Andy Bennett's Blog - Day One

Here’s a rare opportunity to really get inside the mind of a top matchman. Former Kamasan Matchman of the Year, Andy Bennett gives up a blow-by-blow account of his time at the recent five-day Lindholme Festival. You’ll be able to see how each day went as we post his blog up each day this week. Here’s day one…

Day One
Bonsai Peg 70

I love fishing these festivals up here at Lindholme, the fishing is awesome and the banter between the lads is great too, with a nice relaxed atmosphere. However, don’t be mistaken, everybody is trying their hardest to beat you and win, so you have to be on the ball every single day.

It’s always nice to get off to a good start in any match, especially in a festival, so when peg 70 stuck to my hand I was over the moon, as this is probably the most consistent peg on the whole complex. It sits on the point of a bend, giving you so much room and so many options. The problem with this though, is if you’re not a venue regular too many options can lead to you chasing fish everywhere. So, after a quick chat with my mate Les Marshall, I decided on a positive approach of one method rod cast to the left-hand point. Keeping my options open, I also set up one shallow rig to fish the point of the right-hand island. You can’t reach across to the island here, as it’s a 16-metre pole limit and being 3ft deep at 16m on the deck, it makes it hard to have an effective presentation. So, I decided to fish a flick rig with an extra 4ft of line to flick the rig up the side of the island. Les had taken 230lb a few weeks previously on this method, so I felt that’s all I would need to do all day to catch a big weight. How wrong I was!

I started the match on the method feeder, casting tight to the left-hand island with micro pellets squeezed as tight as possible around a 24g Guru inline feeder. This was attached to four inches of 0.22mm N-Gauge, tied to a size-14 QM1 and a banded 6mm pellet on the banded hair rig. The first three chucks resulted in three carp around the 2lb mark; as soon as the feeder hit the bottom it went round. I was starting to think this peg really was as solid as they said! All the time I was feeding the right-hand island with 6mm pellet, trying to get the fish used to the noise of the bait going in. Fourth cast on the feeder and nothing happened, no liners or anything, which was a surprise from the great start I had. Not to worry, I felt that if I continued recasting they would be there at some point. After another fruitless 12 to 15 casts and no further fish I knew that something wasn’t right.

It was a flat-calm day with no ripple and bright sunshine, not ideal conditions really when you’re putting a method feeder on their heads! Forty minutes in, I decided to have a look on the pole earlier than I had originally planned; I just felt the method was a waste of time, as in the previous festival I’d caught 204lb on the next peg. I had fish on the method for three or four hours that day but it was blowing a gale too, so always think about the conditions you’re faced with on each day.

Back to the match. First drop on my flick rig to the island and the elastic shot out as the rig hit the water, game on! I thought they were just scared of the noise of the method and this more delicate presentation would hopefully be the key. The rig of choice was 0.17mm N-Gauge to a 4" hook link of 0.13mm N-Gauge. The hook was the awesome new LWG in a 16, which I now use for 90% of all my commercial fishing with a banded hair rig and a 6mm pellet. After a run of six or seven fish, I was on around 10 fish after an hour, not bagging but steady enough with around 25lb in the net. I felt 150lb to 180lb would be needed to win the section, so I needed to start catching a bit quicker. To cut a long story short, it was a real struggle all day until the last half hour when I had around 30lb of decent 3lb to 5lb fish.

I switched between the flick rig and method feeder but it just wasn’t right. My bold approach of feeding just two lines wasn’t enough on the day. In hindsight, I should have had back-up lines set up. Even on the flyers sometimes you can be too positive, but that’s how I fish and that’s how I’ve won so many of my matches over the years. As the scales arrived I had around 50 fish so when 106lb was winning the section I knew it would be close. I put 110lb on the scales, which was enough to take the section. I was very lucky as I definitely didn’t do the peg justice that day! However, it was the perfect start to the week. Andy Middleton won the match with 153lb off peg 35, so well done mate.