The RiverFest Campaign – Spud Murphy

It was back on the road for Spud Murphy in his third attempt at this years RiverFest Qualifiers in his latest blog he tells us how his match unfolded on the River Trent… 

Qualification Attempt –
Venue – River Trent at Fiskerton
Miles Covered – 330 Miles

The Journey

Another early start was required as Paul, Martin and Myself decided to travel to and from this venue on the day of the match. Neither of us had fished this length before so the conversation being mostly about reports of big bream weights that could possibly top the 100lb barrier, odd barbel apparent in some areas with roach to consider if you weren’t in an area that was predicted to amass one of these colossal weights.

My Draw

Into the hat and out came (B24) this didn’t mean anything to me, however I knew it wasn’t one of the two predicted big weight zones. I got dropped off right behind my peg a regular theme to these Trent qualifiers giving us anglers more time to set things up but with every peg in use we were not left with much room.

My Peg

My peg looked nice coming around a big sweeping bend with good pace on the inside, between  pluming up and casting a straight lead around I found the peg to be about 7ft deep a few rod lengths out shallowing up as you went across with three quarters over only being about 3 or 4ft deep. For the day I had one of my travelling companions Martin on the next peg upstream! And within talking distance so a boring match was never on the cards however hard things tuned out.

My Approach

My initial thinking was to target bream with a heavy set-up in case a lone barbel decided to show an interest, however my thoughts soon changed after a brief chat with one of the locals who convinced me that I had more chance of catching a barbel than a bream with an outside chance of an odd chub in the area while insisting that 15lb-20lb would be required for a zone win that could be achieved from anywhere within this fair section especially with the river now running at its normal level.

Casters would be my choice hook bait for the feeder casting this three quarters over where there was still some flow, this required an extra 1.5oz of lead clipped onto a medium sized blackcap feeder, with this being my main approach I now needed a backup plan so set up a 6No4 alloy stick float to be fished a few rod lengths out along with a 4AAA straight peacock waggler to be fished down the peg slightly past this.


On the feeder I fed Hemp and caster, for the waggler/Stick float I fed almost 2 x large tins of Superseed Hemp along with half a pint of maggots and a little caster.

The Match

I started with three quick casts on the feeder just to put a small bed of bait down then fishing out each cast after this, double caster was my go to hook bait this attracting bites each cast but only from small roach and dace with an odd 4oz chublet. After half an hour the bites were becoming slower when Martin shouted down ‘’I’m in’’ then proceeded to land a 2lb bream on a blockend feeder, had we got tactics wrong I asked myself?

Fifty minutes into the match just when I was thinking of trying my waggler line the tip rattled aggressively resulting in a 2lb barbel that was no match for the gear I was using. I gave the feeder 1.5hrs in total for hardly anything else, Martin had slowed up also so the waggler was picked up and cast to where I had been loose-feeding steadily with mostly hemp. First run down and under it went with a small 2oz dumpy roach, this was followed by a bite most runs down, Martin was soon to follow suit and also started attracting a few but catching mostly perch to my roach, after three hours I was still catching although things were slowing up. I twice tried the stickfloat but the waggler was far better, I think this was because of the downstream wind hampering presentation that I could overcome by using the waggler and sinking my line in the process.

During the match there were a few moments when a large boat would came through that didn’t harm the fishing but the waves generated did play tricks with my vision, Adding to this were tricky light reflections being created from the sun when at its brightest also causing a similar effect from time to time, the bites never stopped it was just the change in conditions that hampered my catch rate.

Going into the last hour with bankside rumour suggesting that the river was fishing hard and that our zone was definitely the hardest, I could see the five anglers above me still casting out feeders but I never saw a landing net in use (was I missing the fact that a few big fish had been caught) time would tell. Martin had given up on the float by now and spent the last hour on the feeder resulting in one very small barbel of 8oz, now with the waggler line all to myself my swim became quite strong again with a few dace now joining in on the act, roach and dace between half an ounce up to 5oz were welcomed right till the end.

The angler two pegs below me also had me thinking because although I couldn’t actually see him his accurate casting with the feeder tight over to a reed bed lined far bank for the full five hours had to be applauded.

The Weigh In

I ended up with that one lone barbel and almost 100 small fish mostly roach for a very enjoyable days fishing.

I walked down two pegs only to find the angler performing the accurate casting to be none other than Trent Legend Steve Clark, after a brief chat he explained that he had caught four bream in the last hour (oh dear). The scales arrived declaring that 17.6.0 had been weighed in from the downstream end peg, Steve’s four bream going 14.6.0 followed by me weighing 14.12.0 for second in the zone beaten once again by a good angler on another end peg.

On Reflection

Had I not had a stickfloat rod set-up I would have regretted it because I was convinced the peg looked more suited to this method however with the downstream wind hampered presentation thus making the waggler surprisingly much more favourable but only by having both methods set-up did this become comparable.

I needed another 2.12.0 that would have been an extra 25 roach, definitely possible with a bit more experience on the venue, caster on the hook didn’t bring a better stamp of fish so was discarded in the second half of the match.

I should have had a short chop-worm line to drop onto when faced with those tricky spells on the waggler, the perch were there because Martin above me caught quite a few by running his waggler closer in and feeding more maggots than I had.

A long pole line over some GB fished at the top of my peg would also have caught me some fish. The first 1.5hrs were not wasted as I did catch 3lb+ here and if my 2lb barbel had been a bigger specimen then things may have have been different but that would have made me stay on the feeder longer! If’s and buts, it’s all about making the correct decisions at the right times.

The four anglers above me (excluding Martin) that I could see fishing the feeder exclusively for five hours never weighed in with Martin ending with almost 8lb. My 12 foot feeder rod needed to be a 13 or 14 foot version as I felt better feeder presentation would have been achieved much more comfortably possibly with less lead attached also.

Lessons learnt along the way on most qualifiers, the easy matches are the ones you don’t take ideas back to reflect on. Winning my ten peg section helped ease the situation.

The Qualifiers

Congratulations go to Stuart and both Steve’s on reaching the final.

Next up a double qualifying weekend on the R.Don a venue I have not fished before then up to the River Tyne a venue I had previously qualified at.

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