Jon Arthur looks back on a silverfish pairs event that saw 100 brave souls battling the wind and rain at Barston Lakes and Packington Somers Fishery.
Last Saturday was Round One of the Pole Fishing Preston Innovations Silverfish Pairs. This sell-out event has been created by my old chums, Tom Scholey, Matt Godfrey and Lee Kerry and attracted anglers from far and wide. There were plenty of big names in attendance and a refreshing buzz in the morning as 50 pairs queued up to draw.
I dipped the hand into the draw bag, full of optimism, and was more than happy to find my hand stuck to Peg 44 on Molands Pool at Packington Fishery with my pairs partner Ed Warren on Peg 73 at Barston Lake. Two good pegs in good sections.
I knew Ed would catch, as he was on the dam wall at the far end of the lake, but I feared he might struggle against pegs 70 and 71 in his section as this area wins a lot of big matches. Similarly, I was happy with my peg, but knew that anywhere from pegs 43 to 46 on ‘Scarecrow Point’ is a good draw. In my five pegs I also had Joe Carass, Martin Greene and Johnny Whincup to deal with, so it was going to be a tough one for sure!
Proper carp don’t count in this match; only silver fish and F1s. Pellets were banned but bloodworm was allowed. I personally don’t think F1s are that bothered about the stuff on most venues I fish and therefore decided before I’d even sat down that it would be a 90 per cent maggot day for me. I still fed a bloodworm swim but I wasn’t overly surprised when it produced a solitary perch. Everyone else around me also struggled on the stuff, so it’s far from the wonder bait some people imagine!
Instead, despite feeding several other areas, I only caught long on maggots. I suppose that’s what I’m confident with so that’s what I caught on. However, I was a bit worried after being dry after an hour. All around it was a similar story, apart from Peg 45 on the point to my left, who had a couple of decent F1s really early and obviously had a pocket of fish nestled up.
After that lean hour, the fish clearly turned up for me and I managed to alternate two swims, left and right at 13 metres most the day. I fed one swim heavy and one light and also tried occasional pinches of fishmeal groundbait. It all seemed to help eke out fish but it was difficult going with almost non-stop rain to contend with! The wind was also hitting me awkwardly from the side in sharp gusts and affecting presentation, even with a long line and several big back shot above the float.
Although it was by no means frantic, I managed to nick an odd fish right til the end to finish on 20+ F1s, one roach and a perch. One big rogue carp also put in an appearance, which eventually broke me. Other than that I only lost one or two fish all day and felt I was well up with the pace. They weren’t the really big F1s I ideally wanted, however, so someone with half as many fish could potentially pip me at the weigh in.
As it happened I managed to just win the section with 16.5kg, with Martin having 13kg and Johnny on 46 having 15kg, so I was dead chuffed with that!
Rumour had it that Ed had caught 20kg+ of skimmers at Barston and was odds on to win the section. If so, we were quids in, as it would’ve meant we had probably won the £1,000 jackpot! Sadly, it appears that even though Lee Klimczuk in Ed’s section on fancied Peg 70 reckoned he only had 35lb at best (and that’s apparently after lifting his net out to look at his fish) the scales said different! Lee won the section with an impressive 29kg. That’s about 65lb in old money, so he was ‘only’ 30b off his estimate! Of course, you’d never ever see me underestimate like that… (cough!)
Ed’s more honest 25kg was still enough for 2nd in section and back at the results I was surprised to hear only two pairs had maximum points. Well done to Frankie Gianoncelli and Ian Bowman for winning, narrowly pipping in-form Dan Varney and Brad Titmus to that £1k jackpot. Ed and I were happy to be still in the mix with 3 points going into Round Two at Messingham Sands. It’s very early days yet but fingers crossed we can stay in contention for this excellently runs series!
My winter maggot gear for F1s is quite simple. I use slim Drennan AS3 floats when it’s calm and more stable, wire-stemmed AS1s when it’s windy, both from 0.1g to 0.4g depending on the depth. These are generally shotted with a tapered spread of No9s, No10s or No11s in the last half of the rig with a 6in hooklength.
I currently use 0.14mm Supplex main line for durability but might drop to 0.12mm later on when it gets really hard. My hooklength is typically 0.10mm Supplex to a size 18 Kamasan B911 F1 and green Drennan Carp Bungee elastic. Again, I might drop to a size 20 and No6 or doubled-up No4 elastic if it gets even harder.
I do like to juggle depths and shotting patterns and vary how the rig goes in. Similarly, feed quantities and ratios are constantly changing according to what’s going on but, given half a chance, I always like to feed some grubs and pop two maggots on the hook!