Andy Pell at Whiteacres

The first part of Andy Pell's five-day blog from the recent Dynamite festival at Whiteacres - fascinating stuff to get inside the mind of a top matchman as he targets festival glory! Look out for day two on Monday!

Saturday 14th April was a day I had been looking forward to for quite a while. I would be heading down the M5 to fish in the week-long Dynamite Baits festival at Whiteacres.
It was quite a hectic build up to the trip as I was driving Phil Ringer’s van down with his and Steve’s kit on board, as they were in Belgium on International duty. The draw for sections was made on the Friday and a quick look on the Whiteacres website told me I had a decent section of 36 anglers and had avoided lots of the main stars.
Notable names in my section for the week were Phil Ringer, Harry Billing, Andy Geldart and John Gray, but there are always plenty of not-so-well-known anglers who can do lots of damage on a decent peg. The van was filled to the rafters with kit and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that you couldn’t get a packet of fags in the back, it was that full.
My festival would begin on Porth, so I planned a quick visit for a couple of hours practice on the Sunday. I wanted to try the method feeder to either add it to my plans or discount it completely from them.
After three hours fishing and two skimmers to show for my efforts, I decided to discount it completely and concentrate on a two-pronged small-fish match.


Monday’s draw put me on peg 34, which meant a decent plod along the near bank of the reservoir, and with Harry Billing on the end peg 40, it was going to be tough to win the section. Peg 34 is in a tight area of three pegs in the sort of space that you normally have two anglers, so there wasn’t much room.
I set up one a soft-action feeder rod and clipped it up at 35 reel turns. My plan was to feed minced worms through a small cage feeder, which would be plugged with a 50/50 mix of Ringers Carp Mix and Ringers Dark groundbaits. I would also feed some balls of this mix with worm in on the pole line at 14.5m.
This was my simple plan of attack and if I was going to do well I had to keep things simple. On the whistle I fed four balls on my pole line and began the match on a Mini Cage feeder with added lead. It wasn’t long before I was getting bites, although they were tiny taps on the tip and hard to spot.
I was soon catching small hand-sized skimmers on a small piece of worm on a size-18 B560 hook. I spent three hours fishing the feeder and was catching skimmers and odd roach steadily. I did change down to a Micro Cage with added lead feeder after 20 minutes of the match though.
With things beginning to slow down on the feeder, I decided to have a look on the pole line. No one around me had caught on the pole but I had kept it topped up every hour with a ball of groundbait containing worm, so maybe I could catch a few fish.
I had around 10 skimmers in 10 putouts, before things went quiet after a couple of pike strikes. I topped up and chucked out the feeder.
I continued to chop and change for the rest of the match adding odd fish to the net. I knew I had much more than those around me, but I couldn’t see the ends of the sections so had no idea if I was keeping pace or not.
The match ended at 5pm and I eagerly awaited the scales. The angler to my right put 2lb on the scales and a quick look at the weigh sheet told me that Harry on peg 40 was top so far with 6lb odd.
I had no idea what I had as the skimmers were very small and I had not managed to snare a bonus fish of any kind. I was pleased to see the scales move round to 8-9-0 and a walk along the rest of the section confirmed that it had been a tough day and I had won the section.
It was a great start to the week, although I had just missed out on the main frame on the lake and the lack of a decent skimmer had cost me any chance of making the top three, but I was still happy as I made my way back along the res knowing that cardiac hill awaited me.