Its been an eventful winter for Myles Levy, but one that has seen him have a great deal of success at Tunnel Barn Farm!

When I was asked by Team Guru to fish the Tunnel Barn winter league this year I was honoured and I jumped at the chance! The team consisted of Pemb Wrighting, Paul Holland and the one and only Steve Ringer. These three anglers are up there with the best in the country and I couldn't fail to learn from them. The Tunnel Barn league is something I've always wanted to fish as it attracts a very high standard of angler, Des Shipp, Jamie Hughes, Joe Carass and the undisputed venue king Stu Palsar to name but a few. For Pemb, Paul and I it was our first year at Tunnel so we didn't really know what to expect, none of us had much experience on the venue. One thing we knew though is it would be a extremely hard league to win on the first attempt, teams such as Match Fishing Drawbags, Barston/Preston and Banbury Gunsmiths had competed for a number of years and know the venue very well. The league itself is spread over 10 rounds and it comprises 4 section with 20 anglers in each, with a random drew each round. Obviously 10 rounds is a lot to write about so I've decided to write about my best matches.


Round 1

At the draw I was full of excitement, I'd been looking forward to this match for weeks! The draw was carried out by Pemb and I was given peg 23 on Top Pool. This meant nothing to me as I'd only been to the venue 4 or 5 times before. A quick chat with Steve revealed there was a good head of Ide in the peg if the F1's didn't feed, this sounded fine to me! I based my attack around starting short with pellets whilst building a maggot line up at around 6m. The match started and I dropped in on a top kit, emptied a few micros out and lowered the rig in full of anticipation...10 minutes later I was still bite-less, worse still everyone around me was catching!  I quickly attached a plummet and added a section and plumbed up two lines on a top 4 at different angles. Same procedure...within 5 seconds I was playing my first F1, this was to be my first insight into how picky and stubborn the Tunnel F1's are! Adding that section transformed the swim and I was up to around 20 fish after an hour and a half. Things then started to slow. I'd been throwing maggots at 6m in front and also down the edge to my right. I wanted to leave the 6m line for as long as I could so dropped in the edge, I was rewarded with a run of small Barbel, Ide and odd F1's but this soon dried up. I turned round and did the same to my left and had the same result. Half way through that match it was time to try the 6m line. First drop I was rewarded with a lot of line bites and then an Ide hung itself, on with the shallow rig! The next hour was great with Ide coming every chuck from 4oz -10oz, not massive but weight in the net. With an hour and a half to go they suddenly disappeared and I was left scratching my head, it went from one every chuck to nothing. With nothing to lose I decided to really up the feed and force the peg, 5 minutes later I had a bite...a great big F1! The next hour and a bit was crazy with F1's swirling for the maggots and I couldn't get In quick enough. Time of day or upping the feed? I'll never know but I ended the match well. Come the weigh in I put 118lb on the scales and much to my surprise, this was good enough for 2nd in my section behind a fantastic 147lb from Aidan Mansfield. 19 out of 20 points and I was happy. The team also faired well and were 2nd on the day which was fantastic. As an added bonus my weight was good enough for 2nd overall, a day of 2nd's!


