Whites Springs Winter League – Match Diary by Andy Neal

Whites Springs Winter League Sunday 23rd March.

10 minutes a hero??

The final round of the winter league arrived and normal service resumed. Gale force winds, bitter temperatures and for a change…. rain!

There were more than a few squeaky bums at the draw and not from last nights beer either……

Points at the top of the table were now very tight. Adam Mitch the Bitch was still winning though. Mikey Williams, myself, John Harvey, Luke Sorokin and Andrew Crocker all hot on his heels. The draw would mean everything and with big whole lake sections, points could easily be dropped.

I had to put all of these other guys out of my mind as I had a job to do….win the lake was all I was interested in. Max points should mean I am in the money come the end so pressure was on. The only trouble with this bad weather means usually less winning pegs in the hat. These cold snaps can often push the fish up into balls. Just like hard winter time. The place could be very peggy and with the class of angler on show… look out if you’re not the one who’s one them!

I largely ignored the other lake draws but noticed some of the boys going to good pegs. My turn came and peg 14 on the match lake came out. Hmm, not what I wanted. A decent peg but with little form this winter. There hadn’t been much caught from it in previous rounds and with Doris on 9, Chris Hall on end peg 2 and Wales’ finest Bobby Giles drawing his usual bung hole peg 20, I thought my chances were gone. I had to try and cling onto the fact I did have a long edge to fish and this should hold fish and big ones too. Could I catch them? Could I keep up with the others? This was the task…

The wind was howling towards the other end of the lake and although the water was flat it was a real job trying to hold onto the pole.

Rigs were going to have to be stable ones and FP600s on 0.15 vertex main lines to 0.135 hooklengths were the order of the day. I assembled 2 for fishing up the bank to my left in .4grms and one for out in open water in a .6grm. completing the set up was my FXT 9foot feeder rod to fish Bomb and bread on.

At the all in I threw the bomb out and sat back to watch what everyone else was doing. I will often do this if unsure how it’s going to fish. The first 10-15 minutes is a good guide as to how the fish respond to different people’s feeding styles. Some like to feed heavily and some anglers sparsely. By watching you will usually get a good indication of how best to get a response to a style of feeding. You will soon see what’s right and what’s wrong and even if you don’t catch yourself in this time you can often get ahead by finding out how to feed.

Anyhoo, time started passing and no bites.. motionless tip worried me as usually on the bread you can guarantee a quick pull. Some of the lads further up the lake stared catching on pole where as my end were largely fishless.

I stayed on the rod but fed a little bait on my pole lines. A nugget of Special G Gold with some 2mm Carp and Coarse pellets in with a little corn. A small helping of 2 and 4mm pellets with corn was fed at 14m down the edge in 3 feet of water.

Back on the bomb and nothing… Fordy, Eggy and John Harvey next to me were now on pole and starting to catch silvers. I was about to follow suit when the rod flew round and an angry 3lb carp came my way. Back out and I sat motionless again. These guys were now slowing slightly and clearly the area didn’t hold many fish. I had to try and catch these few pounds of skimmers that seemed to be in most pegs early. Half hour on pole and I had caught about 5lb of them. Bites now died for everyone and no matter what we fed we couldn’t get a response.

Bob was now flying and catching well. Doris had reported that Chris Hall up the other end was steadily relieving the lake of its contents so heads our end were dropping.

A lot of the lads around me went into silver mode but this wasn’t going to cut it for me. It was hard work trying to line any up so I binned that idea and tried to use the time to catch me more carp. A scratch for silvers wasn’t going to win me the lake.

The following couple of hours passed and just one more carp on bomb followed. I kept trying and rotating lines to see if I could get something to happen but nothing would. Bored and a little frustrated I had one trick left. If there was one thing that was going to catch me a few fish it was my edge line. I had to put some time in and try and get a bite there.

I shipped out with my tiny soft pot on, 4 x 4mm and some micros in it, 6mm Xpand on the hook. Tapped the bait in and gently lowered the rig in over the top. This is the part where you expect me to say it rammed under and I caught 100lb and won the match….. errr not quite!

20 minutes passed and nothing happened, no liners or signs of any kind.

