The Cross Drove Spring Final

Chris Vandervleit reports back from a very successful Cross Drove Two-Day £1,000 Spring Final. After a tough Day One, Chris certainly made up for it the next day with a catch that tested his Acolyte pole to the limits!

Chris poses with the 21lb 10oz common that took all of his skill and patience to land!

Twice a year Cross Drove Fishery holds a two-day Final. One is the third weekend in April and the other is the third weekend in September. To qualify, you need to win a match. Or, if the winner has already qualified, you come second then you qualify and so on. Come the day of the Final there are 64 anglers fishing. The day I qualified all I needed to do was catch a fish, as every angler on the match had qualified! Now that sounds easy but when there has been a hard frost in late December it can be a big ask!

Well, to cut a long story short, I did manage to catch a fish but in doing so I got in trouble with another angler, as I didn’t know you couldn’t cast beyond the island that was in front of me. I did actually cast halfway across the lake which is normal on a lot of fisheries. Weighing in 24lb of F1s up to 6lb on the bomb and popped-up bread wasn’t a bad day’s fishing on a cold day in December.

The weekend before the Final I decided to have two days practice. On the Saturday I drew peg 42 and managed to come second with 53lb of F1s, bream and carp to 12lb, all caught on chopped worms and casters over Bait-Tech Karma groundbait. Simon Wheeler won the match with 73lb 4oz.

Chris favoured Bait-Tech Karma groundbait.

Sunday I drew another good peg, 25. I weighed 34lb 9oz, again all of the fish were caught on worms and casters over groundbait. Mark Pollard won the match with 59lb 3oz. To be honest I was very disappointed with my weight as 40lb 2oz was second and 40lb was third. The reason I  was disappointed was because I had lost at least 20lb of fish, plus the angler next door to me started packing up and put his fish back early, just as I was starting to catch well. Needless to say I only caught one more fish in the last 30 minutes and that was on the whistle.

Driving home after the match there was so many ifs, buts and maybes going through my mind! One thing I did think about a lot was the pegs that I had drawn and how I would settle for the same pegs the following weekend…


Day One – A Difficult Start

As per normal at the draw there was a lot of banter about which peg would be favoured. After a quick cup of tea and a chat with Simon Wheeler he told me that he fancied peg 65 or any of the low 20s, where you get a bit of room.

The time to draw got closer so I joined the queue. At one time I was about 20th to draw and then all of a sudden anglers began to mingle (push in) in the queue and I was somehow now close to the back! I decided to walk away and take one of the very last pegs as there’s normally (hopefully!) a good one left.

I rejoined the queue and drew peg 55. This peg has had a bit of form lately, winning a few matches. Looking at the pegs that on the draw sheet I did not have an empty peg on either side. When I got to the swim I noticed a nice looking tree to my left and an island in front of me 15 metres away with no cover.

Bait for the day was chopped worms, casters  some dead red maggots for the hook plus a couple of kilos of Karma groundbait.

Rigs for the edge were Drennan AS4s with 0.22mm line, 0.20mm hooklengths and Kamasan B911 Extra Strong hooks for down the edge and over to the island.

AS4 floats are an ideal choice for Cross Drove.

Open water rigs were AS3s and 0.18mm line, 0.14mm hooklengths with a 16 B911 hook. After  I had plumbed up the island swim I used the same rig down the edge to my left by the tree and found the same depth. I also plumbed up 3m from the bank by the tree and found 3ft of water. My open water line was going to be at six metres. Here I found 5ft of water.

At the start of the match each line got two balls of Karma and a 250ml pot of chopped worm and caster.

After an hour I hadn`t had a bite off any of the lines, which wasn`t good.

A quick look on my line next to the tree, 3 metres off the bank produced a 2lb bream. This turned out to be my best line on the day. I weighed in 18lb 4oz. My target weight on the day was 20 to 30lb so I wasn’t too disappointed.

Winning weight on the day was Neil Parkinson who fished a brilliant match and weighed in 73lb from peg 65 and 44lb was second.


Day Two – Testing Times

The banter was flowing as normal with everybody saying that Neil had already won the two days. I wasn’t going to disagree.

As the draw queue formed I got in early and again there was the normal mingling, but this time I was staying  in the queue! As I put my hand into the draw bag I gave the pegs a good shake and out came peg 70. Not a form peg, so I got the normal “May as well go home” advice etc! One thing I would never do is go home, however, as every peg at Cross Drove can win the match on its day – even if you haven’t caught in the first four hours of the match.

On Day One, Doug Botley had drawn the peg and weighed in just alb, however, so things weren’t  looking good. A quick chat with Doug and he told me that he had fished cat meat and felt that the peg was worth more.

Now peg 70 is an open water peg with a channel to the right at 10 metres down the edge which goes  to another part of the lake. I plumbed up and found a nice flat spot with 2ft of water  about a foot from the bank. Slightly to my left, at 13 metres in the open water, there was also a bed of lilies with about 5ft of water.  These were going to be my main lines to target.

Rigs on the day were AS4s 0.3g floats, again to 0.22mm line and a 0.20mm hooklength and 16 B911 Extra Strong hook for the edge, plus a 0.5g AS3 to 0.18mm straight through with the same hook for the 13m line.

Bait again was chopped worm and casters over Karma. These were fed heavier than the day before as I needed a good weight. Fish to win!

After an hour I hadn’t had a sign of a fish on either of the lines. Then, after a couple of indications on the 13m line, I hooked my first fish, which I lost within seconds as it buried itself into the lilies. A new hook and another pot of bait. I had a quick look down to my right with a bunch of dead reds. After about two minutes the float buried and I hooked a double-figure carp which proceeded to stretch my Drennan Pink Bungee to its maximum to the middle of the lake. As I began to actually get control of the fish it kited to my right, finding the channel and, as I pulled, the hook pulled. 10lb gone!

Pink Carp Bungee through a Carp Kit was Chris’ chosen shock absorber.

In went another pot of bait, on went a whole worm and another look down the edge. In two puts I had two bream for 5lb. Next drop in all hell broke loose as I hooked a huge common carp. After a 15 minute battle, bottoming out my pink Bungee and testing my Acolyte pole to its maximum, the fish was in the landing net – well only just, as half of the fish was hanging out of the net as it was so long. It turned out to be 21lb 10oz!

I managed to catch another three bream, two carp and four F1s the remainder of the match for 58lb 5oz and a second day match win!

My combined weight of 76lb 9oz was enough for 2nd overall over the two days. Neil Parkinson won the two days with 101lb well done mate.

Thanks to Robbie and Jo for yet another good final. Roll on September!