Round 3

I'd had to miss round two due to a wedding so couldn't wait to get back. This time I was given peg 29 on house...after a few moans and groans it became apparent it was an absolute screamer of a draw. I got to the peg and I immediately realised why it was so good, on a point with an island in front at 25m and load of room..that'll do. The weather in the build up to the match had become much colder so a different approach was needed. Noticing the colour had dropped out the lake I decided to start the match on the bomb and bread towards the island. Two pellet lines at 11m, a line at top 5 towards a floating plant pot (there's a few of these at Tunnel!) and the all important short maggot line completed my starting plan. The match kicked off and I chucked the bomb to the island and nothing happened, great. After 20 minutes I was just thinking about trying the pole and the rod flew round. It was only a small F1 but it gave me the confidence I needed as nobody was really catching. It was by no means hectic but steady bites over the next hour and a half put me on around 30lb which was a great start. After this it really dried up and I decided to leave this line and try the pole, the guys on the dam wall were catching long on pellets by now. 15 minutes later on the 11m line and nothing happened, I don't mind admitting I was worried! The last thing I wanted to do was blow a flyer and let the team down. Remembering the last match I added another bites! I then decided to come in closer on a top 7. Bites instantly! these F1's were pickling my brain already! A steady hour bought another 10 or so fish before it died. With the last two hours approaching a switch to the short lines was needed. I started on pellets by the plant pot and was only rewarded with small stockies which isn't what I was after. I made the choice to change this line to maggots as I could feed more which would hopefully result in the larger F1's pushing the stockies out. I switched the the short maggot line and managed a few decent F1's but these soon disappeared. At the same time I noticed odd bubbles coming up on the plant pot line where I had been throwing maggots, It had to be worth a go. The difference was amazing and I was into big F1's within seconds of the rig hitting the bottom. The last hour resulted in an F1 every single put in, I was catching faster than the previous match which I didn't think was possible. In that last hour I fed nearly 3 pints of maggots, the more I threw in the better it got. The scales came round and 110lb was winning my lake, I knew it would be close. After two weighs my total was 118lb which was enough to win the section. Better still the team had done fantastically well to record 70 points out of a possible 80 to keep us right amongst the leaders. It also turned out my 118lb was enough to win the match behind a slightly smaller 118lb behind team mate Steve Ringer...I think he's forgiven me, Just!



Round 7

The last three rounds bought average results for myself with an 8th, another 8th and a 7th in section, not terrible but not good enough. This was a mixture of average draws and if I'm honest probably a few poor decisions by me. There is a rake of fish in Tunnel and you only have to look at the consistency of Stu Pulsar to realise you can't blame the draw bag. On a better note the team was actually leading the league. A few poor results by other teams and great results by our lads had kept us right in amongst it. Back to round 7 and it was freezing cold with ice on some of the pegs, we were expecting a hard day. At the draw we were really disappointed, Pemb on Club 7, Steve on House 18 Paul on New 25 and myself on Extension 30. 4 Pegs with with no form in the previous rounds so we were expecting the worse, but with it being so cold you never know. After plumming up my peg I could immediately see why it had been poor, it was very deep and venturing across to the island the bottom was horrible with a very steep slope. After plumming around for what felt like hours I finally found a half sensible, flat-ish spot in around 3 and a half foot, deeper than I would of liked but I had to make do. Another couple of lines down the shelf and obviously a short maggot line were put up and I was ready. Starting on the far line I dripped 4 maggots in and waited, 20 minutes went pass and I hadn't seen a fish caught...Oh dear. After 30 minutes and two more feeds I dripped another 3 maggots in and within 30 seconds I was attached to my first F1 of the day, at 3lb it was a great start. Across again with another 3 maggots tapped in resulted in bite number two, which again was a decent fish of 2lb. No more bites from this line so I tried the deeper water towards peg 29. I couldn't believe it when it went under first drop, I quickly caught 4 good F1's from this line. At this point nobody was really catching apart from peg 3 and 36 so I was happy with how the match was going. By rotating all the deep water lines I was picking up odd fish and coming into the last hour I was on 12 F1's but felt I needed a couple more to make the top half of the section. Since those first two fish in the shallower water I hadn't had a bite there but decided to try it one more time. Another two fish in two drops was fantastic but again, no more. The last 30 minutes I managed to catch another 2 short on maggots to finish the match with 16 F1's. When the scales came round to me I couldn't believe it when 34lb was winning the lake! I managed to put a high 30lb on the lake which amazingly put me 4th, this got me 17 points for the team. As news filtered back from the other guys it became apparent they had done brilliant from their draws. Pemb was 4th, Paul was 5th and Steve somehow managed to win House pool from his draw. This actually won us the day, It just goes to show you should always approach your peg with an open mind, even if it is a no hoper on paper.



