White Acres Festival Success – Tony Curd

A couple of years ago I decided after 8 years of two to four White Acres Festivals a year to give things a rest at the venue, this year I returned on the Milo Festival which was a positive experience with a consistent week gaining enough points to qualify for Octobers flagship Preston Innovations sponsored event which culminates in the £25,000 Parkdean Resorts Masters Final. Heading back down in early October I was looking forward to trying to gain a final place with fresh ideas and the renewed enthusiasm I’d gained from taking that break and hopefully some good fishing, laughs and draws along the way!

Day One

I started out the week at Porth Reservoir and drew peg 74 which I was reasonably pleased with as the section had been mainly roach weights the previous week so it was going to be a case of get your head down and catch as many fish as possible. I did have a slight issue though in that Alan Scotthorne turned up on peg 72 and beating him at this game wasn’t going to be easy… I started off on a short feeder line with Pro Natural Dark and a single maggot on a size 16; bites were quick in coming all from small roach so it was soon time to switch to the pole to start racking up the numbers. It was also the first time I had the chance to use one of the new MAP Parabolix Black Edition 11ft Feeder rods too, what a piece of kit! Onto the pole line at around 9m where I had 7ft of water, I set up two rigs for here a gram for fishing on the bottom and a 0.8g for fishing just off the deck I fed two balls of Pro Natural Dark at the start and was feeding heavily with Superseed Hemp and maggots while fishing the feeder so hopefully some decent stamp fish were going to be waiting. I had a brilliant day’s fishing catching 200+ roach off the deck on the lighter rig weighing in 15lb 4oz for 3rd in the section just a pound behind the 5x World Champ and Jake Gallagher on the end peg in the section who had 16lb 14oz. A nice start to the week and a top three place was all I could ask for when looking to qualify…

Day Two

For Day Two I was heading off to one of my favourite venues, Bolingey! This has got to be one of the finest fisheries in the country; a good draw here usually means a proper bagging day and when I drew peg 38 that was exactly what I was expecting! You have a lot of options on Peg 38 and it’s easy to do too much but I had a simple plan in my head which was to have little runs of 2 to 4 fish off a line before having a few somewhere else, due to the size of the fish in the lake catching all day isn’t likely but if you can have a good weight going into the last hour and half then you have a great chance of doing well as this is when all hell breaks loose! I set up a few rigs one for fishing up the bank to my right, a margin rig, a rig for 14m on the bottom that I didn’t use, a rig for fishing at 11m with pellets on a nice hard area I found and that all important 5m rig to fish meat on. My 5m rigs are really simple and include a 4×14 MAP SD4 float on 0.20 to a 0.18mm Power Optex hook length with a spread bulk of shot to black 12-16 TKS Twin Core elastic. Although I was in the ‘Boss Seat’ in this section I was up against some incredible talent again, that man Alan Scotthorne on 29 which won the section the day before, Grant Albutt, Steve Barraclough and Tom Wallis to name a few so I’d have to put a shift in if I wanted to do well!

To kick off I cupped a few bits of 6mm Boosted Meat at 5m and dropped in with a single cube, I managed to have  a great start putting six small carp by Bolingey standard in the net for 30lb in the first hour. From there I moved up the bank and caught three more on pellets but it didn’t seem to be right and getting bites was hard work on this line. I then moved to my 11m line with hard banded pellets feeding a few 6mm’s and had a run of four bigger fish from here. At this point I wasn’t sure what to do really, I didn’t want to go on my 5m line too early and as there was the odd fish being caught down the edge I decided I’d have a go on that first to see what happened, corn has been doing the damage at Bolingey so half a pot was dumped in which was boosted with some of the new test glug from Bait-Tech and immediately saw a swirl just after feeding it! Four more fish from this line saw me through until the last hour when I dropped in on the 5m rig and I had a brilliant finish putting 8 carp in the net. At the weigh in my fish went 175lb 14oz enough for a section win and second in the match.

Day Three

This was a day I was a bit worried about if I’m honest the Match Lake has been out of sorts for a while and fishing incredibly hard over recent weeks so I was hoping to avoid the arms and have a few options open to me.  Peg 23 on the point wasn’t a disaster but felt I was up against it a bit with other pegs in the section being on the high bank the only bonus of this peg though is that it’s very deep and you can reach most of the way to the island with a pole so rigs for fishing there, 13m, 5m and a silver fish rig were all set up along with a bomb and method feeder. I started the match by chucking a bomb with bread to the post but no bites were forthcoming so I made a change to the method to see if they wanted any bait instead, a small skimmer soon followed and on the 40 minute mark I had my first carp of the day on an 8mm white Juice Wafter of around 6lb. From there 16m of 901 2G pole was shipped across in the wet and blustery condtions fully expecting to catch a carp or an odd F1 on pellets but I was left wondering as I was biteless! A look for a few silvers and skimmers didn’t give much up with only 10 small skimmers going in the net in a couple of hours fishing, it wasn’t going well…

As I mentioned, this is a deep peg and for that reason I really felt I had a great chance of a couple of late bites at 5m on meat. So with an hour to go I took a gamble and went on it and had no intentions of changing. A couple of skimmers in the first two chucks before it went dead, then out of the blue with half an hour left the float shot under and I became attached to a very big fish after a short tussle a double figure carp was half shuffled into the net and a real boost to my weight on a poor day I was even happier to hook another one on the very next put in, again pushing double figures! At the scales I weighed 39lb 10oz which won the section and to my shock, enough to win the match too, the hardest day I’ve had in a long time.

