Going For Gold

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Two top match anglers. One single species challenge. Who will pick the right tactics to come out on top?

Two of the UK’s best match anglers go head to head in a crucian carp battle royale. We thought we’d put the challenge to Andy Power and Neil McKinnon.

Between them they have won a huge number of matches and big-money finals. To make the challenge more interesting we’ve doctored the rules; only one species counts – the crucian carp. The relatively small, incredibly hard fighting bar of gold is a firm favourite of many anglers around the country, so what better species to test these two match wizards.

Crucian carp are the most common fish nowadays, but with the incredible ability of these two anglers they’ve got to stand a reasonable chance of catching some finicky crucians. We've chosen Jenny's Lake at the famous White Acre's Fisheries in Cornwall which is home to thousands of these little bars of gold.

Both Andy and Neil have chosen to target a number of different lines to maximise their chances of keeping the fish coming all day. Andy looks incredibly well prepared before the challenge starts at 10.30.
“I like to set up a number of rigs. Five hours of fishing can take a toll on your rigs and if I catch a lot of fish they might get damaged. With tough competition, I set up duplicates of my rigs in case of any breakages,” explains Andy as he plumbs up his 11m swim.
Andy likes to have several rig options and duplicates on EVERY match he fishes!
The ‘all-in’ is called and the bait is introduced into the swim. Neil has chosen to prime his swims with groundbait laced with corn.
“I’ve mixed up a bag of Sonubaits Match Method Mix. This groundbait contains a high fishmeal content and is a light brown colour. The fine particles shouldn’t fill up the fish too much, but the smell and flavour will hopefully hold them in the swim. The corn is very visual and easy for the fish to see. I’ll start by putting in 20 grains of Sonubaits F1 Corn along with two small balls of groundbait into each swim.”
Neil loves Match Method Mix for a wide variety of his fishing!
Andy has a different selection of bait on his side tray. Along with 2mm fishery pellets the Somerset rod also has dead maggots, Sonubaits F1 Corn and a bag of worms.
“I use a big plummet to make sure that I’m 100% certain on my depth. By plumbing up so that only the float’s bristle is showing, I know that I will be fishing just on the bottom. I’ve also used the plummet to find out what the bottom is like. Crucians love to feed on the harder gravel spots and this also makes presenting your bait much easier. On soft slit patches when the fish are feeding on groundbait on the bottom they can make a lot of disturbance. It creates a big cloud of slit and hinders the fish finding your hookbait. On the hard gravel the fish find it easier to find the bigger bits of feed,” explains Neil as he drops his rig into the water.
“I’ve chosen a PB Inter 2 Float in 0.4g. When dotted down, this float is ideal for this sort of fishing. I’m using a fine 0.11mm Reflo Power for my hooklengths, as I like to make the bait look as natural as possible. With small hooks and light line I’m chosen a soft 10 Dura Hollo elastic, perfect for these crucians.”
A light 0.4g PB Inter 2 float proved to be the perfect float for those shy biting crucians!
Andy thinks he has around 8 fish; putting him just behind Neil who is admitting to 10, but it’s still early days and all to play for.
“I’m only just behind, but I’ve got a trick up my sleeve that I think could make all the difference. I’ve noticed that Neil is throwing his loose feed in by hand, so I’ve attached a small Soft CAD Pot to my tip to introduce my feed incredibly accurately. These soft, flexible pots will fit on all of my top kits too! Into the pot I’m placing a small ball of dampened pellets and a couple of grains of corn. This should be enough to hold the fish in the swim,’ states Andy.
The Soft CAD Pots are super flexible and fit a wide vairety of poles
Andy had caught up to Neil’s 10 fish and the match is now neck-and-neck. Neil tops up each of his swims with a ball of groundbait the size of a golf ball. Introducing another ball of groundbait when the swim might be starting to die off can kick-start new fish into feeding and keep his catch rate up.
Meanwhile, Andy is plugging away feeding small balls of pellets via the pole cup. A switch to a small worm section sees him slip the net under a string of small tench that unfortunately won’t count today.
He quickly changes to a short line and immediately latches into another crucian, putting him one fish ahead of Neil.
The weather is not helping the fishing, with bright sunshine beaming down onto the lake both anglers are having to work hard for bites. Neil has been feeding a very short line, only a top kit’s distance out in front of his keepnet since the start of the match.
A short line right by Neil's keepnet winkled out a few golden beauties!
“It’s really hard gravel at only a top kit’s length out in front of me. The crucians love feeding on this harder spot. I’ve been keeping this swim as quiet as possible, it can often be a banker that lots of people ignore,” smiles a confident Neil as he lowers his corn hookbait just past his keepnet.