Tunnel Barn Memorial Match

Yesterday I was fortunate to fish the memorial match at Tunnel Barn Farm. It has been held every year in memory of Jenny Hamlington, plus the Tunnel Barn veterans who are sadly no longer with us. This year the event had even more significance with the loss of Mike Hamlington, the larger than life creator of such a super fishery. Having fished Tunnel Barn for over 25 years I knew both Mike and Jenny. When I first visited the fishery there were only four lakes (House, Extension, Top and Bottom) so I witnessed the venue’s expansion into the amazing place it now is. Back then, we used to fish a Wednesday day match, then an evening match (sometimes with floodlights coming on at 8pm) and then we’d all go back to their farm house for a hearty dinner, which was usually game pie!

The memorial match was really well supported with 78 anglers across House, Extension, Canal, New and High pools and Mike must have kindly looked down on me as I pulled out peg 25 on Extension, one of my favourite pegs. The wind was an unusual direction, blowing off our backs and down to the left and it’s been a much trickier match than I expected. The edges and short were really slow and even fishing shallow down the middle I found myself having to fish worms at full depth to get a bite. Despite the gusting wind I reluctantly had to go a full 16 metres across to the reeds to continue catching. You could tell the F1s had switched off as half of my weight consisted of carp, from baby 6oz mirrors to 4lb commons, and lots and lots of flying skimmers.

Shallow down the reedy margins never worked and a short maggot line never kicked in, either, but the last 40 minutes I finally found some old F1s down the side on maggots and pellets over the new Sonubaits Marine Green groundbait, which I’ve been having quite a bit of success with.

I’ve ended up with 102lb, which was 2nd on Extension and 4th overall in the match. Jamie Payne had a great last hour on 27 to win the lake with 112lb and 3rd overall, Craig Meadows was 2nd with 133lb off High Pool and I was made up to see Dave Chapman win the entire match with 137lb from peg 29 on House Pool, fishing with his trademark method feeder and paste tactics. A smashing guy and a really deserving winner of the event.

Incidentally, the one and only time I remember Mike Hamlington actually fishing his own venue was one of those evening matches over 20 years ago. I was on that same peg 29 on House that day, with him facing me on peg 16. I’ll never forget it as during the match a Range Rover raced up the track behind Mike, straight out of the venue with a big dust cloud behind it. Mike was quickly on the phone to give Sarah a rollicking for speeding, only to discover it had actually just been pinched! He never did get it back…

Anyway, back to the fishing and although it was a little tougher than we all hoped, it was never about the fishing or prizes, it was just great to see so many friendly faces, each paying their respects. The event has so far raised over £1,300 for the Renal unit at Solihull hospital, Marie Curie and the Warwickshire Air Ambulance. A huge well done to Sarah and all the Tunnel Barn Farm team for putting on such a special day.

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