September the 11th, 20 fished.
Back to Shiplate Farm today for the final day of the festival – with only two anglers still in contention to win the much-coveted Cider Cup: Jody Wood and Ollie Corbett.
The draw for this match was made on Sunday evening, using the rover format. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this, let me explain: as there were 21 of us fishing, pieces of paper numbered from 1 to 21 were placed into a bag. Whoever drew number 1 would get first pick of any peg on the complex, whoever drew 10 would draw his peg 10th, whoever drew 21 would get last choice – simple!
General opinion is that in a rover a very early or very late draw is best; an early draw obviously guarantees you one of the better pegs on the venue; the advantage of a later draw is that you can see where other anglers have chosen and place yourself where there is some room.
Anyway, into the hat and I pulled out this…
By the time it was my turn to pick, most of the better pegs on the complex had gone. Nellie Palmer and Eddie Swann had placed themselves on 1 and 2 Main Lake, respectively; both hoping to exorcise some demons on pegs where they had previously got it wrong. Peg 15 on Main was also taken, Trevor Faulkner placing himself there.
I chose for myself peg 14 West Pool, my thinking being that with Tony Corbett already on 12, nobody would pick either peg 15 to my left or 13 to my right. Also, team-mates Joe Wood and Graham Green had fished the peg during the festival, both returning weights close to the ton – and being stand-up guys, they were more than willing to advise me on how best to approach it.
Don Finley had number 9 on the rover, and with 35 pegs still available, quite inexplicably chose West Pool 15, directly to my left. I can only think that an afternoon of quaffing in Burnham-on-Sea had muddled his thinking somewhat. Apparently, Don had been drinking in the town and established an instant rapport with an off-duty Naval Officer – I’m sure it’s not as homoerotic as it sounds.
In addition to this burgeoning bromance, Don bumped into this fellow…
Onto today’s events; I started the day with Joe in the Bay View cafe in Burnham-on-Sea, where we sat wind-watching, wondering how we would approach a match in storms that appeared to be from the Subtropics. Lampposts and traffic signals were shaking in the fierce gales and any object left unsecured went hurtling along the street.
We arrived at Shiplate and it seemed much the same: trees were bent double and the wind was howling through the fishery. So I planned my match around a two rod job, with a short pole line as a back up.
After a brief chat with Don Finley in the car park, he informed me that he was in too much pain to fish and would be heading back to Brum, so peg 15 was all mine. Poor Donald had fallen out of bed several times on Saturday night after a heavy evening on the pop, he’d also banged his head on a fire extinguisher and clattered off several other inanimate objects along the way.
Once I arrived at peg 14 West Pool, I was pleased to see that my swim was like a millpond. The surrounding trees and high bank behind me combined to make my peg virtually gust-free. I still set up a bomb rod and a pellet feeder incase the wind increased in strength as the day went on, but I now felt confident enough to set up rigs for across to the far bank at 15m and a couple for down the edge.
I planned on fishing hard pellet across; down my margins I would fish meat to the right and various baits over groundbait to the left.
I was in a tough section for this one, with the same group of anglers from yesterday’s contest at Landsend Fishery again all drawn in a line: Joe Wood on peg 5, Ollie Corbett on peg 10, Tony Corbett on peg 12 and me on peg 14.
As the start of the contest neared, there was an air of excitement around the fishery; there were still plenty of points to play for and many questions that remained unanswered:
Would Ollie Corbett hold onto his lead and win the festival for a third time?
If so, could he do it with a perfect score of 4 points?
Would peg 1 produce the match winner yet again?
Would Tony Taylor take his swimming cap off?
At 11.30 the all in was called, I shipped out to 15m and catapulted a few 6mm pellets over the top of my float, a couple of lift and drops and I was into my first fish of the day, a carp of around 2lb. This is how the first hour went, sport wasn’t hectic, but by pushing my rig tight into the far bank I was almost guaranteed a bite every put-in. The fish I caught up the mud-line were real ‘squeakers’ though, the 8 I managed in the first hour going around 20lb.
Into the second hour and I continued to fish across; although it had slowed a little, I believed that it would be best to leave the edge lines until mid-match. I had seen the odd fish come in to my right hand margin, where I had fed a few 8mm cubes of meat regularly since the start of the contest, but my thinking was that the longer they could come in and mop-up freebies undisturbed, the more confident they would become later in the day.
Into the third hour and a visually impaired monkey took control of my kit, as I had my customary inept spell – although this time I limited it to a mere half an hour. For some reason I came away from the far bank and attempted to fish shallow in open water, I also went half-depth tight against the island. Needless to say, neither of these tactics provided a single fish.
