White Acres Winter Festival 2021

My favourite festival of the year, five days float fishing at White Acres on the Garbolino Winter Festival. A couple of hard frosts plus the lakes have all had a bit of extra hammer this year, so I was expecting a tough week. The draw bag needed to be kind!

Day One I was fairly happy to be on Jennys 9 although the sun on this bank is a nightmare, making it really hard to see your float. I had a nice first half on the waggler and corn catching carassio, then a few on the long pole and corn and finally a good end short on maggots. A lovely day’s sport on a hard day, but spoilt by a seagull taking my waggler(!) and then total carp rampage, hooking eight or nine creatures in the last hour. I was well on course for 50lb and a lake win before the beasties arrived, even dropped in a second keepnet in anticipation, but it ended up carp carnage!

I ended up with 41lb which was 2nd in section and 2nd on the lake. Nathan Hughes just pipped me with 44lb two anglers up. Those meddlesome carp cost me the section, which would cost me…

Day Two I drew peg 27 on Python. Feared a difficult day as only 8lb had come off it the day before, but every day is different and I thankfully found a few. I ended up having a great match, fishing 16m with maggots in just 2ft of water for 41lb and a zone win! Nice battle with Craig Edmunds next door who was 2nd with 38lb. Only frustration was numerous snags down the middle and losing two good fish in them. This lake needs a bloody good rake as the snag tourettes were in full force!

Day Three I was on peg 16 on Pollawyn. One of my favourite lakes as I normally catch a few on here, but everything I tried failed miserably! Meanwhile Nathan on 15 had a load on the waggler and down his margin for 40lb. I got away with a 2nd in section with 18lb. Definitely should’ve caught more, but no way I was ever going to double my weight without a decent margin to fish.

Day Four and peg 31 on Twin Oaks was the destination. An end peg so definitely fancied it. Big F1s are the target on this lake but after an hour I had just one skimmer and three little roach while Paul and Nathan to my right had already caught a couple of big F1s each. Eventually I caught one to my left in 4ft of water and ended up picking off 20 plus a rogue 10lb mirror that was swiftly returned. Pretty much everything came from that one area of the peg on maggot.

Further down they were all complaining about foul-hookers but I had very little signs of fish all day. I just fed some maggots and waited until one eventually beat the tiny roach and perch to it!I was last to weigh in and felt I’d done enough, but was alarmed when Nathan’s 15 fish went 57lb! I breathed a sigh of relief as my 20 F1s and two skimmers gave me 66lb and another zone win. Phew!

The fifth and final day saw me on peg 28 on Trelawney. Definitely not the peg I wanted with some top anglers further up in the section. Strangely they’d made 29 the end peg, despite five empty pegs to his left. That meant I only had one spare peg, which was upwind and definitely the wrong way with Storm Arwen forecast!

The weather was horrific but I could just about hold 7m, very occasionally braving a look at 10m. By mid match it was tramming through like a river and I was catching a metre down the peg. I caught a mixture of F1s, roach, skimmers and perch on maggot plus a few on worm. Light 6-8 Slik elastic was essential to prevent the fish getting blown off the hook.

Not the most enjoyable day (some might call it character building!) but I plonked a hard-earned 36lb on the scales for a 3rd. I surprisingly beat both the end pegs but Glenn Lawrence had 44lb of carassio on the waggler and Nathan made no mistakes off peg 23 on the point to blitz the section with 70lb of big F1s.

That secured him the festival, with Andy Power 2nd and Craig Edmunds 3rd, all on 24 points. Three really great performances. I was happy to make the top 10 prizes once again, ending up in 9th position with 22 points. Two 1sts, two 2nds and a 3rd.

It’s certainly been an interesting week and different to previous festivals, plus we’ve had all sorts of weather thrown at us. I’ve done ok with over 200lb of fish, two zone wins and a zone 2nd, but still a few ifs, buts and maybes to contemplate on the long journey home!

Well done to the White Acres team for running the festival and Garbolino for sponsoring it and to everyone who took part. I have to mention the one negative which was the no shows and subsequent gaps that they created which really affected things, especially when it’s only small five and six peg sections. Just spoils it for everyone really.

For pole gear I used 0.1g to 0.3g prototype carbon stemmed floats in good weather, 0.4g wires in bad weather, 0.16 Power Micron main line, 0.10 hooklength, size 18 hooks and 6-8 or 8-10 Slik through a standard kit. For the rod I used a 13ft Horizon Waggler, 3-4g Matrix Loaded Insert, 4lb/0.16 Horizon Mono, 0.12 hooklength and a 16 MXC1 hook.

Bait was mostly maggots all week with a bit of chopped worm and F1 corn. Groundbait was Sonubaits F1 Dark, Thatchers and Supercrush Expander. I now need to find somewhere nice to feed the gallon of casters I never needed… well, once it stops snowing outside.

Winter has definitely arrived!

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