This is a photo I took in around June time whilst on a microlight flight. This is the Oaks complex to those of you who don't know. Looks a bit different from the air I must say! Well this week saw me return to the Oaks to fish Maple again. Gordon picked me up at 7:45 and we arrived up at the Oaks at about twenty past eight, we thought it rude to not have a breakfast so quickly got in the queue. I had another new tactic today, I’d decided to leave the method feeder at home this week, its tailed off over the last 2-3 weeks and hasn’t been producing as well as it had been and with a fair bit of a rain and a dramatic drop in temperature over the last week it was a definite no go. My new tactic today was maggots, maggots and more maggots! I know a lot of the regulars have been catching well on Cedar with maggot for the last few months and after speaking to one of them on the Oaks Banter site it was decided my best line of attack would be to fish maggot on one line all day and make it work! I did have a plan B though which I could try in the last hour if I was struggling but hopefully I wouldn’t need to use this. I’ve also decided to set my self a personal target for each match, that way I can be pleased with my performance even if I get battered. Today’s target was 30lb, this would be tough to achieve on somewhere that hasn’t been fishing all that well but I thought It was achievable and also thought it might get me in the money.
There was 37 booked on today with a few guests and a few of the lads from the Otley club that had gone to White acres with us. We had the whole lake today so we would have a bit of room. I drew peg 30, not a bad draw, there’s certainly worse. Peg 30 is on a corner with a small overhanging willow in the margins which looks very appealing but I was going to ignore it today. My one line tactic was to be across to the island in 2.5-3ft of water on the shelf, this ended up being to my right at 1 o’ clock in line with another small tree on the far bank.
Rig wise I had a couple set up, still both for the same line. I had a Malman Cedar float in 4x10 on 0.12 Ultima to a 6 inch hooklength of 0.10 Powerline to a size 18 Gamakatsu Pellet hook. This rig was for fishing on the drop or at least to give the bait a slower fall and would be back up to my main rig which was the same but with a 4x12 float with 0.12 Ultima straight through to a size 16 Gamakatsu Pellet Hook. Both of these rigs were attached to some match kits incorporating a soft size 10 Maver latex elastic teamed with pull bungs. My plan B rig was a 0.4g BGT shallow long float for fishing at 10.5m at the bottom of the shelf, this was on 0.13 straight through to a 16s PR36. Hopefully I wouldn’t have to use it but if I did I had a tin of cubed meat at the ready dusted in green Swim Stim.
Weather wise it wasn’t too bad for a change, the sun was out for the whole day all be it cold enough to need jumpers and fleeces on. Wind was minimal with the odd gust very rarely but on the whole the lake was very still.
Gordon’s hooter went off at 10:15 (another typical late draw) and the match was underway, I went out with a 250ml cup half full of maggots and tipped them in, spreading them about a little bit as to not concentrate the fish too tightly. I then went out with the positive straight through rig, double red on the hook and dragged it up the slight slope; I was fishing 3 inches over depth to ensure the bait was always on bottom with the undulating depth; this would also pin the bait down and keep it more static. The first half an hour went by without so much of a nudge on the float where as Jim on peg 31 had had a couple of gudgeon and a small F1, the bloke to my left on peg 28 had a carp first put in but I don’t think it was a big one. I hadn’t put any more bait in during this half an hour as I didn’t want to overfeed and so after a motionless first 30 minutes I switched to the lighter rig again with double maggot but this time cupped in a dozen maggots as I laid the rig in. The float was held up for a second, I struck but nothing. I laid the rig in again; the bait this time had time to reach the deck before a subtle lift that forced the top of the body out of the water, this was met with a gentle lift and the first fish was on, a gudgeon but at least it was a start, I caught a couple more gonks before I had my first better fish, an Ide of about 6oz. After I had this Ide I switched to the more positive rig as I felt the 4x10 rig wasn’t getting to the bottom quick enough (even when I grouped the shot 8 inches away from the hook). The 4x12 rig was laid in and some more maggots cupped in over the top. The float lifted again and Ide number 2 was in the net. This carried on until I had 5 Ide in the net until I lifted into something that felt a lot better, after a short tussle on the ‘’light’’ elastic I stretched the top kit in the air and slid the net under a Barbel of about a pound, hooked in its side! I then went back out and another better fish, a tench of maybe 12oz was soon in the keepnet. Then after my first small F1 of the day it went quiet for 20 minutes so I big potted another 125ml of maggot in on the same line. This worked a treat and I soon put another 3 better F1s in the net.
I think there is a definite advantage to fishing one swim all day and making it work as throughout the day you’re always aware of what’s going on in the swim. I usually have half a dozen different swims and to be fair I can’t keep up with them all. Or as Mick Bandy would say, ‘’I’ve got more lines going than Pete Doherty’’.
Quarter past one soon arrived to mark the half way point (we have 6 hour matches) and I estimate I had 14lb in the keepnet so I was just about on course to my 30lb target. I hooked a decent fish which I’m saying was foul hooked and subsequently the hook pulled! D’oh! (Or at least words to that affect). For the rest of the match I would catch half a dozen fish, Ide and F1’s, and then have a quiet 20 minutes, a big kinder pot of maggots would switch them back on for another 5 or six fish. If I big kindered any sooner than 20 minutes then I would still have to weight so decided every 20 minutes to introduce a bit more feed unless I was catching and then I would simply feed a dozen maggots after every fish.
Honest John snared a lump of about 6lb and had a few other better carp but by the end of the match he only admitted to 15lb although I thought he had a lot more than that. The pegs either side (28 and 31) both tipped back where as I was confessing to 25lb but thought I may have 30lb at a push.
A quick pack away and I managed to join the weigh in at Tony Minikin who had 50lb odd to take the lead from peg 11 I think (the first one on the straight just after the corner). I watched a few more weighs and it had a fished a bit better than normal with a few 20lbs and then Bri Clay who was a guest from the Otley Club dragged his net which had over 60lb of fish in it. The only problem here being that as a club and the fishery we have a 50lb per net rule, you can use two nets and have 60lb in one and 10lb in another but with only one net in you can only have 50lb. Bri plonked his on the scales and it kept going round until the scales bottomed out at 50lb. This meant his weight was capped to 50lb and his fish didn’t even get weighed. Perhaps a bit harsh to a guest but rules are rules and others were capped a few weeks back so it would have caused far too many arguments if this one had slipped through the net, no pun intended.
There were no real weights in my section and when we got round to my peg I was shocked when lifting my net out as I perhaps had a bit more than I had estimated! I plonked 36lb 4oz the scales which would take the section depending on what Honest John had. John was being honest, nearly, and put 20lb on the scales so I had won my section.
There were no real massive weights on the rest of the lake, Nige had 18 odd and Gordon had a similar amount. Martin Dodsworth did manage to put 46lb on the scales which turned out to be good enough for fourth.
Back to Caf for a chip butty and a cuppa and also to claim my second envelope of the year. Tony Minikin won the match and Stu also won his section. The open on Cedar had fished terrible with 49lb winning, Ian Bailey had 36lb and Robbie only managed 32lb so it must have been hard. I just hope they don’t decide to come on the club matches instead!
So to conclude, my one line attack worked a treat and with a second pick up of the year I can’t grumble. At the start of the year I didn’t expect to come anywhere in any match but now with a section and 2nd under my belt I have the much needed confidence that I have perhaps been lacking. For once I not only had a tactic but a tactic that I’d employed and I’d also made it work! Role on next week when were back on Maple again!