During 2014 I successfully progressed through the knockout stages of the UK Carp Cup competition and secured a spot in the final in my first year of entering the event. The final would take place in October at Oxlease Lake on the Linear complex in Oxford.
I made the journey for a practice the week prior to the match for 48 hours with my good friend and former fishing partner Wayne Rees. It was to be the first session we had done for a while together so we were very much looking forward to it. Wayne was also going to be my runner (helper) for the match.
The lake was very busy when we arrived and we decided to fish in the centre of the lake where the only two swims next to each other were available. We saw a couple of fish show and some fizzing in the area, so it seemed to be a good place to start.
The good thing about practising was that we could try a few different tactics and find out what was working. After getting the rods sorted it wasn’t long before I had some action and I received a bite on my left hand rod resulting in a very pretty 14lb+ ghost mirror. Just as the light faded Wayne successfully endured a battle and landed a pretty 17+ common. Throughout the night we could hear plenty of fish crashing, but they seemed to be mostly at either end of the lake and we didn’t manage another bite during the night. The next morning I spotted some fizzing to the right of my swim and I made the most of the opportunity landing a brace of twenties to 23lbs 6oz. The next 24 hours were very slow and it was evident that the bulk of the fish were located at either end of the lake. We hadn’t seen or heard many fish being caught throughout the practice even though there were a lot of anglers on the lake. I ended up with four fish and Wayne finished up with two. All of the bites came on maggots and this confirmed what I already knew about the lake – they love the wrigglers!
The following twenty four hours were spent relaxing of relaxing, tying rigs, shower and a spot of food shopping followed to ensure I would be 100% ready for the match.
All of the competitors arrived on the Friday morning eagerly waiting for the draw, which took place at 1pm. A strong fresh southerly wind got up blowing down towards the main car park end of the lake. Almost all of the anglers wanted to be lucky enough to draw out one of the swims on the wind swept end – the draw being an ‘out the hat’ draw so you got what you was given. I coincidently drew the same peg I practiced in and I tried to keep confident before the start of the match, knowing that anything could happen over the next 40 hours. Deep down I knew I needed to be on the wind, where the bulk of the fish were as I probably couldn’t compete for the title in the area with a lack of fish present.
I chose to fish with the same tactics as I did in practice, all three rods baited with medusa rigs with fifteen maggots on the hair and an 8mm CC Moore Mini Bite pop up sat just underneath them making the rig semi buoyant. I baited with maggots and CC Moore 10mm Equinox boilies and my spod bait was enhanced with a helping of Bloodworm Extract also from CC Moore. I found a spot at 96 yards which I baited reasonably heavily hoping that when the large shoals of fish got on my spot, I could potentially receive multiple takes.
I received my first bite at 4am (eleven hours after the match had got underway) and I was really pleased to be off the mark with a 27lbs 10oz mirror. I followed this up as few hours later with a 23lbs 14oz common. Surprisingly at this point I found myself in third place and only 1lb behind second position. The lads on the front of the wind hadn’t really done much apart from the leader Harry Charrington who had caught seven fish during the night for a total of 145lbs+.
Unfortunately the Saturday was very slow and I started slipping down the order as other anglers started to catch and one angler in particular, one of my best friends, angling partner and reigning champion Kevin Grout who went from blanking at midday to leading the final going into the second night. I didn’t receive another bite until 11:30pm which was a 14+ common. This was to be my last fish of the competition and the hooter sounded at 9am for the end of the match. I landed all of my fish throughout the match using 12lb Pro Light Blend main line, a 4 foot 25lb Mirage leader, a 3oz GT Torpedo Distance lead, Covert lead clip/tail rubber attached to a 15lbs Sly Skin silt hook link and a size 10 Covert Continental Mugga.
I finished in sixth place overall, only three anglers blanked in the match and they were all fishing the middle section of the lake where I was. Both ends of the lake produced around 25 fish, so to finish in sixth place from where I was is still not a bad result. I did all I could and fished to the best of my ability and that’s all you can do. I was just unfortunate to of had another bad draw, I was hoping for at least half an opportunity in the final after coming last out in the watercraft draw at the semi-finals, but that’s match fishing for you. I’m already looking forward to next year’s competitions!
I’d like to finish by congratulating Harry and Callum for coming second and third, but I’d like to say huge congratulations to Kev for ending up on 14 fish and winning back to back titles in style. A great piece of angling from one of the nicest guys you will ever meet – well done mate!