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Winter bagging

The weather outside is frightful… No I’m not going to burst into a Christmas song, instead I’m going to wrap up warm and get out there to catch some fish!

Unfortunately that doesn’t always seem to be the case, and in the last week or two I have been disappointed to see match attendances dropping as more and more people choose to stay at home rather than brave the cold. 

I must say that the warmth of my bed this Sunday when the alarm went off at 6am was still very appealing, but with a good match ahead, a flask and plenty of warm clothes it wasn’t long before I was buzzing about what lie in store.

With these thoughts running through my head I wanted to use this month’s blog to try and inspire some enthusiasm to those of you who may otherwise be waiting for warmer times.

First of all, it is all about getting comfy, I get called a ‘softie’ by some of my hard core northern mates, but a good set of thermals is a must for me in winter.  I rarely, if ever, find myself cold on the bank.  Usually I am warm, too warm at times, but that makes the day far more enjoyable.  I few recent matches have been bomb and feeder affairs and there is a method that goes hand in hand with a brolley.  Infact the other day I set two up!!  This actually makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable and when the match finishes and you come in for a post-match pint there is a real sense of satisfaction that you have taken on the elements and won!

So what for the fishing.  Well I can honestly say some of my best matches have been in the colder months.  I regularly catch 10lb+ of roach from my local stainy, and can remember catching 20lb+ of roach two weeks running on the fens circuit a few years back.  Then think back to the spring/summer, I had 14oz on the first match at Evesham this year, hardly bagging!

The thing with winter matches is that the fish are actually still feeding, in fact roach feed in water down to about 2-3C.  What is nicer still is that they like feeding on the bottom.  None of this up in the water, slapping your rig over every 5 seconds waiting to get pulled in.  Instead you have to fish for them.  Good presentation, feeding and decision making really come to the fore in winter, and this is often when I find my best run of form as there is a chance to learn and build on performances week on week!

This is what sometimes amazes me with winter attendances.  If you found the right matches, at the right venues, with plenty of mates and plenty of bites, surely this makes winter a great time to be out in the fresh air!

I suppose the alternative is to struggle to park and wrestle round the local shopping centre, then read about fishing in the mags!  No thanks, I’ll be doing my shopping on line (thank you Amazon!) and bagging up in my free time!

So if you think winter fishing has not always been for you, then why not give it a try this year and see what you have been missing!




Draw bag master!

“What a draw bag!” “Another Flier” “Well Drawn!!!”

I was thinking about these statements on my way home from White Acres last week, and the more I thought about it the more I realised how derogatory they are and how bitter they seem towards people success. As match anglers our first priority is to win, but when we don’t win the first thing we do is blame the draw. The difference is that in most other sports, the element of luck is not a big as it is in fishing but regardless of that luck element, you still see the same anglers doing well.

All anglers know that you have to be lucky at the draw bag, that you have to be on a peg that gives you a chance of winning, yet we still see the need to verbalise it, probably in an attempt to save our own pride. For me, the first words I always use to the winner is “well done”. They probably already know they have drawn a good peg, but they won’t be the only one who had a chance of winning, they will have had to of fished well, made the right decisions, and made the most of the peg in order to win. Take last week at White Acres. I drew 5 pegs in 5 days, all of which were capable of winning the section.


I know that the pegs held the fish because I won from them. However, every day the victory was not clear. On two of the days I have been 1 fish from coming second, I have been involved in good battles on the other 3 days. Any slip ups would have let in numerous anglers right behind me. Those anglers know they had the chance to win as well, but small decisions here and there have not quite worked out for them. I have also been to White Acres and drawn badly. Pegs with no chance of success.

We have to accept this in match fishing, it is part of our game. I try my best to enjoy the day, catch a few fish, and try and make good decisions, so when I get on a good peg, I make the most of it. But along with good and bad there is the days when you get it wrong. Any angler that says they never make a mistakes is a liar. The top anglers make less than others though, so when they get a chance, they take it. I have been lucky enough to have the pegs to win a festival this week, but I can tell you know, I have had this chance in the past and blown it. Little choices here and there have totally changed my match, can we truly say we ever get the most out of our pegs.

I don’t think so!

The Parkdean Masters final at the end of the Preston Festival see 24 of the countries top anglers compee for £25,000. Surely no one makes any mistakes in this final and the best peg wins….. NO WAY!

In fact what this final really does highlight is how many pegs can compete, as these top anglers get so much more out of them. This year I drew peg 14. Surely no chance of winning the final. In fact one of a few people that had less chance of winning than me was Jamie Wild next to me on 13! This narrow part of the lake rarely holds enough fish to win the match, but I sat on my peg and thought that I was still going to try and make the most out of it, so when I draw a better area I will be ready. I didn’t have any clear bank to cast a feeder to, so committed myself to a nice match on the pole. Worms, casters, corn and hemp would all play a part in my attack. Jamie on the other hand had a nice clear bank to cast his feeder too. So he made the decision to enjoy his day fishing with a method feeder. After 3hrs we were both surprisingly in contention. Then in an incredible 20 minute spell Jamie put 3 carp in the net for 20lb. I could only sit and watch this happen as my pole approach was now completely life less. The whistle went and the rest is history. Jamie Wild became the Parkdean Champion and £25,000 better off.

The first thing I could do was shake his hand and congratulate him. The fishing had been hard, but his decision to fish the feeder was the right one. My immediate belief was that because of the far bank vegetation I couldn’t have fished the feeder like Jamie did, but for over 2hrs of the match I was ahead of him, so surely only a few changes would see things swing more favourably for me? Did he draw well? Well he must have done because he won the match, did he fish well… you bet he did!! I am sure another 10 anglers, including ME, know we had a chance in that final, and with the benefit of hindsight it could have been us who won. So next time you think about calling someone a draw bag, don’t forget to congratulate them first, because believe me, fish don’t catch themselves!

Well Done Jamie!


Tackling Big Canals

High Level Match Fishing - by Lee Kerry

A real talking point right now is the so called decline of ‘big’ match fishing.

Let me assure you, people all over Britain compete in matches every weekend! In the last few years tackle companies have continued to grow and people are taking up the sport. So where are all the big matches?

In my opinion the so called lack of decent match attendances has come from match anglers segregating themselves so much that they now compete on a huge range of venues across the country.

The cost of travel doesn’t help, but actually anglers will still travel to matches. Let me give you an example, this week’s Angling times will have over 100 match results in it! Within 20 miles from my house I could have gone on over 20 matches this week! Does this seem like a sport that is in decline!?!

Bigger events come by attracting anglers with two things. Good fishing and good payouts! If anglers feel they have a reasonable chance of winning some money, and can be hopeful of a good days fishing, then they will come.

Take the matches run by Tom Scholey, Matt Godfrey and Myself on the Stainy this year, with £50 per 5 peg section, pegs chosen with a good chance of catching fish, we have over 70 anglers there every other week.

Some competition organisers run matches on the poorest pegs, and only distribute money to a few lucky enough to draw on them. There will always be smaller competitions and clubs, but if anglers are prepared to help themselves and look to the best matches, big attendances could once again be on the cards.

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