The RiverFest Campaign – Spud Murphy


In his second attempt of 2019 Andrew ‘Spud’ Murphy ventures to the River Weaver where a very different match from the first was expected… 

Qualification Attempt – Two 
Venue – River Weaver 
Mileage Covered – 320 mile round trip

The Journey
An early start to the day was required for this one as Paul, Martin and Myself decided to travel to and from this venue on the day of the match discussing tactics along the way, these usually being pole, whip and open ended feeder targeting bream, skimmers and roach with the odd perch, rudd and eel. The venue situated in Northwich is more like a canal regarding the lack of flow along with its nearside and far side ledges with depths varying from 6ft to 13ft on the main river bed.

The organiser usually puts a few pegs on what they call the Old River that is basically a dammed off section of the river that resembles an old estate lake and is said to be home to all sorts of fish! There are a few bridges that span the river, these offer the anglers that draw next to them plenty of room usually resulting in a few extra fish, there is also an end peg that jets out onto a point situated between the old and new rivers, a very nice looking peg indeed.

We had left home with an hour to spare as you never know what roadworks are going to appear and it’s a good job that we did as the satnav postcode for the draw took us to a golf course two miles away from our required destination a problem that we had previously encountered for this venue so we knew that we needed to find Hartford Bridge along the A556, After re-routing we eventually found the ‘Big blue bridge’ that anglers have become familiar with but at the cost of missing out on breakfasts so not an ideal start.

My Draw
Into the bag and out came C18 down in the Oak tree section, last year this section was dominated by small fish with short poles and whips being the key methods, however a quick chat to local legend Paul Hughes who suggested that the small fish were not there in any numbers this year and that there could be some bream/skimmers about, he also tipped me off where to park my car to achieve a shorter walk.

The Peg

All anglers were given two pegs with generous room, On route to my peg I passed the odd carp that were crashing in the edges, a sure sign that they were spawning, the closer I got to my peg the more carp I could see, this was beginning to resemble a familiar scene that we are used to seeing on commercials, upon arrival I could see carp of all sizes crashing all over the river with puffs of muck appearing in areas meanwhile the organiser had appeared to observe the commotion and confirmed that he had never seen this on the Weaver before and yet in no time the phenomenon had disappeared before the match got underway.

My Approach

Based on the situation I was faced with I had to rethink tactics, I had limited time because of the long walk but had to be positive, surely some of these carp would feed and I had to set my stall out for one, Before leaving home I had grabbed a few margin carp rigs from my commercial box (surely this was an omen) I set up one of these along with a dobbing rig in case I had the chance to drop a piece of bread onto the nose of one, yes I was fishing the river Weaver but you had to witness the situation to believe it! I also assembled a few long pole rigs for roach skimmers and possibly bream.

There was quite a lot of weed in front of me on top of the near ledge where the carp seemed to want to swim in and around of, I needed to plumb up carefully because there was also weed that wasn’t visible but by dragging a plummet around I was able to find a small clear spot to the left and right of me in two foot of water, having about ten foot of water on the long pole.

I had a feeder rod assembled but left it in the bag because I was pushed for time, this could be assembled quickly if required as I had already mixed some GB for it but to be honest with the sun so bright and temperatures above 30°C I decided that the pole would receive my full attention.

Groundbait Mixes
For the long pole I mixed up some fine dark lake to this I added 30% of Special ‘G’ Dark in the hope that roach and skimmers would feed over this and in case I needed to get the feeder out I had mixed some Max Feeder and again added 30% Special ‘G’ Dark, I also intended to feed a little of this mix to my left side margin line.

The Match
Here we go, at the off I cupped in a little GB with chop worm and caster to my left, and just chop worm and caster with a little corn to my right then two cups of GB with some dead maggots caster and pinkies out to my 14mtr line, as the second cupful dropped in there was already a little commotion to my right margin line, bloody hell I thought and started my match by dropping my rig in here baited with a whole worm, the rig needed to be carefully lowered down in a straight line to avoid hooking any weed, laying the rig in was not an option.

Straight away the float moved a little to the left indicating a liner then within a few minutes under it went followed by me lifting into a 2.5lb bream that was easily guided through the weed with a solid 14 elastic, I chose this instead of hydro elastic because of all the weed, my theory being that if I did hook a carp I would have better control over it, within 15 minutes I had three bream wow not what I was expecting at all however bream are renowned for following carp around when spawning.

In the first hour by refeeding both left and right intermittingly and swapping lines after each fish I managed six bream between 2lb-3lb I did foul hook a carp that came off very quickly so there was still a realistic chance of one however the commotion had now slowed significantly.

After two and a half hours I had ten bream with a few rudd and perch mixed in then just as things were slowing up I found myself attached to another carp that I am sure was hooked in the mouth, after playing it for about 1.5 minutes shipping some extra sections on and guiding it out into the open water away from the weed I felt that I was in control, it kept pulling hard but I was confident in my setup when all of a sudden everything went slack nooo!

I shipped my pole in only to find that the elastic had broken, I was gutted but still thought I was in a good position and needed to stay focused.

I quickly got out another top kit and rig and proceeded to fish but only adding one more lone bream and a 1.5lb eel with no signs of carp, the frenzy had now ended with the bream also vanishing, it was time to try my long pole that did get me some fish but they were small, I kept swapping and changing for the remainder of the match catching a few better rudd by using a scaled down rig in the margins.

Two pike of about 4lb each joined in on the action but they didn’t count, if anything they just disrupted my swim.

I could see that Lee on the end had a better second half to the match than I did however I still thought I had a chance.

The Weigh In
The scales were quick to arrive with Lee owning up to 12 skimmers and a tench along with some bits all from his margins, surly my 11 bream and bits would better that, when Lee pulled out his net I knew it wasn’t going to be as his skimmers turned out to be the same colour as my bream, he went on to weigh 37lb to my 30lb thus finishing first and second in the Zone and match.

Still a very interesting day and one that highlights the fact that you can never predict what’s going to happen in fishing, I was handed a generous pay out that helped soften the disappointment.

On Reflection

My intention from the start is to be truthfully honest throughout these reports helping you to re-live the moments with me however painful they turn out to be.

Yes I should have had my feeder rod up and ready for a few casts however the angler in between me and Lee fished the feeder all day and never weighed in, Mick to my right did have an 8lb carp along with two bream for 13lb all from his margins, Lee also catching all his fish from the margins.

Seriously between our four pegs (C17-C20) I must have seen over 100 carp throughout the day crashing on the inside and far side with a few cruising past my keepnet, that carp had cost me!

Sunday morning my investigation started, out came my top kit with what was left of the broken elastic, there were no visible signs of damage or fraying to the elastic however by pulling it very hard I could still snap it, I also still had some of this original elastic left over in storage from when I had fitted it a month ago however I could not snap this without the risk of hurting myself.

Conclusion – maybe the sun had damaged it as it was a scorching day, maybe the weed had cut it cleanly (but why not the line) ifs and buts I had my chance only to have it taken away by a freak incident that’s still not clearly understandable.

Decision making, after such a good unexpected start I could have topped up my catch on the long pole in the second half and should have fished it at a shorter distance of maybe 12mtrs where it was still sloping away slightly, but that carp!

The Qualifiers

Congratulations go to Lee, David and Glenn on reaching the final.

Next stop the River Trent at Fiskerton, No carp only bream required.


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