The art of consistency...

This weekend, Paul Holland managed a double match win at the popular Tunnel Barn Farm Fishery, catching over 213lb of fish! After putting a lot of time and effort into his fishing on this style of venue, it was a welcome reward. Aside from the tactics he used at the weekend however, Paul was keen to pass on his advice about getting consistent results in your fishing, which can be easier said than done in this day and age. We’ll hand you over to him now!

The Double Win...

“At the start of every New Year I always set myself certain targets or goals in match fishing. These are normally based around consistency and doing well in certain events. If you don’t have much time and have lots of commitments, it can be difficult to do well in big events. However, I believe with strategic planning, and by picking the big matches you want to do well in, anyone can succeed.

“This weekend was a great example of a rewarded for my efforts, as I managed to win both the Saturday and Sunday matches at Tunnel Barn Farm. This gives me the perfect reason to share some advice with you too! On Saturday, I managed to catch 129lb from peg 19 on Jenny’s Lake, with 87lb finishing second. It’s a brilliant area of the lake, and no doubt a match winning peg. The pressure was on for me to make the most of it. Starting on pellets fishing across to the far bank, a caught a few F1s but was plagued by skimmers. I’ve learned this is a bad sign when you’re looking for F1s. I had an inkling that the fish were in deeper water, and making the move to fish closer in down the far shelf, I started catching well with bigger fish hitting the net throughout the match.

“On Sunday, I ventured back to Tunnel and drew peg 38 on Extension. It’s not an area I fancied, as it’s in one of the widest and deepest part of the lake. After a slow start fishing pellets on the short pole, I noticed an odd angler catching fish dobbing. It’s not normally my ploy to follow suit, but for a short period I tried it. I soon realised this wasn’t the right thing to do, and feeding was going to be the better way of catching. By fishing the long pole with pellets in around three feet of water, I caught steadily, with stocky F1s, some bigger ones, and skimmers coming to the net. My 84lb total was enough for another win, with 61lb finishing second.

“On both matches, a simple combination of feeding micro pellets and fishing an expander on the hook was the winner. However, it was the smaller decisions such as fishing in the right depths of water that made all the difference. On Saturday, I could catch across in around three feet of water, but the fish were a little spooky and it didn’t feel quite right, so I made the move into deeper water. On Sunday, it was quite the opposite, and after few bites in deeper water closer in, I felt I needed to fish further out in shallower water to find fish. Making these decisions isn’t easy, but hopefully the following advice will help you out!”

Carefully Select Your Matches...

“To give myself the best chance of hitting my goals, the matches I decide to fish are carefully selected. This way I can ensure that I am regularly fishing in a certain way that will be suited to the venues where my big everts are taking place. For example, it doesn’t make much sense going to fish a spring league on the Gloucester Canal for four matches leading up to my first two Maver Match This qualifiers, that will be taking place at F1 dominated commercials. Instead, I’ll try and plan my matches so that I’m getting into the groove of the right kind of fishing that I’m going to be doing in my main events. Pick one or two big matches you want to do well in, and base any of your other fishing around these.”

Getting Match Fit

“To do well in prestigious, high-standard events, the standard of angler you fish against must be considered. If you can fish against a very good opposition as often as possible, not only will you learn much faster but you will also be 'match fit'. If you’re only fishing small club matches, you can’t expect to step onto the big match stage and do well straight away.

“Now what do I mean by being match fit? I think that when you are doing something regular you gain a sixth sense, like a sharpness to your fishing where by you seem to be able to read the situation very quickly and have a confident glow around you. This is what I call being match fit. Although most people think only top anglers have this, I’ve seen lots of different kinds of people in a ‘match fit’ state, not only people who go fishing all the time too. Venue regulars are a great example on their home ground, or someone who sticks to a certain niche in fishing.
“I am sure that if you look back to your last big match, you will be able to think of anglers that had this glow of confidence, and I am pretty sure that one of them went on to win it! That's because they were match fit!”

Choosing Venues

“For me personally most of the open matches that I decide to fish are based at two venues - Tunnel Barn Farm and Willinghurst Fishery.
“From November through to March I concentrate at Tunnel Barn as there are some good leagues against very good opposition. Plus, the fishing is on canalised lakes for F1s and carp. Pole fishing makes up 99.9 per cent of your approach here, and a lot of the time you are fishing on a slope, which I believe helps make you sharper and more precise in your pole fishing. Fishing venues like this help you get into a mind-set like a snooker player, as you need to be thinking about your next move all the time.

“The baits you are using are a lot smaller compared to carp fishing, and you gain confidence and knowledge in using certain baits at certain times. For example, maggots may be working well for a short period, before pellets are the bait to use, and the worms and casters come onto the scene. Fishing a venue that changes in moods like this gives you a really good understanding of how fish are behaving, and you can take the knowledge to other venues.

“From April through to October I concentrate my efforts at Willinghurst Fishery, where again I am fishing against very good opposition. Here though, the fishing involves targeting open water for carp. Again, pole fishing plays a massive part but rod and line comes into play too. Fishing in open water is totally different to targeting islands and slopes at places like Tunnel Barn, and sometimes you need to have a more patient approach.  Bigger baits like 8mm pellets play a massive part at this venue, and I feel that fishing here helps me keep in tune with another form of commercial fishing.

“As you can see, both my regular haunts are commercials, and by fishing these two venues, I give myself the best chance of learning, and being match fit in all-round commercial fishing. This is important for the bigger matches that I personally fish, which are all on commercial venues. By carefully choosing where I fish, I’m giving myself the best chance of winning the bigger events I choose to fish.”
It Doesn’t Happen Overnight!

“Matches like the Maver Match This Qualifiers, The Daiwa Pole Fishing Masters, Fish ‘O’ Mania Qualifiers, White Acres Festivals and many more, all involve using tactics I’m used to fishing and in-tune with thanks to this careful match planning.  I am simply trying my best to stay match fit at all the styles of fishing I need to, to give myself the best possible chance to do well in the matches that mean the most to me.
“One thing to remember is that nothing happens over night! This is my third winter at Tunnel Barn Farm and it’s only really been this winter that I have started to gain some consistent results. Like I said previously, the standard of angler you choose to fish with or against will have a massive impact on your growth.

“I have been very fortunate that Andy Bennett has taken me under his wing and helped me out, but I am sure a big part of this is because he can see that I want it and how much effort I have put in. Nearly all of the better anglers will put themselves out to help you if they can see that you are putting the effort in. They will not give up there information easily as they themselves have had to work very hard to get it!
“I hope this inspires you to think about your goals more carefully and choose the right matches to fish to help you get closer to them. Remember, you can do and win whatever you want…if you’re willing to put the effort in!”