How I triumphed at White Acres - Paul Holland

Team Guru member Paul Holland has recently returned from White Acres with an amazing two festival wins and a sixth to his name. Here’s how he hit top form this spring.


Day 1 saw me draw peg 3 on Jennys and I don't mind admitting that I was disappointed. Pegs 6-9 generally dominate this section so I knew that winning from here would be very difficult.

I set everything up as normal including a feeder and long pole to fish up and down with pellets or worms if that was going to be the way forward, but to be honest it was damage limitation for me so that involved worms and casters on the top 4 and casters in the edge and also meat at top 5.

I started short and straight away I could see that its was going to be very difficult. I did try the feeder and the long pole but it was short that I caught 98% of my weight on worms and meat. I ended up with 42lb of roach and skimmers for 3rd in my section with Jonny Maddison winning with 80lb and Martin Holmes with 79lb.

Day 2 saw my drawing arm improve and peg 23 on Trelawney was my destination. Again everything was set up but my main approach was to be shallow with pellets and casters and a Method feeder. I started shallow and caught about 50lb of F1s and a few carp in the first hour and a half and it got slowly worse and worse.

I left the far bank alone for a long time, so hopefully a few might have settled in front of me. Four carp in four casts and I was a happy boy! It was then just a case of going through the cards, trying to keep an odd fish coming to the net. One thing I was a bit disappointed in was I had fed a few pellets all day for a lead and never had a bite on it, still I was up and running with my first section win with 107lb.

Day 3 and peg 33 at Porth. This area of Porth is shallower and there had been some fish caught on the waggler, so this was going to be my main approach if the wind would let me. Again, everything was set up including a feeder, long and short pole.

In the past firing little balls of groudbait has been brilliant for me on a waggler and this is how I started but to be honest it was useless. A change to feeding casters and it was a million miles better. I ended up fishing the waggler all day for 22lb of little skimmers for a section and a lake win.

Day 4 saw me draw a peg I was itching to get back on - peg 36 at Bolingey! I drew this peg last year and got it completely wrong and lost a great big ‘un that I’d played forever that cost me the overall win.

This time I am pleased to say it went well! I started off short with 6mm pellets and caught a few small carp and carrasios in the first hour, then moving out to 11m again with 6mm pellets to catch small carp, carrasios and some grass carp to end up with 211lb for a section and a lake win! I caught over 60 fish and had an amazing day’s fishing.

Day 5 and it was match lake! Please, please, please, give me a dolly! Peg 13 stuck to my mitt - happy days. Again I set up everything, but my main approach would be meat on the long and short pole with a waggler and a lead. Also casters down the edge just to keep putting something in the net.

I started of on a waggler and caught four carp in the first hour and a half for 25lb. Then it was just a case of staying in front. The long pole was a complete waste of time and as soon as I caught a few skimmers and then a small carp at top 6 with meat, my match was set. I alternated between a waggler and this and ended up with 73lb for a section win and fortunately for me another festival win!


Day 1 saw me draw peg 18 at Trelawney and it was definitely a big learning curve for me. I spat the dummy big time, just because I thought that I couldn't win from my draw as pegs 10, 12 and 14 are so dominant in that section.

Anyway, I kind of settled down when I was at my peg but to be honest I fished terrible. I started down the edge and caught one after missing two bites. Then I caught a few small carp to the island but it just wasn't happening.

With an hour and a half to go I finally settled down and was thinking clearly. A few F1s and some big skimmers at top 5 with meat and I was putting fish in the net, alternating between down the edge and top 5.

I had a good last hour and a half to finish with 119lb to win the section and 2nd on the lake with Darren Cox winning off Twin Oaks with 134lb. I know if I’d have gone to my peg like I had all last week with an open mind and just try and catch what I can. I would without doubt have caught 150lb from my peg.

It was a horrible walk back to my van stopping at every peg to apologise for my tantrum like a spoilt little brat! Back at the digs and it was food and an early night. Luckily a good night’s kip was what the doctor ordered and I think I've learned just how much these festivals take it out of you!

Day 2 and I was back to normal - peg 35 at Trewaters was my destination and Harry Billing won from there the day before with 70lb, so this was going to be my target. I set up everything… again!

I started on a little Method and had three small carp in the first half hour before moving out to the long pole with 6mm hard pellets. I caught a few F1s and small carp but you could just tell it was never going to happen and with Marcus Harrison on peg 19 starting to rattle up a few carp down the edge, it was now or never.

