Andy Bennett recalls last week's White Acres Festival!

The first White Acres festival of the year always excites me, and after weeks of preparation I was soon heading south for the Frenzee event. This particular festival is interesting, as you’re not allowed to use pellets – a bait we heavily rely on in our week to week commercial fishing! Whether you do well or not, you always come away learning a lot. Here’s a day to day diary how my week went, what worked well, and where I think I could have possibly done better!

Day One: Acorn Peg 3

I didn’t fancy this peg at all, but with the generous pegging and space on this festival, I did have plenty of room. Fishing the long pole towards the island at 16m was my first ploy, and I was hoping I’d get off to a good start by fishing here. I started by feeding just a small amount of meat in a medium Pole Pot, fishing for one fish at a time. At White Acres, this is often a good way to start your session, to simply feel your way into a session nd catch any fish that are present.

On this first day, it soon became obvious that the room I had was helping me and I began catching very well from the start. Interestingly, most of the fish I was catching were carp, and after two and a half hours of catching well I had 100lb in the net. I felt I had the tactics right for this early period in the match, what happened next was unexpected!

A pipe that runs into the lake to my left started gushing in, and after ten minutes I couldn’t present the rig. It was towing far too much with the water flowing in, which was frustrating as I knew there was fish in the swim. With a good weight in the net however, I knew I could change to keep topping-up the weight. I changed to fishing meat on the short pole and down the edge where the tow wasn’t catching my rig. Although action wasn’t anywhere near as good here, I managed to keep F1s coming until the end of the match. Ending with 140lb, I won the section and lake – a great start!

Day Two: Bolingey Peg 1

Despite a lot of people not fancying this peg being stuck in a corner, I quite like it. I’ve drawn it twice before in previous festivals and managed a section win and section second from it. On arriving at the swim however, I soon changed my mind. There were a lot of fish topping higher up the lake, and I didn’t see many moving in my corner at all.

I planned a damage limitation day, and set-up several swims to rotate around to try and catch everything that was in the swim. A long line up the bank to my right, a long pole line, and a safe margin swim in three and a half feet of water away from the bank were my options. Another choice I made was to fish with corn rather than meat. This was because meat isn’t allowed outside festivals at Bolingey, and the previous day was the first-time fish had seen meat for six months. I didn’t think they’d be tuned onto it yet.

Again, I went down the route of feeding small amounts of bait in a Pole Pot, fishing for one fish at a time. Bolingey is a very silty lake, and experience has taught me that when you feed a lot of bait here, you simply foul-hook fish. The plan worked to some extent, although the deeper water long-pole swim was the best line by far. I managed to catch 20 fish, Bolingey, but unfortunately they were small and quite a few of them were carrassio.

I was hoping that my late section winning swim was going to be the margin, so it was disappointing that I only caught two carrassio down there. Interestingly, the guy to my left did catch two very big carp down the edge, and he fished in shallow water right next to his adjacent platform. Maybe If I’d have fished there, I’d have nailed a couple? I also felt that choosing to fish corn instead of meat may have been a bad choice looking back, and fishing meat may have caught me an odd bigger carp with meat. My 57lb was enough for fourth in the section…not the best result, but a decent score to drop with three better results!

(PLEASE NOTE: not all pics were taken during festival)

The new Guru Super LWG's got some serious testing from Carp and F1s!

Peg 3 on Acorn - a first day section win!

Day Three: Pollawyn Peg 12

This was a good draw for me, in what I felt was the right half of the section. My approach here revolved around catching skimmers, and I only intended to spend time fishing for carp if I was lagging behind.

My main approach was to fish the pole at 11 metres on the bottom, feeding groundbait with chopped worms and casters. The lake was towing fairly hard, and I opted for a heavy 1g Perfect Gloucester float for these fish, with a bulk and three droppers. A durable 0.15mm N-Gauge mainline was tied to an 0.10mm Pure Fluorocarbon hooklink and size 16 F1 Pellet hook. One thing that was interesting this day, was that I caught quite a lot of fish down-tow of the bait. Hand-sized skimmers often sit just off the bait one way or another, and this was the case on the day.

After leading the section all day, I was stumbled when Simon Gould to my left caught a big carp in the closing stages, to push him ahead of me in the last ten minutes by just a small amount! I had a great days fishing catching 42 skimmers for 28lb, and took away a second in the section.

Day Four: Twin Oaks peg 35

When I drew this peg, I was absolutely praying that the wind was blowing my way…and it was! I really fancied this for a big weight of F1s, and it was a draw I needed to keep me in the running. My match consisted of three lines of attack. The first was a bomb and meat cast to the far bank to start with, the second was a short pole swim with meat, and finally the margins with worms and casters.

I got off to a decent start on the bomb, loose feeding some meat with a catapult, and casting accurately over the top. In the first hour, I caught around 20lb on this while feeding my short swim and margins. I then switched to fishing short with meat, which worked well, but I felt I needed more options to keep fish coming. It was at this point I decided to start trying the margins, and was catching on all three lines.

At the start, I couldn’t decide whether loosefed casters or small balls of soi in the margins. To help me figure it out, I fed casters alone down one edge and balls of worms in soil down the other. The soil pinned the fish down better, and I soon sacked-off the loosefed caster swim. In the last hour I rotated between the short swim and one margin line, catching incredibly well. Despite the F1s all being big, hard fighting fish, I used my standard summer tackle. A size 16 Super LWG hook matched to an 0.13mm N-Gauge hooklength, with a durable 0.17mm mainline of the same did the trick.

I ended with 188lb for a needed section win, and had a super days fishing from a good peg. Interestingly, I counted my fish, and ended with 60 odd F1s for that weight. That shows how big they are in that lake now!

Day Five: Trewaters peg 51

Again, I really fancied this peg as I was on an end and had some room. I did however, feel like I was fishing for second place, as another peg had won the lake several times that week.

Meat was going to be my main bait for the day. In fact I didn’t plan on fishing anything else! I made the choice to fish as long as I could, at a full 16m with meat. The reason for this, is because the shelf of the lake starts to shallow up here, and you can normally get out of the silt in the deepest water and on to some hard ground.

Things were really slow to start, but I managed to catch odd carrassio for the first part of the match. All the time, I’d been feeding regularly with small amounts of meat on my short line at five sections, and made a conscious effort to leave this as long as possible before going on it. When I did in the final hour and a half, it was good, and I caught ten big carp that boosted by weight by around 50lb! Often, when the fishing is tricky, feeding and leaving a line like this works really well, as it did in this case.

Combined with my other fish caught on the long pole, I ended with 77lb and enough for the second in section I was hoping for. I don’t think there’s much I could have done different, as 158lb won the section, which would have taken some catching! One thing that was interesting was that I only had bites in the deep water. Despite tying a bomb to the island and the margins, I caught nothing there. There was some cold rain overnight, and I felt that this had pushed the fish down into the deeper water.

The Result?

After a mixed week of ducking and diving, I ended up with two section wins and two seconds dropping a fourth, for 30 points out of a possible 32. This put me just in the money, in 9th place on the festival – a result I was happy with for the first White Acres Festival of the year. All in all it was a great week, and as always on these high-standard events, I learned some little bits and bobs for the Guru Festival in May!

Small nuggets of soil and worms in a Pole Pot worked well on Twin Oaks.