Ben Sharp Reports Back From Castle Ashby At Winter League

Our new blogger Ben Sharp reports back from Castle Ashby AT Winter League that was held on the 27th February.
My name is Ben Sharp, I am 23 and I have been match fishing for over 10 years, mainly at club level and local open matches. However, over the last four years I have pushed myself further into fishing bigger matches and qualifiers, qualifying for last year’s Maver Mega Match This Final being my biggest achievement to date.

About a year ago, after seeing a small advert in Match Fishing magazine from a team called Preston Innovations Black Horse entitled “Calling out for young anglers,” I contacted the captain, Dan Webb, about joining. This has been the best decision I have made. Not only have I made some great friends and team-mates but I have learnt so much from them all!

We fished the Castle Ashby AT Winter League, which gave a couple of new signings, including myself, a chance to shine. The team adapted brilliantly to the changing moods of the venue and after a few ups and down with the draw bag we managed to finish 2nd in the league and, more importantly, qualified for the Winter League final.

This was to be held on February 27th and was split over two very different venues – Decoy Lakes and Old Nene/20ft Drain in the March and Benwick areas.
We spent a fair amount of time practising and our team captains allocated the anglers to which venue we were to practice. It was an easy decision really, with such a great team on the natural venues.

I was sent to Decoy Lakes. I already knew a lot about this venue and did my best to point our other guys in the right direction as to what to expect. As all good anglers do, they took on board my knowledge and got to grips with it in no time. In my head, a top 10 finish for us would have been an achievable target and top five a superb effort!

On the day of the final my peg was Elm 5 at Decoy; not exactly what I was hoping for and, in fairness, the draw wasn't too kind to the team! I chose to plumb up four main lines to start – left-hand edge, and three lines in front of me at five, 11 and 14.5 metres. It turned out that the depth was exactly the same from five metres all the way to 14.5, so I set up a positive 0.5g bulk-down rig for fishing pellet and corn and a spread 0.3g rig for maggots to cover all three lines.

I started at 11 metres just using a Toss Pot to feed a pinch of micro pellets and maggots, just feeling my way into the match, and I would work my way out long if the fish backed off. The only lines I fed regularly were my margin with corn and short 5m pole line with maggots.

It turned out to be a really tough day, with some good anglers around me struggling. I caught three early F1s at 11 metres, before pushing long and catching the odd small skimmer on 4mm expanders. In the end I managed to scrape the barrel and catch five F1s and 14 skimmers, all on pellets, for 6kg 150g, which was enough to get around halfway in my section!

Pegs 8 to 16 had there own match of huge weights, topped by a massive 86kg.

Several of our lads offered a really good team display, taking every section point possible from some awful pegs both on the drains and at Decoy. We did have some better pegs in our draw and made the most of these with section wins, 2nds and 3rds.

We did make the top 10! In fact, we managed 6th with 75 penalty points. It was a really great team effort and an amazing final. I hope we can qualify and return next year.

I must finish with a huge well done to Team Ossett for their win. It was superb effort with only 45 penalty points and well deserved!
Ben Sharp