At the mid-way point of the contest I fed two pots of groundbait (‘Bait-Tech N-tice Meaty Mix’, if you were wondering) down to my left at top kit plus a short 4, I then had a little look over the meat line to my right. I failed to hook anything on meat, but when I looked left over the groundbait line there were huge tails poking up out of the water as a few munters arrived for a mid-afternoon munch.
The next hour and a half went by like an absolute dream, and I added around 50lb to my total. By feeding big pots of groundbait and fishing over it with either double corn or a bunch of maggots, I hooked a fish every put-in. I even changed my right hand swim to a groundbait line and this was noticeably stronger than it had been when feeding just meat. The only problem I encountered was that in order to bring fish into the swim, quite a quantity of groundbait had to be fed, I made my way through 3kg in this ninety minute spell and was left with just a small amount to mix up.
I saw out the final hour of my match picking off occasional fish down my edges (the left hand side being the stronger) but sport was very slow once I’d ran out of groundbait. At 4.30 the all-out was called; I felt happy with how my match had gone, if I had taken more groundbait to my peg I could have perhaps added another 20lb to my weight, but I was still confident I had around 100lb and had thoroughly enjoyed my day.
On neighbouring peg 12, Tony Corbett had struggled all afternoon, the fish just didn’t arrive in his edges – the area of his swim he was most reliant on for the bulk of his weight. So sure was Tony that I had beaten him, he brought round this beautiful little side-bet nugget as soon as the contest ended…
Once all of my kit was packed away I made my way around to Dave Richards and we started the weigh-in. I was first up, my three nets going 117lb 4oz; a result I felt reasonably pleased with, although I believe my peg was worth a lot more. Next we weighed in Tony Corbett’s 37lb 4oz, then made our way along to festival leader Ollie Corbett, whose 3 nets gave him a brilliant total of 130lb 5oz. Next along was Ollie’s Cider Cup challenger Joe Wood, with another great weight: 96lb 9oz, his 4th excellent return of the festival, but ultimately not enough for him to take the spoils.
After this we made our way to Main Lake, where peg 15 had again failed to produce, Big Trev bringing just 19lb to the scales. On neighbouring peg 14A Steve Siddell faired much better, with a hard-earned 95lb. With great anticipation we then made our way to Dave Richards who was owning up to “190lb on the clicker… plus around 10lb of silvers.” Now, Dave takes great pride in his clicking, often predicting his weight to the very pound. For this reason we’ll forgive him – just this once – for being 40lb out, weighing 159lb 14oz, taking the match win and biggest weight of the festival in the process. Alongside such accolades, Dave takes away an award of far greater prestige, “.. as I now bestow upon you, Lord Richards of Tyseley, the award for today’s Man of the Match.”
Next angler along was Tony ‘Tackle Tart’ Taylor, whose 75lb was supplemented greatly by this 21lb 4oz leviathan…
After admiring this fantastic fish we made our way over to Hawthorn, where Dave Brain took the early lead with 80lb. This was top weight on the pool until we reached team-mate Graham Green, whose 108lb was only good enough for 4th on the day, an indication of how well the venue had fished.
Finally we weighed in the two remaining pegs on Main Lake where Eddie Swann managed 59lb from peg 2; on flyer peg 1 Nellie Palmer brought 60lb to the scales.
I then fetched my trolley and pushed it slowly back around the beautiful Shiplate Farm, taking in the scenery one last time, as Tony Corbett tallied-up the final scores.
Over a can of Thatcher’s Gold, we took a well-earned breather and discussed the weekend’s events, to-a-man agreeing that it had been a resounding success – we can’t wait to be back next year.
Tony Corbett then read out the list of results for the weekend, the promotions and relegations, the section winners and main-framers; everybody seemed to get a little envelope for their troubles….
Finally Tony got to the important bit, announcing this year’s festival winner: and a worthy one at that, dropping just one point all weekend, with a fantastic final tally of 5, taking over 470lb to the scales in the process…
For the anoraks amongst you, here are the final scores. If you’re wondering what ‘TPTF’ stands for, it’s ‘Too Pissed To Fish.’
Personally, I had a tremendous weekend, after two bad draws I eventually managed to break into the top five, getting promoted to ‘A’ league on the final day – a position I will take up next September. I caught just shy of 300lb of fish, drank far too much cider and had some great laughs along the way.
I can’t go without thanking these people:
My wife for being generally awesome – and for holding fort as I relinquished family duties for a long weekend.
Joe for driving me to, all around, and back from Somerset. Top man.
Steve at Shiplate for the use of his excellent fishery.
Mr.Corbett for selflessly organising such a brilliant weekend. In Tony We Trust.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank Dave Richards for assisting me with the weighing in all weekend. I don’t mean to embarrass you mate, but you’re actually getting quite good at it!
Until next time…