Lessons Learnt At White Acres

Alan Scotthorne has come back from a testing couple of weeks down at White Acres but, as always, there have been plenty of useful lessons to take away from the experience.  


I have just completed two festivals at White Acres in Cornwall where the fishing has been first class. The first was the Dynamite Baits Festival where I finished a disappointing 34th overall in this 180-peg match run over five days. I won just one section at Porth Reservoir with 13lb of skimmers on both pole and waggler and had two default section wins on the carp lakes; a top weight of 151lb at Bolingey Lake only being good enough for 2nd in the section on this superb fishery.

My 30 points from a possible 36 was off the pace. I must admit I was a little rusty but you have to win sections on these matches and I had in-form Paul Holland in my group of 36 anglers showing me just how it should be done. He drew nicely but fished out of his skin, with four section wins and a third to win his second festival of the year. Well done Paul!

I was now looking forward to the following Milo Festival to see if I could improve on the previous week’s result. On checking my rotation I found that I and Sandra were in one of the harder 36-peg sections with Paul in it again, plus the likes of Richie Hull, Darren Cox and Paul Cannon just to name the potential stumbling blocks that you don’t want to draw against.

Twin Oaks

I started the festival with peg 29 on Twin Oaks on the left hand arm. I was a little disappointed to find the wind blowing down to end peg 19 and could see fish crashing out at this end of the lake as I was tackling up. I knew I was going to be up against it as the bottom end of the lake seems to produce more carp and the F1s seem to reside at the top end in the 30s, so I was really in no man’s land.

supplex-fluorocarbon-0-12mm-2Undeterred, I started short at five metres feeding 4mm hard pellets through a sprinkle pot and fishing a banded 6mm pellet to a size 18 Kamasan B911 to a 0.12mm Supplex Fluorocarbon hooklength. Using a 0.3g AS1 float I caught steadily for the first hour. The key to the short pole swim was feeding very little. I had found the week before that if you over fed it resulted in roach moving into the swim and loads of missed bites.

My first fish was a very angry 8lb carp but using Drennan green Carp Bungee it was soon in the net. F1s obliged in between the odd carp for a good start. This new Supplex Fluorocarbon is worth looking at, as it is incredibly strong for its diameter. That is a real bonus for catching carp when smaller F1s are also present.

method-feeder-stepDAfter two hours I reckon I had over 40lb but things had slowed right up. I had been feeding a shallow line at 14.5 metres but this was a non starter. I changed to the Method Feeder with micros and cast across to the far bank to catch the odd carp to keep things ticking over.

By swapping around between the feeder and short pole I caught steady but the last hour really cost me dear. I caught just two fish in the margins once my other lines had faded. At the weigh in I had 97lb for 2nd in the section with end peg 19 winning with 104lb. As I suspected the fish seemed to have followed the wind as in the previous week.


On Day Two I was at Trewaters; a pair of lakes that I have a fantastic record on but on this occasion I was in the top corner, peg 25, with the wind blowing down the opposite end of the lake onto peg 35 and Paul Holland sat on it. I knew I was fishing for a drop result! It is important not to be too disheartened by a bad draw, though, as I still had a section 2nd so could still get 35 points and I know I still needed to get a half decent result from my peg.

To cut a long story short, I could not find any fish and with just 6lb in the net with one hour and 20 minutes left I was at a loss as to what to try next.

There are lots of roach in these lakes so, out of desperation, I started throwing casters on a top kit line right in front of my nets. On plumbing up I was surprised it was the same depth as where I had been fishing at six metres with a 0.3g AS1 rig, so I simply replaced the hooklength for a lighter 0.105mm Supplex Fluorocarbon to an 18 B911 F1 hook to see if I could catch some silvers.

AS1-pole-float-singleWhat a surprise! I caught a fish a chuck to the end of the match. Roach, skimmers, carp, F1s, tench and cruicians were all on this line and I finished with 46lb, only beating three in the section but left wondering this swim’s potential. Paul romped home with 140lb for an easy section win to carry on his good form but 70lb was 2nd in section and this weight might have been possible.

Porth Reservoir

Day Three saw me back on Porth Reservoir. I had won my section here on the first week on peg 19 but this time I found myself on the far bank on peg 87, next to Paul Holland on 86. No pressure then!

I knew the wind was going to be strong so elected to fish a feeder match rather than battling with a long pole. Waggler was a possibility and I did rig two up but I really thought the feeder was the right way to go. I also rigged a Drennan Pellet Feeder for a long cast, just in case I needed a second line. Paul had rigged up the full works.

BR-9-40-Specimen-2At the start I cast just four feeders full of pellets and corn out at 70 turns of my Drennan BR4000 reel. I then started on a small Cage Feeder, casting the distance I could fire loose casters. Using a fishmeal groundbait with finely chopped worms and loose feeding regularly I started to catch skimmers on small pieces of redworms. Meanwhile, Paul sat patiently on a long chuck Method feeder line for no reward before he came back to where I had started.

As the match progressed I was well ahead of Paul for al lot of the match until he realised he was not in a position to beat me, so he changed back to the Method for the last two hours. Even then it was hard going but a couple of bream in a short spell brought him much closer. I really needed the match to finish soon as a few fish were clearly feeding but I felt I was still just edging him, right up to the last two minutes when a 3lb bream graced his net!

At the weigh in I put 21lb 7oz on the scales to his 22lb 6oz to leave me 2nd and my festival was over at that point. I was also ounced for 2nd on the entire lake. Losing 10 fish to pike didn’t help my cause. I have always said that the dividing line is very fine but fair play to Paul as he was not going to beat me fishing close in so he took the gamble and it paid off.

Bolingey Lake

Bubbles were often a sign to start up a new swim.
Bubbles were a signal to start up a new swim.

A lot of the biggest weights are caught at Bolingey so there is always a bit of a buzz at the draw for this section. Paul had drawn peg 38, opposite where he had caught 211lb the week before, so was odds on for another win. Why did I let him draw before me? I removed peg 26 so was again in for a real grueller as this had been poor all the time we had been there.

The first four hours were a waste of time with me and my neighbour catching just three carp between us. I then had a late surge on the 5m meat line to finish with 70lb and 3rd in the section, but with 150lb winning I was not even in the match. Paul won with 230lb to make it three lake wins on the bounce.

Competitors in action during the Milo Festival. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com.
Competitors in action during the Milo Festival. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com.

The bottom was really soft where I was pegged and the only way I found I could catch was to keep moving spots once the bottom started bubbling. Not ideal.

Pollawyn (Match Lake)

On the final day of the festival I drew a good peg on the High Bank of Match Lake but did it all wrong on the day. I caught 66lb for another default section win but I tried to catch ‘deep shallow’ with meat and casters. That initially looked good as I caught really well for two hours before the wind got up and the temperature dropped dramatically to put the blocks on the day.

Champion Jamie Wilde (centre) with 2nd placed Rob Jones (right) and 3rd placed John Whincup. Competitors in action during the Milo Festival. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com.
Champion Jamie Wilde (centre) with 2nd placed Rob Jones (right) and 3rd placed John Whincup. Picture courtesy of www.news-reel.com.

Fishing these festivals is very difficult and you must take each day on its merit. Try to fish for a section win but never sacrifice for a good dropped result because the drop result is just as important as the four section wins it takes to win a festival.

I always come away from White Acres learning something and look forward to the next festivals in October. Jamie Wilde did a great job to win the festival, dropping just one point over the week to hold off five other anglers all with 36 points. Well done mate!