White Acres Preston Festival 2022

Here’s my account of a tough week down at White Acres for the Preston Festival with all the ups and downs I normally get!

Day 1

Trelawney 4 (yuk!)
34lb, Section 4th

The festival started with me in the usual ‘section of death’ zone then being handed a real stinker of a peg on Day 1!  Peg 4 on Trelawney is definitely not where anyone wants to be, especially with Des Shipp drawing in form end peg 32 in the section and Sam Collett and Brad Proctor either side…

The lake (in fact the entire complex) really switched off on the day. Des won the section and was 2nd on the lake with just 58lb. I was 4th in section with 34lb. I caught three F1s on a little feeder, a few F1s on meat short, just tiny roach at 13m, nothing at all long on pellet and two last-gasp carp down the edge on worm over Match Method Mix. One more minute and I’m sure I would have had another much needed edge dweller, but oh well!

Callum Dicks won the match with 61lb from peg 19. Absolutely no consolation, but my 34lb was the 7th best weight on the 24-man lake, which highlights just how difficult it fished on the day. Couldn’t have won, but another point was certainly possible. So, not the best of starts and that would have to be my dropper for the week…

Day 2

Acorn 13
110lb 8oz, Section 1st, lake 1st

Really cold start to the morning with a rare Cornish frost! I was really happy to be on Acorn as it’s one of my favourite lakes on the complex, but I’d never fished it with 12 anglers (it’s normally 8 or 9) so feared it could be a tricky day. They’d pegged it two-miss-one and I was on peg 13 with Des Shipp next door on 12, so no pressure!

My peg is a metre short of the island and I really fancied catching 16m there with it being calm and (eventually) sunny, plus the option of a swinging rig although it was very shallow over there. Strangely only hooked one carassio over there, which came off! Instead I caught mostly down the edges, carefully feeding several swims. A few early carp and F1s on pellet and meat, then maggots over a bit of Match Method Mix. 

For some reason everyone struggled to catch across today, but no complaints from me as I’ve had a lovely day’s edge fishing catching a mixture of small to medium carp and F1s. Even had a couple on a top kit. I comfortably won the lake with 110lb and was back on course with Bolingey the next day to look forward to… 

Day 3

Bolingey 6
98lb, Section 3rd

Reasonably happy with the peg, but could’ve done without Des in my section yet again, this time he was on peg 16 where Andy Bennett had a silly 300lb+ weight the previous week. 

The weights had been much lower this week so a low ton was the target. Kicked off on a top kit hoping for a sneaky one, foul-hooked one first chuck mid-depth and it came off! Out short with pellet and had a carassio and a 2lb carp but felt they were not settling there. Shipped 14.5m down the corner and had two here on banded pellet in 3ft of water, then nothing. 

Time for the feeder and despite it looking ideal and going in lovely I only managed one carp in the next half hour, so time for the long pole… Fishing 6mm pellet at 16m I had a lovely run of carp. Nothing massive but I was ticking over nicely with about 80lb in the net. However, it was getting a bit gusty and with 90 minutes to go I really felt I’d need some edge fish, which is always where matches are won and lost at Bolingey.

Had two down the side for 15lb but it was 3.5ft deep which is way too much for moody carp and a real head scratcher trying to get them to settle. I definitely got it a bit wrong as I foul-hooked five big uns down there for a poor end, which I knew would cost me. 

I’ve ended up 3rd in section with 98lb with peg 18 having 2lb more and Des winning the section with just 9lb more! Always small margins on this festival and I came away totally gutted. Felt I fished a good 3.5 hours but the edge fishing I normally bank on have let me down. All the signs were there to feed it a bit cuter but I was too headstrong thinking I’d eventually get one in the gob. But one 9lb fish and it would have been a completely different story… Andy Power won the match next peg to Des with 180lb, but there weren’t too many tons on another out-of-sorts day.  

Day 4

Pollawyn 52
41lb, Section 2nd

Down the arm all by myself and knew it would be a tough day with just 40lb the target. A very average peg and strangely up against 32, 34 and 36 in the main lake. Andy Power on 32 was definitely the danger man, the same peg he’d drawn the previous week. The pegs down the arms are traditionally good on Day One when there are a few carp to be caught, then they get harder. Still a chance of an odd creature or two last knockings though, but sadly not today.

I started by dobbing a big disc of bread through the pea-green algae scum and hooked a 1lb F1 instantly… only for it to come off at the net. Not an ideal start and making a nice habit of losing my first fish! I soon followed that up with a 2lber and that was all I managed on the white stuff. 

