This article originally featured as part of Jon Arthur’s popular End Peg column that featured in Match Fishing magazine:
End Peg – November 2005
Jon’s been on several prestigious individual matches over the past month. He’s also had some big decisions to make regarding his team fishing…
The Battle of Barston II
Last year I’m sure I could have won the Midland Angler Matchman of the Year Final. It still haunts me to this day when, on the second match at Barston Lakes, a 10lb inexplicably forced its way out of my landing net to freedom. My match was effectively over after that, as I never regained my composure. I ended up a creditable fifth overall but was left ruing what could have been. Yet another one to chalk up to experience, I suppose!
Once you’ve fished the event you are eligible to fish it again each year so I was determined to put things right in 2005. I knew what tactics should work and had three short evening practices to sort it out.
Last year the bankside disturbance pushed the fish further out than usual and this year was exactly the same. I quickly established that my 10m pellet and paste line was not going to produce so I concentrated on 13m with worm and casters over groundbait. A steady run of skimmers plus two tiny carp gave me a very modest 20lb weight, which was surprisingly good enough for second in section – only 2lb behind Pete Caton. Pete had fished in a similar way to me apart from the addition of a bit of sloppy fishmeal groundbait to keep the fish interested.
The second match was even more difficult and I ended up feeding and fishing neat chopped worm over a bit of sloppy groundbait (I’m a quick learner) for 10lbs of roach. My 0.16mm rigs to White Hydro were far too fierce so I scaled down to 0.12mm and Preston 9H Hollo elastic instead. The ‘nuisance’ roach had suddenly turned into everyone’s target species and, once again, I was more than happy to claim another two points, this time behind Darren Cox.
No one else could match Jamie Masson’s perfect two point score as he rode out an easy winner. Second place was more hotly contested as Coxy, Paul Yates and myself all tied on four points. Total weight was brought into play and relegated me into fourth overall. I was still over the moon with that, especially as Neil Machin and Steve Ringer were a single point below me!
ACA Ton Up
There’s obviously quite a few perks associated with a job like mine, and fishing for the press team in the ACA Masters is a perfect example. Held on Roy Marlow’s beautifully maintained Glebe fishery, some big names were battling it out to win. I found myself on Uglies (no, it wasn’t named after me!) apparently in a good feeder area but, after three embarrassingly bad miscasts, (I’m blaming the wind!) I threw my rod up the bank and fished paste at 13m instead. It was the right thing to do as I finished second on the lake with 20 carp for 100lb 12oz, beating the two feeder fishermen either side of me.
The only two carp I decided to bully came off – so that’s another harsh lesson learnt as they cost me a lake win. At least I had done my bit to ensure the press team didn’t win the coveted wooden spoon this time around.
Hemp Or Bust
The team day at Evesham was next on my list. I found myself sitting on A10 (permanent Peg 4), which looked okay, but I was up against several better pegs in my section, including the infamous boards.
I had a fairly tidy match, catching tiny roach and gudgeon, but any bonuses I managed to hook were snaffled by greedy pike. I managed over 100 fish for 4lb 12oz, but made the mistake of feeding my hemp line in the wrong place. The best weights in the section were mostly taken with hemp while I never managed a single bite on the stuff.
During the match I somehow caught two watersnails that took my bloodworm-baited hook fairly and squarely inside their shell. The daftest thing is that I was sure I was fishing a foot off the bottom! They wouldn’t have weighed four drams together – but I cheekily threw them in my keepnet nonetheless! Shhhh!
Jam Jar Anyone?
I had another unseasonally early bloodworm match the following week, this time a Super League round on the North Bank of the River Nene. With petrol, bloodworm and joker, five bags of groundbait and then £20 pools with a £4 peg fee added on top(!) of that, the expense of these matches is seriously affecting many anglers. I know that these sentiments have been echoed by some of the very best teams in the country, as many simply cannot afford or justify the increasing costs of this competition. Feeling obliged to compete is actually starting to affect the stability of many teams so I think the sooner it goes back to being regional the better.
With this in mind, the team did not want to waste more money practicing on the open match on the same pegs the day before. Probably as a result, the team finished last, but I think we had already lost our enthusiasm for this competition some time ago.
Personally, I drew the worst section on paper – a section that Tom Pickering won with only 2lb 12oz the day before. There was no sign of roach on anybody’s long pole lines and I scratched around on a shorter line to beat the anglers either side of me with 1lb 12oz and a very average fourth in section.
