Gold Valley - Paul Holland

Gold Valley has been very kind to me in the last month, recording six wins and three seconds with weights up to 230lb.

Drawing on some fish is the most important thing and with the matches being restricted to 25 people, one thing we’ve been getting is a bit of space. This is key as you will have some fish in front of you at some point and it’s about making the most of them. Gold is very, very simple in terms of methods – I use the method feeder if I can fish in shallow water up to a bank or island, pellet waggler and lead in open water, which is 99 per cent of the pegs and the pole up and down, long and some short fishing.

I drew an unfancied area on Saturday normally but the way that it was pegged (two pegs, then an empty peg), I thought that it’d be ok. I drew 135 on the syndicate lake and last year I had my highest weight from 134 with about 250lb. It’s not very often that there are a few fish down there but it looked exactly the same as that day, with a lot of fish cruising about on the surface. I decided to fish two waggler rods and one bomb rod. My plan was to dob any fish that I could with a waggler and then hopefully catch some in and around my feed later on. I prefer dobbing with a waggler rather than the pole as I think you can be more efficient, as you’re not limited to 18m range, giving you the whole lake. On big waters like Gold Valley it’s very rare to catch all day within pole limits. It’s taken me a long time to get it right, as casting in the right place is so important. If you swing your rig out and miss it you can easily swing back out straight away, but if you cast in the wrong place then you have to wind in and recast, and most of the time you will have missed your chance. Get it too close and you will spook the fish, too far and the bait will have sunk or the fish might change direction. It’s hard to get right but it is a massive advantage.

Anyway back to the match, and I started off dobbing and caught a few to start with before I fed anything. I started to feed after about 40 minutes. The biggest problem I had was being so high off the water, it was very difficult to get the right angle on the rod when playing the fish. My match went as I thought it would with dobbing to start with then fishing in and around my feed. If I said I won the match with 180lb you would probably think it went well, but that couldn't be further from the truth! I went for a swim halfway through when my rod was pulled in and I had a few come off, as it was very difficult to play and net the fish. I think if I was on 134 again, being lower to the water, I would have been able to catch somewhere in the region of 250lb. Sometimes you just have to make the most of a bad situation and although I was very disappointed, as I should have caught more, I won and that's the only conciliation.

Sunday’s match was on the middle lake, which involves more pole fishing, as the lake’s a lot narrower. I drew on the borderline in peg 87, two out of a corner. The previous weekend I drew two corners and you need to have open water to do well. I set up long pole up and down with six and 8mm pellets, waggler and bomb. Tommy Hillier was opposite so he would be my judge on how I was doing. I started the match dobbing but having white water and a ripple, it was impossible to spot any cruising fish before it was to late, so I quickly binned this and started feeding shallow to catch in my feed. The match was very difficult and with the fish being really spooky, they were very hard to catch and each fish felt like a big achievement. My biggest improvement was something that Pemb showed me is to feed somewhere else and have a look on it from time to time. My only regret was I didn't do it early enough. In the end I just caught enough with 100lb 4oz and with three 97lb weights, it was only just!

Tommy was second and although he was more in the middle than me I had more room than him. The main thing at Gold is work rate, you have to keep working hard and I only think I’m just at the start of trusting my own judgment in changing when I think about it. You have to constantly be thinking about catching the next one. Even if it’s mainly a waggler that you end up fishing, keeping a tight line every cast, using the lightest waggler you can get away with and change the amount you’re feeding and keep casting!