Stafford Moor WL – Tom Downing

Stafford Moor Winter League Round-Up

My winter fishing schedule has been really busy this year. Although the fishing is hard I find it really enjoyable and rewarding at the same time. With the league at Stafford Moor being a team event, it gives you more reason to try that extra bit harder to put fish in the net!

The league this year was a little bit different where you could place your anglers instead of rotating through each lake each round, with this in mind our team tried to place our anglers on the lake we felt they would be strongest on round 1 and see how we all got on.

Round One and I was on Woodpecker Lake. With anglers fairly well spread out I wasn’t sure where you needed to be, but I particularly fancied one of the corner pegs. At the draw this wasn’t to be but I ended up on peg 13 which is on the dam wall. This can be a good area to fish the waggler on the deck but with the strong wind already present and stronger forecast I didn’t even set it up as it would have been unfishable. In the end my plan of attack was to fish the method feeder across to the boards a bomb line cast round the middle to 3/4 of the way across and a long line down my right hand margin.

I started the day off on the method where I used the ever faithful Bait-Tech 2mm Carp and Coarse Pellets dusted in Special ‘G’ Green and soaked in a good helping of the Triple N Stick Mix Liquid! Hook-bait choice was a Juice Wafter! I never had a sign on this in the first half hour so I had a chuck on the lead where I had been pinging the odd 10mm Triple-N Boilie. On the hook I used a Juice Wafter and pellets through a pellet cone for some added attraction! First cast on this and I didn’t have time to sink my line and the tip slowly pulled round and the first carp of the day was in the net! The next hour seen me land 3 more carp on this before bites dried up. With the match already halfway through I decided to pot some micros, corn and dead maggot down towards the pallet to my right and kept looking on the rods. A few more carp turned up in the next hour or so on the pellet cone and Wafters but bites were becoming slower. With an hour to go I went on the pole with a grain of corn and almost instantly the first carp was hooked! After a short battle a bit of bad angling on my behalf as the fish managed to get in behind my keep nets and snap me up! On went another hooklength and I managed to land just the one more carp with 10 minutes to go! I think this put me on 8 or 9 fish but I knew the favourable pegs had all fished well. At the scales I weighed 60-12  which I was very happy with but this only managed to beat 4 people on the lake so not very good points. The team as a whole also struggled and we limped home in last place! Certainly not the start we wanted but we’d go again on round 2!

Round Two and we decided to have a shuffle up and move us about a little bit and I ended up on oak peg 5. This can be a very good peg but being up against 4 end pegs it was always going to be an uphill challenge!  With this in mind, I kept my match really simple setting up a waggler line where I would feed a few 6mm Carp and Coarse Pellets. A long pole line to feed micros and fish various hook baits over the top, a short line fished the same way and an edge line. I started off on the waggler but struggle to present the rig with the tow and wind making it tricky so I went onto my long line where I had fed some The Juice soaked micros. First drop in with a 4mm Xpand and a small Crucian carp was in the net, not the intended specie, so I popped on a 6mm Xpand and the first carp was in the net shortly followed by another. After the two quick fish the swim died a death so I decided to have an earlier than normal look down the edge. With a punched disc of bread on the hook glugged in the Liquid Plum I shipped down the edge fishing 6” off of the bottom and dobbed about, working my way further down the margin it took a while but I managed to snare one. This was the only ‘dobbed’ fish I managed to find so I potted in a few micros and dead reds and sat it out down the edge for the last hour resulting in 4 more small carp. I wasn’t sure what weight I had but I knew I wasn’t going to trouble the 4 ends although I felt it was going to be close for 5th on the lake. The scales suffered a malfunction so I popped over to the shop to find someone and when I got back someone sorted a set and had already weighed me in. looking at the board after I had amassed 29lb which just got me 5th on the lake behind the 4 ends so I was happy with the outcome. The team had a much better day and managed to come joint second on the day importantly clawing back some lost ground.

