A Great Festival At Stafford Moor

Peter Kay has written and entertaining account from last week’s Stafford Moor Pole Rigs Festival:


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Peter Kay and I fish for the Drennan Bordon outfit (no garlic bread jokes please and, yes, I have the same middle name as Peter Kay the comedian as well!).

I have been going to this annual Stafford Moor festival in Devon for a few years now. It’s an excellent venue, full of fish and the new owners Paul and Jo have made us feel very welcome. The lodges, local pubs, and company are all that can be desired and a good week was anticipated by all.

The week is split up by two practice matches on the Sunday and Wednesday with the other four days results of the actual festival all counting over the three lakes of Tanners, Pines and Woodpecker.

I was sharing a lodge with father-and-son team, Rob and Ray Wood, and Tony Bartholemew. Now I challenge anybody to eat and drink more in a week than Rob and Ray. Even Billy Bunter’s older fatter brother would die trying. To emphasise the point, Ray one morning couldn’t find the sugar for his cup of tea so he poured a very large Southern Comfort in it. This was to be the standard for the week, and yes my kidneys hurt!

So, on to the fishing. Carp and goldfish don’t count and the usual methods are two 13-14.5m lines at 10 and 2 o’clock angles on the pole with either groundbait, micro pellets or chopped worm and casters (or a combination of all). One line is fed heavy and the other fed light to gauge the response on the day. A 5-6m line is also fed with the same as above but with roach in mind. Under an adjacent platform (or your own) for a big billy perch is also worth a try – and there are some real monsters in these lakes. The waggler can also play a part, particularly on Tanners, loose feeding casters with double red maggot on the hook.

AS1 and AS3 pole floats are ideal for Stafford Moor.
AS1 and AS3 pole floats are ideal for Stafford Moor.

Drennan Silverfish hooks in 16s to 20s, 0.08mm Drennan Team England Rig Line bottoms and various sizes of AS1 and AS3 floats were my choice of weapon.

These AS floats perform very well and once you have used a couple of thousand floats over the years you come to realise that many floats look the same but it’s only once you see how the float sits and behaves on presentation that you can differentiate between an average and a good product – but I wouldn’t expect anything else from a produce that was developed with ‘five times’ input (Alan Scotthorne).

I have been using Drennan Rig Line for more years than I can remember and it never ceases to amaze me how strong it is in 0.08mm. This is 1lb 6oz line and I had several 8-9lb hard-fighting carp out on this hooklength throughout the week’s fishing!

Sunday Practice Match

Only Tanners and Pines were to be used for the Sunday practice match. My clammy mit drew out Tanners 32, a so-so draw. Pegs 36, 35 and 34 are all better, but you can sometimes get away with it as it’s usually an end peg, but not today as 30 and 28 were also in.

Rob Wood looking like a 100m sprinter on the blocks as he poses with his lake winning catch.
Rob Wood looking like a 100m sprinter on the blocks as he poses with his lake winning catch.

I fed the usual lines; there is a channel in this peg at 14.5m and I was positive on this swim with three balls of Thatchers groundbait and a cup of micros went in and a full cup of chopped worm and casters at 5m.

I struggled through the match catching hand-sized skimmers long on 4mm pellet and had a little spell at 5m where I had four decent skimmers in four puts, eventually putting 14lb on the scales for 3rd on the lake. Dan Diment won the lake with an impressing 27lb 9oz of hand-sized skimmers. He caught long on 4mm expander pellet, all the weights (this was to be the order of the week) came from Tanners, with Rob Wood winning Pines from peg 6 with 15lb 4oz.

Festival Day One

Tench were very useful bonus fish in this non-carp event.

In went my hand and out came 20 on Woodpecker, a good peg and one I have been waiting to draw for a few years now! 32 and 34 are the danger pegs but I felt confident. I fed one of my long lines with three balls of GB and a cup of micros and another with a conker and a pinch of micros (and I’m glad I did). At 5m I fed a cup of choppy and casters. I decided not to feed down the edge until I was ready to go down there as I didn’t want to attract too many ‘pigs with fins’ (AKA carp).

Forty five minutes into the match and we were all looking at each other biteless. “Are we really that bad?” I thought!

A change to double fluro pinkie brought a response, as did burying the hook inside a caster, and slowly I caught long and eventually on the 4mm pellet. A quick look at 5m brought two small tench (my only bites there). With an hour to go I fed the inside swim, went straight on it and caught a 3lb billy. It helped me to a lake and match winning weight of 22lb to start with. Fliers are easy to fish. Give me one every week, please!

Brian Wallin had won Tanners with 15lb 8oz from peg 34. He liked that area all week! Dan Diment had won Pines from peg 8 with 15lb 10oz, so it hadn’t exactly fished its nuts off.

