A Close Finish At White Acres

Alan Scotthorne managed second overall in the latest big festival held at White Acres. Here’s his report from an enjoyable week at the popular Cornish angling destination.

The top three: (From left) Alan Scotthorne, John Whincup and Paul Holland. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com
The top three: (From left) Alan Scotthorne, John Whincup and Paul Holland. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com.

I do love the buzz of these big 180-peg festivals at White Acres and the newly sponsored Guru event looked like it would be a real cracker with all the lakes fishing well despite the lower than average temperatures for this time of year.

Fishing festivals is an art in itself. It’s all about winning 9-peg sections and four of your five results count at the end of the week. The all-important dropped result is normally the difference between winning or finishing further down the list. If it all goes wrong on the first couple of days, winning your 36-peg group still results in a £200+ pay day if a top-10 finish is not to be.

Day One – Trewaters

Alan set up lots of tackle for Day One at Trewaters.
Alan set up lots of tackle for Day One at Trewaters.

My festival draw saw me in Group B which meant I would start the week on either  Jenny’s or Trewaters lakes (two 9-peg sections on each lake). I had drawn Jenny’s the previous week and recorded a section 2nd so I was hoping for a draw back on there. In went the hand and out came peg 19 at Trewaters. A good section draw, but I knew little of how it had fished the week before.

At the peg I set up practically everything so I could change if things were not going to plan. My first starting method was the waggler and I could cast easily to the far bank with a 3g loaded Drennan Glow Tip Carp Insert set just 18 inches. The plan was to loose feed meat and fish hair-rigged meat on the hook. Although the wind was slightly off my back it was gusting all over the place so landing the waggler consistently inches from the far bank was difficult.

glow-tip-carp-insertI had loaded my reel with 4lb Feeder & Method Mono main line to a short ‘shock leader’ of 8lb Supplex. This enables me to use a thin line for good line control with the thicker line helping my rubber Float Stops locking the float in position to grip really firmly. Even with this setup it was sometimes difficult to keep the line straight to the float to help hook the fast bites.

cornI caught carp pretty well for three hours, but could only muster two carp on the pole on my 5m line where I had been regularly throwing meat. I also fed a line at 14 metres where I was big potting at intervals while I fished the waggler. I still needed to be positive as this lake had been fishing well. So, with three hours of the match remaining  I started hand feeding a margin swim with corn to my left. There are so many little nuisance roach in these lakes now that most other baits have been ruled out when big weights are on the cards. This line sprung into life in the last hour and I had a real good run of carp up to 4lb to give me a good chance of a section win.

supplex-fluorocarbon-0-15mm-2Tackle was slightly more refined than my normal edge rig fishing and consisted of a size 14 Kamasan B911 F1 hook to 0.15mm Supplex Fluorocarbon hooklength and a 0.3g AS4 margin float. Coupled with yellow Drennan Carp Bungee this setup was also good for the odd F1s that regularly turn up in this lake. Although I threw corn to this margin swim, once I started to fish there I found Kinder-potting meat and corn was best. Corn outscored meat on the hook.

When the scales arrived my 114lb was good enough to win the section and was 2nd overall in my 36-peg group. A great start to the week.

Day Two – Twin Oaks

alan-scotthorne-F1I drew peg 29 at Twin Oaks and with a strong wind blowing down the lake to corner peg 19 I felt I may be up against it for a good result as fish often follow the wind on these lakes. This lake has a good stock of carp but is also very good for F1s. I fished two lines short for these at the bottom of the shelf around 5m in about 6ft of water and then up the shelf in around 3ft of water directly in front of my fishing position.

luncheon-meatAgain, meat was the bait, but I also fed some heavier corn as there was a fair tow on the lake. I also big-potted both lines, as Kindering was not positive enough again with lots of roach present. The most commonly used size of meat cubes for feeding are 6mm, but I feel this is too small when roach are present as not much bait gets to the bottom. I therefore have a meat cutter that creates 7.5mm cubes for days like this. This really cuts down on the small roach trying to take all the loose feed on the drop.

My rigs were also quite light with a wire-stemmed AS2 float of 0.3g shotted with a strung bulk of No10 shot for the 6ft swim. This had a 0.13mm Fluorocarbon hooklength to a size 14 B911 F1 hook for my cubed meat hook bait.

AS2-pole-float-singleFor the 3ft swim I again used a 0.3g rig but this time an AS5 pencil float. This offers little resistance to the fish on the bite in the shallower water, plus this area of the peg had less wind on it being just a top kit and one section out from the bank. I also set up a feeder, a bomb and a waggler for later in the match or if my short approach failed. The long pole was a non starter due to the wind speed.

Drennan-AS5-0-3gI had a frustrating match, missing lots of bites but eventually I finished up with four inches of line on the bottom, which brought a good run of F1s and a good number of skimmers. I am sure these skimmers were a large part of the missed bite problem.

I had a few chucks on a 5g Drennan Loaded Pellet Waggler for just one carp but this was impossible to feed. I also fed a margin swim for no reward. Swapping between the two short lines was the key as I put together just short of 90lb. I was pleasantly surprised when this was good enough to win the section. Game on!

Day Three – Porth Reservoir

Alan’s lake winning catch from Porth Reservoir.