I laid the rig in again for the millionth time and as it settled it wobbled slightly. This wasn’t a bite but it was a fish in the peg… ah ha, something to have a go at. Instantly I’m back in the game and focused on trying to get a bite. Lift.. drop.. twitch strike.. fish on! Bloody hell there was one there!! A 3lb carp battled its way to the net.

Time was ticking on and we were approaching bite time…. the last hour. I continued to drip tiny amounts of feed in and slowly I started to get the odd bite. I now had 5 carp and with 20 minutes left things took a turn for the worst and bites dried up again. This was do or die time. The carp I was catching were good sized and a lot bigger than the F1s and skimmers the others had so I knew I would need many in numbers to catch up. I needed 5-8 fish in the last 20 minutes but with a dead swim it was roll the dice time.

I made a bold decision… feed some gear. Ticking over like this wasn’t going to get me in the top few in the section as I was halfway at best. That said I didn’t need that much to catch up…. it was though out of reach I thought.

I fed half a pot of micros on 2 lines down the edge. Had a quick look in open water then back down to see if anything had settled. I tried the shorter line to see if there was anything about. The float dipped and a skimmer came my way.. oh aye.. look out, they came to bait.

Straight back over the longer edge line and the float shot under as it settled. A bit fish moved out of the peg. It was foul hooked but a few minutes in and it was still on. This generally means if your careful you should now land it as they tend to come off quickly if they are going to come off.

I soon slipped the net under a 10lb mirror. What a result.

Ears firmly pricked I went back in, tapped in some bait and again I was playing a fish. Another 3lber graced the net. From nowhere I now had my chance. A few minutes later and the float went once again….. I’m under pressure now as time was fast disappearing and I was in full catching mode trying to make the most of things. Fordy shouted down ‘4 minutes’ as this crazy angry fish tail walked across the lake. I had to stand up and push 14m straight up to stay above it in the lily bed. It only bloody came out! Using my Eeze Glyde like a reel I winched it in and scooped another 8lber….. there could only be a minute left so with that I threw my pole out, no feed, in the hope of getting one more. I laid the rig in and held onto it to slow the fall of the hookbait.. it shot under I struck, the fish swam out of the peg and the all-out was called.

I took my time with this and made sure it went in the net. The lads were saying I was going to push for top 2 on the lake but I didn’t think I’d done that well. I was a bit wound up though as the last ten minutes were some of the most frantic I had experienced in a while. Great fun though!

The scales finally came round and Bobby Giles was winning with 45lb. I didn’t have that… I was sure. Out came the skimmers.. 5lb. Out came the carp.. oh that’s heavier than I thought.. 44lb. 49lb total! Over the moon.. just slightly.

With the other bank to weigh I thought that Doris and Chris had definitely beaten me, Doris’s fish went a well-earned 45lb 8oz with some lovely meat fish caught late on. Hmmm 2nd.. that will do. Chris Hall thought he had 30odd but that couldn’t be right as although I couldn’t see him the lads said he had caught all day. Out came the fish and another 45lb only got him 4th on the lake… bugger me I’d only won the lake. The last 10 minutes of mayhem had done it.

Before I pat myself on the back too much I must admit that lady luck certainly shined on me. To get fish out of lilies and land a big foul hooker… could very easily have gone the other way.. Lucky old me!! Ha!

The league ended and the final points were tallied. Mitch me Bitch had fished another great match to finish 4th from a tough draw. This was enough and he ended up and league champ. He’s fished a great league and to be fair the right man won, well done mate.

In second was the lucky sod ME! Check me out!!! How I managed to fluke that was anyone’s guess but 180 burger tokens that came with as well as the lake win money was more than welcome… I was bloody 2nd last year.. I’ll win one one day!

Mikey Williams secured 3rd and then Lukey Sorokin (staircases to rich and famous) followed in 4th and Andrew Crocker landed in 5th. All top results from my fellow team mates.

A big thank you to Doris for running another brilliant league. Great fishing and so close.. it’s great when it goes down to the wire like that.

Roll on next year as I’ll be back for more… Bitch, enjoy it while you can…  Next year, I’m having the crown.

Until next time,

Andy Neal


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