Tanners actually got better day by day, probably as it’s the biggest lake, while Pines and Woodpecker got harder and harder as the week went on. Guess who never drew Tanners all week, as it’s a random draw each day. Yes, the Bolton comedian!

Festival Day Two

The second day saw me on Pines 13. This can be a good draw if the wind is blowing in there as it’s a corner peg, but it’s been my experience that this peg fishes one day and then doesn’t the next, alternately.

To cut a very long story short I struggled all day on a hot and static day for 6lb 4oz. Trying not to make the inevitable blow out too bad, 4th in section was the result. On reflection I was too positive and could have scored another point, but you pays your money and makes your choice, as they say, and I have never been one to die wondering.

Dan yet again won the lake off Tanners 36 (a flier) with 22lb. Gary McClair won Woodpecker with 25lb from peg 20 and Pines was won by John Robinson with 15lb from peg 6.

The day was disappointing for the fact that I had plenty of time to mess about with feeding patterns, rigs and lines and learnt absolutely nothing. Hey ho!

Wednesday Practice Match

With only Pines and Woodpecker in for this match, I drew peg 28 on Pines. In my opinion it’s the worse peg on the complex and I caught 5lb for probably last (Oh no, I did actually beat Nick Alan!) and learnt nothing. I had roach topping on the waggler line at one point and fished it for over an hour without a bite before deciding I had better put it away before somebody saw me!

Gary McClair won Woodpecker with 27lb from peg 12 and Peter Alan won Pines from peg 16 with around 19lb.

Festival Day Three

Saw me on Woodpecker 12, which had won the match the day before. Gary had caught almost all his fish in the last hour and short on the 5m line. The way the last two days had gone I would have bit your arm off at the draw and knew I needed good points today to stand any chance.

I fed the usual lines but decided to feed small walnut-sized balls of groundbait at 6m with some loose offerings in on a regular basis and not look on it for as long as possible. The fish really didn’t want to play ball today and bites were hard to come by. As a result, the carp had plenty of time to interfere. Two hours into the match I had 10 or so carp to 9lb, including one from under my own platform!

I was beginning to wonder if I was going to blank. Brian Wallin next me was suffering a similar fate, as was everybody else around the lake and nobody was putting any fish together.

Slowly I caught a few small skimmers long and in the last hour my 6m line came alive. I weighed in 10lb 12oz for second on the lake and breathed a sigh of relief.

All the front runners had done well. Dan Diment coming second on Tanners, Nick Alan winning it, Shaun Mahoney winning my lake and John Robinson coming second on pines. Winning the festival was now unlikely but third or fourth was still a possibility.

Festival Day Four

Out came Woodpecker 20 again. Under normal circumstances I would be running around the car park with my pants on my head and a pencil up each nostril (a Blackadder joke), but Woody’s had started to fish hard and was becoming unpredictable.

The usual approach was employed and I caught small skimmers slowly on the long pole for most of the match, not having a bite short, and weighed in 11lb 14oz for second.

I did actually catch a beautiful pound and a half fan-tailed crucian that was silver and had two gold stripes down its sides. It would have looked nice in the Japanese Ambassador’s palace pond, but they made me return it as it looked too carpy!

John Robinson next me on 22 fished a brilliant match, resting his long lines for some two and half hours or so, and then catching big fish once they had settled to win the lake with 14lb 8oz.

There was a very strong cold north east wind blowing down into pegs 32 and 34, which made them suffer. Andy Love had drawn there and his eyes were redder than normal. In fact, as he gets older he looks more and more like a tench!

Tanners had been won jointly by Dan and Tony Bartholemew with 21lb 10oz. Terry Golding, who organises this event superbly and had suffered all week at the draw bag, won Pines with 15lb 2oz.

Festival winner, Dan Diment.

The Final Result

Dan Diment won the festival with a peerless performance and 27 points out of 28. John Robinson (my man of the match) was second on 26 points. Nick Alan and myself tied on 23 points but I was relegated to 4th on weight (if you saw the size of me, you wouldn’t have thought that possible!).

Lessons Learnt

Feed different amounts of bait on different lines but have a long line that’s positive and try and rest it for as long as possible in an attempt to let a better stamp of fish settle there.

Peter Kay - the angler, not the comedian!
Peter Kay – the angler, not the comedian!

Don’t get preoccupied with one hook bait. Bream love a change bait. Also, don’t eat all of Ray Wood’s chocolate biscuits or he will try and kick your teeth in!

And, finally, I will definitely be doing this again next year, God willing, as the location, venue, company, fishing and general good time is hard to beat. I would encourage anybody thinking about participating in any of the Stafford Moor festivals to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed!

Pictures courtesy of Stafford Moor Holidays.