With an hour and a half gone I shipped out to top 6 with a small pot with meat and waited. 2 minutes later and I caught a small carp. With 40 minutes to go I had still had the odd bite here and felt like I was in front so I was reluctant to do anything else but with just 15 minutes to go I caught two small carp very quickly down the edge then waited seven minutes for my last bite, just to prove that I think fishing in the deeper water was the right decision.

I ended up with 139lb for a section and a lake win but more importantly than that I was pleased with my performance.

Day 3 and it was Porth again, peg 86 with Alan Scotthorne on peg 87! Not what I would have wished for, but to be the best you have to beat the best and all that! Again, everything was set up but normally to win the section there will be some bream caught.

I decided to hedge my bets and start on a Method feeder for the first half an hour just to mark my spot. I’m not a big fan of filling it in like some, and in the past I have drawn in the 70s and have always caught them when they feed, so I have so much confidence in the way I go about it.

Alan started on a small feeder at 20 turns and was catching really well and after half an hour he was well in front. With only a few very small skimmers to show, I had a go on a short feeder but I was never in the same race. I had a quick go on a waggler but the wind made this impossible so after an hour I was only ever going to do two things; Method and a short feeder.

In the second hour I managed to catch two skimmers of a pound each and a bream on the Method, which put me right back up there. In the third hour Alan caught a bream on the small feeder and then I caught another one on the Method. It was really tight but all the time he was catching a lot more smaller skimmers than me.

In the fourth hour Alan foul hooked and landed a big eel and it looked like it was going to go his way. With just 15 minutes to go I had a bite that was definitely from a bream that I missed and was gutted. The maggot went over the hook point but I had two really quick casts and then on the third cast with eight minutes to go, it was my last cast and I just knew that it was going to go round. Three minutes later and the tip pulled round and I was in!

I still thought that Alan had beat me as he had been catching all day but luckily for me I caught a few more smaller skimmers than I thought and I ended with 22lb for another section and lake win beating Alan by 15oz!

Day 4 and Bolingey again - when I drew peg 38 I was a bit embarrassed, to be honest, but deep down I was made up! It was opposite peg 36 and after last week I really couldn't wait to get started. It was a totally different match as it was sunny and calm.

You could see these big dark shapes moving about so I started on a long line dobbing rig and with three or four times a carp swimming over to investigate then moving off at the last second, they’re too bloody clever in here and to be honest I wasted a lot of time doing this.

After two and a half hours I only had about 80lb to show for my efforts, fishing 13m on the bottom with pellets. Decision time! This peg is really funny in that the slope stops at 11m where it stays the same depth and at 11m it’s a rock hard bottom.

To be honest, I panicked a bit when I initially started at 11m as after five minutes here I never had a bite and when I went to 13m where the bottom is softer I could see blows so I knew they were there, which gave me patience to wait for a bite.

Anyway, after five minutes and the float flew under I was cooking on gas in the last 2 and a half hours to finish with 230lb for a section and lake win and after being pipped for the highest weight of the week by Jonny Maddison the week before I was chuffed to win this.

Day 5 and it was Match Lake again! I was praying for peg 45 as this is normally like 13 and such a dominant peg in the section. When I drew it I was starting to think of the winning lottery numbers!

I was a bit shocked when Darren Cox told me it’s now been put in with the high bank. If I’d have known this I would have wished for 13 again! Still, if I win today then I don't think I could be beaten. The only way I was going to win the section from here would be 16m long lining to the far bank.

To cut a long story short, the wind made it impossible and having played a big ‘un after the hour mark for it to somehow break my rig, I knew there and then that it was just not going to be my day. To rub salt into my wound I hooked another big ‘un on my caster rig for it just to swim off and snap me.

I tried everything I could, including a lead and a Method. I even got out my front rest and tried to lean right forward on my box to keep the rig still over the far bank, but with the lake being clear the pole being close to the float was a no no. I don't mind admitting I was absolutely gutted to not win as the chance to go into the last day leading the festival and make it three on the trot will probably never happen again.

But if the conditions would have been favourable then I would probably be saying something different now, but at least my draw gave me a chance as there are a fair few pegs where it would be impossible to win from.

Gutted and made up is the only way I can describe how I feel. If someone would have said that I would finish in the top 10 in all three I would have bitten their hand off for that, so to win two and finish 6th I should be made up but I cant help thinking of what could have been.

Well done to Jamie Wilde on winning - roll on the next one!