Club Match 16, Decoy Oak

Neil ofthe nene

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This was the last match of the year and thus our Fur & Feather. I arrange all the prizes and enjoy putting together small parcels of different items from biscuits to chocolates, beer, wine & cider and other food items. Of course being me I always look for items on offer. I have a budget of £10 per angler and put together parcels with values ranging from £6 to just over £10. So even last place gets a prize costing more than the extra £5 on the entry fee.

Oak lake is a 35m wide strip with pegs down each long side. With only ten fishing we pegged down one side. This meant everyone had a cast to the far bank and the cold wind was at our backs. I drew 9, just over halfway along the 15 pegs we were using.

Decoy Strips Oak 9 .png

I had decided a few days before that this was a day to have a very specific and disciplined plan. You can never be sure whether feeder or pole will dominate this time of year on these lakes. So my plan was to start on the feeder and then try the pole. I know from experience that it can take 15 minutes to get a bite on the feeder so I would leave my initial cast that long. If I didn't get a fish in that time I would switch to the pole for 15 minutes and then back to the feeder for 15 if the pole didn't produce. If I caught on either method then I would keep on that and re-start the 15 minute clock. It helps that the club rules allow me to feed with the pole while legering and we can feed before the all-in.

The feeder would be a pellet scoop type with four dead reds on the hook. I have found previously that larger carp can tend to stay at the bottom of the far slope with smaller fish closer to the bank. I clipped up so that I could cast close to the bank but by holding the rod further back while the feeder was in the air I could make it land a few feet short. A patch of rushes opposite gave me the thought that fish may sit in front of them at the bottom of the slope. They also formed a nice corner with the bank that and accurate cast could get into. Again it seemed to me a likely fish holding spot.


Peg 9 Target.jpg

On the pole one rig would suffice for fishing at topkit + 3 & 4. I did make up two rigs though. One with at 0.75g and one a 0.5. The heavier in case the strong wind was causing an appreciable tow. Feed on the pole would be micros & 4mils, possibly an odd grain of corn. Hookbaits would be 2 & 4 mil expanders, corn and maggot.

First cast on the feeder landed just short of the rushes but despite leaving it the full 15 minutes allotted I only had one tentative line bite. 15 minutes on the pole didn't prove any more successful. Meanwhile Trevor on peg 10 landed three fish, all seemingly huge.

Onto the feeder again and this time cast, for me, amazingly close to the far bank. Here I will reveal one of my pellet feeder secrets. Everyone knows the golden rule of Method feeder fishing “Don't move the feeder!”. Well, with the pellet feeder I ignore that advice. In Winter I leave the pellet feeder still for three minutes to allow the pellets to soften and spill from the feeder. I then tighten up so the tip springs back and moves the feeder 9 inches or so back towards me. This leaves a trail of bait and my hookbait exposed.

After about seven minutes after casting and four after twitching the feeder the tip went round and I had my first fish. That was followed by two more, one of which bottomed out my 5 kilo/11lb spring balance. First hour, three fish and 20lb in the net. Trevor was still ahead of me having landed another couple but I thought I had a chance of catching him if bites came, as they were, about 7 minutes after casting. The interesting thing was that I was catching large fish close to the bank.

The timing is something I have noticed in the past. On any given day the fish seem to take the bait after a very similar length of time after casting. Today it was 7 minutes, other days it can be 10, 12 or 14. I can only assume that the fish spook from the feeder and being cold take a certain length of time to drift back towards the feed and hookbait. This eventually led to me leaving a cast only ten minutes before re-casting or switching to the pole.

I had one more fish on the feeder at the start of the second hour and then had a long blank spell that I cannot explain. Well over an hour went by with me reverting to my 15 minute plan before I got another fish on the feeder.

As it turned out I was destined not to catch anything on the pole. This despite Trevor catching quite a few that way. That dry spell let Trevor, and as it turned out Terry on peg 13 to get well ahead of me. Once I started to catch again on the feeder I should have packed the pole away. But I still find fishing the pole draws me and gives me more pleasure than sitting behind a tip rod. That even when deep down I know the most effective method on the day is feeder rather than pole.

The rest of the match had me catching in fits and starts. But if I had a fishless cast I still reverted to the pole for 15 minutes when really I should have stuck on the feeder.

With an hour to go I did finally pack away the pole and relied solely on the tip. In part this was also to make packing up faster at the end so I could get back to the car and sort out the prizes.

I ended the match with an estimated 90lb. That included three fish of 10lb or more and most of the others over 5lb. My actual weight was 92-11. Terry won with 166, Trevor was second with 140+ but Ray, peg 12, sneaked into third with 92-14. It was a day when you needed to draw peg 9 or higher to compete.

I ended the day going home with an envelope containing £12 plus six cans of Carling and a Christmas pudding, not the highest value prize available to me but as chairman and prize organiser I thought I would let others pick up something better.

So ends my club match year. I had a poor start, partly because mentally I was not in a good place and unable to fully concentrate or give my fishing the attention it needed. I think though since Summer I have picked up an envelope in virtually every match and won one. I have not fished as many matches in addition to the club ones this year as in previous ones. My heart has not fully been in it. But I have had enjoyment when the weather was right catching in the style I love, topkit down the edge. For some reason I get a thrill from catching carp close to the platform.

I hope people have enjoyed reading all 16 matches. I won't do the same next year. This year I just thought it a good exercise to record each one revealing my mistakes and errors of judgement/poor decision making, as well as the times I got things right.

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Enjoyable read as always Neil. Thank you for posting....Decent weights also given the time of year.
 

Gutsy

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Nice read Neil well done as always , can you explain your rod rest system in the picture it looks like you are using a groundbait bucket as a front rest !!
 

Scribe

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Great write up Neil. Like you I find it hard to resist using the pole, when I really should consider all the options.

I for one, will miss your match reports next year.
 

Northantslad

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Good weights, decent write up @Neil ofthe nene . Did it/does it help you feel, not pegging the far side? Do know in those situations that the fish sit in the middle and weights significantly affected. Had days too that the corners are the pegs and also some strange ones where the F1s don't show at all in any pegs. What made up the weights Neil? Carp or F1s?
 

Neil ofthe nene

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Nice read Neil well done as always , can you explain your rod rest system in the picture it looks like you are using a groundbait bucket as a front rest !!
Correct, bucket and spring clamp. As I don't use a footplate I don't have a front leg to attach a rest to. And I don't like using feeder arms - too much clutter to trip over.
 
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Neil ofthe nene

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Good weights, decent write up @Neil ofthe nene . Did it/does it help you feel, not pegging the far side? Do know in those situations that the fish sit in the middle and weights significantly affected. Had days too that the corners are the pegs and also some strange ones where the F1s don't show at all in any pegs. What made up the weights Neil? Carp or F1s?

Pegging is always a toss up on these lakes. Peg one side as we did Sunday giving everyone a far bank cast. But as the biggest weights came from the high numbers it puts those on the low numbers at a disadvantage. Peg both sides of that end of the lake and fish could spook up into the far, unfished end. Not easy to decide with ten anglers on a 30 peg lake.

Corners can fish well but not Sunday. I had all proper carp, Trevor had a mixture. Not sure what others had.
 

mikey393

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Excellent post Neil which I enjoyed reading intently. I'm the same as you love having a go on the pole when I know I'm likely to keep catching on the feeder! Thanks for your tip about moving the pellet feeder back after a few minutes to leave a bait trail. Pity that was your last match write up as it gives anglers like myself plenty to think about.
 
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