Wonderful White Acres win - Paul Holland

This is the first main festival of the season at White Acres and signals the start of the angling year for many. It’s a different festival from the norm as you are not allowed pellets and in this festival Porth Reservoir was voted to be taken out as it’s normally very cold and the fishing is hard.

Day 1 saw me start my festival on peg 15 on Jenny's. Having not fished this festival last year, I’d done plenty of research before I came down and meat definitely seemed to be the bait on this lake last year. I have done very well in the past fishing worms and casters here to so I based my plan around these baits - top four with worms and casters and top five with meat.

I also set up a long line on the pole, a feeder, waggler and down the edge to my left just so I had everything covered but with it being the first day I really fancied catching short. I started the match on worms and casters and caught a few skimmers and roach but after just half an hour I felt the peg was going away from me. Not what I expected, to be honest, so I gave that line a rest and went out to on the top five with meat.

Looking around, it was quite tough for most. It wasn't long before I started to catch on meat and immediately it felt like the right bait. I was getting proper bites and you could just tell that this is what they wanted to eat. A single 6mm cube was the best bait, feeding 6mm cubes by hand. With an hour and a half to go, Richie Hull next to me caught one down the edge so I decided to feed some bait there just to cover myself if I needed it, but I was quite happy plugging away on my meat line.

I ended up with ten carp and about 50lb of silvers for 142lb 3oz and a section and a lake win. The rig I used was pink hydro to 0.16mm mainline to a 0.14mm hooklength and a 14 LWG hook. The float was a 4x16 Malham Roob with a bulk and one dropper.

Day 2 saw me draw peg 31 on Trewaters. Having had a practice on Sunday on the bottom lake, I caught really well on maggots so felt really confident in catching on this after worms and casters did badly the day before. I set up two straight lead rods to fish with bread to the left and right next to some reeds. I also set up a line at 14.5m and 16m to fish with meat if the gale force winds ever died down plus a top six with 6mm meat and top five with maggots. I also set up an edge line just in case.

I started my match on bread on the lead to my right and caught a few F1s but after 40mins I was well behind on weight as the lads either side had caught some carp. A change to my left hand side and I did manage a few small carp to keep me in the race, but when I changed to corn on the hook my catch rate definitely increased with a run of small F1s coming to the net.

The wind was bordering on the ridiculous so the long pole was out of the question. My maggot line was brilliant for roach, not the F1s I’d hoped for. With an hour and a half to go I got my first bite on meat at six joints and I managed to keep a very odd fish coming to finish with 69lb 10oz for a second section win and 3rd overall.

Day 3 saw me draw peg 17 at Bolingey. A very good peg normally but with 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 all in I knew peg 11 would be almost impossible to beat. Still, I set up everything as normal; lead, waggler, long and short pole and an edge line. I knew my match would be based largely on fishing with bread on a lead and this is exactly how it paned out.

I caught everything on this casting to different spots on the far bank to end up 2nd in my section with 117lb exactly. The lad on peg 11 made no mistakes to win with 150lb and to be totally honest I was very lucky to finish 2nd as there was 110lb and a 106lb.

Bolingey has been very kind to me in the past but the last few visits have been hopeless! I definitely have a love hate relationship with the place. I love it but on the last few visits it has hated me, so it was nice to feel a bit of love back! Rig wise its was very simple - 12" of 0.18mm to a 14 QM1!

Day 4 was Pollawyn, which gave me a chance of a top three finish on peg 29 depending how the boss peg 45 got on. To be totally honest, I wish I’d taken two units of 10mm meat to Bolingey the day before instead of smaller meat to fish on the pole with and give them some grub on the lead line.

I was sure that the day before if I could have had 8mm pellets I would have caught a silly weight, but with a meat limit you have to make up you mind and stick with it. On peg 29 you only have open water so I would definitely take two units of 10mm meat for a lead line late on. My other options was long and short with meat and a caster line down the edge on a top kit. I also set up a waggler to start on and have a few casts throughout the day if the wind allowed or I see any topping.

I had a nice chat with Adam Richards in the car park and he told me that there were plenty of skimmers and the odd carp to be caught on the long pole. This is the sort of thing that make your mind up about how to go about your day. From what he was telling me, I could feel the confidence in his voice so this would be my main line.

I started on a waggler and had two F1s in the first 15 mins. I had fed a small handful of 6mm meat at 13m and I went straight on this, catching some skimmers and a carp in the next hour by loose feeding small amounts of meat. This seemed to slow so by alternatling the long and short pole with a few roach on casters in the edge, I kept putting something in the net until my first look on my lead line with a hour and a half to go.

After my first 15 mins on a waggler I started to feed that lead line every 15-20mins - I catapulted 20 - 30 bits of 10mm meat just short of the rope. In the last hour and a half I managed five carp and two F1s on this to finish with 33lb of carp and 38lb of silvers for 71lb 14oz and a section win and a 2nd on the lake with Adrian beating me by 8oz for another lake win!

Rig-wise I used a 4 x 18 float to 0.16mm mainline to 0.12 hooklength and a 14 LWG hook with white hydro. The lead hooklength was 12" of 0.18mm to a 14 QM1.

Day 5 saw me going to Twin Oaks and I was quietly confident of a good result as I have had some lovely days on both lakes. It’s quite funny what happens when you are so full of confidence as at the draw I told everyone I was going to draw peg 16 and when I drew it I wasn't at all surprised! Things just seemed to be going for me.

Normally 16 is as close to a guaranteed section win as possible but with 15 16 and 17 in, instead of 14, 16 and 18, and with the far bank being completely dug out it wasn't a foregone conclusion. I remember a festival that I fished and drew peg 12 and with the advice from Steve Ringer I caught really well on meat at 13m and to be honest this was going to be my main plan of attack with the short pole. I felt that I could catch enough just fishing these two lines.

I started the match on the lead and after 30 minutes I had an F1 and a roach whist 15 and 13 had caught carp! Maybe it wasn't going to be that easy, then! I picked up the pole and prayed that it went under! Luckily for me it did and I managed to keep myself in the race putting five carp in the net quite quickly before it died. By this time I had started to loose feed some meat and managed an odd carp and F1 on this before again changing to a little meat feeder and catching four on this.

In the last hour I managed to pull away giving me a total of 146lb 11oz to 15's 125lb and 13's 120lb. Another section win and a lake win! Now I had the agonizing wait to find out if Callum had won his section or not. Luckily for me he was 3rd so that meant that I’d won my first White Acres festival.

I have been waiting for this for such a long time it’s hard to describe how I felt. Relived is probably the best way to describe it as for every year that passes without it, you can’t help but think that maybe it’s not going to happen. Thankfully it has and it feels like a massive weight of my shoulders.

I can’t wait for the Dynamite Baits festival now as I feel so much more relaxed now I've won one!