The time is ticking

We join Peter Baker in his campaign back into the match fishing scene. Not only is it a new venue for him, but also his first team match. How will he fare against the seasoned match anglers?

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Mist just settling over the lake.

I thought I would take a slightly different approach to this blog, with this being not only a match but a team match I am going to take you through my thought process throughout the match.

The venue

Cat rough Fishery is a 2.5 acre sheltered lake in a hollow surround by woodland. The lake itself is kidney shaped water which is packed full of features which include lily pads and rushes. A very stunning lake especially first thing in the morning when the sun is coming up and the mist is just settling.

The peg

After checking the weather and finding it was going to be a rather warm day, I knew I wanted to draw the shallower part of the lake. I wasn’t too sure about tactics as I would decide this when I get to my peg. The other team drew the even number pegs, this meaning the peg I was eyeing up was now not an option but my second choice was still there. Pulling out peg 13 out of the bag (this being my second choice). This was just over halfway along the left hand side looking at it from the car park.


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My bait of choice.

I’m not the type of angler to take everything but the kitchen sink, in fact I stay a light as possible. Not your typical match approach, but I’m not your typical match angler.

My bait of choice would be hard pellet (2mm micro, 4mm and 6mm), Sonubaits band’um dumbell wafters (6mm, 8mm and 10mm) and a pint of white maggots. Yes I know I didn’t bother taking meat or corn to a match, but to be honest I’ve been experimenting on my take of the pellet waggler which isn’t as effective with meat and corn. To add to this I have mixed a small amount of groundbait to use with a method feeder due to only being allowed a minimal amou t.

So why did I choose them baits?

All the information I had on the Fishery was that it has a fairly decent stock of Carp and can produce big nets of silvers. Pellet for me is an essential bait at any venue, not only can they be used with a feeder, pellet waggler and cupping in but they make a fantastic hook bait. They are loved by both Carp and silvers.

Dumbell wafters have to be one of my favourite hook baits. I use these with pellet bands on either the method feeder or with a pellet waggler which I will go into more detail later.

And finally maggots, well you can’t really go wrong with a couple of maggots on the hook. With it being a warm day, if the Carp weren’t playing then the quickest way to build a weight is to catch silvers on the drop.


After setting up and preparing all my bait, I’ve only got ten minutes before the start o the match. We are fishing 9:30am to 2:30pm so a total of five hours. Using my final ten minutes before the all in, I used my time to watch the water. On my short line, a decent size carp was cruising back and to in front of me.

9:30 “all in”

The sound of the “all in” echoes around the lake. Now my plan was to start was to cast a method feeder over to the pads but…..

The Carp was still cruising in front of me and my normal opportunist approach had taken the better of me. I had very quickly just before the start shortened the pellet waggler rig to just a foot deep and swapped to a 10mm white wafter. Before the echoing had stopped I cast a couple of feet in front of the Carp and twitched it back kicking the white wafter right into the coming path of the Carp. It was less than ten seconds since the match had started and I was into a decent mirror. Less than a minute into the match and it was in my landing net.

I know the average size of the Carp here are around 3lb, so landing a bonus fish of 9lb in the first minute was a result. I wouldn’t normally do this but I took the opportunity and got the first fish of the match out of 20 anglers.


The first hour went as expected. Looking around the lake the few of us in the shallows were getting steady bites and those in the deeper water very slow. I have been casting a method feeder tight to the far pads while I build my other swims up. Every 30 seconds I was pinging out 3-4 6mm pellets on my pellet waggler line and slowly introducing micro pellet and maggot in to my left margin. The bites slowed down so a quick change of hook size from a 14 down to a 16 paid off and got me quicker bites.


Looking around the surge of bites earlier had definitely slowed down now. After catching a few silvers from the margin swim I decided to cast the method back out in the hope for a bonus fish. It worked, 2 Carp were in my net with in 10 minutes. The method feeder went straight back out but nothing. Throughout this I am still putting out pellet on my pellet waggler line, and then I start getting line bites. It’s time to convert the liners into bites.


One thing that I have learnt is when getting liners fish closer in. Its a simple change but gets overlooked.

My slightly closer in line would be where I have been constantly putting small amounts of pellet. Armed with my pellet waggler I put a few more pellets out and cast straight on top, 30 seconds later a few more pellets went in and gave the float a twitch and the rod wrapped round.

The Carp had finally moved into my swim, but it wasn’t only the Carp that moved in so did the ducks. Luckily I managed to get a fair few Carp in the net before the annoying feathered things started diving and clearing my swim of fish.


Only 90 minutes left of the match, I know I haven’t got enough to take first place but I also knew I wasn’t doing bad so decided to push to win the section. Even the section win would be a close one as I had a similar catch rate to the person to my right. Watching my pellet waggler line which stopped producing, all of a sudden it was like a Jacuzzi. All the pellets that were missed up in the water have pushed the fish down. As there was bait there I didn’t want to introduce too much more. I swapped my method feeder for a lead and cast over. Straight away the tip wrapped around and I was back into a fish. Doing this resulted in another 3 Carp.

