A Bit Of A Round Up!

Joe Carass recounts an extremely busy few weeks that has seen him catch a lot of fish and receive a few batterings too!

Underwater Shenanigans!

It has been quite some time since my last blog so I have a lot to catch up on. Firstly I must say how overwhelmed I have been by the response to the Underwater Secrets series in Match Fishing. I fully believe we are all going to become better anglers because of it.

We had a basic list of goals for the first part of the series but, as soon as Rob Hughes got in the lake, one question led to another and before we knew it, it was getting dark! If you haven’t seen the feature already I urge you to go out and buy the magazine, as you will definitely learn something from it.

Tunnel Barn Bagging!

My own fishing has been going fairly well recently and still revolves largely around my local Tunnel Barn Farm. I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely love this place, and the more I fish it, the closer I feel I am getting to the regulars!

My first match since the warmer weather saw me draw on Peg 19 of the Extension Pool. Now I have drawn this peg before in winter matches and done okay but I wasn’t sure about its credentials as a summer sacking peg. However, a decent plumb around the island and a look down the edges gave me a peg that I was really happy with depth wise. Depths are important at Tunnel all year round and in summer you need some shallow water to target.

My plan revolved around feeding worms and casters to the island and potting groundbait down the edges. My match went pretty much like clockwork and after five hours my 154lb was only good enough for third. I had a great match but venue expert Stu Palser made the most of his Peg 13 draw with a colossal 213lb net caught shallow on casters. Stu really is incredible on this venue all year round, but more of that later!

My second match was a very different affair. We were all on the New pool, which normally leads to a great fair match with lower weights. I drew Peg 44 next to another venue expert in the shape of Pete Caton. Again a similar plan was readied and after an hour things were going extremely well. Both Pete and I were catching well across but after two hours things went a bit weird. The whole lake just switched off. The margins of New pool are always productive so I soldiered on expecting to catch 15 fish or more in the last hour down the edge.

Come the last hour and my first look down the side resulted in a perch! Not good. For some reason the fish were not playing ball and the last hour was pretty uneventful.

At the weigh in it was soon clear that the same thing had happened to everyone. Stu Palser took the early lead with 87lb but Steve Ringer soon wrestled the lead from his grasp with 88lb 2oz. I knew I would be close but my two weighs totalled 87lb 10oz for an agonisingly close second place. The lake had fished quite hard but the top six were all within 8lb of each other and that is a good match in my eyes!

My third Tunnel experience saw me draw a very good peg in the shape of House Peg 6. This is a wonderful winter and spring peg but the island is festooned with reeds and with it being so hot and sunny I had a feeling I would have to go right in them to get bites. I had paste shallow expert Ronnie Biggs to my left and then not another angler to my right until Adam Wakelin on Peg 14. I must say I really fancied it to be a shallow fishing Mecca because of all the space and the warm conditions.

After an hour it was clear that things were not going to go to plan! The previous week had seen temperatures plummet to three degrees on a night and then all of a sudden we were fishing in 22 degrees and bright sunshine! As you can probably expect the fish were more interested in sunning themselves than feeding!

Two hours in and I only had six F1s, nine crucians a few skimmers and a tench, not exactly what I had in mind when I took a third net to my peg! It was time for a rethink. I thought the island would be a waste of time and that shallow and margin tactics would be key. However, two hours in and the shallow line was devoid of activity and the margins only seemed to hold small fish. I decided that I would just have to work the island and before long there were a few fish there.

Unfortunately, though, the fish in the peg wanted to be right in amongst some reeds and branches and wouldn’t come out. There was only one thing for it… go in and get them!

At first I went in using my favourite White Map Hollow elastic (soon to be released) but this was way too soft. I upped the game and put a 13H elastic on which is a lot heavier than what I would normally use. I was soon into my stride, though, and finally stringing together some fish. It was hard work – 16 metres into a snag pit before having to drag the fish out wasn’t ideal but at least I was catching.

After a while the fish became incredibly cagey and every fish hooked, bolted straight through the cover and after 15 very frustrating minutes I decided to put even heavier elastic in. Drennan 14-16 Bungee was my next port of call and this really did stop the fish in their tracks.

At the end of a frustrating but strangely enjoyable five hours that saw me lose a lot of floats and even more fish I was pleased with 4th place and 96lb. I maybe should have switched to the real butchering tackle earlier but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

UK Champs Blowout!

