***Toms Blog – Stanjay Open 20ft Drain, Old Nene Benwick and Factory Bank***

Following on from last weeks match it was back on the drains practicing for the Winter League Final at the end of this month, this time on the other venues being used in the final. Once again, the match had a good turn out with 90 angler fishing with 30 pegs being used on each of the 3 venues. My draw for the day put me on peg 7 on the Old Nene at Benwick, the only one of the venues that I had not had much experience of, so definitely a learning day.

Speaking to a few anglers, I decided to go on an all-out squatt, pinkie and groundbait approach and elected to fish 3 lines, the first two were straight down the middle of the drain at 11m and angled at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock respectively, due to the clarity of the venue and the number of pike in the venue, I hoped this would help me catch more consistently than depending on one line, my third line was just going up the far shelf at 13m, for later in the match, as the fish back off due to the clearer water. I also set up a line down the middle away from myself to fish worms just in case the tench showed, but looking at the freezing weather and hail, I wasn’t expecting them to.
Rigs for the day, were positive, as I expected a fish race and for the two lines down the middle in 3.5ft of water I have used Perfect Keadby in sizes 4×14 to 4×18, and across I have used Tubertini Concorde floats in a 4×12 and 4×14 size.

At the start of the match, I have fed two balls of groundbait (Sensas Lake + Dynamite Frenzied Hemp Black) on each of my two lines down the middle, before feeding 4 balls and half a pot of hemp on my across line. I decided to feed it this way, as I would not be fishing my across line towards the end of the match, and I wanted to ensue that there was enough bait to hold any fish for that length of time.

Starting down the middle, I was straight into small roach very regularly, and for the first part of the match I was able to catch mainly on my left hand line, but from time to time the stamp of fish would decrease and I would re-feed my left hand line with a small ball of groundbait packed to the brim with squat, and then utilise my right hand line.

This worked well for the first 3 hours of the match, until a few pike strikes seemed to spook the fish and I struggled to catch consistently. Luckily the fish had only backed off onto my other line and by feeding heavily with squats through the catapult I was able to keep catching at a consistent rate, but the only problem was constantly shipping back 13m of pole over a very steep bank, but there were plenty of fish to be caught, and by swapping between either a strung out rig or a small bulk, I was able to keep catching until the end of the match.

It had seemed that everyone around me had caught a few fish, so it looked like everything would be decided by the stamp of the fish. In the end my 250 odd fish tipped the scales to just under 13lb, a lovely days fishing on a cold day, but as a testament to how good this venue can be, this was only enough for 5th in the 10 peg section. But, luckily they paid out every 5 pegs and I was able to win my section by single default! So better the be lucky than good.

Overall, it was another great day on the drains and once again a lot was learnt for the Final as I definitely think if I had approached it slightly differently I would have been able to catch a larger weight but that can always be said looking at hindsight. Only another couple of weekends before the Final now, so I can only hope I am there or there about come the final.

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