Top 10 Again!

White Acres Garbolino Winter Festival 2023

Here’s a quick(ish) rundown of my Garbolino Winter Festival down. Ninety anglers from all over Europe descending onto White Acres down in Cornwall, hoping to get in the all-important top 10. The weather’s been reasonable with wind being the most difficult thing to deal with and it’s not been too cold, so hordes of little roach have been a bit of a nuisance. It’s a natural baits only and a float-only event and F1 hybrids are now the main target, although proper carp are still not allowed apart from on Python Lake. There are five sections of 18, split into three point-scoring sections of six and I found myself in A Section for Day One…

Day 1

Pollawyn 21
Section 2nd, Lake 4th

I’ve once again drawn my favourite peg 21 on Pollawyn, but it’s been far from easy fishing today, not helped by the wind hitting my point a bit naughtily. I kicked off dobbing bread to the island and had a 2lb F1 but sadly that was the end of the action as the next eight fish were all roach wherever I dobbed. Swapping to tapping in maggots it was roach soup no matter how I fed. I soon fired up a sweetcorn line and more roach on that when I eventually got a bite on it. Then the wind’s really got up making everything so much harder. Hmm. 

I’ve tried to fish corn 16m onto the sunken bar to my left and again just roach. Worms in deeper water finally yielded a skimmer and a small 1lb F1. The edge on this peg is normally good for big perch, but again it was just infested with roach and little perch. Short on corn was no good either but literally no one I could see was catching much either.

Eventually I had a run of three F1s on corn to the island, but it was my margin that finally got me out of jail with six good fish down there, having to feed quite aggressively. 

I’ve ended up with 30lb exactly which would normally be a very average weight, but on this day it was a comfortable 2nd in section and 4th on the whole lake. Andy Power won the section off peg 1 with 46lb and Gav Leversedge won the lake with 48lb on peg 7. These were end pegs with the wind going that way and looking at all the weigh sheets it was clear all the top weights had come from the windward ends. Interestingly my peg struggled all week, yet it’s normally a run-to peg. An end peg was definitely required on Day Two…

Day 2

Twin Oaks 22
Section 1st

I told my lodge mate Russ Grimes I would be on end peg 22 on Twin Oaks, and that’s exactly where I drew! Ran to it as Cam Hughes caught 127lb off it the day before and on this same festival last year I had 145lb off peg 23 last year. I honestly felt it was going to be the easiest section win I could wish for and hoped I’d brought enough keepnets… but after three hours with just 18lb in the sack I was having second thoughts. Typical moody Twin Oaks F1s!

It was fishing shocking and everyone was once again plagued by hordes of little roach. That normally means the F1s have backed right off and that was certainly the case. The only place I could catch was 13m on corn, but that was my absolute limit as it was too windy to fish any further. 

I managed a few little hand-sized skimmers short that were almost worth catching but none of the expected big F1s. The edge was the same, but with 20 minutes to go I finally hooked something bigger than a 1oz roach. Sadly it was a non-counting carp that broke me, but it still suddenly felt some fish had arrived. Next chuck a 3lb blondie wallowed in, then I lost a blondie at the net, then panned a 2lb skimmer and then a 4lb F1. Just as they’d finally decided to feed the match was over all too soon. 

I’ve ended up with just 36lb, but that was thankfully still enough to win the section. Looking at the weigh sheets the lakes had really switched off with the cold North wind blowing and little roach everywhere. Just 28lb won Pollawyn too! 

Day 3

Trelawney 24
Section 3rd

Should have done better today! With over three hours gone I’d got about 8lb in the net while Nathan Hughes is catching a fish a chuck 16m towards the island on peg 22 and Stephan on end peg 21 is also getting his elastic stretched. I’ve tried everything but it’s just not happening…

Eventually I had two F1s down towards peg 23, initially fishing corn as there were lots of tiny roach (again!). Then all of sudden in the last hour the F1s have decided to have a munch and everyone’s suddenly catching them. I’ve had a few short on maggots but the edge was even better on maggots, although a bit on the small side for this lake. 