2:30 “all out”

I packed away very quickly as I was assisting with the weigh in. It was time to see how we all got on. I couldn’t see most of the other half of the lake during the match so I had no idea how they got on. We started at the deeper end of the lake, which to my surprise was only producing small nets of silvers with the odd Carp. That was until we got to peg 7, James who was on the same team had been catching consistently at a steady rate. This was the first decent weight in the match and weighed in at 41lb 13oz. This was definitely what we needed to be in for a chance. We then went to peg 8, this was the hot peg that everybody wanted to draw as you had the whole bank and bay to yourself. This definitely was the hot peg producing the biggest weight of the match at 86lb 10oz to the other team.

From the start it was predicted that the bigger weights would come from the shallows, and that’s exactly what happened.

Finally it was my turn to weigh in. The needle rested at 34lb 13oz. I was happy with this but was it enough to win the section. The next weigh in would answer that.

It wasn’t enough, the scales went to 36lb 6oz.

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The final results

The final results

The results are in. I came 5th out of 20 which I am made up with. What makes it even better, we had 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th place all over 30lb.

How did we get on as a team?

We won!!!

You know what? I kind of enjoy this match fishing business. Bring on the next one.

But before then, it’s time to celebrate our first match and team win of the year.


Don’t ignore the surface

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A variety of floating baits will keep them guessing.

I managed to grab a few hours between being rushed off my feet. Luckily one of my club lakes is literally on my doorstep, in fact I can see it from the bedroom window.

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But don’t be fooled by how picturesque the lake is, its not an easy lake. A blank is more often the outcome than bagging up.

It’s a very silty but shallow lake, sounds horrible right?


With it being shallow and silty it is very easy to find the fish. Carp cruising on the top or big patches of silt being kicked up.

With the wind pushing straight down to the entrance of the lake, I knew straight away that peg 14 (a snaggy bay at the back of one of the islands) would be where the fish will push to.

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The snaggy peg 14

Upon arrival, sure enough on the edge of the over hanging trees there was Carp cruising about. I have found that if the water is rather calm I will find them on the other side of the Island, a slight chop on the top and they push into the snaggy bays.

So now I have found the Carp I am left with two problems to solve.

The first being, I’m fishing to overhanging trees that are too far to freeline but also I won’t be able to cast a controller past the fish to avoid spooking them.

The second problem is no matter what you do here you wont get the pac man effect. The will not compete for baits. They just pick them as and when they want.

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4 inches of balsa, 3ft of surface fluorocarbon and a size 8 wide gape hook.

To overcome the first problem, it actually has to be one of my favourite but very underused ways of catching of the top.

A 4 inch section of balsa and float rubbers. Set the rig up and leave the balsa soaking in the margins for five minutes, this will give you enough casting weight. What I like about using balsa over controller floats is you can cast right on top of showing/feeding fish and the don’t spook.

The second and probably the most difficult issue is as most of you will know, the key to surface fishing is little and often. You keep introducing bait until they start competing for it. That is when you would cast in. It’s a waiting game. But not here, they won’t compete for it. They will take off the top but my approach purely depends on how quick they do. If they take fairly quickly then a dog biscuit or floating pellet would be my hook bait. If they are not really interested then I can depend on bread being the answer.

After seeing cruising fish ignore the dog biscuits drifting about in front of over hanging trees, this told me that bread will be the answer.

Surely enough after just ten minutes a big mouth appeared just behind my bait, then the bread just disappeared in one big mouthful.

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First one of the session.

I kept putting a small amount of dog biscuits going out throughout the session just to try and keep them there. And it did pay off, five minutes after returning the first fish my bread had gone again.

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A very welcome second carp.

And it continued, ten minutes later and fish number three.

Unfortunately I didn’t have someone around to take a photo of the third fish and didn’t want to waste time trying a self take, so a cradle shot was the quickest option so I could get her returned back to the water.

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At this point it went quiet. I decided not to cast back out. I continued to slowly introduce bait back into the swim on the hope that they return.

It’s now a waiting game.

The wait only lasted ten minutes until I heard a loud “slurp” come from under the trees.

It was time to cast back out, allowing my bread to slowly drift in front of the trees in hope of another lake resident to be lured out.

Minutes later a big eruption on the surface and a violent take. It was like a steam train, pulling line of and the clutch screaming.

Straight away I knew it was a smaller fish due to the energetic fight. A shapely common was soon in the net.

After this fish I decided it was time to pack up. I like to keep everything clean and organised so taking my time I was finally packed away.

I know there is always the “one last cast” and just as I picked up my bag a bigger carp rolled right on top of where I was fishing.

So I quickly got my net out, cradle was ready to go in seconds. Rod back out and just a slice of bread left.

