Decisions, Decisions…

Middy backed Andy Quarmby has been winning a lot of matches lately and it’s all thanks to making good decisions!

Recent matches have highlighted one thing to me, making a key decision in a match is the difference between winning and being an also ran. Yes I know this may sound obvious but my recent encounters at Pans Hill highlight this quite well I think

Pans Hill Sunday match 29th July (Pans Lake)

Pans lake, for those who have never been, is a typical 14m wide snake with typical depths. It has a large head of mirrors and commons 1-3lb and F1s 6oz-2lb. Typical winning match weights in summer are usually between 80-130lb with plenty of bites to be had.

Recently Pans has not been fishing that great, it has had a blue-green algae bloom since April and whilst it hasn’t had a harm full effect of the fish, they have not been feeding like they should. In fact 83lb is the highest match weight so far this year on this lake.

My usual attack is basically fishing micros and 4mm’s tight across, with two lines, one in a foot of water, and the other in 10” (if you can find this depth! the summers rainfall has meant the lake is brim-full) This simple attack has won me countless matches in the previous 18 months.

However on Sundays match as there were only a few of us, we all received generous pegging and plenty of room. A quick walk around the lake to get the feel of it told me it was going to fish its head off. Recent evening weights had been 70-80lb and the weather looked spot on, plus the fact fish were crashing, and swirling all over gave me a slight hint.

Hoping for a draw on pegs 8-18, I was most disappointed when Peg 3 stuck in my hand! The drawing Gods were definitely against me yet again. After countless moaning, I finally got to my peg and set about what to do. I plumbed up my usual far bank rigs but could only find 18” of water and there was a bit of weed causing trouble. It was at this point I made a key decision, and to go against the grain on what I usually do, and attack the edge. In my head 120-150lb was a target weight and in 18” of water across it was not going to happen. I would still fish and feed these lines for a good start but it was a margin attack that I fancied. So with this is mind I spent a good 20 minutes trimming the edge removing annoying stick-ups etc. Plumbing in the edge I found 8inches of water and then 14inches slightly further out… Perfect!

Bait was five pints of soaked micros, 4mm expanders, and some 6mm meat for the hook. 
Rigs compiled of a 4x12 Middy XK55 Series 2, 0.12mm lo-viz line and an 18 93-13 finished off with double 6-8 orange Middy elastic with a puller and we were all set!

On the whistle I fed the margin and went across, after feeding a small pot of micros I was instantly met with tails and swirls, and missed bites! I did catch a few but I knew it just was not right, I was also catching smaller fish. After 30 minutes it went up the bank and down the edge I went on the 14in deep rig. I instantly caught f1s but interestingly, the mirrors and commons were nowhere to be seen. I was not concerned as the pegs I could see, 5 and 8 were both catching well. I was falling behind. Even on the 14in deep rig I was missing bites, so took the decision to fish 8in, in the edge. I would never usually do this so early in a match, and also I generally find 8inches is too shallow, and they spook and a big weight is not easy, but I was desperate.

In a nutshell, it worked perfectly, and six hours later I won comfortably with 148lb, with 114lb in second place.  After the match I had a chat with second place and a few others (I always talk to other anglers to get a picture of what’s gone on) and the general consensus was they had all suffered small fish and missed bites, and also they had not been able to fish dead tight due to grass and weed problems etc.

If I had fished my normal match I would not have won, I am certain of this.

After the match I was told that the Tuesday evening match would be on Pans as it had fished so well. And this is where another key decision came. I then decided to stop on an hour (the missus really loved this idea!) but seriously, I find it amazing that people don’t do this more often. If I’ve had a frustrating day I always try and have an hour to get my head around it and get my confidence back. Even if I realise I’ve made a real mess of it, at least I’ve learnt why it went wrong, instead of wondering what, if and why. As I was dying to try pellet shallow, as so many good f1s had shown in the match. For 90 minutes after the match I absolutely emptied it with decent sized f1s and a few mirrors thrown up. It was literally a fish as soon as it went in. So with that in mind I booked on the evening match.

Tuesday evening match
Eleven hopefuls turned up for this match, and with a nice warm evening it looked like being a cracker with 100lb possible. In the draw bag again, and the complete flier Peg 9 was used tonight…Surely it had my name on it…. But out came Peg 5. Oh come on surely it’s a mistake I enquired, but no, it was 5 and not 9.

My plan was empty it shallow and then empty it in edge after giving them 90 minutes to settle. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

As I got to my peg, I immediately noticed the water looked a tad clearer, I could see an inch in the margin and alarm bells went off immediately. I assembled the same margin rig as Sunday, and two shallow rigs. One was 10in deep with a short lash for F1s, and one was 6in deep but with a 3ft lash for mugging some mirrors / commons that often annoy you by swimming near the surface and laughing at you. The rigs had 0.14mm Hi-Viz bottoms as expected to bag up, double 6-8 again, size 18 93-13 for edge, and size 18 eyed KM-1 for shallow with a micro band on a hair.

Bait was micros and 6mm meat in edge, and hard 4mm pellet for feed and hook.

On the whistle I fed my margin and went shallow. Immediately the margin clouded up. Maybe I was wrong after all I thought to myself. Anyway, first 40 minutes went well, I mugged about six 2lb mirrors, and had a few decent f1s shallow but it wasn’t easy. A quick look in the margin and immediately caught a fish, then the margin went clear, ie no fish! I Switched to the other side margin and caught a fish, and that went clear! It was at this point that I realised that a big weight in the edge was just not going to happen, but as I had nothing else set up, I would concentrate shallow and pick a few off in the edge. To cut a long story short, it worked ok, I had some good spells shallow and a few in the edge, along with copious amounts of frustration!

At the weigh in Peg 1 who caught steady all match had 72lb, so we were fishing for second place. Amazingly my ‘few fish’ went 79lb to take top spot.

The back up weights were 30-40lb, as people had fished tight in the edge and not been able to queue them up. Interestingly the 72lb was caught in the edge but in 24” of water.

Driving home I was quite pleased with myself. I felt certain if id fished in the edge as planned I would not have won. And also had I not fished on the Sunday and got the confidence to attack it shallow I would not have won

Next time you go fishing, think about that important decision, and don’t always follow the sheep! And if you’ve had a poor day and struggled with something, stop on an hour and sort it instead of going home to watch GB come 10th in some Olympic event