As we made the short drive to the final lake, we were in around 7th or 8th place in the standings. We knew if we could win this match and other results went our way we could still come 2nd or 3rd place overall. We started setting up with the mindset that if we won this match, we could win 3,700 Euros! We had drawn on the end of a nice south westerly wind and conditions were looking great. England internationals Billy Flowers and Jamie Londors were to our right in the peg that had won both of the previous matches, so we knew we had to be on top form to win. All of the lakes have crayfish in them, but we hadn’t experienced any problems on the other two lakes, but a few anglers had told us that in Fox they were a lot worse. The lake had been responding well to big beds of boilies, so we decided to fish all four rods with boilies from the off. We felt that the fish in the lake see the bait as a natural food almost and the fish were a lot bigger (boilie munchers) and this was the right approach to take. Both Kev and I fished a rod with an 18mm bottom bait and a 15mm bottom bait attached with a stinger of three boilies or a PVA mesh bag filled with a few crushed boilies.
We had a few casts before we got fishing, just to make sure the weed wasn’t too bad to present the rigs on. Kev was fishing a third of the way across the lake and I decided to fish to the centre area of the lake. All of the spots seemed ok with only small amounts of patchy silk weed present, so we used hooklinks of around 10 inches. To try and prevent any issues with the crayfish we used harden Live System hook baits, which gave us confidence our rigs would be fishing a lot more efficiently than most soft hookbaits. We used our Gardner Hard Bait Drills to drill a hole through the bait so we could get the bait onto the rig.
With half an hour to spare before the off we sat watching the lake yet again looking for any signs of fish and a few starting showing right out in the middle of the lake on our boundary where I had leaded up. We started getting quite excited considering we saw very little activity whilst fishing on Wild Boar. The horn went and we cast out confidently to the spots. Kev fished his rigs with just bags, but I decided to use my Skorpion Throwing Stick and spread 30 or 40 baits over the areas I had cast to. A pair on the opposite bank had a bite straight away and landed a 32lb mirror, which gave them an early lead. Four hours passed and little had happened, however a few more fish showed over the spots where I had cast. The temperatures started to rise and we had a bit of sunshine peering through the clouds. I knew that the lake fished well on zigs, which is one of my favorite rigs. I felt that it might be worth tying a couple up hazarding a guess that not many, if any of the previous anglers had tried them for any periods of time. I tied two zigs at five and seven feet in length, using 12lb Zig Link with a size 8 Covert Incizor and a piece of yellow Zig Rig Foam. I launched a zig set at five feet out to the spot and I now had a zig and a bottom bait either side of where the fish had been showing. I sat back down feeling quite confident that one of the rods would receive some action.
We recast the boilie rods with fresh bags and also gave the zigs about three hours and nothing really happened. We did notice when retrieving the rigs from the spots, it seemed the silk weed had swallowed the rigs up. With the night fast approaching we agreed to have a cast around to find some clear areas. For the night I opted to fish two rods on the same spot at around 100 yards range. I topped the spot up with another twenty baits, hoping the fish would get their heads down eventually. Kev found a really nice spot, which looked like he was pulling the lead across glass at around 60 yards.
We decided to stay up for a bit and listen out for some more fish in the anticipation of a bite from one of the rods. At 1:30am we decided to get some shut eye for a few hours and wake up just before first light if nothing happened. As soon as we got tucked up in the sleeping bags, Kev’s close range rod on the ‘glass’ spot roared into action. After a short nervy fight we had a fish in the bag. We were so relieved to be off the mark! The marshals came round and we were happy to see the scales tip round to 22lbs 2oz – it wasn’t the biggest fish in the lake, but a very welcome capture all the same.
Kev quickly got the rod back out on the spot and after a few trophy shots, we got ourselves back in the bags. We woke up at first light and were full of hope for some more action throughout the day. We were in second place at this point in our match, with just one fish in it. I reeled in during the morning to find again that my rigs had been ‘swallowed’ by the silk weed and the crays had a little nibble at my hook baits. It was time for a change of approach. I tied up two chod rigs compromising of 25lb green Plummet leadcore, Covert Safety Beads, 15lb Trip Wire hooklink and a size 6 Covert Chod hook. The hook bait was again a cork dust hardened Live System pop up to prevent any issues from the crayfish. I soon had two rods in position to where the fished had shown the previous day in the hope one of them would want to have a little bite to eat through the day. Kev stuck to his approach and we patiently waited for some more action. As the day went by, we had only seen one fish and that was well over the side of the lake. No further fish had been caught and as the wind dropped and it started to feel like some of the fish were moving out of the area after being pressured on the front of the wind.
I decided to have an afternoon nap, the first one of the week I might add! By then time I woke, we had an hour to re-cast the rods back to the spots. Kev decided to fish the same spot he caught from the previous night and he pulled his remaining rod in closer too. I felt that some of the fish had moved left, so I put a rod out in that direction at around 70 yards range and the other I left out on the boundary of our water. We topped all of the spots up with around 20 free offerings, just enough to get another bite or two if the fish decided they wanted a small feed through the night.
Going into darkness we saw a couple of fish put their heads out over Kev’s spot, it looked very promising for a bite. At 11:00pm his rod that was on the ‘glass’ spot had a liner and then seconds later his Bug Indicator was pulled up into the alarm and the fish started stripping line off the spool. The fish got its head in to a bit of weed, but came free with a bit of pressure and then it came swimming towards us rather quickly. Kev was frantically reeling trying to keep up with the fish and when it reached the margins it went wild, making Kev think it could even be a grass carp or a sturgeon. After another scary 5 minutes, I managed to slip the net under the fish and we were mighty relieved to see a nice scaley mirror in the bottom of the net.
The marshals weighed the fish at 35lbs 6oz, which put us in first place in our match. After a few quick snaps, we got the fish back and Kev soon had his rod back on the spot. We started working out the points and from what we had heard from the other matches we thought we were sitting in 3rd place overall. It was a great feeling, but as we went further into the night, we found out from the marshals we were actually in 4th place overall. This was quite disappointing to hear when we thought we were sitting in a podium position. Unfortunately the other results hadn’t gone our way but it wasn’t over.
We woke up in the morning to torrential rain and the match was due to finish at 7:00am. We had to hope we were still in 1st place on our lake and more fish were caught across the other two lakes. We saw the marshals at 7:15am and they informed us that we had won our match and officially had finished in 4th place. We were happy with the result, but as it always is when you compete, we still wished we had finished in a higher position. The gear was then packed down, still soaking wet for the last time after six nights fishing and we made our way to the club house for the presentation.
Most of the pairs who competed stayed for the presentation, the organisor called out the fishery owner’s names and thanked them for the use of the lake and facilities, the marshals then got called out and we congratulated them on their hard work throughout the week. Loads of photographs were taken then we could finally make our way back to the ferry dock to come home. Rupert Whiteman of Abbey kindly made us all a french stick filled with bacon, which set us up for the journey ahead. Several tiring hours later travelling and we made it home. Kev and I were happy with our performance, We fished well all week and the losses couldnt be helped. I think we can keep our heads held high and be very proud of finishing 4th place considering we were up against some very talented anglers. I learnt loads and can use these key things in my fishing for years to come.