Tony Curd's Blog

As the nights start to draw in, I like to change the type of venues that I go to. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not enjoy the ‘lottery’ of commercial match carping in the winter, although it has its own appeal. I prefer to go to ‘bite’ venues, as I call them, during the colder months. By this I mean venues that contain a large head of F1’s, skimmers and stockie carp, which feed all year round – great on a cold, winter session!
I travelled from London to Stourport-on-Severn in Worcestershire to visit the fantastic Maver Larford fishery. Larford run a great series in the winter called the Maver Classic, culminating in a two-day final in May at the fishery, with good prize money to boot. My aim for the winter is to qualify for this final so, hopefully, I can pull it off at some point! The match lake was the venue for the qualifier on Saturday and the Specimen Lake was the Sunday venue. The match lake holds F1s with skimmers and some proper carp are also present. The Specimen, as the name suggests, holds larger carp and bream.

As I arrived at the fishery, the temperature had gone from 12 degrees down to three degrees on the way and there was a slight frost on the ground. Nevertheless, fish were clearly topping on the shallow bank of the match lake, where we would be fishing, so it was looking good for a few bites. I plucked peg 18 out of the draw bag, just over half way up the shallow bank, which I was quite pleased with. After a summer spent bagging big weights of carp, it was time to fine down and take a more cautious approach to the match. Bomb and pellet seemed to have been doing the damage lately, so I set this up at home along with a method feeder rod and a pellet waggler if the wind allowed good presentation.

The bomb rig was simplicity itself and revolved around the Guru Running Rig System, with a 2/3oz Square lead and a 15-inch hook length of 0.17mm N-Gauge to a size 16 MWG hook. I had the method rod set up as a back up really, as I didn’t feel it was quite right and felt I wanted to fish one line, with two methods – bomb and waggler. This can be a super way to catch as when the fish rock up it can be fast and furious! I also set up one pole rig to fish at 14m. It was set up with a 4x10 float with 0.15/0.13mm N-Gauge, coupled with 11h Hollo elastic with a pull bung, which would enable the fish to bolt off on the strike without hook pulls in the shallow water. A size-18 Pellet Waggler hook baited with a banded 6mm pellet would be ideal for the day as expanders get smashed to bits by small, nuisance skimmers.

Starting the match, I potted in around 30 pellets on the pole line and banded an 8mm pellet on the bomb rod and cast out, pinging a few pellets over the top of it every 90 seconds or so. The first half an hour passed me by with only a small skimmer to show for it; a bit disappointing to be honest as others had started well. After an hour I started to catch the odd F1 on the bomb, but felt it wasn’t serving me as well as it should, so I picked up the pole instead. After going on the pole line, I was pleasantly surprised to see the float, which was dotted to a pimple on the surface, dip under and plenty of red elastic come streaming from the pole tip! A nice F1 of around 3lb was soon in the net and by pinging two or three 6mm pellets regularly, I had a little run of F1s and I felt as though I could be in with a chance of qualifying. Soon though, the tiny skimmers signalled that there were no decent fish in the peg, so I picked up the bomb again and things had picked up nicely there too, with F1s and a 3lb carp in quick succession. Over the next couple of hours it was hard work to keep fish coming, but by dropping on my pole line from time to time I could nick two or three fish before going back on the bomb and visa versa.
The wind got up in the last hour and getting any sort of presentation on the pole was impossible. Every time I go to Larford it seems to blow a gale. So, I was forced to stay on the bomb for the remainder of the match. Half an hour of nothing had me thinking it had all but slipped away from me and three fish in the final 10 minutes gave some hope, but deep down I knew it was not to be. This proved to be the case, as my 66lb was good enough for 4th, but an agonising 4lb off a place in the final, gutted! I will be back in the next couple of weeks for another attempt. It was an interesting day, I learned a lot about the venue and eased my way into ‘winter mode’ for the months ahead.