Round Three and we had another swap and I moved onto pines. The lake had been fishing really hard recently and an awful forecast didn’t really give me much confidence. I drew fancied peg 10 but on arrival a cold north easterly wind was smack in my face and it was freezing! My plan was to feed one line quite heavily at the start with the hope that some big skimmers would turn up in the latter stages of the match. Then on a few other lines I’d feed next to nothing and hopefully catch a fish then rotate through them. I started the swim off by feeding 5 balls of Groundbait on the long line. The mix consisted of 75 % Special ‘G’ Dark  to 25% F1. on the short lines I fed a small nugget then I’d just top up when I felt I needed to. All day I had to battle the conditions and they were certainly some of the worst that I have fished in! I stuck to my plan but I really struggled to put many fish together and what I did catch were a really small stamp of fish. I ended up weighing 1-12 which was 7th in the section but the whole lake had fished rock hard with just over 4lb winning so it goes to show that just one bonus Tench or Perch can completely change things and that you should never give up! On the team front we did okay from another unfavourable draw and ended up finishing 4th overall but still a lot of work to do if were going to sneak into the frame with the Bolingey boys out in front closely followed by Burt Baits and Cresta!

Round Four was quickly upon us and I fancied another go on pines! Into the draw bag and we had the exact same draw as round1 ! We weren’t to amused by this but knew we had a job to do and better the previous result from these pegs ! This meant I was on peg 8. Again another good area but presentation Would be difficult due to the wind! ( Story of this winter!) My attack was similar to the previous round , feeding one line heavily then a couple of scratch lines.  I also had a short line at the bottom of the shelf. My groundbait mix was identical to the round previous.  The match started really slow with just the odd fish over the groundbait lines. After an hour I looked on the line where I had fed heavily and almost instantly my first better skimmer of 10-12oz was in the net. Hoping they were going to be queued up at this point I was disappointed to not get another bite so I topped up with a couple more balls and left it alone until the latter part of the match. In the mean time I fished my short caster line. Bites were slow but the fish were of a good stamp and certainly worth catching. I’d catch a couple of fish then re-feed with 20 casters and look on another line and then look again shortly after and this seemed to keep bites coming for the remainder of the match. I guessed that I had just over 6lb ( I’m awful at guessing silvers ) but luckily on the scales my net went 10-6 for 4th in the section which I was very happy with. The teams result wasn’t disastrous but not the best coming 6th overall .

So with the league all but dead and buried for us the final round was purely a case of trying to get a few quid for the team kitty! And when I somehow managed to draw the same pegs as round 3 …. Again not a lot of chance of that happening! But still we would try our best to catch a few fish. This draw put me on peg 7 on woodpecker which would be old peg 11 which I was happy with in all honesty and fancied the peg for a few fish. The wind was freezing but thankfully blowing over my back so finally a comfortable days fishing ahead. With the water being relatively calm, I set up a waggler to fish at depth with 8mm Carp and Coarse pellets for feed. Then a mini method feeder to cast up to the boards on the island and finally a couple of edge rigs one to dob bread and another to fish on the deck. In the first hour of the match I started on the waggler.

I was getting plenty of bites but the fish where all small carassios but as no-one was catching I was quite happy to be putting some fish in the net. When other pegs started to land the odd carp I had to change tactics as the carasios simply weren’t big enough to compete. So I picked the dobbing rig up and looked down the edge. With my ever faithful 8mm disc of bread glugged in the Liquid plum I shipped out to about 8m down to my left. Fishing about 6” off of the bottom it wasn’t long before the float buried and my first carp was in the net quickly followed by another! The next put in frustration nearly got the better of me as the rig had wrapped round a bramble 6 or 7 times! Queue the banter brigade! Red faced I calmly crept down the edge, untangled the rig dropped it back in and fished a meter past where it had tangled and 2 minutes later carp number 3 was in the keep net. This was to be my last carp of the day which was quite annoying as I really fancied the peg for a few more fish! Nothing I tried shown another sign of a carp just more carasio on the waggler and a rogue hybrid down the edge.

I ended the day on just 23lb which was 9th in the section so a very disappointing end to league. It does really go to show how difficult winter fishing can be with the fish more often than not shoaling up in similar pegs each week and if you aren’t on them then you can struggle but have to work hard to catch as much as you can! All in all though it was a very well ran league by Paul and Jo at The Moor and a very enjoyable few weeks,  all be it freezing cold most weeks!  Well done to Team Bolingey draw bags who fished very consistently all league and deserved the win.

Finally thanks to Bait-Tech for supporting our team this year, fingers crossed next year our luck changes and we can improve on this years poor result! Also thanks to Rigz’n’All for supplying me with the hooks for the league, certainly saved me lots of time! Next report will be the Bait-Tech Viaduct teams of 5 round up!

Tight Lines

Tom Downing

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