Tony Curd Bags Up!

In my previous blog entry, I wrote about my first attempt at qualifying for the Maver Classic Final at Larford Lakes. The day was extremely frustrating as I missed out by small margin and since that day it has been on my mind to get back up there and try again! I booked on for the Saturday qualifier on the Match Lake last week, hoping for a better day second time around.

The weather had been good leading up to the match, with mild conditions all week, which would bode well. Obviously, the draw plays a big part in these events so I would be hoping for a little luck there! Arriving at the venue, pools were paid and the draw soon took place. There were 30 anglers fishing and only two had already qualified, so there were two final places up for grabs, but with the likes of Guru’s own Mick Bull, Grant Albutt and Andy Kinder in attendance, this wasn’t going to be easy at all. One of the reasons I like to fish at Larford is that the calibre of anglers is so great. I drew Peg 26 on the Match lake’s shallow bank, behind the island at the top of the bank. I was really pleased with this, as some good weights had been caught at that end recently, although pegs 14 to 16 had been in good form too. As I took my kit to my peg I decided that I’d have to catch on the pole to do well from this peg. With that in mind, I set up a few rigs that I felt would help me get the most from my peg should there be enough fish in the area to compete. The first was to be fished at 14 metres on the bottom where I had just over 2.5ft of water, set dead on depth. The float was a Sensas Pellet Pencil in 0.2g, shotted with no10s strung in a bulk fashion to give a nice slow fall through the water, which is great for pellet fishing. This was made up on 0.15 to 0.13mm N-Gauge to a size-18 hook. My second rig was for fishing over the same line, but fishing shallow. This was a 0.1g Frenzee dibber, which is ideal for flicking the rig over and making a fish-attracting slap on the surface. My last rig was the same setup as my long line on the bottom, but with a size-18 Pellet Waggler hook and hair rigged band, which would be to fish at six metres. I also set a bomb rod up as a back-up in case it all went wrong, which was a standard running rig, featuring a 2/3oz square lead and 0.17mm hook length to a 16 MWG hook.

As the ‘all-in’ was called I potted out 20 6mm pellets to my 14m line, picked up the rig for fishing at 6m, banded on a 6mm, put five pellets in a kinder pot and shipped out. After a couple of minutes the float dipped and a carp of around 4lb opened my account, a great start! The next 15 minutes saw two more carp and an F1 go into the net and I was really pleased with how things were going. By feeding minimal amounts for one fish at a time, I could catch in shallow water without the problem of foul hooking loads of fish, which I feel is key to building a good weight in these circumstances as foul hookers tend to fly around the peg disturbing everything! It’s also worth pointing out that light elastic is a real plus if you’re fishing for F1s as they do drop off a lot if the elastic is too strong. I used 11 Hollo with a pull bung to get things under control when needed, and feel its perfect for the big F1s found at Larford.
The first hour was steady on the 6m line and 12 fish was a great start. Anglers around the lake were catching but I felt that if I could keep catching 10 fish an hour I’d do really well. Just past the hour mark I felt the short line slowing a bit so I moved out to give it a rest, baiting up with a 6mm Bait-Tech Xpand pellet. I put a few pellets in the pot and dropped in right over the feed – something that was key to regular F1s on the day! It didn’t take long before I was catching regularly again and kept my catch rate up with F1s and odd small skimmers. By not emptying any one spot of fish at once and moving between the long and short lines I was able to consistently catch quality fish. After three hours I had 30 fish for around 65 to 70lb and was looking good. It was time to get my head down, concentrate and just do my best to keep catching regularly. I felt that 50 fish was a good target for just over 100lb. Things really picked up on the long line and a string of 10 F1s took me to 40 fish with an hour and half to go, which prompted me to put another keepnet in. I put a quick five fish in the new net, and then everything went strangely quiet. I must admit that I was beginning to think I was going to lose it again! However, by just doing nothing silly like feeding loads of bait, I kept everything steady, working my swim, and by doing so I gave myself a great chance of catching again later.
In the last hour I decided to spend a bit of time trying to boost my 6m line as I felt this line had given me my biggest fish of the day – F1s to 3lb and odd carp to 5lb. After 20 minutes things started to come good, and a steady stream of good-sized F1s came with increasing regularity and the last 20 minutes was what only can be described as a match angler’s dream; feed, drop the rig in, hook a fish and repeat! It was amazing fishing, topped off with three carp of around 4lb each to finish what was a most enjoyable match at a great fishery. My clicker read 60 fish, which had exceeded my targets and felt I had around 120lb. As the scales went round on the far bank some good weights had been weighed in and I started to wonder if I had enough. The top weight up to my swim was Andy Kinder with 101lb, followed by Grant Albutt with 98lb. After three weighs my catch totalled 145lb 15oz, which was a little more than I expected. This was enough to win the match with Andy’s 101lb enough for second. More importantly though, I qualified for the two-day final in May, which I’m really looking forward to as it’s a final I’ve never appeared in!