Andy Bennett's Silverfish Series Diary!

Our Guru star, Andy Bennett, proved he can turn his hand to just about anything yet again at the weekend, when he finished top of the table in the 54-peg Bradshaw Hall Silverfish Series after six matches. We caught up with Andy, who gave us a detailed rundown on each of his matches in the fish-filled and popular series!

Match One

“I’ve been wanting to fish the Bradshaw Silverfish matches for a while now, but I’ve spent the last few winters chasing Matchman Of The Year points. This year I’ve could do what I’ve wanted though, and I’ve really enjoyed it.

“On the first match I drew peg eight on Lake Four, and had a brilliant match catching 27lb which only gave me a section win! The weight was made up of around 20lb of roach, with a few skimmers and ide mixed in. The interesting thing that I noticed on the first match, was that neat chopped worms was a great ploy for catching the ide. Any anglers who used groundbait didn’t seem to catch any. I was happy with the result and learned something for the next match.”

Match Two

“I drew on the same Lake Four this match, but on peg 20. I was left with a decision to make at the start of the match because this isn’t an area of the lake where you catch a lot of ide. I needed to decide whether or not to feed groundbait, which wouldn’t appeal to the ide, but may be better for skimmers in this area of the lake. After pondering I decided to risk it and feed groundbait, as I didn’t feel there were enough ide in the area for me to target. As it turned out, it was a good decision, and by feeding Lake and Damp Leam containing a few dead pinkies and some casters, I caught steadily to end with 22lb for third on the match. Had I fished for ide with worms, I doubt I’d have caught this weight, which shows the importance of tailoring your attack to the species that you think are in your swim and the particular area of the lake you have drawn.”

Match Three

“This was a really enjoyable match, where I drew a very different peg five on Lake Two. This swim was around ten feet deep, and I learned a lot this day. I started by feeding some groundbait with the usual casters and a few pinkies on the long pole. My plan was to then loosefeed to draw in more fish and get them competing as the day progressed. However, when I began fishing and feeding like this, I started to miss bites, and was surprised at how small the fish were. To catch a weight of fish, I knew that I needed to pick out a bigger stamp of fish, and I made the decision to start topping-up with small balls of groundbait containing casters and pinkies to keep the fish on the bottom. I felt this would pin down the bigger fish on the deck. After a short while it began to work, and the stamp of fish I caught increased as the session progressed. I ended with 20lb of nearly all roach for fourth overall on the match, and another good weight to add to my tally.”

Match Four

“I was presented with a different lake this time, when I drew peg eight on Lake Five. This was an enjoyable day, when I caught a proper mixed bag of ide, roach and skimmers all together! I wasn’t sure about this lake, and at the start of the match I wanted to cover my options. My ploy was to position a swim at six metres where I simply loosefed casters with hope of drawing in smaller fish like roach, but on the long pole I fed my usual groundbait mix with dead pinkies and casters in case there were some skimmers around.

“After catching a few roach on the short pole to start with, I had a brilliant spell in the middle of the match catching over my long line. I was actually surprised to catch quite a few ide over my groundbait out there too, because as I mentioned earlier, they don’t seem to like groundbait that much. It was also interesting that I caught all my bigger fish during a short spell in the middle of the match. In the winter, you often find you have a good spell at some point in the day that you really need to make the most of. All the time though, I kept feeding my shorter caster swim, and later on this allowed me to keep putting fish in the net. I ended with 31lb for a match win, and had an awesome days fishing!”

Match Five

“This day saw me fish a totally different match again, after drawing peg ten on Lake Two. After the poor weather, I felt the fish would be much further out, and there hadn’t been many better fish caught in this area at short range in recent weeks. I decided that my main ploy would be the feeder, to give myself some room by fishing out in the main open area of the lake. I clipped up at 28 turns, and opted to use a tiny little cage feeder. Interestingly, I caught best when I started putting finely chopped worms through the feeder; this seemed to get more fish into the swim and bring a quicker bite after casting out. Strangely, I couldn’t catch with worms on the hook though, and single or double dead red maggot was best. I felt really I needed some small red worms to use on the hook. It was noticeable that I caught better fishing light on the feeder, with just an 0.11mm N-Gauge hooklength and size 18 F1 Pellet hook. Towards the end of the session, I felt that the fish had got a little full-up, and to keep bites coming I clipped on a small bomb and cast a few yards further to try and tempt an odd fish that had backed off. It was a really satisfying days fishing, and my 19lb 8oz was enough to finish second on the match on a tough day.”

Match Six

“I had a really busy final match of the series at the weekend just passed, catching 180 fish that were mainly roach. The area that I drew was very shallow, and I was worried the fish would spook easily, so I gave myself three options of catching them. The first was on the waggler at around 20 metres where I could loosefeed casters. The second was on a long pole line at 13m again with loosefed casters. My final attack was a short swim on just a top four, where I could feed casters out of my hand. I had a decent start on the waggler with fish coming to the net immediately, but they were quite small. I was soon on the pole however, and had to keep alternating between my short and long swim, rotating between them to keep bites coming. Although I was loosefeeding casters, a single red maggot was my best hookbait. The fish seemed to pick this out easily, and because its soft compared to a caster, the fish hang on to it with a lot more confidence. If you miss a bite, it stays on the hook better too and doesn’t burst as easily! A tiny 4x10 float with strung out shotting was best by far, allowing the bait to fall through the water slowly like the loosefeed. A great days fishing gave me a 24lb total for a section win and another good boost to my overall weight!

“It was brilliant to win the league, and as I mentioned earlier I really enjoyed the fishing. There aren’t many places you can fish a 50+peg match and catch consistently good weights of silverfish like Bradshaw in the winter. Over the six matches, I managed 143lb of silvers, enough to finish 17lb clear to win the league. I’m sad it’s over now, but roll on next year!”