I really wanted to draw peg 36 at Porth Reservoir on the near bank but was more than happy to pull out peg 37 instead. The reason is that there are very few proper bream in this section making it much fairer and with another strong wind on the lake I felt a simple small feeder match was a good way to get to a section win.

drennan-groundbait-feeder-1I simply fished the smallest green plastic Drennan Groundbait Feeder with a 3ft tail of 0.12mm Supplex Fluorocarbon to a size 14 Drennan Fine Maggot hook. I baited up with two small pieces of worm, which is often the best hook bait on this lake, I caught steadily from the start. I set up two 10ft Ultralight Bomb rods for this; one with a small cage feeder and the other as I said with the solid feeder. Interestingly I got more bites with the solid feeder than with the cage version.

ultralght-bomb-01Feeding chopped worms in fishmeal groundbait on two lines at 30 reel turns, using my line clip for accuracy, I had a really enjoyable five hours, catching 40 skimmers and 20 roach for 11lb 8oz and an easy section win. I also won the lake to boot!

Fishing one line at a one o’clock angle and another at 11 o’clock worked brilliantly, swapping when bites slowed. Incidentally, my wife Sandra was 3rd on the lake fishing the waggler so we were both happy that evening!

Day Four – Bolingey

This size of fish and bigger are the target on Bolingey Lake.
This size of fish and bigger are the target at Bolingey.

The next two days I was back on the main carp lakes and with a very strong wind still blowing I found myself on peg 30 at Bolingey on Day Four. I have drawn this peg twice before with mixed results. The bottom at 5m is very soft and the same depth all the way out to the 16m pole limit. This soft silt means it is certainly not easy to fish. The edges are also too shallow and very rocky, so they are no starter for me. I was therefore forced to fish on the silty bottom.

size14-kamasan-B911-F1Starting the match at five sections of my Acolyte pole I caught just a grass carp and a small carp in the first 30 minutes. The tactic was cupping in with a large Kinder pot of hemp and meat and fishing meat on the hook. The rig was a 0.3g AS2 float with a 0.15mm Supplex Fluorocarbon to my now favourite B911 F1 size 14 hook.

A change to a 14.5m swim feeding the same I had three carp quickly but then could not hold the pole out there in the ever increasing wind. I really now only had the short line as a place to fish and worked at this line for the rest of the match, moving from time to time when the swim started fizzing.

I did catch one big carp shallow on a Crystal Dibber rig over my short line but this was a one off. I had a decent run of fish late to put 101lb on the scales for 3rd in the section with 118lb winning. Some pegs were more sheltered and I felt I could have possibly won the section if the wind was not so strong. With three wins and a 3rd the pressure was now on for the last day.

Day Five – Pollawyn

A hard-earned and vital section-winning catch from Pollawyn on the final day of the festival.
A hard-earned and vital section-winning catch from Pollawyn on the final day.

This is the main Match Lake at White Acres and one of my favourites, even though the fishing can be much harder. Silverfish often play a big part in the results so you need your wits about you. I didn’t really know where I wanted to draw but peg 48 in the ‘arms’ had not been very good recently, but this was my peg for the day.

Before the start, I decided to ring Drennan Team England team-mate, Callum Dicks as he had won his section the previous week off narrow peg 7 down one of the adjacent arms. He suggested chopped worm was best to build a weight of skimmers and the odd bonus fish and that really helped to make my mind up.

I could reach the far bank with my pole on this peg, so I started my match by pinging meat to two lines against the far bank for the first 30 minutes. That is often a great way to catch an early bonus fish. Today, however, no carp followed, but I did foul a good fish that came off very quickly. I still fed these two lines all day just so I had a bonus fish line if I needed one.

I then moved to 2ft 6in of water, which was about a metre off the island. This was to be my main line. Here I fished chopped worm and caught skimmers throughout the day and resting it at intervals. My rig was an AS4 0.2g with strung out shots to a 0.12mm Fluorocarbon hooklength and size 16 B911 F1 hook baited with small piece of worm. Elastic was also toned down to a light 6-8 green Carp Bungee for the skimmers, but still with enough power to land a carp if I hooked one.

AS4-pole-float-singleI also threw 4mm pellets down the middle and fished a softened 4mm on the hook as it’s where I have caught a lot of skimmers in the past in these narrow pegs, but this was surprisingly poor on the day. I also had two shorter swims, again with worms tight to the inside bank. Here I caught odd skimmers, roach and five decent perch.

All day I rotated swims and steadily built a nice weight. I was also eventually rewarded with a big F1 on my meat line across, but sadly none of the big old carp this lake is noted for. The lake had actually fished very hard but my 44lb was easily a section win with just 20lb coming second and only 67lb winning the lake on the day. By working all my lines I had a real nice days fishing.

The Result

Four wins gave me a maximum 36-point total, which combined with my 3rd-place dropped result was good enough for 2nd overall. John Whincup put on a brilliant performance to win it outright with a slightly better-dropped result helping him do the business. Well done to him and also thanks have to go to festival sponsor Guru who put up some great prizes and some extra cash for the top three. I am now really looking forward to my next visit to Cornwall where the fishing just seems to get better every year.

Visit News-Reel.com for the complete festival results.