Round 8

What can I say, I drew Club Pool peg 1, another flyer! In the last few round Club 22 had been the peg to draw with pegs 24 and 1 filling the top 3 places so I ran to it. Arriving at the peg I noticed Paul "Yanni" Yates on peg 22 so knew it would be a real battle to beat him. This little area seems to hold all the fish at the moment and dobbing bread has been the key method, this would be my number one plan. Another couple of rigs were also set up but I was hoping not to use them. The dobbing rig consisted of a cut down 4x10 Malman Roob, 0.14 mainline to an 0.12 hook-length with a size 16 Guru LWG completing the set-up. Elastic choice was Preston DuraHollow 10 as It would mainly be carp rather than F1's I'd be fishing for.  I went for 3 number 11 shot spread down the line with the rest of the shot under the float to give the bread a super slow fall, this has worked well for me in the past. the starting ploy was to start 6 inches off the bottom and drop it into likely looking hidey holes where a carp might reside...sneaky. The match started and I was that excited I shipped across to the island too quickly and my bread fell off! Attempt two was better and I managed to get it out there. I laid the rig in the first spot, no bites, next spot resulted in a liner then a 3lb mirror, nice! Then I had a mini melt down as I foul hooked my next four fish, all of which came off. I think there were so many there the strung out rig simply wasn't positive enough. I decided to bulk all the shot above the 6 inch hook-length and fish just 3 inches off bottom. The change was instant and I was connecting with carp and odd F1's at regular intervals. It wasn't hectic but very steady sport, I'd get two or three off each spot before dropping into the next hidey hole. All the while I could see Yanni catching on 22 and it looked like he was edging ahead of me. The whistle went on what had been a very steady match in which I hadn't fed a thing, but I was sure Yanni had beaten me. I wasn't too fussed though as he was in a different section, as long as I won my section I was happy. The scales came to me first and I put 93lb on the scales to cap a great winter day. Unbelievably Yanni put 92lb 12oz on the scales and I beat him by 4oz for a match win...bit lucky that! Again the team had another great result to win on the day again. This put us 30 plus points ahead in the league with two rounds remaining, but anything could happen.


Round 10

Well Round 9 was a disaster, the lakes were iced over and we scored a measly 27 points between the four of us. Personally I fished maggots for the first hour thinking it was the right bait whilst the guy next to me caught 4 on pellets, by the time I changed it was too late and I missed out on those early fish. I caught three F1's to only beat 5 in my section, the less said about it the better! So on to round 10, The previous round had seen our lead at the top dwindle to 17 points coming into the last round. This meant another poor result could cost us the title. The draw was done and we had a set of pegs we felt an OK result was capable off. Pemb was on Extension 5, Steve was on Top 26, Andy Power was standing in for Paul and drew the dreaded House 12 and I was on New 21. I didn't know too much about my draw and asking around confirmed one thing, that it was deep! This concerned me as usually getting into shallower water is essential at Tunnel. Well the first 2.5 hours were a write off with only one F1 and a few skimmers to show for it!. I was getting a bit twitchy at this point as thoughts of another horror round went through my mind. I needed to change something, and quickly. All the fish I'd seen caught had been in shallow water so I set my rig at 2.5 foot deep and began to ping maggots long in the aim of catching anything that swims shallow. After 15 minutes I was just thinking of changing when elastic started ripping out the pole which resulted in a 3lb plus F1 in the net, I couldn't believe it!. The next 30 minutes I had another 3 of a similar size in the net, all of which came shallow. As quick as they came they disappeared and I was left scratching my head again. With nothing to lose I dumped 100 maggots next to the aerator in my peg which I had yet to receive a bite from. After another go shallow it was time to try the aerator. First drop I had a liner which filled me with confidence, 5 minutes later I had a 4lb carp in the net which was a massive bonus! This line produced another three fish which was all of a good stamp. With 45 minutes to go I noticed the best sign you can at Tunnel, odd bubbles coming up at the short maggot line. I spent the rest of the match here with steady bites to finish the match strongly. I weighed 29lb 8oz which put me 6th on the lake. Given the poor start I was made up with how the match finished, it goes to show you should always remain confident. Now results time! Pemb managed 5th on Extension, Steve was 6th on Top and Andy pulled out a fantastic performance to come 4th on House Pool. This gave us 57 points which won us the league! I don't mind admitting myself and the team were overjoyed. I don't think any of us mind admitting we didn't think we'd win at the first time of asking so it made the victory that much sweeter. This capped a fantastic league for us and one we'd definitely be trying to defend next year. A massive thanks go to Tunnel Barn on a well run league. Also a massive well done to Stuart Pulsar on winning the individual title with a super consistent performance. I for one can't wait until next year!