Willsmore Through To Riverfest Final

Simon Willsmore has once again qualified for the big-money Riverfest Final after a quality performance on Leicestershire’s River Soar.


Simon managed the best weight from the Sutton Bonington length with a hard-earned 10lb 10oz catch of roach and perch. Here’s his account of the day:

I had been looking forward to getting on the rivers and trying to qualify for RIverfest again as I really enjoyed last years Final where I came fourth. Last Saturday’s qualifier on the RIver Soar was my first attempt. Three zones were to be used on the Soar and I drew peg 3 at Sutton Bonnington (permanent peg 80). It looked really nice, a bit narrower than the other pegs and the flow was on my side of the river, ideal for fishing close in.

I had got some good info prior to the match from venue regular Brad Titmus who had alerted me to the fact that there were lots of small roach close in. River legend Richie Reynolds had also given me a general run down on the options my peg had. Good info from the right people is essential on a venue you don’t know very well, so thanks to both of them!

I spent the first 15 minutes on a groundbait feeder to start for an early bonus fish but this was not productive. Neither was my next gambit on the long pole where I had fed groundbait for skimmers, so I was quickly onto my chopped worm line down the side for some perch. A quick flurry of stripeys to 10oz finally got my match started and put about 3lb in the net.

When this line slowed, instead of crashing in another baitdropper of chopped worms I went for a more cautious approach as I felt this line was mega important and I didn’t want to blow it to pieces. I therefore used my pole to cup in loose chopped worms and casters. Fishing with lighter tackle and smaller baits gave me another 3lb over the next hour and a half. I also topped up with a few pinkie fish from a 5m line where I had fed some groundbait.

Things were ticking over nicely at this point but the close worm line had really dried up with an hour and a half to go, so I filled it in with the baitdropper with a view to hopefully catching a big fish off it late. I also filled in my long pole line for the same reason and decided to concentrate on my 5m pinkie line, which I had been feeding regularly with groundbait crammed with pinkies.

By fishing to hand with a 1.25g float I was soon catching really quickly. At thIs point I started to count my fish to gauge my catch rate and decide how to spend this last hour of the match. 15 fish in 10 minutes told me what I needed to know. I didn’t count any more but my catch rate remained constant until the end and I didn’t come off this line. This turned out to be a great decision as I weighed 10lb 10oz to win the 20-peg zone and qualify by… 3oz!

Double figures on most rivers is happy days so I had a really enjoyed myself and felt I fished a nice match. Instead of going to the next day’s Riverfest qualifier on the River Yare I decided to visit one of my favourite venues, the River Avon at Evesham. I had another nice day, winning my section with 8lb 4oz of quality fish on bloodworm from peg 46. All in all a great weekend in good company, catching some lovely fish on natural venues. You can’t beat that!