Making The Parkdean Masters

Here’s my epic account from a cracking week down in Cornwall. We all went from complaining about the wind and rain to moaning about the sun in our eyes by the end of the week! Never happy, us fisher people!

Lodge chums were Nick Speed, Adam Richards and the one and only Michael ‘Ginger’ Hall, so great company. As expected, the fishing was pretty difficult after so much angling pressure, plus some lakes were very tightly pegged, so the draw gods would be vital!

DAY ONE

Not a good start! I was 5th in the six-man section with 31lb. Just 43lb was 2nd though which I’m sure I could have caught had I just fished the feeder across and the short pole with maggots all day. I was on Trelawney 23 which is often a flyer, but the only peg in the section without an empty peg and no one caught much off it all week. You know it’s snug when the guy next door’s landing net is on top of your top kits and three of you contemplate sharing a pole roller! 

So that was my dropper out of the way. I had to get four good results over the next four days to make the Parkdean Masters Final…

DAY TWO

Bounced back on Day 2 with a flyer in the shape of Acorn 1 and won the lake with 74lb! It’s a lovely peg with an island at 15m and with strong winds forecast it also offers some much needed shelter. 

I kicked off on 8mm bread dobbing around the island but it was full of roach. Swinging the rig long into the corner to my right I eventually latched into an 8lb mirror for a great start. 

I then managed two more carp and two F1s 13m down the edge on Banoffee corn before having a great run of small F1s and carassio across to the island in 2.5ft of water, tapping in 4mm pellets. Later I had to push tight over into 20 inches and caught a few more but the fish weren’t as settled there. 

Back down the edge I swapped between meat and corn for a few more carp and F1s, only losing one carp that decided to climb the trees. Fished 10-12 Slik across and 12-14 down the edge with standard length kits and the trusty MTX4 pole. 

A lovely day’s fishing to put me well back in the race. 

DAY THREE

I managed a 3rd in section with 113lb from Bolingey 31. Not bad, but deep down I know it was worth a 2nd as that was 129lb off bridge peg 23. Not sure I could have caught the 170lb that Gary Webber had next door as he bagged up on a top kit down his edge most of the day. 

It was a strange match as everyone I could see was just catching carassio for the first hour, but I could hear Gary catching carp. I knew I needed the margins to kick in to win the section but mine just never got going strongly enough. It didn’t matter how much or little I fed I had to wait for them to arrive each time. You also couldn’t leave the rig in the swim as that seemed to spook them. Clever buggers! 

Thankfully the fish were a decent size and I caught just enough on dead maggots over micros, plus five on a top kit and 8mm Pro Expander to come 3rd. Nice to clatter some fish with my Pablo RWC Deep Tanks and get the 16-18 and 18-20 Slik stretched though!

DAY FOUR

Pollawyn Match Lake beckoned with target weights really low and desperate in areas. I pulled out peg 16 which is ok, but really up against peg 22 in the section which had dominated all week and with a very good angler on it. 

Kicked off on bomb and bread for nothing before swapping to a small Method Feeder and dead maggots for four F1s. 

After that I fished 14.5m up and down with worm and casters for three small carp, a few F1s and some skimmers, also mugging one nice ghostie about 8lb. 

My 39lb was thankfully enough to win the section. Job done, so I now had to win on Day Five to stand any chance of making the Final…

DAY FIVE

What a fantastic day’s fishing on Twin Oaks to end on! The wind was hacking into peg 2 and 36 in the morning so I fancied those two swims the most… but no one ever grumbles when they’re handed peg 16 on Twin Oaks! Although it hadn’t won the section all week I had to fancy it. 

I had a dream start catching three carp and three F1s short for 30lb, fishing a 0.35g Hulk, 16-18 Slik and 8mm meat. 

Moving out to 15m I had another carp and an F1 on 6mm pellet but it wasn’t fast enough, so time for the feeder. 

Fishing a Method tight across I had a great day catching around 15 fish before ending with two big lumps down the side. 

Capping off the week perfectly I ended up weighing 157lb for another lake win. That’s got to be the nicest day’s carp fishing I’ve had for a long while. 

Feeder gear was my trusty 10ft Horizon Pro Commercial Feeder with a small 25g Matrix Alloy Method Feeder and dead maggot on the hook. My groundbait was Sonubaits F1 Green and Thatchers Green, which isn’t as rich as the Match Method Mix I would have normally opted for, but only 92lb won the lake the previous day so I wasn’t expecting such a big weight. 

I prayed my win would be enough to get into the 24-man Final, but with 12 places already accounted for from the previous week’s festival it was going to be close… but I made it! Absolutely over the moon to get there again. Must also congratulate Nathan Fox for winning the festival, great achievement!

PARKDEAN MASTERS FINAL

Well that was possibly the weirdest Final I’ve fished with loads of uncatchable big carp swirling around and racing about in front of us! With it being just a four-hour sprint you have to be positive to win the £15k jackpot and I sadly chose the wrong tactics. I wanted anywhere from end peg 15 to end peg 20, as the wind had been blowing that way for some time. My Peg 16 is a fantastic peg so no complaints at all with that. 

Got out my van and found 10p. Could this be a sign? Got to my peg and found a dead bird in my margins! Well that certainly cancelled the lucky 10p out! 

Decided to fish two swims: a Method feeder to the aerator with groundbait, micros and dead reds on the hook and a 15m long pole swim, up and down, with worm over casters. For back up I flicked some meat short and had a paste rig on standby if things were going pear shaped. 

Well I certainly wasn’t expecting to be blanking after an hour and 10 minutes! Caster, worm heads, full worm, light rigs, full depth, slapping, potting slop all failed on the long pole. Not even a liner. I deliberately started a couple of metres short of the aerator on my feeder swim but as soon as I went tight I had two carp in two chucks. Here we go, I thought. Erm, not another fish on that. 

Meat short only brought me a tench and a goldfish. With 90 minutes to go I couldn’t see how I could claw things back unless I caught some zoo creatures. They were swirling all over the lake but no one could catch them.  

Nothing to lose so I made a big gamble and tried paste on a top kit. Five minutes later I hooked a double-figure lump. It came off. Next put in several carp tailed up and I foul-hooked another huge fish. I ended up hooking four and losing all four. Unbelievable! 

It turned out to be a weird old match. Certainly not how I expected it to fish. The big carp were in most people’s pegs but totally skittish. Those who fished pellets for the smaller carassio fared much much better. 

It was still fabulous to be in the Final for a fourth time. Just qualifying takes some doing. I must say a huge well done to Paul Holland smashing it with 100lb from peg 19. I think he had 40lb on the feeder to the island and the rest were carassio shallow on pellets. An amazing performance from someone who puts so much time and effort in, so well deserved and a popular winner. 

Thanks for all the nice comments and to the kind people I’ve met and chatted with over the past week. It’s great to be back home with the family today, though. Really missed them. Looking forward to the winter campaign now. Tight lines everyone! 

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