After last year's 8th place in the UK Champs I could not wait to get stuck into this year's event. Larford Lakes was the destination for round one. My day started off badly when all my gore-tex was soaked through after shooting a feature in the rain the day before. My car also insisted on running in limp mode and many of the hills local to Larford posed a real challenge!

Never mind, I was there and raring to go. I had so much tackle and different baits with me to cover the lakes. I wasn’t really fussed where I drew as long as I avoided the 60s on the Match Lake Burr.

Yes, you guessed it, Peg 60 stuck to my hand. I was devastated. I have been on that very peg before and failed to catch a carp, and that was in the height of summer! To say I wasn’t very optimistic would be an understatement.

I did have a lot of room, though, and after setting up my box on the bank (the lake is very high and is well above the platforms) I rallied somewhat and found a bit of enthusiasm. At the end of the day a top-four finish from this peg would be equivalent to a section win.

I decided on a four-pronged attack. I fed pellets at five metres straight in front of me to hopefully catch a bit of everything. There was a tree to my left that prevented me from getting in the edge so I fed just in front of the tree in about four feet of water. This was to be a meat line and I must say I felt this is where my weight would come from. I fed the margin to my right with groundbait and corn and also had a Method feeder set up to cast about 16 metres.

My match started well, 10 minutes in I had three F1s in the net and was getting indications every time I fed. It was short lived, though, and five minutes later the swim was devoid of any life. I thought that with them being F1s I could simply move a little and get back amongst them. This didn’t work!

The next move was to chuck the Method. Now with the extra water the peg was very deep so I made sure I really compressed my bait onto the feeder. The peg was ridiculously silty, though, and even with a light 15g feeder I could feel it plugged into the silt every time I went to reel in. Another hour soon passed and with only one more fish in the net I really was looking for snookers.

The guy to my left had less than me and Pete Thomas to my right was still blanking! What made the day even more enjoyable was watching Nick Speed and Paul Holland opposite us, on their way to 150lb plus… all while we couldn’t buy a bite.

Come the last hour and I was really up the creek without a paddle. I decided to just chuck all of my bait in down the edge and concentrate on the meat line. A quick bite and a foul-hook carp gave me some hope and in the next three chucks I had three decent fish and I was starting to think that the comeback was on… it wasn’t! Two more fish came from the meat line and one F1 couldn’t help but venture onto my margin swim.

My 15 kilos was only enough for sixth in the section but strangely I was fairly happy with that. What really made my day was the arrival of the carp when we were packing up; in fact I leant down and managed to ‘tickle’ one out of the margins! Yet 10 minutes earlier I was fishing in the same place without a bite!

This poor result means that nothing else than a section win will do in round two.

Simply The Best

There are some awesome anglers in this world and I must say how it is evident that class always shines through. Three instances in the recent month provoked this section of the blog.

Firstly, I must talk about Steve Ringer. I know from my conversations with him that the Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier at Tunnel Barn Farm did his head in. A favourable draw on Canal Pool would almost certainly see Steve qualify… well that’s what Sky Sports would have you believe. The fish hadn’t been on the peg for weeks and I knew as soon as he drew the peg that winning would be very hard. However, after failing to qualify, Steve set about returning to the venue to put things right. Invariably he framed in every open he went on and then won the final one. These top anglers just don’t settle for second best!

My good friend Stu Palser is the next subject of my thoughts. Anyone who has fished with Stu for any length of time will be recognise just how good he is. Now I consider myself very capable at Tunnel Barn yet no matter how close I seem to get to winning, Stuart always seems to thwart it and remains 30lb in front! I have beaten most of the big names several times off the next peg but I can't even get close to Stu! The man is relentless.

Finally, I must mention my ginger friend Matt Godfrey. I’ve never met someone so naturally brilliant at fishing! There is nothing this boy can’t do and the recent DHP Cup at the Glebe cemented what I already knew.

Now don’t get me wrong, he drew a favourable peg but for an angler who “can’t catch anything down the edge” he went on to beat me into second place with a huge 289lb of edge-caught carp! On another day amongst a different field my 254lb would have been easily enough to win but the sheer competitiveness and determination saw Matt surge ahead of me in the last hour! Simply awesome and surely a full England call up cannot be too far away.

Follow Joe on Twitter - @carassjoe