Day Four

Having had three good results so far I was in the very fortunate position of needing one more good result from the final two days to secure a place in the final, a couple of wins and I could also win the festival so it was all to play for as I headed to peg 31 on Twin Oaks. Bait-Tech’s Paul Carnwell had been on this peg the day before so a quick chat revealed he had caught well shallow on casters so I took my quota of casters to the peg along with a few pellets, a bit of meat and some worms, soil and a bit of groundbait. I set up the usual array of tackle but today the fishing made things very straight forward, a motionless few casts on a feeder saw that thrown up the bank and I went straight down the edge feeding a mix of soil and Special G Dark with a small amount of worms and casters included with half a worm as hook bait and had an early run of big F1’s. All the while I was fishing there I’d been feeding casters at 14.5m to hopefully catch shallow and to be honest it wasn’t quite right I caught four fish on banded caster at various depths but there was no pattern to it and I felt like I was wasting time so it was back down the side but I decided to get both margins fed to give myself somewhere to go as they definitely wanted to be in this depth of water and nowhere else. My margin rig was a MAP ISF2 4×12 on 0.16mm Power Optex to an 0.10 hook length and a soft 6-10 white TKS Twin Core it was then a case of loose feeding a few casters and potting a little ball of the soil mix in each drop in and I caught well until the end of the match. I weighed in around 35 F1’s for 105lb which was enough for another section win and another lake win!

Day Five

With my place in the final secured it was job done in that respect but with the possibility of still getting that elusive maximum 36 point score I was eager to keep focussed and see what I could do on the last match. I drew peg 41 at Trewaters, I’ve not fished this lake much at all and it must be five years since I last went there so a quick chat with Andy Bennett who was on the peg the day before and a plan was formed. It seems the fish at Trewaters have really piled on the pounds and are now a good size averaging nearly 4lb so catching lots of fish isn’t necessary any longer. I had Matt Godfrey on the next peg who has to be one of the hardest anglers to beat, ever! He just catches fish for fun. It’s great having anglers like Matt around you as it gives you a good gauge of how your own match is going and similarly if you’re doing it completely wrong! Once again as usual for this week’s festival I had a pointless start on the feeder and was soon fishing boosted meat at 16m just potting a few cubes each put in, as I mentioned the fish are a good stamp and you don’t need millions in your peg at once so a steady approach in these situations when you don’t need a huge weight to win can be a great way to start. I had a really slow start, with just an F1 and a carp along with a few small skimmers after the two hour mark, Matt had been putting an odd fish in the net too so something needed to happen!

A look short on meat where I’d been loose feeding gave a run of two fish, then it was back out to 16m where things really picked up I caught 6 or 7 carp over the next hour or so and made up some ground but Craig Edmunds on the far bank seemed to be running away with this one with around 90lb at the half way point! I had to make a gamble and fed my edge line with some Bait-Tech Karma groundbait and persevered with the short line hoping for a run of bigger fish, I caught a few, not loads and had another four in the last 30 minutes down the edge to boost my weight. I weighed in 93lb 10oz to come second in the section and second in the match behind Craig’s outstanding 145lb.

This left me with 35 points dropping 7 which was enough to grab second place in the festival, I’m made up with this result as the Preston Festival attracts many of the biggest names in the sport. Aside from that it was also incredible that I shared the main frame with two other MAP sponsored anglers, Jason Collins, who I’d shared a lodge with came 3rd ironically we’d had the same results all week only separated by 20lbs! And the winner Andy Geldart who posted a maximum four section wins, a great performance!

The following day it was the Parkdean Resorts Masters Final, someone was going home with £25,000 at 4pm and I was hoping it would be me! It turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax, drawing peg 4 wasn’t ideal and in the previous weeks festival this half of the lake had produced low weights all week with all the action being in the high numbers. Our end all struggled for most of the day and I finished up with 18lbs but nevertheless it’s always great to be qualifying for these big money events and if you keep knocking on the door eventually you’ll get a chance. After the week I’d enjoyed it was a bonus to be sat there and I’ll definitely be back next year trying again! A massive Well Done to the winner Kevin Wadge who has dedicated a lot of time to the White Acres Festival scene over the last few years and took his chance when it arrived, that’s what it is all about after all…

Tight Lines

Tony Curd

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