Gary Matthews Reports Back From Partridge Lakes Winter League

January 22nd, Peg 151, Covey Six

Today was the second round of the Partridge Lakes winter league and after managing a second in section on the previous round I hoped that I could build on that this week, but after my performance on the teams of four I wasn’t that optimistic.

The weather during the week had been quite reasonable for the time of year, with some settled temperatures at last, but as per usual it was all change by the weekend as an easterly breeze had brought some cold weather and we were back down to minus temps during the night. It was forecast to be 2ºC all day with some snow flurries, and no doubt this would affect the fishing today, but it would be the same for everyone so no point complaining.

I arrived at the fishery just before 8.30am and joined the queue for the rolling draw. This week fate decided to give me Peg 151, Covey Six; I was in two minds of what to expect as everyone I spoke to said it wasn’t the best, but Peg 149 had won the open the previous day. In my limited experience the fish don’t tend to stay in the same place when they have been caught, so I hoped that the F1s might have backed off in front of Peg 150, and I did go to my home for the next few hours with a bit of confidence.


After settling in at my peg I had the cold easterly wind blowing into my right-hand margin. So far it wasn’t that strong, but it was forecast to get a bit stronger during the match. I set up my usual Partridge rigs, which were:

3ft maggot rig – I used a 4x10 Maggie float with a bulk plus two droppers spread along the 014mm Garbo main line, and attached was a 6in 0.10mm Garbo hooklength and my hook was a size 20 Guru Maggot hook;

4ft maggot rig – same as 3ft maggot;

Dobbing rig – I used a 0.3g Matrix Series 3 float with a bulk under the float plus two droppers spread down the 0.14mm Garbo main line to a 6in 0.10mm Garbo hooklength with a size 16 Guru Pellet hook;

Channel swim rig – I had to use a slightly heavier float than I wanted as I only had 4x14 Maggie floats deep enough in my box. My shotting pattern was a bulk plus two droppers; line and hooklength as before, with a size 18 Guru Maggot hook.

The bait selection on my side tray was pretty straightforward, comprising two pints of red and white maggots and a slice of bread.


When the all-in sounded I began on my 4ft maggot rig directly in front of me and decided to take it easy with the feed in the conditions, just tapping in four maggots every 10 minutes. It took 20 minutes before I had my first indication, which resulted in a big F1. I noticed that it was slightly deep hooked in the mouth, even though I had my float just dimpling the water with the aid of some bristle grease but I must have been slightly overdepth, which is easily done when fishing on the far-bank slope. On my next put in I brought my rig a touch closer to me and after a couple more feeds I had another F1, which took my maggot on the drop, so for my next few drop ins I kept laying my rig through the water trying to mimic the fall of the loose feed. This resulted in a couple more fish hitting the net.

In the first hour I managed five F1s, which on looking around was a lot better than anyone within eyeshot apart from Peg 156, who was bagging. That was only to be expected from the lake’s flyer, as they had been balled up in that area in the last two months. With no more indications coming from my original swim I decided to set up a new line towards the point of the island. By doing the same, laying my rig in through the water as my loose fed fell, I managed a further four fish in the next hour but yet again they backed off away from the feed. With nobody catching a great deal to my left I was reluctant to put in a line that way but I hadn’t many options left so I had to – unsurprisingly I had a barren 30 minutes, so I decided to pick up my dobbing rig to see if I could locate any fish either by getting bites or liners. After working my rig 14 metres to my left I could only manage one liner and a missed indication directly in front of me, which just goes to show the lack of fish down that side of Covey Six.

With two hours of the match remaining I decided to drop on to my channel swim at 13 metres to my right. Even though I knew that this was probably going to be my best area of the peg I was reluctant to go on it sooner in case I pushed them out of reach, especially as the lad on 149 was already fishing at 16 metres and struggling to catch anything other than the odd F1 among the gudgeon. I fed a small Kinder potful of maggots then lowered my rig over the top of it and let it fall on a tight line in case any F1s in the area were watching the hook bait as it fell.

It took about 10 minutes before I had my first fish and I managed four in half an hour before they backed off, so I added another section and started again. The same pattern emerged as I had another four F1s but they were only little stockies this time, and with 20 minutes left I had to put the 16m section on. Before the all-out I managed another F1 plus a chub, then I lost a fish that took me round the island just as the whistle sounded. I just hoped it wouldn't cost me as apart from a couple of pricked fish that came off on the way in, I hadn’t done a great deal wrong .


As I began packing up I could hear a few people moaning on how bad it had fished, but in the conditions that was only to be expected as the F1s had no doubt shut up shop in certain areas. When the scales arrived at my peg I had 18lb to beat and I was confident I could better that. My 18 fish went 26lb; this won me the section , which puts me on three points after two rounds but there is still a long way to go yet, and just one bad draw can be the end of your challenge for top 10 honours .


Next week I have a double-header as on Saturday I will be at Bradshaw Hall’s Lake Four for the teams of four club match, then I am back at Partridge on Sunday for the 2+2 team, where we are due a half-decent draw for a change after having a couple of shockers recently. Overall, though, it seems I have made a good start after the team sponsorship with Daiwa Adlington Angling Centre.



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