Now all of the qualifying rounds were completed it was time for both semi finals to take place on the prolific Brasenose Lakes at Linear fisheries in Oxford. There were 14 anglers competing on Brasenose one and a further 16 competing on Brasenose two, all battling it out for a place in the final. The top 7 weights from each match would send the semi finalists through for a chance of winning a prize fund of seven thousand pounds in the final!
I was in Semi final 2 on Brasenose two and there were some very good anglers in the line up making it a very interesting match and anyone’s game really. I have fished the lake on a couple of occasions before so I had some knowledge of the lake, but to give me more of a chance for the match I did 48 hours practising the week leading up to the match and this really helped me as I leant loads and I had my game plan sorted going into the match.
All of my prepping was done and I was there on the Thursday night with my girlfriend Sam, who was my runner again for the match after she did such an amazing job in the qualifier. We had a relaxed chilled evening, walking around the lake so I could get a rough idea of what pegs I would like for the watercraft draw. On the Friday morning the competitions owner Simon Bennie had arrived to lay out all of the correct peg numbers and after he had finished I had another walked round, so I could finalise my list and I was happy with my choices – I just needed a good draw now as always!
Everyone gathered for the draw on the Friday afternoon and there were plenty of nervous anglers waiting anxiously for their names to be called out. Name after name came out and I’m crossing pegs numbers off my list waiting for my name to come out… Unlucky for me my name got called out LAST – 16 out of 16 in the draw and I got the last available peg, I was absolutely gutted! At the same time whilst approaching my destined home for the weekend with Sam, I thought to myself how sometimes in a match anything can happen. I was determined to not let my head drop and give it my best shot as I do every time even if I was about to set up in the proven worst area of the lake.
Everything was set up and ready for the horn to start the match, I had seen a couple of fish in my water so I was keeping positive. I got my rigs out first cast on all three and I was happy to fish quietly for the first few hours not making too much disturbance and see what happens. Going into darkness it was all quiet, infact hardly anyone had caught, so I got 3 spots sorted with the marker rod as the lake is so up and down I preferred to be on some shallower spots of around 6 – 8ft. After practising I decided to use all three rods with flatbed method feeders on with a ground bait mix made up of CC Moore Salmon Fry Crumb, Marine Halibut Pellet Powder and 2mm Trout pellets, this is a mix I’m very confident in using. The hookbait was a CC Moore 8mm Mini Bite pop-up with varied colours. Over the rods I chose to spod a very similar mix over the top with a few maggots, hemp and 10mm CC Moore Equinox boilies added to the mix for extra attraction and this would be on a little and often basis.
I started spodding with my Bait Shuttle spod over my left hand rod and after 3 or 4 spods my Bug indicator jammed up into the alarm and I was in to my first fish of the match. After a scary fight I safely netted a 7lbs 1oz Mirror to give me a great confidence boost and gave me a score on the board going into darkness. I used the same strategy all night over all three rods and with no sleep at first light I found myself sat in 3rd place in the standings on 4 fish. I was buzzing about but there was still a long way to go.
I had received all of my bites of one rod and I decided mid-morning on the Saturday I would place two rods on this spot and carry on persevering with my right hand rod down the margin. Throughout the day the lake started to pick up with most anglers starting to catch and I think I dropped to 6th place by midday. I kept working the peg and with the temperatures rising up to 27 degrees a lot more fish starting passing through my waters making their way to the shallow bay to my far right. I started to receive a few bites and with great team work between me and my lovely runner Sam, we had managed to land a further 4 fish with the biggest being a 23lbs 7oz mirror. The spots had came alive in the afternoon and going into darkness I was in 5th place only one fish behind 3rd and 4th and 40lb clear of 7th. I just had to keep focused and carry on doing what I was doing. The fish were being caught with my set up being made up of 12lb Mirage fluorocarbon main line, a 4 foot 25lb Mirage leader, a flatbed method feeder, Size 12 Covert Flexi Ring swivel attached to 3 inches of 15lb silt Trickster Heavy and a size 10 Covert Mugga.
The night seemed to be very quiet and I had a bad feeling that the big end of the lake could produce some multiple catches. After staying up all night again, yet no more bites, I was getting a tad nervous not exactly knowing what position I was in as my phone had died. I kept plugging away and luckily I received two bites in the open water, one fish weighing 17lbs 7oz’s and the other tipping the scales to 19lbs on the nose, so this had boosted my position surely. Still not knowing, I had an hour left to go from the 40 hour match and I lost a fish which got to me a bit, but fortunately I received another bite from the margin spot and whilst playing the fish the horn sounded to end the match. I had 10 minutes to land the fish for it to count and thankfully I slipped the net under a 12lbs 6oz mirror and I felt like I may of done enough! I eventually got to the presentation and found out I had finished in 4th place, which I was completely over the moon about especially considering the bad draw and the quality of anglers in some of the better pegs.
So off to the final I go in October at Oxlease Lake also at the Linear Complex and I am so looking forward to this one and carrying on this amazing journey of my first year entering the UK Carp Cup.