By Kev Grout
With Linear Fisheries being one of my favourite fisheries in the UK, I always get very excited about the prospect of competing on one of their fantastic waters. Although I have fished Linear a great deal, I had neither wet a line on Brasenose One. With this in mind, a practice session prior to our BCAC semi-final would be crucial, so my Team Carp-Talk partner Luke Church and I arrived at B1 on the Tuesday evening prior to the match for a 36-hour session.
After a slow start to the practice session, with the first bite coming after 20 hours’ fishing, we finally got our tactics right and managed a further eight bites in the last 16 hours. This really raised our confidence and clearly demonstrated how important practising is. Had we not practised we could have spent the first 20 hours of the match fishing incorrectly and missed vital opportunities to catch. Practising also allows us to work out the location and moving behaviour of the carp prior to the match, which significantly improves our decision making for the vital draw.
Although there are a huge number of carp in B1, the majority of the stock were located at the shallower end of the lake, and with a warm south-westerly wind forecast to blow directly towards that end of the lake, there was only really four swims we wanted to draw, all located on the front of the wind. So the draw began, and as competitors names were drawn from the bag, I started to get nervous, watching our favourite pegs get claimed by the other competitors. To my horror, we came 11th out of the bag, leaving us with only three pegs to choose from, but surprisingly, our sixth-choice swim was still available. Over the years I have competed in angling competitions, I have realised you can’t always bank on a good draw. The most successful anglers also managed to qualify for this match from less-favoured areas of the lakes they were fishing, mainly due to their determination and the sheer effort applied to the angling scenario. To get to the BCAC final we just needed to come fourth out of 12 pairs, so if we applied a great deal of effort, I was confident we could get a result from our chosen swim.
When we arrived at the swim there were a good number of fish showing and things started to look promising. Although we managed to catch a small number of carp during practice using bottom-bait rigs, one of the key things we learned was that zigs were far more productive, and particularly zigs with cloudy groundbait Spombed over the top, with most of our bites coming to this tactic. So once the gear was in the swim, we started to prep our tackle ready for an intense 48-hour zig-fishing session. For our zig rigs we used size 7 Fox Arma Point SSSP hooks with 12lb Zig + Floater hooklinks on Edges Slik Lead Clips and Naked Line Tail Rubbers. Our sloppy groundbait mix consisted of DNA Baits Blizzard and Red Mist, which we enhanced with Pure Krill Meal, LT Fish Meal, SLK Stick Mix and Cray Fish Mini Mix pellets. We used foam as hookbaits, flavoured with Sticky Sweet Hookbait Dip.
By the time the match had started and the rods were in position, the fish had gone quiet and the first few hours of the match resulted in very few captures around the lake. By dark we had no action on our zigs, but with only two fish leading the match, we knew it was all to play for. Although we were at completely the opposite end of the lake to the majority of the fish, we had a huge amount of water in front of us, so we were very hopeful that by the morning the fish would have moved around the lake and started to hold up in the quieter water in front of our swim.
Not wanting to make unnecessary disturbance, we decided to stop Spombing over the zigs and placed bottom-bait rigs over our baited spots for a few hours until sunrise. After a few hours’ sleep, I woke up around 5am to fish crashing along our boundary. With no action through the night, we quickly recast our rods with fresh bottom-bait rigs and waited. By 8am the fish had moved within 70 yards of our swim and were crashing constantly all over my baited spot. Although we had managed two bites in this time, and our first capture of the match in the form of a 7lb mirror, we were getting ever frustrated by the lack of action and decided it was time to put the zigs back out. The problem we had was we felt the fish had moved in front of us because it was quiet due to the lack of pressure, but the last thing we wanted to do was crash Spombs directly over their heads and scare them away. So firstly I placed a zig on the spot with no feed around it. After 30 minutes of watching fish constantly show over the single zig, I had no choice but to start baiting again. Carefully I cast two Spombs directly over the zig and within minutes I was in. This was a very important capture, as not only did it 100% confirm exactly what we needed to do to get bites, but it also weighed in it at 28lb, a big boost at the time. After this capture we quickly positioned four zigs on the spots and managed another four fish for a total weight of 120lb, before the fish went quiet again and the bites dried up. Although the action was very slow again throughout the day, we managed another capture in the shape of a 25lb common before dark, leaving us on around 145lb and in first place.
“Based on the results during the day, we decided to stay up on Saturday night and Spomb over zig rigs consistently, with the idea of capitalising on the action as soon as the fish moved back into our water. Unfortunately, this did not go to plan, and the morning came with no more action to reward us for our hard work. To be honest, at the point I was getting anxious. Our swim looked completed devoid of fish and other competitors were starting to catch well, including Mark Bartlett and Kev Hewitt, who were in the swim to our left. Thankfully, out of nowhere, the fish started to crash on our boundary around 10am, and by 10.30am they were all over our productive close-in spot. By the end of the match we had managed another eight captures for 185lb, leaving us with a total weight of 329lb 3oz, which was enough for a comfortable second-place finish.
Considering how the draw went and all the hard work we had put in over the previous five days, we were extremely happy with the result. We now have another chance to conquer the mighty Wraysbury and become BCAC champions. Well done to all the competitors from the BCAC semi-finals, especially those who qualified for the final. We look forward to seeing you at the final in September.