As mentioned before, the joys of using balsa as a controller float it allowed me to cast right on top of the showing fish.

What I wasn’t ready for was the instant take as soon as the bread hit the water.

The end result being the largest Carp of the session.

If there is an opportunity then don’t waste it, it definitely paid off unpacking again.

But this definitely was the last one of a short but manic session.

Give the balsa a try, it’s available in lengths from most hardware stores and very cheap. It’s also great for making your own floats.

Anyway I’ve gone on long enough, it’s time to go back out fishing.

I also did a little video on this session please click the link below and hit subscribe.

Tight lines and wet nets.


Can’t win them all

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***Can’t win them all***

Last night I entered a two hour match, what a long two hours it was.
I will first explain the situation of the lake as its very different.
Normally when fishing for F1’s which a shoal feeders, you catch a few then they start backing away so you have to follow them to stay on them. Here it’s not like that. You catch one then nothing.
You really have to work for the bites here, you constantly have to be on your feet and make the right change at the right time. The right approach to the wind direction. I have seen the impact of the weather to what colour bait you use. Struggle to catch? Maggot is always good for a bite….. Not here.

Sounds crazy right?

I personally have found a 50/50 mix of Sonubaits supercrush green and 50:50 Method and Paste Green the perfect groundbait for my approach here. Not only does it mix well but it’s packed with micro pellets.
This is all loaded into a Korum Dura method feeder to a 4 inch Korum hook hair with bait bands in a size 14.
6mm Sonubaits band’um pina colada wafters in white and yellow is very trust worthy and find the the balance of a 6mm to a size 14 perfect.

Quick cast to the island and not a knock so baited up the margin (which being and over hanging tree is the perfect holding spot).
Not long after I baited up the margin there was a small patch of pin prick sized bubbles.
A small underarm cast and shortly after nearly losing my rod from the most violent bite, I had my first F1. Small but was very much welcome.
Now this is the bit which I explained earlier.

Straight back in and nothing, but the bubbles were still there, they were still in the swim.
When it’s calm I find white baits do the trick and when there is a ripple yellow baits.
But after waiting far too long a change from white to yellow instantly produced the next fish with 30 minutes to go.
Two fish in an hour and a half sounds bad but here it’s not. You can fish all day and blank on maggot.
I desperately needed more fish and with 15 minutes to go I got a very twitchy bite.
Fish on.
Then every angler nightmare, a hook pull right at the net. Maybe I should of waited for the bite to develop more.
Well that was it for that match, I know I could of chased silvers but it’s just not enough to get on the leader board.
First place had one carp at over 6lbs but fair play, he is a fantastic angler and had a stunning absolutely pristine dark scaley mirror.
Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for second place but still happy with 3rd place.
Every time is a learning curve but still very much enjoyed every minute of it.


Back to the Match scene.

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After a very long break from match fishing, I decided to give it another go.

I found out that there was a match on a local lake, I just couldn’t resist the urge to give the match scene a go again.

Arriving at 8am to see a busy car park full of keen matchmen ready to hit the lake. I will admit it was rather intimidating at first.

Luckily enough I drew a decent peg which provided shelter from the strong winds on the back of an island.

The Approach

With the match only being 4 hours long, I didn’t depend on the shallow margins to produce. After a few casts with just a small lead I found a small gravel patch just of a tree on the island.

With it being a short match I didn’t want to introduce much loose feed, instead I wanted to fish for a bite at a time.

The method feeder ticked every box for this approach. Armed with a Korum 45g Dura method feeder loaded with a 50/50 mix of Sonubaits Supercrush green and 50:50 Method and Paste Green as my groundbait.

All in

From the start I knew it was going to be tough but not long in the tip wrapped round and a small F1 was in the net. Not long after that I had another F1 in the net.

Looking around I could only see the odd small silver being caught. I knew I had to keep pushing and sit it out for the bigger bonus fish rather than catch smaller stuff.

One more F1 graced the net, and this one being the bigger of the three.

All went quiet, no matter what I did I couldn’t buy a bite. Then I noticed a decent sized ghostie cruising just past where I was. I had to jump on the opportunity of seeing what could be a complete game changer of a fish. I changed over to a zig and it wasn’t long until I had the ghostie on the end of the line. It was fighting like a demon and then all of a sudden it went slack. Unfortunately I lost that fish and then continued to struggle for the rest of the match.

I pushed through right until I heard “all out”.

Weigh in

I hate this bit. The waiting around while you pack away, not knowing how everyone did.

Did I do enough?

The scales turned around to 8lb 2oz. I didn’t know what to think until I was told the biggest weightso far was 3lb.

Then it was confirmed, I had come first.

Over the moon to say the least, may of even ignited the flame again to get back on the match circuit.

Anyway, after a hard days fishing I’m going to unwind and erm……

Yes, I’m going back out fishing.