a good day but the wind had been increasing all the time and after an hour the waggler was virtually impossible to fish. I tried all of my various lines that I had set up but I just couldn’t seem to get a bite on anything that I had tried. It wasn’t just me that started to struggle but everyone on the end bank and a couple on the sides stopped catching as-well. This continued for the remainder of the match and I didn’t have so much as a liner for the last 4 hours of the match but it wasn’t through the lack of trying!

At the scales my 4 fish went 41lb so a good average stamp but I just missed out on the section by 6 lb so needed one more bite really! Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to beat my mate Matt who travelled up on the morning of the match so I lost a quid to him! It turned out that the speci lake and match lake fished hard on the day and 4 of the top 5 weights came out on arena lake with Paul Cook coming out on top.

I had a really enjoyable day it was just a shame the fish shut up shop so early. Next up is the Glebe, a fishery that is completely new to me.

Two weeks later and another road trip was ahead, this time Leicester to the prolific Glebe, Mallory Park fishery. With a close to 4 hour journey it was an early start and I left my house at around 4am to go via Weston-Super-Mare to pick up  my mate Lewis and follow Matt up. The journey up wasn’t to bad apart from an abrupt stop as Lew’ had one to many the evening before and we were soon at the fishery. On arrival we were greeted by a bailiff who made sure we had dipped our nets, when we had done so, a ticket was given to us so we were then aloud to draw, in my opinion a brilliant idea which a lot of fisheries should follow suit to prevent the spread of KHV. By this time I was starving so grabbed breakfast and had a chat with a few of the locals about where you would ideally like to draw and the common answer was lake one maybe lake 7, so when lake 2 peg 39 came out of the draw bag and a few saying I haven’t really got a hope on qualifying from there I was a bit disappointed but you never know in fishing!

As I got to my peg it really did look good for a few, it was tucked in a corner with a nice long edge to fish to, and carp where cruising in the heat of the sun everywhere! My set up for the day was very simple, firstly a long line for cad potting or pinging pellets, for this I used a MAP SD2 4×14 to 0.15 – 0.13 and a B911 16 hook I duplicated this rig but I had a banded hair on the other for hard pellets. I then set a short line for feeding casters this time I used a MAP WD1 4×12 with the same line as before and an 18 B911 F1 hook. The next line was what I thought would be my main line of attack and that was a rig for long up the edge. I used a Des Shipp commercial margin float in 4×12 on 0.17 to an 0.15 hook length and a pr27 on a banded hair. I found the same depth under a tree to my left to give me another option . Finally I set up a shallow / mugging rig to try and snare a few of the cruisers!

By the all in there was a slight ripple on, making the cruising fish harder to see so I left them alone to not waste time trying to chase them around the peg! So to start I fed a pot of casters short and pinged some Bait-Tech Carp And Coarse 6mms up the edge which I planned to do regularly the shipped out on my long line with some soaked 4mm Carp And Coarse pellets in a cad pot with a 6mm Xpand on the hook. First two put ins I had a couple of small skimmers so I switched rigs and put a banded 8mm on and was straight into a carp, quickly followed by another but the bites dried up so I tried pinging 6mms over the top. All this achieved was a couple of liners so I tried the shallow rig but had no bites at all. By this time I could see the odd fish up the edge so I had a look and never really looked back! Saying this though I did have quiet spells when the wind switched direction blowing the opposite way down the lake, bites where hard to come by. When they did dry up I would feed and leave the line to settle and try to nick the odd fish short but this only produced one carp and some small silvers!

After the all out speaking to the guys behind me in Jamie Hughes and Nathan Watson, lake one had fished well at either end with reports of some people having 50 carp! I finished up with 35 carp for an estimated weight of 65lb which at the scales went 66lb it was only good enough for second in section behind the ever consistent Perry Stone.

Not the result I was hoping for, but a very nice days fishing none of the less and finally some nice weather conditions.

On the overall result it was a very close finish with Jamie Wilde coming out on top and good friend Robert Henrik coming a very close ( 2 fish behind) second!

So to round things up, not the results I was hoping for but the experience gained is priceless fishing against anglers of such a high calibre. They were the only qualifiers I had booked due to funds but with the current booking systems on all of the big money events it’s really easy to get on one, providing they aren’t a sell out in such short notice.

Next up is the spring league at Bait-Tech Viaduct Fishery and I cannot wait!

Tight Lines

Tom Downing

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