Larford 6th Feb 2011
When i arrived at Larford this weekend the weather was very mild with an air temp of 12 deg C and a very strong (storm force) south westerly wind. Given the previous weeks icy conditions it was stark contrast and expected carp to show in numbers. The match was on the specimen lake and with the wind blowing down toward the chalet end of the lake, this is where the carp were expected to show in numbers. At the draw, i pulled out peg 69 which has a bit of recent form and was in a good area.
It’s a reasonable walk round to this part of the lake and by the time i arrived the wind was really blowing and definitely a rod only job. So much so, only one person set up a pole. Given it was a good area, i decided on primarily a method feeder approach as plan A, with a standard open end feeder rod set up as plan B. Set up for the method was a MACH 2, 12ft Commercial feeder rod and Mach 3 front drag 4000 reel. The rod is 2 piece and has a great action for this sort of fishing. The tip section is soft enough for skimmer bream but also has some backbone for playing the largest of match carp and capable of casting a method feeder 70 yards plus, without being a poker stiff. It is also the advantage of being carried set up in a ready rod holdall.
The method was a 30 gram in weight with natural Swimstim and crushed tiger nut pellet groundbait mixed 50 / 50. Hookbait was either sweetcorn or white boilies, alternating single and double baits of each type. Hooklength as 0.19 with a size 18 hook. On the whistle i cast out around 60 yards, with the wind making accurate casting very difficult. It was important that you cast at 11 o’clock and feathered the line to ensure the method landed at 12 o’clock with such a strong wind, which by now was very strong and realistically only legering a viable option. During the winter months i don’t clip up and prefer to cast around my swim a little. There are also some very big carp 20lb plus which could break you if you cannot release line from the clip in time, which therefore provides a safer option. If a good day is on the cards then it sometimes pays to clip up and have a baited area. This is best done by having an identical rod set up, to a clipped distance and swap between the two. The skimmer rod set up was the Superteam 11, 12, 13 ft set at 11ft with a medium tip and same reel.
On the whistle i launched the method out and managed to cast to my intended spot. Despite the conditions, i was confident that carp would be caught, as the wind was just making the fishing difficult but expected the fish to feed well. I had my fist bite after 10 minutes resulting in a carp around 5lb to double 8mm white boilie. A further ten minutes later i had a good skimmer around 1.5lb on sweetcorn. A pattern was starting to develop and caught another carp around 15 minutes later, again on boilies. There was a good turn out for the match which was great to see, however, this resulted in every peg being used which are quite tight in the 60’s and 70’s making casting accurately at distance very important. The angler on my left had not caught at this stage however he had a fish on, as i was recasting. A few minutes later a carp was in his net at around 13lb, (why were my carp not as big!) The second hour was a little slower and reasoned that it maybe not quite as good as people had expected, although it is normal for this to happen.
Patience is key to this type of fishing especially during winter months and if in doubt would suggest that you leave your baited method in place rather than recasting too frequently. I’m a big believer in big baits equalling big fish and therefore stuck to double baits in the main. The angler on my right had also caught a few fish so persevered and managed to keep in front, just about. After 3.5 hours i had 8 carp for around 55lb and expected 60 to 80 lb to win and was on target. The last 1.5 hours were little slow, but 3 carp in in 20 mins put me well back in the race. My neighbouring anglers had slowed, though remained confident of at least 1 more carp and possibly 2 in the last half hour. Most of the bites were reasonable pulls of the tip. Given the distance and bow in the line, you tend not to get ferocious bites, especially during the colder months. With 15 minutes remaining i was glancing at other anglers on the far bank to see if they were catching. Looking back at my tip, it had always had a fare bend in it, due to the tow throughout the day. On this occasion though i reasoned that the fact it was tugging round by 3 ft that it might be a bite!!! I carefully played each carp all day and had lost only 1 mid match. This one was fighting very hard and suspected it might be double figures and needed to land it badly. It fought hard at the net and finally managed to land it after a few minutes. I was slightly disappointed to see it was around 8lb and fought well for it’s size compared to the others i had caught. The last 15 minutes remained biteless, though had 11 good carp, a stocky and a few skimmers.
The scales arrived quite quickly to be told that 52lb was the best weight so far upto my neighbour who placed 62 on the scales. It was now my turn and eventually weighed 82lb. I was pleased with this and quickly packed the remainder of my tackle away and awaited the results from the far bank, as i knew there were at least two other anglers who had caught quite well. I found out back in the carp park that 70 and 64lb were the next best weights and was very pleased to have won. Despite the wind i had a great day on plan A, and never really needed to change. These type of match wins are great when they happen, more often you have to work very hard and constantly changing tactics. Surprisingly, I’ve decided to give it another go next week at the same venue!!!