Bennett Triumphs Again!

Recently I was back down at Tunnel Barn Farm for the Diawa Pole Fishing Masters. After winning this event last year I was keen to do well again but with the standard of anglers fishing, just making the top 12
money places was going to be hard enough, so this was my aim for the week.

Day one saw me on High Pool peg 36 and to be honest I didn't fancy the look of the peg. Last year all the best pegs were the ones where you could reach an island and catch in shallow water. This peg is one of only two
pegs that didn’t have an island though, so this made my mind up instantly as to what I was going to do. Normally I would fish slop shallow on here but with the wind off my back I hedged my bets and fished maggots, so if the
shallow line didn't work I could fish on the bottom underneath it.

I also had an edge rig where I’d fish pellets. Rigs for the week were all the same 0.17mm N-Gauge to 0.11mm/0.13mm N-Gauge hook lengths to 18 and 16 LWG hooks in spade and eyed versions for hair rigging baits such as casters and pellets. Elastic was white and orange Hydro and nearly all my rigs were bulks, as I was fishing for decent weights, so positive fishing was in order. The match went quite slow to start and I caught a few fish short on pellets but as soon as I went out shallow, I started to catch really well and 10-15 fish on the trot saw me up there in my section, but it then faded on me.
By rotating between my edge and shallow maggot line, I managed to catch steady in spells for 112lb and that vital section win plus a bonus 4th overall in the 112-peg match, so a great start.

Day two saw me draw 14 on House Pool. This again is a peg with no island and it was last in the section the day before, but I had a lot of open water to attack, plus a short line (which I opted to tackle with meat) and I could go with pellets down the edge. To say I
started slow is an understatement! After two hours I had 15lb in the net and I heard a couple of the lads in my section admit to 40lb, so I was well
behind. On top of this it started to really hammer it down with rain like I’d never seen before. All my maggots got wet and I had to switch to casters as the rain was that bad. Talk about a blessing in disguise! As soon as the rain eased off I started getting one chuck on casters and was really motoring. It totally transformed my peg and the last two hours I caught 70lb to finish with 101lb, which was just enough to win the
section by 2lb. Looking back, if I’d of started on casters I could have easily had another 20-30lb, but luckily I got away with it. With two wins, I was in with a chance of winning the whole thing, but I was lying in 3rd place, 18lb behind Des Shipp, who also had two wins. I should really have been winning on weight at this point, I felt.

I needed a big-weight lake such as High Pool or Extension on day three. I pulled out peg 19 on Club and I think 50-70lb had come off it the two previous days, and although 120lb had won the section the day before, it then dropped right down in weight so I felt the chance of catching up on weight had gone, plus I had Andy Powers in my section on 22, so I would have to try and beat him to stand any chance to start with. I also had
Chris Weeder and two local experts Pete Rice and Dave James either side.

I spoke to my mate Matty Dawes as he had won a match from the 20s the week before on pellets across. This made my mind up as to what I was going to do, plus I would feed meat short and a caster shallow line. I basically caught nothing anywhere apart from across on pellets and I had to keep resting this area after a few fish, but I couldn't catch anywhere else on the
Peg! I had a slow start again, but with 90 minutes to go, I felt I was well ahead in the section and it was all looking good. Then I foul hooked an odd fish and 40 minutes passed and I’d not put a fish in the net. To make
things worse, Andy Powers was now catching one every chuck down the middle and I could get a bite. With 25 minutes to go, I decided to just pot small amount of bait in and try to nick one fish to just stay ahead and I
managed another five for 25lb doing this. “Why didn’t I do this earlier?” I was thinking, instead of attacking it so much again. I felt I could have caught a bit more had I fished the lake recently. When the scales arrived Andy Powers chucked 85lb on them to lead the section. I
didn’t think I had enough, suspecting I’d have 75-80lb. My first net went 41lb and I felt I’d just be short. The 2nd net went 45lb and I’d just pipped the section by 1lb. I was totally shocked, as I felt I’d let my
chance go.

This left me on three wins and around 299lb in weight I thought. News came back that Des had won his section and so had Paul Holland from a total shocker of a peg, but Paul had a lower weight because of his poor
Last-day peg. I had a quick tot up in my head and thought Des would need roughly 68lb to beat me. He weighed 69lb exactly so I thought I’d been beaten
by 1lb or so. I was gutted, as I knew I could have had more on days two and three.
When the results were in it was confirmed I’d actually pipped Des by just 2oz to retain my title and being my birthday as well I was over the moon.
I’ve won a few festivals over the years but this has to be my biggest to date, simply for the standard of angler fishing; five England internationals alone were in the field, plus all the best anglers at this type of commercial fishing so to win it twice made me very proud. Looking back, I could have made it a lot easier for myself but I was happy that I made the right decisions at the right time, as just a few minutes later in each match and I could have been 8th or 9th in the festival and kicking myself, but I suppose that’s the luck you need when fishing against the top lads. It was definitely a birthday to remember for me!