I’ve ended up with 35lb for 3rd, just pipped to 2nd by Steve Martin who’s has a great last hour short. But hats off to Nathan who’s blitzed the lake with 78lb. I should’ve been 2nd if I’d fished better and that’s always going to be costly on a festival like this…

Day 4

Python 24
Section 1st, Lake 2nd

A wide peg so I can only get 2ft off the island with a full 16m. Kicked off dobbing bread for two carp for a nice 8lb start, then tiny roach everywhere. Swapped to maggots in 3ft and had four carp and an F1 before that faded. Thought I’d just move into shallower water and catch, but this was surprisingly unproductive. 

I dropped into 4.5ft and had a couple of carassio, but it was slow going. I spent the next 30 minutes biteless before snaring a 2lb carp short on double maggot. I’ve then spent the last 90 mins short and down the sides, catching odd carp from 1lb to 3lb. Strangely my right hand margin was poor but I caught six down to my left at five sections with maggots over Sonubaits F1 Green and Thatchers Green, which has been my mix of choice all week. 

It was all going well but my short line just went a bit wrong late on, despite trying my best to fathom it out and at the all out I felt I’d thrown the section away. Matt Parsons on end peg 20 was admitting to 55lb with me only have 46lb on the clickers. However, I finally had a bit of fortune as Matt’s fish went 51lb and mine a surprising 54lb. That won the section and was surprisingly enough for 2nd on the lake too. I might’ve been 1st on the lake if everyone had gone to their pegs, but hey ho…

So, two wins, a 2nd and a 3rd going into the final day with a win on the last day very much needed. Jennys is the destination which has fished really poor today, so who knows what’ll happen…  

Day 5

Jennys 38
60lb 14oz
Section 1st, Lake 1st

Peg 38 on Jennys was my final day destination and I needed a section win. I thought I was in the open water facing peg 16 and was very happy with that, but my head dropped once I realised I was actually in the narrows behind the island. It’s only 17m wide here and no more than 3ft anywhere, so not a lot of scope. However a quick chat with Cam Hughes gave me a little optimism that there can sometimes be some quality fish in the area. 

I’ve kicked off on corn at 16m in 2.5ft of water and had three F1s pretty quickly. The 4th fish took a while then I went 40 minutes without a fish. I’ve rotated all my lines but just tiny roach everywhere, so I’ve stuck to 16m most the day, despite the gusts of wind turning me sideways numerous times. I have had to make a few tweaks to the rig and feeding, then they’ve really rocked up and I’ve had a fantastic day catching mostly big F1s and blondies til the end. I must say my Matrix MTX5 pole at 16 metres has been sublime in those conditions! And the new Matrix F1 Slims, Slim Wires and Finesse Carbons in 0.15g to 0.5g have been pretty much all I’ve used all week. 

I’ve weighed 60lb 14oz to win the entire lake for a mega finish to the week. That’s got me in the all-important Top 10 overall, finishing 6th overall with three 1sts, a 2nd and a 3rd! Plenty of pennies for Christmas now! 

The Result

A big well done to Milan Verhulst winning with four section wins and 24 points. Really great to see one of the many European competitors take top spot. The next seven of us have all tied on 23 points with Craig Edmunds and Andy Power getting the 2nd and 3rd spots on weight and droppers. Very happy to be 6th but 1lb more total weight and I’d have been 5th, so it’s always such a close affair. Think I’ve made the top 10 every year except one now, but it’s getting harder and harder each year as the standard of angler is just so damn high. 

Thanks to Clint Elliott and the White Acres fishery team, plus Garbolino for sponsoring my fave festival of the year. I must also once again thank my lodge mate Russ Grimes, who’s had a great week but struggled on the very last day, which has cost him framing. We’ve had a right laugh and eaten no end, so my body needs a rest now! 

Oh, did I say rest? I’m on a qualifier at Makins today. Seemed like a good idea at the time! Looks a bit frosty this morning too… 

Top 10

  • 1 Milan Verhulst 24pts
  • 2 Craig Edmunds 23
  • 3 Andy Power 23
  • 4 Rob Swan 23
  • 5 Callum Dicks 23
  • 6 Jon Arthur 23
  • 7 Cam Hughes 23
  • 8 Sam Williams 23
  • 9 Michael Bower 22
  • 10 Des Shipp 22

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