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Fishomania is one of the most exciting and contested events in the match fishing calendar.
Hundreds of anglers battle it out for a place in the grand Final, where the winner receives a massive £30,000 along with the prestige of being crowned the Fishomania Champion.
Hayfield, Partridge and Lindholme Lakes were my three chances of making the Final this year. My first crack at the Fisho came at Hayfield Lakes in Doncaster, a venue I know really well. Unfortunately the qualifier proved be exceptionally peggy, as many of these big matches are. I never really stood a chance in all honesty, the winner came from a completely different lake, but you’ve got to be in it to win it I guess. So, on to Partridge Lakes. This is a fantastic venue, and in my opinion one of the fairest and most well-maintained fisheries in the country.
There were 180 pegs on this particular qualifier, making the draw even more important than it usually is! 18 on Ribbon Lake was my peg for the day. Ribbon isn’t a lake I was familiar with, but it has thrown up the winner of this qualifier several times so I wasn’t too despondent.
This was the first time I had seen the lake so I wasn’t too sure what to expect. The early pegs looked lovely, they were all around 13-14 metres wide, with reedy banks that screamed fish! I really fancied it, I could see why this lake has such a good reputation.
I trundled along around the corner to my peg, I presumed that all the pegs would be the same on this lake. I presumed wrong! My peg was around 7 metres wide with a little bit of cover, nothing like the early pegs I had just walked past. I like to keep all of my fishing as simple as possible, especially when it comes to snake Lake fishing. You can’t fish too may lines, you need to keep things concentrated and work at them throughout the day. If you overload your peg with lines all you do is split your fish and chase your tail half of the time. With this in mind I went down a two line approach. Tight up to the island and down the edge, both at the right hand side of my peg which offered a bit more cover and room.
Bait choice is vitally important on these big events, it can be the make or break of your day and with the chance of £30,000 up for grabs you can’t afford to make a mistake. Having never seen this lake before I chose the ever reliable worms and caster’s and go for a ‘catch everything that swims’ mentality.
My match started brilliantly I had around 30 fish in the first hour for about 20-25lb, all from the long mud line. The match wore on and things were ticking over nicely, but I’d catch in spells. I’d go in, get dragged in and then five minutes later I’d foul hook one, miss a couple of bites. I’ve had this happen a couple of times recently. I think this is down to the amount of competing fish in my peg. They can afford to be fussier about what they eat, but when the fish feed more confidently in numbers they’d eat literally anything. Hence why I’d catch well in spells and then it would suddenly dry up. I felt like I needed another approach as my edge line wasn’t as fruitful as I had hoped. I decided to feed a shallow line at 6 sections with casters to my left, out of the way of my other two lines. This would hopefully give me a plan C just in case the edge and across lines dried up.
The decision to target a shallow line proved to be a stroke of genius. I snared about 25 ide and F1s in the middle period of the match when other anglers around the lake struggled for bites. Because I had started feeding it earlier than everyone else I think I have drawn fish into my peg and created the competition earlier than other’s which gave me a head start. These decisions can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing. It’s not always a case of just stick to your guns, you have to adapt and read your peg.
I finished the match with about 75 fish, not record breaking by any means but it was still a steady days fishing. I was shocked when I plonked 80lb onto the scales! I couldnt believe the fish averaged around a 1lb, I thought I had closer to 50lb not 80! But then again I’m shocking at guessing my weights!
It was quite disappointing really, I felt like this could have been a chance to make the final. If I’d have had a better finish to the match, I might have stood a chance. I don’t know what it was, it became more and more difficult to get a string of fish together as the match wore on. You definitely need a big slice of luck to qualify on these big events and unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be. Nevertheless you have to take the rough with the smooth and keep believing that one day it’ll be your day and you’ll get the rub of the green.
Local lad Shaun Cooke had done brilliantly to win the qualifier from an unfancied area on Marsh Lake. That’s the best things about Partridge, no matter what peg you’re on you feel like you’ve got a chance of winning. My 80lbs was good enough for fourth overall which isn’t bad considering the size of the match, but it’s a case of what could have been, like most matches are!