White Acres Guru Festival

Just back from a decent week down at White Acres on the Guru Festival. Bit of a stressful start with me having no van, then an issue with my hire van, but we got there eventually! I was down with the family so it was great to have good weather all week and they did absolutely loads while I went fishing.

Before I run through my matches I must say well done to White Acres for making this festival three 8-peg sections in each 24-peg zone rather than four 6-peg sections. The most backward trend in match fishing over recent years is tiny little sections, so this is a really pro-active move in the right direction for so many reasons!

Day 1 I drew peg 29 on Python. Felt I was the right end of the section with the way the wind was blowing, but Andy Geldart on end peg 3 would always be a big threat. The whole lake fished pretty hard and I ended up with 43lb of small carp and carassio for the section win. Andy was second with 34lb. I’ve caught carassio and baby carp on hard 4mm pellets down the middle, a few F1s on pellets in 2ft, a few tight up the mud line on worm over groundbait and then a reasonable end catching short on 6mm meat. A busy and positive start to the week!

Day 2 I was on Bolingey peg 4 in the left-hand arm. I’ve had an epic day catching 244lb to win the section and come 3rd overall, behind Nick Jones’ 270lb and a whopping 344lb from Andy Geldart, who were both on the very generously pegged back lake.

I’ve started short on pellet and caught a few carp and lots of carassio before coming down the margins in various depths. As daft as it sounds, even though I’ve had a huge weight I felt I’ve not had it quite right and could’ve had 300lb if I could get the fish to settle. I ended up fishing just a top kit down the sides in 18 inches of water to try and convert the tails and bodies into hooked fish. This sounded a familiar story with everyone else throughout the week, though. No shortage of fish, but they are so crafty to hook and they get preoccupied with micro pellets, but if you don’t feed them they don’t come in!

I was also a bit giddy with the keepnets as it’s a 60lb limit and despite ‘stopping at 45lb’ my first two nets went 60lb exactly and 60lb 8oz, so I lost 8oz! Again, a familiar story with lots of anglers this week underestimating the size of the fish. Another nice day and great to get the red 18-20 Slik pulled!

Day 3 and I was off to Pollawyn Match Lake peg 18. Not the greatest peg really and now there are loads more gaps and empty spaces all over the lake the tightly pegged ’High Bank’ is not the hot area it once was. I’d love to see this area pegged in twos so that everyone has an empty platform to fish to, especially now that F1s dominate…

I expected to catch the same as last time – a method feeder across and a bomb line – but I only managed one carassio on the feeder, which really surprised me. Luckily I had a few scraggily carp on the bomb. Nothing on worms on the long pole and swapping to caster shallow just produced some roach and another lone carassio.

Last time I found the margins were full of branches and unfishable, so I consciously never set an edge swim up. However, after three hours I changed my mind and started flicking some worm and caster down there. It paid off with a few skimmers and chunky perch, plus a bonus ghost carp about 7lb.

I ended up with 39lb 8oz for 2nd in section with Gavin Bridge winning the section off peg 27 with 53lb. I came away pretty relieved to get a 2nd as I was convinced Colin Mullholland on 15 had beat me fishing down to his empty peg and Dave Geldart had caught small fish all day on the feeder on 16, so my mixed bag weighed reassuringly heavy!

Day 4 the wheels really fell off! I drew peg 22 on Twin Oaks, which had been rubbish all week, and with just 31lb winning the section the previous day it looked like we’d all face a grueller, plus the fish were starting to spawn everywhere. I’d filmed some of the previous three days but the cameras were left firmly in the bag today and I only plonked one keepnet in the water, which is not like me!

Well the wind which had been blowing up to peg 36 all week has flipped around mid match and blew our way. I’ve ended up with 33lb, which was only good enough for 5th. Andy Geldart on 24 has had a great last half of the match to catch 78lb with 52lb second. I just got my match and margin feeding dead wrong in hindsight and should have just been a lot more patient and disciplined. My head wasn’t right from the start and I knew this one would cost me…

Day 5 I was on Trelawney peg 29 with my bogey angler Mr Geldart on 31 and Roy Penkethman on end peg 32. Both of these could reach the island and with the wind now blowing our end, they would be dangerous. Plus pegs 1 and 2 in our section had decent weights the previous day and the two anglers on pegs 4 and 5 chose not to turn up(!) which left a huge gap on that side! I was really up against it, but my peg had been consistent all week and had a really good margin, so I hoped that would help.

I’ve had a great start mugging three big carp for over 20lb and thought it would be game on, but Andy has clawed back with a great run of carassio and small carp against the island while I could see Roy catching carp on the feeder. I’ve fed pellets at 14.5m and surprisingly never had a bite on the deck on a light rig, but swapped to shallow fishing and had 10 small carassio and an F1. A short kit with 8-10 Slik was ideal for these crafty little fish by the way.

I’ve had a few silvers plus an F1 and a blondie on maggots short, three F1s on meat short and two carp and half a dozen F1s on meat down the edge over micros and Sonubaits Match Method Mix. Everything I did wrong down the edge yesterday I felt I did right today.

I’ve weighed 69lb for 3rd in section. Andy has weighed 80lb for 2nd and Roy on the end peg had a great run down his margins to win the section with 90lb. We were also the top three weights on the lake, so the fish had definitely followed the wind. It looked like the same had happened on all the lakes.

You needed 30 points out of 32 for a top-10 finish, but I ended up with 29 points and 16th out of 120, so not too bad off pretty average draws. One day I will get a run of flyers I’m sure…

Well done to the ever-dominant Andy Power and Andy Bennett for top two in the festival with maximum points and Paul Burton for 3rd. Also thanks to Guru for sponsoring and the White Acres Fishery Team and helpers for weighing in and looking after us all.

It’s great to be home safe and sound. Hopefully my van will be fixed soon! Nice day for chilling out, feeding the fish and maybe even mowing the lawn…

Have a good Bank Holiday everyone!

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