Club Match 12, Decoy Willows

Neil ofthe nene

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Had I known that over 90% of my catch Sunday would be F1s I might just have changed tactics slightly as regards rigs. But my experience of Willows, a lake we don't fish that often, didn't prepare me for this eventuality.

I drew peg 35, at least on a wet day probably the shortest walk from the car so I could leave my rod bags in the car staying dry.

In the car park I bumped into my Winter League partner Perry who had made second on Willows the previous week. His advice was to fish a short line with hard 6mil and feed the same but sparingly – 6 pellets, and feed nowhere else until the line dried. Then add a section and repeat.

Taking the water temperature I read 12.4 degrees. Warm enough for fish to show in the margins. So I set up four rigs. Two at 0.5g to fish straight in front in about 4ft of water. One rig for hard pellet, the other for corn/expander, the second just in case Perry's plan A didn't work. The other two rigs were for the margins, around 3ft deep thus a 0.2g float. These as a plan C option.

I have been lucky in the past and had information from friends regarding tactics, the most memorable being my first match on the new lakes at Shearsby when I bumped into a friend while having breakfast who gave me spot on advice that helped me win. Sadly this was not going to be a repeat.

After two hours of trying to make plan A work, trying corn and expander on the same line and having a dabble in the margins I had just 4 small F1s to show for my efforts. And one of those foul hooked. I even got desperate and tried a float leger rig I have been experimenting with. Using a 1g in line olivette just above the hooklength running free between two shot. This produced one F1 first put in – excitement, then nothing. Time to bin the 6 mil feed pellet and pick up my trusted micros.

Starting a new line at topkit +2 I managed to get a few bites and thus fish, again all F1s, bites however dried up. All these fish on hard 6mil over the micros. The same thing happened when I moved lines a few feet to one side. Two or three fish then nothing. At least one of the fish was a proper carp around 6lb.

It became apparent that there was a tipping point with the feed. I worked out I needed to stop feeding once I started to get bites. I was feeding with a pot not much bigger than a Fruit Shoot top. By now, after 3 hours, I probably had 15lb

I thus started another new +2 line and was careful with my feeding. Gradually I started to get consistent bites though at times had to wait a while. Bites were not frequent for the last two hours but at last I was feeling confident that they would come. I felt the fish wanted the bait moving and so against my normal sit and wait inclination I started lifting & dropping the rig and this did seem to induce more bites.

I knew I was playing catch-up and never did feel that I was catching fast enough to build a decent weight. Despite the very occasional proper and larger carp most of my fish were pound F1s.

I estimated my final weight at between 40 & 50lb. The scales gave me 54. That was good enough for sixth out of eight, only 1-11 behind my neighbour Jon in 5th place. Top weight was 89 followed by 87 and two 71s.

So thank you Perry for trying to help me. I obviously couldn't make your advice pay off and I was not quick enough to A)work this out and B) adapt my rigs to try and make the most of the feeding F1s.
 

Northantslad

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Take some pride in a good weight. Willows was never kind to our club and my last 3 pleasure sessions on there with a mate has seen us in the pub by 3.
 

Neil ofthe nene

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I find 12 degrees seems to be the point at which fish move in or out of the margins. Sunday, while my margin didn't produce it did for at least two of the top four weights.

This is the thermometer I use (oval one). First one I had got dropped in a couple of times so I have used sealant to close all points where water might get in with the one I have now.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LCD-DIGITAL-AQUARIUM-FISH-TANK-WATER-TEMPERATURE-THERMOMETER-METER-UK-SELLER/332913549293?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SIM%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D60273%26meid%3D3896d81463c94777b70544b92a792522%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D4%26rkt%3D12%26mehot%3Dco%26sd%3D254168332617%26itm%3D332913549293%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2047675&_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851
 

Neil ofthe nene

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I did somewhat edit those first two hours for the report. I certainly tried many different things but based around the 6 mil hard pellet advice I had received and had worked the week before on the same peg. The point was that until I switched to micros I struggled.

But two hours broken down into 20 or 15 minute segments only comes down to six to eight variations. I'm not sure any method should be given less than that before giving up on it.

Midwinter I have known it take up to two hours for the fish to respond. I am still confident that once I get things right I can catch people up who started well. They will almost certainly have a poor spell later in the match.
 

Total

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^^ Fair comment Neil. (y).....I could only comment on the content of your report, which are usually detailed.....Despite this, 40 minutes (at this time of year) should be long enough to bin a method or not and I would have changed earlier to micros given that the the info' you received was a week old..... Waters change hourly, same peg or not, etc, etc

True what you say about Midwinter/winter, patience is key and can be rewarded.....
 

Scribe

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Good report as ever Neil always something I have found tricky is knowing when to persevere with a line / method or try something else. Have been known to hop around a peg too much, rather than thinking the fish are there, so what will work to catch them.

Mostly F1's Neil ? You should have fished the Pork Pie Match 6 - 8 Lb goldies I was catching, sadly just not enough of them, but real scrappers and all the more enjoyable for that. :)
 

G0zzer2

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I'm guessing you had virtually no ripple in that swim, Neil, while others probably did. Willows and Six-Islands are the most temperamental of Decoy's lakes, particularly when the temperature starts falling. What a pity you couldn't get advice from the posters who catch 200 lb every time they fish a commercial!
 
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