Consistency is something we all strive for as match anglers, everyone can draw a good peg and have the odd good result but getting consistently good results is much more difficult.
This has been even more important in my fishing in recent weeks as I’ve been fishing the very popular Westwood Lakes teams of 3. Every year the match is a sell out and this year has been no different.
With the weather being unsettled to say the least, the lakes have been fishing quite hard and a bit peggy. These conditions along with 15 peg sections and a quality field meant that having a blowout was always quite possible.
Our Middy team consisted of Rob Morris, Mark Griggs and myself. The first two matches had gone well and we were lying in second place going into the 3rd round. We had a talk before the match and we all agreed that the most important aspect of the match was to avoid a blow out at all costs. We were sure that 3 half decent results would leave us pushing for top spot.
With these words still ringing in my ears I set of to peg 23 on Kestrel Lake. For anyone who doesn’t know Westwood Lakes this is the home to possibly the best still water barbel fishing in the country, unfortunately they love the open water between the islands and with an island straight in front of me at 16m I knew any chance of some “proper” barbel was pretty much gone.
Looking around the lake, of the 15 pegs in my section I felt 8 pegs were better than mine. I knew a section win would require a miracle but I felt confident that I could beat a few of these better pegs and maybe 5th in the section was possible.
I think in team matches it is important to have a clear idea what a realistic result will be from any given draw. Some people may see it as quite a negative attitude fishing for 5th in your section but I knew if I fished a good tidy match I could push for 5th, to win the section I’d have to take some massive risks and face the possibility of maybe finishing right down in my section. If it had been an individual match I wouldn’t have even considered fishing for 5th but today it was all about taking one for the team!
My match went well, I fished worm and caster to the island at 16m and caught ide steadily all day, I had a few bonus fish including a couple of 2lb carp and two small barbel and going into the last half an hour I felt I’d done enough for 5th in the section. I decided I could spend the last 30 minutes fishing for a lump and switched to my groundbait line at 11m. I baited my hook with a big worm and sat and waited. After 25 minutes I was just starting to wonder how many ide I could have caught in that time when the float slipped under and I hooked a much better fish.
I slowly guided it towards me and slipped the net under a fantastic 6lb bream. I couldn’t help breathing a sigh of relief knowing my little gamble had paid off so well.
As the scales arrived I needed 62lb to get 3rd in the section with myself and 4 other still to weigh. My catch of mainly ide tipped the scales to 59lb, 4th in the section and as I had a good idea that no one to my left had beat me I was really pleased with my result.
As we met up in the café after the match I found out our team results were 5th, 5th and my 4th. Now this may not seem like the best result for a team but the results were above average and we had avoided the dreaded blow out.
As it happened it was enough for 3rd on the day and pushed us up to the top of the league. Looking at our results over the first 3 rounds they do look pretty average. Just one section win between us all, the key though has been our consistency. We’ve turned some poor draws into average results and this is the reason we’re now sat at the top of the league.
As match anglers we’re never going to win every match we fish but we can consistently put in a good performance, this isn’t just doing the job when you’re on a flyer but getting a half decent result from a peg where most people don’t give you a chance.
The next time you’re faced with a bum draw rather than letting it get you down turn it into a positive, set yourself a target that is just possible from that peg and then work your socks off to achieve it, when you do it’ll taste every bit as sweet as a match win. Craig Butterfield