I’ve mugged two blonde F1s on maggots, but hardly saw any come into my peg all day, which was a shame as they’re great fun to catch. 

My banker swim was chucking a bomb and bread, then a feeder, right across to peg 51’s platform. I’ve caught doing this before but sadly not a fish this time around, despite regular chucks. I clipped up another feeder swim diagonally to my right, tight to the island, and had two small F1s here. 

Straight in front it’s just over 16m to the island and a really awkward ship with such a high bank behind but I’ve really persevered here for a bit, worked hard for just one F1, two perch and a lone blondie. 

Times flown by and with ninety minutes to go I’ve eventually seen a little movement down my right-hand margin where I’d fed Match Method Mix and maggots. For the rest of the match I’ve patiently ticked over catching an occasional chunky F1 down the side, losing one really big perch, but no hoped-for carp. 

It was a tough day but I felt I’d worked really hard for 41lb. On another day that might have been enough for a section win, but that man Andy Power blitzed the section and match with 94lb of carp on the pole shallow, relegating me to 2nd in section. A great weight and absolutely no way anyone was ever going to beat that down the arms! 

Day 5

Twin Oaks 11
98lb, Section 3rd, Lake 4th

Last day and needed a win to make the Final. Like everyone else I was praying for peg 15 or 17 all night as the best peg in Cornwall (16) wasn’t in this week. The one peg you definitely didn’t want in that section was peg 11, as it’s the furthest away from the epicentre… so yep that’s what I was on. Oh, and Andy Power was next door on 12. I think he and Des are the best two all-round commercial anglers in the country and I just cannot get away from either of them this week! 

I started down the edge, had a tail swirl but no bites. Meanwhile Andy started down his edge towards peg 13 and had a carp and an F1. Swapped to a big bunch of maggots and the float shot under, I struck and a gudgeon came flying through the air and fell off! Someone’s clearly trying to tell me something this week!

Out to meat short, just feeding a few 6mm cubes and managed two big kippers for about 16lb to settle myself. They really gave me the runaround, though. One had my 12-14 Slik stretched all the way to the far bank, so I swapped to 14-16 soon after.

It was flat calm so I also fancied catching long, initially with pellet, then potting maggots, but never had a fish doing either. In hindsight I perhaps should have fished meat long instead, or they just weren’t settled there. 

Bomb and bread and a feeder across both yielded nothing so I came down the side in 4ft but it was a roach a chuck. If I was in the early numbered section I would have got my head down and caught them, but that was too negative in this section. Replumbing to 3ft I had one big 3lb F1 and a few silvers but that was my lot from there. 

Back on a the feeder while I retackled up a second rod with a maggot feeder, as I could see Roy Penkethman to my left in the other section catching well on it, but then my tip finally bent around and I managed a carp and an F1. That convinced me to stick to my guns, but it was desperately slow. Andy next door was tidily chucking a waggler and bomb with meat across and only getting a very occasional pull, so it just felt like there weren’t many fish in our area. Meanwhile I could see pegs 14 and 15 both catching every time I looked up… 

Back on meat short I managed another carp before venturing a section further and this was by far the best spot, catching several more carp and F1s. After a slow and methodical day I ended up putting 81lb on the scales. Andy Power next door had 68lb, peg 14 had 83lb and peg 15 won the lake with 98lb, so I was 3rd. 

So not far off at all but it never ever felt like there were loads of fish in the area. Felt I fished a really nice short meat game, but not getting much response anywhere else cost me the win I needed to get in the Final. 

So, I ended up with a 1st, a 2nd and two 3rds for 19 points and 35th out of the 120 anglers. As expected, 21 points made the £15k Parkdean Masters Final. Just 2lb more at Bolingey and 2lb more at Twin Oaks was all that stood between me and being back in the Final, but it just wasn’t to be this year. Drawing in such a ridiculous zone of superstars never helped, but at least I have the consolation of beating both Des and Andy off the next peg this week – that’s almost like winning a match to me! A huge well done to Dale Shepherd winning the festival (the best unsponsored angler in the country!) plus Callum and Sam on 2nd and 3rd and to all the 24 finalists fishing today. 

Really glad to be home with the family now. Fortune certainly hasn’t been on my side this week, but I’ve still had my chances and know I could have done better. Winter’s definitely on its way, time to rake the leaves and I’m looking forward to a bit of silverfish and F1 bashing now. Have a good weekend y’all! 

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