Talking of Tom Pickering, everyone had a laugh watching him before the start of the match. Either he’s getting a bit forgetful in his old age or Preston Innovations is watching its budget. “Has anyone got a keepnet I can borrow?” he asked everyone as he worriedly paced up and down the stretch in a bit of a panic. He must have eventually found someone with a spare, as he declined the jam jar I offered him!
It seems like the entire Maver Barnsley Blacks team may be in some sort of financial difficulty as two weeks later, on a Sensas Challenge match, it was Andy Oldham’s turn to walk past me asking for a keepnet! Forget North Sea oil, at this rate it’s the North’s supply of keepnets that’ll soon be exhausted!
The 40 Minute Arm-Acher
The 50-peg Maver Masters trade match at Larford Lakes is another perk of the job. I got through to the final on the Specimen Lake after a 120-peg qualifier a fortnight earlier. I had never fished the pool before so I managed to get on one open match before the event while also phoning around for lots of information. Two anglers in particular were given the Jonny Arthur interrogation treatment – my old teammate Stu Ballard and Browning Central’s Mick Grant. These two guys are brilliant on carp and had both been catching well at Larford with lots of useful hints and tips to pass on. Grilling them for information was my way of ‘practicing on the cheap.’
On the big day I drew Peg 89 and, ironically, Mick Grant was on Peg 88. He was fishing on behalf of Attleborough Angling Centre and was the last person I wanted to be sat next to. Granty has rarely been out of the money on the venue and I knew he would approach the water in a very similar way to me.
We both balled it on the long pole line before having an early look on the Method feeder further out. My first fish was a 4lb common carp, which I lost at the net. Nice start! In actual fact, we were both getting fish but, for some unfathomable reason, many were coming off. It was the same scenario for everyone else that I could see and, while I could easily blame my technique, Mick was used to catching loads of fish on the venue without ever experiencing fish losses like these.
A switch to the pole was in order and yielded a few fish before the wind got up. Big waves made watching a float bristle awkward so I tried casting my feeder over the same line instead. It was a skimmer or small carp almost every chuck from then on. Granty had the luxury of a bush to his left that looked promising. He lost a couple of foulhookers there before netting a couple of carp, which prompted me to have a look on a closer line.
The waves were getting increasingly worse so, after a couple of carp on the pole, I once again thought a feeder on this line would be worth a try. Fishing this short didn’t seem right but, just as I was about to reel in, my rod tip flew around as a fish stormed off. I had very little control over the beast and I must have got it close a dozen times before it bolted off to my right. I felt a bit sorry for the guy that side of me as, several times, he struck at phantom bites that were actually caused by my carp kiting past his line! Taking this long to get it in was starting to get embarrassing. No less than 40 arm-aching minutes later I slipped the net under a 15lb specimen and breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I’m sure I could have had 20lb-plus of ‘normal’ fish in the time it took me to get that single one out. That’s exactly what Granty had managed to do as, while I was messing around with that lump, he managed to put several smaller ones plus three big bream into his keepnet.
As we waited for the scalesman to arrive we wondered what could have been. Mick had hooked and lost more fish than me whereas I had been ‘slowed down’ by that double figure lump. In the end, things were even closer than we both realised. Mick’s late run of fish helped him to third in the match with 58lb 1oz, while I was only one fish ahead with 59lb 14oz. I won a decent wad of cash, a cut glass trophy and a Maver pole for second overall. Result!
It’s been a tough decision but I have decided to part with Shimano Tipton Van den Eynde. I think it is the right thing to do to continue my enjoyment of the sport.
I left Tipton amicably and still have some great friends there. I wish them all the success in the future. The team is still one of the very best in the Midlands but another Winter League campaign in the Shropshire division no longer appealed to me. At the time of writing, only five teams were involved and every venue was at least hour’s travel for me. I tried to convince the team to join the thriving Warwickshire division – guaranteeing a decent bloodworm and joker match for 12 consecutive Sundays – without success.
Fishing is no longer just a hobby – it is also my job. For this reason it is essential that I enjoy my fishing. I desperately wanted to fish the Warwickshire division and, after plenty of lost sleep, I have opted to join the Shakespeare Superteam – one of the most established and respected teams in the country. There’s nothing quite like a new team to get your enthusiasm back into gear!