The Headfen Match – Steve Cowley

steve_3The Headfen Match – Match Diary entry from Steve Cowley

Prep Day – Saturday

Tomorrow is another day and a few hours prep work before the Headfen Match on Monday. Time for something bit different to what I normally here in the fens. All out water has been declared on the carp tomorrow, whether they like it or not and N-Tice Meaty Mix groundbait and Xpand pellets are the main gamble.

The groundbait had been mixed very wet so it can soak up overnight, I had prepped the Xpands, both 6 & 8mm in the usual way. First pump them then straight into an airtight bag, water included, and then into the base of the fridge overnight. The margins are about 3-4ft deep, so I am looking to feed the groundbait loose but fairly damp so as to sink it a tadge quicker than it would if I were to be ending dryer mix in shallower water. Into this will also be added generous helping of dead maggot. Hook baits will be 6/8mm meat, 8mm Xpand or double dendy. Far bank at 13mtr will be feed with loose groundbait with meat or pellet hook baits. Hopefully get a good insight before the match on Monday.

steve_2Prep Day – Sunday

Well morning arrived – better than most of late. Loaded up motor about 8am, and got to Headfen at around 830.  After brief walk around, I settled on peg 2. I set up 3 rigs right and left hand margin and a rig for across at 13.5m. All were 018/018 hook length with Tubertini 175 series 3 hookbait was pellet/corn across, pellet on right hand margin, and worm over groundbait left hand margin. I started by feeding three big pots of N-Tice groundbait with splattering of 4mm pellet in the left, half pot 4mm pellet on right and quarter pot micro/corn over.

I went straight across on 6mm pellet and started picking up commons of around 2-4lb straight from the off. The right hand edge was showing signs of life after only 20mins, so I fed another half cup of 4mm and again another big pot of groundbait to the left. I carried on catching commons across and decided after an hour to come inside as the fish were munching confidently. First drop on the right hand edge, 6mm pellet buried straight away and a common came to the net, this continued for next 6 put ins, until I foul hooked a better fish which came off.

steve_4I dumped another pot of 4mm, the switched to the left over the entice N-Tice groundbait.  On with a double dendy and it was solid, fish after fish came to the worm, and when it looked as if slowing another big pot of groundbait soon brought them back into life.  Here’s hoping the match tomorrow will be good to me, same tactics and same groundbait, fingers crossed.

Match Day – Bank Holiday Monday

The match on Monday had arrived. Conditions were good, light wind from NW and sunny. Got to the venue around 8am, gathered the nets and had wander round. Peg 28 looked inviting, this is last peg along the snake and fish could be seen moving along edges and through the pads. In fact fish were moving just about everywhere.

Draw time came and low an behold, I pulled out 28! I was full of the joys of spring which, as I was to find out, wasn’t great. First job was bit of bank clearing, out with the pruning shears and proceeded to trim the inside right margin back nicely, to enable me to fish tight to a clump of grass at 5mtr.  Rigs were as simple as the previous day

Rig 1: 018 line through to a 018 hooklength and a Tubertini serie3 hook. Float was a Malman Adam 4×12, this was for the inside right margin set  two foot deep. The bait for here was baitech entice, dead maggot 6/8mm xpanda or double dendy.
Rig two  Same rig used as RHS margin, to be fished at 13m across to far bank, bait here was 4mm pellet with 6/8mm Xpand on hook.
Rig three  This was bit of a gamble rig, shallow rig at 12-18inches to be fished across at 13m to right of some reeds over loose fed 4mm pellet.

steve_5At the all in, I deposited 2 pots of NTice and dead maggot in the margin, quarter cup 4mm across and few loose offerings to the far side right.  First drop resulted in small liner, as did the next five.

Now this got me thinking, weather is warm getting hot through the day, liners which all equalled to me spawning motions.  I went across on the shallow line and foul hooked a carp straight away which promptly came off, next four drops resulted in the same and knew that it wasn’t going to happen today unless the margin would be fruitful.

After an hour of frustration and only one carp, I decided it was margins or bust. First drop on worm yippee result, a four pound common in the net. Next drop whammo, another of the same, that’s it I thought I have cracked it. Next five drops all resulted in foul hooked fish tearing off and coming off. I could see the carp coming in, grubbing about then leaving. Now something radical entered my mind, what if I could catch shallow in here hmmmm…… I decided something had to change, so I separated half the groudbait mix and really soaked it down into a soupy slop.

I cupped a dollop in and went over it with the shallow rig, banded 8mm pellet and bingo first drop. For next five drops everyone was a coconut, but my joys were very short lived.  The dreaded foul hookers started again, fish were coming in feeding up the grassy reeds as most were still full of leeches. This was a taxing match to say the least, and getting harder by the minute.

I kept chopping and changing between inside and shallow across but nothing would come together properly and only an odd fish now and again. When the all out arrived, I was mentally drained and a few hairs less on the head where I’d pulled them all out.

Fruits of the labour was just over 40lb, with another 50-60 left in the lake foul hooked.  Gutted?? Well it is the time of the year and a lot faired worse than me. 91lb won the match which was a cracking performance considering.

steve_6Findings: Well this was first match using Ntice, I had gained an insight the day before and it mixes amazing. Holds the water really well and doesn’t need to be dampened down throughout the day even when it is warm.  A lot of other groundbaits I mix using a whisk still has odd lumps that required riddling, but NTice doesn’t, it is so fine which amazed me….top drawer product.

The pellets I prepared as usually do, pump them then into a bag complete with water and tied down, then into the fridge for the night, The 6mm were spot on the button, the 8mm were a tadge wetter and softer so these will be better preparing these on the actual morning of the match.

All in all was pleased to get few fish but lets get the spawning outta the way and get back when they really want it.  Next trip out is either cross drove or a new venue, Chestnut pools at Biggleswade. I have never been here before and been told it is meat on pole for skimmers, GB draws in the smaller ones so it looks like a Boosted meat match.

Til next time, Steve Cowley

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