The Rolfs Lake Easter Festival

Champion, Steve Waters with a typical net of Rolfs Lake quality carp.!
Champion, Steve Waters with a typical net of Rolfs Lake quality carp.!

Steve Waters managed to win the Rolfs Lake Easter Festival for the second year running. Here’s his in-depth account from three day’s of tough competition:

Day One – C Section

On the first day of the Rolfs Lake Easter Festival the ideal scenario is to avoid drawing a bad peg and hopefully land on one of the many pegs that you could win from. It’s more a case of avoiding the bad pegs rather than drawing an out an out flyer here. I made sure I had an early draw and pulled out peg 22. I was very happy, as peg 22 and peg 18 at the top end of the lake have showed some form of late.

I know this peg very well and the usual plan of attack is down the edge to the platform on peg 21, a long deck line at 14.5m and a 5m swim to the left hand bush. I also set up a 9m line to my right, as I’ve caught several bags of skimmers off this line in the past.

banded-pelletAt the all-in I fed a few pellets down to the platform and dump potted micros at 9m with a plan to catch over this spot after about an hour, hoping that a few skimmers had moved in. I started on the long pole deck line Kinder-potting a few micros with a 6mm banded pellet. I’ve fished the last five open matches at Rolfs trying to get in tune with it and I’ve noticed that feeding less has meant catching more, so I’ve fed this really negative. However, nothing showed on this line which was very worrying. So, rather than re-feed it I’ve left it a while in the hope that something would move over what minimal feed I’d fed already.

A quick look on the 5m left-hand bush with the same approach and another 1/2hr resulted in a foul-hooked bream which promptly fell off.

Onto the margin line. This edge doesn’t plumb up very well as it’s a fairly steep drop off, so I fed it in the deeper water where it’s around 4.5ft thinking the fish wouldn’t come any closer. First drop in and I had one straight away. Thinking I’d made the right decision, however, after that initial fish I foul hooked 5 carp! Time for a rethink…

I came to the conclusion that the fish were right up the slope swimming behind my rig and causing false bites. I went out with a plummet and a ‘proper’ edge rig in 2.5ft of water and refed. It was the same scenario again; first drop in and carp number two was in the net followed by another frustrating run of foul-hooked fish!

For whatever reason I felt that by feeding pellets I attracted fish into the peg but they just wouldn’t settle, so I needed to change something about my feeding. I decided to cup in a single pot of loose groundbait and fish either corn or worm over the top of it. This totally transformed the peg and I landed another 11 carp, giving me 108lb for the section win. A good start and I was very happy!


Day Two – A Section

A Section is the ‘small lake’ and this section is often a complete lottery as pegs 34, 2 and 7 dominate the section the majority of the time. However, if you can catch margin fish you can potentially win from anywhere (with the exception of peg 40, as 98% of the time this peg is barren!). Anyway, into the bag and peg 7 graced my palm. I was delighted as this peg had easily won the section the day before with 74lb. I promptly ran around the lake to get set up in double quick time!

This is another peg I know really well and the banker line is 16m towards the far bank towards peg 8. I set up two rigs here, both 0.2g floats tied to 0.18mm Supplex with an 0.16mm Supplex hooklength and both with a banded hair rig to a size 18 hook; one for the 14.5m line to start and then a second for the 16m line, which is a few inches shallower.

I also set up similar rigs for the 5m and 9m lines directly in front as this peg can be brilliant if they rock up on the short line and I could have the odd look during the match if the long line didn’t produce.

At the all-in I shipped my ever reliable Drennan Acolyte out to 14m. This is the Acolyte not the Acolyte Carp by the way. I know some people may think for Rolfs this might be mad but believe me I’ve had loads of big carp around 20lb on it. If you’re sensible and fish balanced tackle it’ll cope with anything you throw at it. Although Rolfs is often regarded as a bagging mecca, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are just some massive fish in there and you could realistically catch just four fish an hour and weigh 200lb. It’s a big weight but very far from what I would call bagging!


Back to the fishing, and I Kindered micros again with a 6mm banded hard pellet. This line started really well as I had two carp and two bream in the first hour with very little else caught in the section. This line started to slow so I started the same procedure over again at 16m and was back into fish with another two carp and another two bream. That’s about where it ended, the peg just seemed to fade away from me and I don’t know why as I felt I hadn’t overfed the peg.

A quick look across the lake and Charlie Bishop was into fish on peg 34 at 14.5m fishing against the ropes. Oh dear, this wasn’t looking too hopeful. I then heard that John Draper was catching on peg 40. Oh dear, more bad news for me!

