“Making the right decisions – Whiteacres Dynamite Festival” by Alan Scotthorne

I have been travelling down to White Acres for the last five years, deciding to concentrate my efforts there after the fishing in Ireland deteriorated and the number of travelling anglers diminished.  On my first few festivals I relied on picking the brains of various anglers to find out what had worked the previous day, but quickly came to the conclusion that every day is different and often what works one day rarely works the next.  With the luxury of fishing four festivals a year, I soon built up a picture of each swim that you are likely to draw.

I now prefer to draw a peg and go to it with a completely open mind.  I even try not to look at the sheets on display at the draw showing what came off the peg the day before, as this can give you a false impression.  To my mind, wind speed, wind direction and general conditions on the day are a lot more important than what happened the day before. Since adopting this approach, I go to the peg now with nothing clouding my judgment and always feel more optimistic about what I can achieve.

The first day is always the most important, as a good result can set you up for the week.  This time I drew peg 18, up the arm at Trelawney, but as I walked the lake I realised Steve Ringer was in my section on peg 14.  With lots of Carp moving in this wider part of the lake, I was going to be up against it to beat him !

I started across to the island 16meters away cad-potting softened micros with a small amount of chopped worms also in the pot, with soft expander pellet on a B911 F1 hook to 0.12mm Drennan fluoro carbon hook length with a 0.2g float, in search of F1s and carp.  Of course, it’s a must to prep other spots, so I fed meat by hand 5meters out to the right and also loose fed 6mil pellets down to the platform on my left with a catapult.  By doing this, there was no need to stop and pot in on these areas, so I was maximising my time fishing across.

The match went well, I caught two small carp and plenty of F1s , then a change to worm on a Hair rig Drennan Quickstop brought a good run of fish but it didn’t last, so it was back to pellet. After three hours I went down the side to the platform to add more F1s but felt I needed more Carp as I was aware that Steve had caught well. Although I fed the 5m line all match, I never tried it because Cameron Hughes on the next peg tried it several times for no reward.  I started to feed some chopped worms down to the platform and changed to a heavier rig and hook fishing a full Dendrabena to try to add a few carp to my catch. I did catch three but my 90lb weight was only good enough for second behind Steve’s 112lb. Not a bad start, but I was now keen to get back on the bank for the next match.

Next day, my peg was number 10 on the match lake.  It’s not the best peg but its in a section that I draw regularly.  I knew I had to target Carp at the start as normally after the first hour its difficult to catch another.  So I started on 35g Drennan method feeder with banded 8mil pellet on a hair rig with micros on the feeder. I was also determined to fish a long pole (16meters) with meat and Caster for Skimmers, but with a strong wind blowing it was a must to use a front rest.  Without one, it would have been impossible to attempt !  By casting right to the bank I had an early Carp but then just liners, so i dropped about a meter short;  a 3lb Bream followed and then a skimmer a chuck.  They weren’t big but I was building a weight all the time.  So I stayed with the feeder rather than change what wasn’t broken.

After one hour I had three carp in three casts, with one close to 12lb.  That really boosted my weight and all was going well.  The whole time I had been throwing casters down the edge for Roach and every 15minutes topped up the long pole line, so after 2hours I switched down the side to add about 10lb of Roach in the next hour.  The last two hours I spent on the long pole with meat on a size 16 B911 to 0.14mm hook length to catch a number of Skimmers and a bonus 10lb carp that stretched my yellow hollow core elastic to the limit, topping up regularly with half a 250mil pot of casters and meat to keep the fish interested. At the weigh-in I had a very satisfying 60lb for an easy section win so was ‘cooking with gas’!

Wednesday was to be meltdown day for me.  Again I drew peg ten, this time on Bolingy lake and had Mark Eves for company. It was very windy and I made the mistake of just rigging the short pole for down the edge and the method as the wind was straight across. After two hours on the method, I had just one Carp so I made the decision to rig the long pole and started to ping 6mm pellets on a line at 13meters. It was a struggle but I started to catch odd fish on a softened 8mm pellet .To cut a long story short,  I finished with 60 lb for fourth in the section, 72lb winning.  Even worse, when they shouted time, Mark picked up to wind in and had a 14lb Carp attached to give him 66lb for second !  He didn’t give me much stick, honest !

Next day is normally my favourite day but Porth reservoir was fishing really difficult, a draw in the first meadow on twenty three peg was ok but again a strong wind was blowing across use. Not wanting to make the mistake as the day before I balled in a sweet mix with casters and pinkies, loose fed maggots over this area at 11meters for Roach and settled in for a feeder match for Skimmers.

I fished with a small one of the new Drennan flat lead oval cage feeders with an extra 20grams of lead glued on to get to the bottom quickly.  By fishing with a fishmeal groundbait mix and finely chopped worms, I caught 55 small skimmers mainly on double pinkie on a size 18 B560 hook for 8lb and second in the section, this being won by18lb just 5 Bream.  With the chance of an overall win now gone, I needed a section win the next day to make the top ten.  With 34 points it was still possible so I was up for the next day.

I wanted to draw at Trewaters but took peg 5 on Jenny’s.  It’s a lake where I’ve struggled in the past so I wasn’t confident as I put down my gear to asses the peg. I had been told that pegs 4, 7,8 & 9 are the best but I had an island at about 25meters, plus I could fish in open water towards peg 4 so felt I had the best of both worlds.

I started to the island again with a 35gram Drennan Method Feeder with Micros and a 8mil pellet on a hair rig to 0.20mm line to a size 14 B911 extra strong for Carp.   I hooked one first cast but unfortunately it pulled off, but I added 10 F1s before it died.  Making a switch to open water and a new hook length of 0.13mm and a 16 hook, I caught regular F1s up until the last half hour when a rain storm put an end to that. I swapped to the pole line were I had topped up all match with chopped worms and casters and with a full Dendra on the hook, I snared a 10lb carp and a tench before the end. My 76lb won the section quite easily so I finished dropping just two points with my four results to count. This was good enough for 6th overall and a few quid.

It was important to treat every day as a new day as all week the fish seemed to want dictate exactly what you needed to do. Congratulations to Andy Geldhart winning with some great performances through the week.