Rooney Takes The Spoils - Adam Rooney

Sunday 14th of July saw the annual Billy Lane Memorial Match held at Coombe Abbey, Coventry. Guru’s brand manager, Adam Rooney took part and his fascinating account of what turned into a winning performance follows!

“The competition has been running for 32 years in memory of Billy and over the years some real legends have their name on the trophy. This was the first year I have managed to get on the match as it usually sells out very quickly, with anglers traveling from all parts of the country to compete.

The conditions on the day were the worst possible for catching bream, which were to be the main target. I drew Peg 6 in the woods, which I was told by locals could be a good area. Rumours were going round that five bites could win the match. This was going to be tough! After a mile and a half walk through the most stunning scenery I arrived at my swim. The venue is amazing; it must be one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever fished. Getting a bite would be a bonus. After a few weeks of research on the venue I had a plan in my mind. Basically, we were fishing for big bream and tench in a shallow lake with lots of weed. First, I had a lead around to find some clear spots so I could present my bait properly. After a good few chucks I discovered that I had weed out to about 40 meters, then it gradually cleared and there was very little weed past 60 meters. I decided to clip up at 65 meters and 75 meters, as I wanted to make sure I was further out than the people around me. My research had told me that in hard, flat conditions the further you go, the better chance of a bite. I waited patiently to see how far people chucked around me and soon found most had decided to fish at around 50 meters, just off the back of the weed. Therefore, I stayed clipped up at 65m as this give me plenty of space and my own line of attack.
I simply set up two 13ft Daiwa Distance Feeder rods with Daiwa Basia reels, loaded with 0.10 Fox Rage braid to a 8lb Drag Line shock leader. One rod was for baiting with, to which I attached a Korda Mini Skyliner spod. My fishing rod had a short, running paternoster to a prototype Guru heavy cage feeder, with a 1m 0.15mm
N-Gauge hook length to a size-16 MWG hook with a hair rigged Speed Stop.

Bearing in mind that the conditions were no good for big bags of bream, I decided to fish just one line to give myself the best chance of a bite. As the lake was shallow I decided I wanted my bait spread over a good area, hoping to hold any feeding fish in the area rather than feeding in a small area where I could hook a fish and spook the rest.

So I started the match spodding corn, chopped worm, casters and my fishmeal mix over a 15m area, giving me a great trap if there was the slight chance of some fish in the area. I had spodded a tin of corn over 0.25kg of worm half a pint of casters and a good helping of groundbait. If any fish were to arrive there would be enough particles to keep them there. After some recent success hair-rigging worms using the New Guru Speed Stops I decided my safest bet to hook a big bream would be to continue fishing this way. Putting the worms on the hook, as we would all normally do is fine, but when you may only have a couple of chances the last thing you want is a worm to fold over the point, causing a lost fish and a lost opportunity.

In the blistering heat I knew this could be a waiting game so I loaded my feeder with a pinch of chopped worm, a few casters and a grain or two of corn, packed in with my fishmeal ground bait. I decided to leave my feeder
in for 20 minutes at a time to give me my best chance of a rare bite. Amazingly, after an hour and twenty minutes my tip flew round, nearly pulling my rod in, “That one’s on!” I thought! After a hard battle though the thick weed a nice 6lb bream came to the net. To say I was excited was an understatement, as I thought, “If there’s one there, then there has to be more.” Another 30 minutes
passed with no bites; I was convinced I would catch another, but had not had a sign.

The flat calm blistering conditions were really making this hard. Rumours were going round the lake that the majority of the field were blanking so, still feeling upbeat that I’d had one, I decided to keep persevering with my
chosen tactics in hope of getting another pull. Looking out to the flat-calm lake, I noticed some bubbles coming up to the far left of my baited area. So, I reeled in, reloaded the feeder and chucked to the bubbles. After a few minutes the tip moved slightly, indicating a liner. I sat on my hands, willing the tip to go round. A good 15 minutes passed and I was on the verge of recasting when once again the entire rod bent round and another bream was on! Again I had a right battle trying to bring the bream through the weed, but eventually my landing next was full of weed and a hidden bream. This one was a bit smaller at around 4lb, but very welcome on a difficult day.

We were now into the final hour and I hadn’t had another bite! Should I spod and top up the swim in the hope of attracting some fish back into the swim or should I hold
out? I decided to hold out. A change of wind brought a slight ripple over my baited area, giving me a bit more confidence, as it created some cover on a blistering day. Unfortunately, the wind also brought lots of
floating weed with it, which was getting caught in my braid, pulling the tip round and possibly moving the feeder, which was not good. I stuck to my plan and tried to cope with the weed best I could. Out the blue the
tip flew round once again. Another battle was on and this time the weed had totally clogged up my reel I couldn’t make any ground on the fish. I had no option but to throw my rod behind me and try to release the weed.
Holding the line tight in one hand and unravelling weed with the other, I felt a sharp pull and the bream was gone.

I was gutted, I knew that could cost me on a difficult day. With just 40 minutes to go I replaced my hook length and cast back into the swim. I heard a few shouts around the lake that odd bream and tench had been caught; I knew I needed another fish. “Yes!” the tip flew round and I bent into a fish. It felt like a good one but again my braid was smothered in weed. I kept the pressure on while trying to flick the weed off without affecting the fish. Five minutes went by and the leader came
through the rings, then ball of weed surfaced, with a big tail sticking out. Once in the net I pulled the weed off to find an exhausted bream of about 8lb looking at me in the net. I was over the moon; I just hoped it was enough. I had my final cast before the whistle but no bite materialised. I reeling in hoping the lost fish wouldn’t cost me a chance of framing.

The scales arrived and the three bream weighted in at 18lb 14oz. I was pleased with this considering the tough conditions. On the long walk back to the car, speaking to other anglers it looked like I was leading with just the opposite bank yet to weigh. My adrenaline was pumping as I powered back to the car park in anticipation. It turned out that I had won the match, with the next best weight 11lb. After a few months of terrible results I had bounced back. I was so pleased to have won such a prestigious event, against some of the countries best bream anglers. To top it off, I had my hands on one of the best trophies in match fishing… The Billy Lane Memorial… one of angling’s greats.”