For the next two hours I never had a bite on any line and not a sign of a fish down the margin. In fact, nobody caught in the margins in the whole of my section.

With an hour to go things were looking dire. However I saw a few fish drift away from corner peg 34 so shipped straight out to 16m and started pinging 4mm pellets shallow. I ended up with three late carp in the last hour to weigh in 80lb for 3rd in the section.

Charlie Bishop on 34 won the section with 92lb and fished a really tidy match. John Draper finished 2nd with 90lb from a real no hope peg, so credit where credit’s due as he fished a brilliant match from there.

In hindsight, if I picked up the shallow rig 30 minutes earlier I think I could have at least got another point or even won the section, but that’s a big ‘if’ to be fair!

Day Three – B Section

Crunch time! This is the middle part of the lake and what I consider to be fair, especially if it fishes really hard. After a full moon and a hard frost overnight and blistering sunshine on the morning of the match there was a fair chance that this would be the case! If however the fish do decide to have a munch then you’ve got to draw well in this section. The prime pegs being 8, 32, 9 and 13, but 8 and 32 are ‘the’ pegs to draw as they are out and out flyers on the right day. Peg 32 had comfortably won the section the previous day and peg 8 had won the section on Day One. My hand went in the ‘bag of dreams’ and, thump, peg 28. Oh dear, I was not happy at all!  It was game over as far I was concerned at the time. I had the obligatory moan and went back to the car to find a length of rope!

After a good whinge and finally sitting at my peg I saw lots of carp cruising around the upper layers, so I set up two of the ever reliable Crystal Dibbers in 0.2g thinking of an out an out shallow attack. I had to win the section otherwise it was all over, so positive was the name of the game.

I also set up one deck rig for the odd look underneath my shallow line, a 5m rig for a short range pellet attack on the nearside shelf and another token gesture margin rig. I knew this was a complete waste of time but at least I had it covered.

Mark Sawyer leans into a double-figure carp on Peg 8.
Mark Sawyer leans into a double-figure carp on Peg 8.

At the all in almost everyone had gone shallow long pinging the odd pellet. After an hour things were looking absolutely desperate. I had one carp, Charlie Bishop on 29 had one, Mick Lane on 31 had one, 32 had lost one, Mark Sawyer on peg 8 had two, Chris Telling had a few roach and Malc Doyle on 13 had one. Nobody could buy a bite after that. The strong warm wind had picked up and blew all the fish down into C Section in the main lake and they were starting to catch shallow.

After another hour of going through the motions and going nowhere, along with everyone else in my section, I decided that if I was to win the section I was only every going to do it on that short pole line. I therefore threw all my other rigs up the bank and sat at 5m for the rest of the match.

Looking along the bank and Mick Lane on peg 31, who knows the venue like the back of his hand, had exactly the same idea and we’ve gone for it. I literally Kinder potted a few micros, fished a banded 8mm pellet over the top and sat for either a bite of any indication and waited. When I had the odd indication I sat for a few minutes more and re-fed and waited for another sign. I ended up with three carp from this line and all decent fish. Mick Lane had two big fish and a bream so it could be close for the section as literally nothing else in the whole section had been caught after that initial first hour.

Michael Corsini finished 3rd overall.
Michael Corsini finished 3rd overall.

I weighed first and put four carp on the scales for 36lb exactly. Mick Lane put his two carp on for 28lb plus a solitary bream and a few bits for a total of 33lb, so I’d won the section and was absolutely delighted from peg 28!

My rivals in contention for the festival win included Andy Quarmby who’d managed three 2nds and six points, Geoff Edwards who already had a win and a 2nd but finished 5th in his section on Day Three and Anthony Flint who had a 1st and two 3rds. My two 1sts and a 3rd was enough to win the Festival for the second year running, so I was absolutely delighted!

A massive thank you to John and Pauline Bennett of Rolfs Lake for their kind hospitality and also to Drennan International who kindly donated a goody bag to every angler fishing  with all the great new Drennan Baits and Boosters. A great weekend in great company!

Left to right, Anthony Flint, John Bennett (Lake Owner), Steve Waters, Andy Quarmby and Michael Corsini.

Rolfs Easter Festival Result:
1st Steve Waters – Drennan, 5 Points
2nd Andy Quarmby – Middy, 6 Points
3rd Michael Corsini – Rolfs Lake, 6 Points
4th Anthony Flint – Rolfs Lake, 7 Points
5th Geoff Edwards – Colmic, 8 Points

Pictures courtesy of