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The Maver Match This has quickly become one of the most prestigious competitions in the match fishing calendar. Anglers up and down the country fight tooth and nail to have a crack at the £60,000 top prize. Unsurprisingly I base a large amount of my spring/summer trying to qualify for this Final. The qualifiers are really good matches and with the wide variety of venues used for qualifiers you can target the venue that best suits you and that your familiar with.
I kicked off my MMT campaign at Packington Fisheries in Meriden. This isn't a venue I'm overly familiar with but like any big qualifier you take your chance and hopefully pull out a peg that gives you half a chance. There were several lakes being used for the qualifier but Little Geary's seemed to be the favoured lake to qualify from. Fortunately I had peg 11 on Little Geary's stuck to my hand so at least I was on the right lake, if the rumours were anything to go by.
"The standard of angler on the MMT qualifiers is always very high"
I have a lot of confidence fishing with worms and casters at this time of the year especially for F1's. I believe that the fish feed a lot more positively on natural high protein baits like worms and casters because of their increase in metabolism before the fish spawn. I know that Little Geary's is home to a big head of F1's and silvers so hopefully my worm and caster approach could produce the goods, although I did have some pellets as a back up just in things weren't going to plan.
The standard of angler on the MMT qualifiers is always very high but my section/lake had an exceptionally strong field with anglers like Adam Wakelin, Les Thompson, Barry Bush, Alex Bones, Lee Edwards and Warren Martin to name a few so I had my work cut out!
Only the overall match winner walks away with a chance to fish for the big bucks so you have to plan your attack around a positive approach that gives you the best chance of winning the match. I'm a big believer in attacking my match around the tactics and bait that I have the most confidence in, no matter where I'm fishing. I always target my approach on the species of fish I am likely to catch and then use the conditions to determine where I am going to catch them. My peg was around 35 metres wide with reeds on the far bank and in the edges. I also had a lot of open water in front of me to draw fish from, it looked lovely!
There was a consistent stream of high pressure leading up to the qualifier which generally urges the fish to feed up in the water columns. With this in mind I targeted the shallow water in my swim, focusing around three areas of my swim; a method feeder tight across to the far bank, a shallow swim with casters and then down my edges with worms and casters. The margins can be an extremely effective area of your swim at this time of the year but I've learnt that you need to leave them alone for a good 2-2 ½ hours to get the most out of them. They never seem to be as good if you feed them too early so I like to concentrate the latter part of my match in the edges when they there most prolific.
Rod- Mini Plus 10ft Carp Feeder
Reel- 4000 PXR
Feeder- 30gram Inline method feeder
Main Line- 6lb Powermax- 0.15mm Reflo Power hook length
Hook- 16 PR36
Hook bait- 6mm Pellet or two dead red maggots
Frankie used a 30gram method feeder
Float- PB Carp 1
Main Line & hook length- 0.15mm Reflo Power to 0.10mm hook length
Hook- 18 PR36
Elastic- 8 Dura Hollo
Hook bait- Banded Caster/head of worm
Frankie uses a PB Carp 1 for a lot of his shallow/edge fishing
Float- 4x14 PB Carp 4
Main Line & hook length- 0.15mm main line- 0.11mm hook length
Elastic- 10 Dura Hollo
Hook- 16 PR434
Hook bait- Piece of worm
My match kicked off nicely, I had 8 F1s in the first 30 minutes on the method feeder. Everyone seems to be catching well so hopefully the rumours were right and this would be the lake to qualify from. Things were ticking over steadily but I knew I needed to step up a gear in order to set myself apart from the pack. I know how deadly shallow fishing can be for F1's and on its day it can be unbeatable but similarly to my edge swims I like to leave my shallow line alone for a good hour before I go on it. You definitely get a lot more out of your swim when you prime it up!
Adam and Lee Edwards were catching really well at this point and I felt like I was falling behind so It was time to bring the shallow line into play. The first drop in usually gives you a good indication of whether or not your going to catch shallow, thankfully my first drop resulted in a big F1 around the 2lb mark followed by another 35 in the next two hours! I had a great spell during that middle hour catching an F1 a chuck ranging from 10oz to 2lb along with a bonus 12lb common carp, very handy. Banded caster was the best hook bait by a mile, you never seem to get pestered by small fish and you miss hardly any bites. Definitely worth a go if you've never tried it.
I was still picking off the odd fish shallow but I needed my edge swims to come good if I was going to have a strong finish. 3 ½ hours in I knew a good position but the latter stages can either make or break your match, both Adam and Lee were catching really well down their edges so it was time for a cheeky look. I'd been been priming both my edges for the last hour feeding a wormy slop made up of groundbait, soil, worms, casters and hemp. I was into big F1's straightaway averaging 1 ½lb., great weight builders. By alternating from my left and right margins feeding one line and fishing the other I go into a steady rhythm and continued to catch until the end of the match. Although, Lee and Adam had an equally strong finish hopefully I had done enough?
The talk on the bank was that 65lb was winning the match and Little Geary's was the last lake to weigh in so potentially if I won Little Geary's I'd qualify for the MMT Final and fish for that whopping grand prize.
So on to the moment of truth. Match Fishing mag editor Alex Bones was the first to weigh and set the bar at 78lb a few pegs up. I plopped 118lb on to the scales, a lot more than I thought. I was hoping this would be enough to beat Adam and Lee? Adam was the next to weigh, thankfully I had done enough to pip his 99lb 12oz which meant that the only obstacle in my way to the MMT Final was Lee Edwards. Strangely Lee weighed the exact same weight as Adam which meant that I had qualified to the £60,000 Match This Final! It's such a surreal feeling, even writing this now it still feels strange to be fishing for a potentially life changing amount of money. All I have to do now is beat 23 anglers in a five hour match and I'll be quids in. Hopefully I get a bit of luck in the final and the draw gods are on my side.
What is the Wormy Slop?
The wormy slop is basically a mixture of soil, ground bait, worms casters and hemp. I'll run you through how I prepare the mix; I put half a bag of Sonubaits Super crush expander and the equivalent quantity of riddled top soil into a bucket. Then add water slowly until you get a sloppy porridge consistency, but you have to be careful not to over wet the mix, you want a sloppy texture but the mix has to have some solidity in order to get the particles to the bottom. I then add around 2/3 pints of casters, ½ pint of chopped worms, a tin of Sonubaits hemp and thats it the wormy slop. This makes a stodgy and particle packed mix thats perfect for fishing with worms and casters.