The Kamasan British open is an event I’ve always wanted to win and with this being the last year of the competition it was very much a case of now or never!
Barston was the venue and at the draw it was like a who’s who of top flight match fishing with anglers such as Will Raison, Des Shipp, Steve Gardener, Jamie Hughes to name but a few all fishing. Putting my hand in the bag I pulled out peg 32 which is a peg I have mixed memories of as I have won off it before a couple of years ago with 170lb but have drawn it since and struggled! It was definitely a peg I felt gave me a chance though which is all you can ask for in a match as big as this one.
On arrival at the peg I already had a plan in my head but the talk before the draw had confused me a little. My original plan was for it to be an out and out feeder match but those that had practiced had emptied it on the pole with big skimmers which threw a bit of a spanner in the works in terms of my approach. After a bit of thought though I decided to stick to my strengths and set up just three feeder rods. Two Daiwa 10-11 Tournaments for long and an 11’ Team Daiwa Quiver for short. The reason for the Team Daiwa rod is that it’s softer in action and more suited to skimmers which is what I expected to catch on this line. Reel wise each rod was teamed up with a Daiwa TDR 4012 reel loaded with 6lb Guru drag line. My plan was to fish method long and short so to the two long rods I attached 36-gram Guru X-safe feeders with a 24 gram for the short line. Hooklength wise 4 inches of 0.17 Guru N-gauge to a size 16 MWG hook completed the set up. Incidentally I set up 6 feeders to fish with, this is for two reasons, firstly for speed so I can clip a loaded feeder on after each cast and secondly to allow me to chop and change hookbaits.
On the bait front the fish can be extremely fickle at Barston, one day they want pellets and the next they want groundbait! For this reason I opted for a mix of the two in the form of 2mm Dynamite XL pellets plus a prototype groundbait from mainline. The ratio of the two was probably 50-50 so I was very much hedging my bets. My hookbait selection is best described as varied, 6mm hard pellets, mini boilies, dead maggots plus some punched meat so you could say I had plenty of options.
Just to put you in the picture on the two lines I intended to fish, the long line was at 45 metres and about ten yards off the corner of the island. There is a gravel bar coming off the island and previous experience told me that this put me bang on it. Then the short line was clipped up at 25m although to be honest if everything went to plan it wasn’t a line I wanted to be fishing as I felt the island offered me the best chance of winning as this is where both F1’s and carp tended to live.
When the whistle sounded I kicked off on a hair rigged 8mm fluro orange allsort boilie and to be honest expected bites from the off. 30 minutes in though and with just one F1 and a roach in the net things weren’t going to plan. Looking around the lake those fishing the pole were already putting a few skimmers in the net and I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake not setting a pole up!
In fact the first two hours pretty much passed me by as despite alternating the two lines I couldn’t put a run of fish together and with just 8 F1’s/skimmers in the net I was going nowhere fast. It was very much decision time and I seriously considered putting the pole up to save face as Neil Machin was nicking a skimmer or two on it to my left. Big matches like this though are for me all about a positive approach so with this in mind I decided to knock the short line on the head and concentrate purely on the long line as that’s where I felt I could do some damage if the fish turned up. At this point I also decided to have the next hour putting some bait down as like I said I had nothing to lose so why not attack the peg. To achieve this I double skinned the feeder and chucked every 2 minutes whether I had a bite or not just to try and make something happen.
Well the next hour turned out to be equally unproductive as in the flat calm conditions the fish just didn’t want to settle on the bait. Going into the fourth hour though a slight and I mean slight breeze got up and put a much needed ripple on the water. Well to say it was like throwing a light switch is an understatement as in just 30 minutes I went from 11 fish to 23 with most falling to either three dead reds or a hard 6mm pellet on the hair. Bites were instant with the feeder barely being in the water 30 seconds before the tip pulled round. The real turning point though was catching 7 carp in the next 30 minutes which whilst not huge by Barston standards at 3-5lb apiece were real weight builders.
With just an hour to go I felt I had 50-60lb in the net and all of a sudden I was thinking I could win this!
Another run of F1’s got me up to 38 fish before for no apparent reason the swim just went dead. Looking back the wind had dropped and it had gone calm but whether this was the reason I guess I’ll never know. Anyway 15 fishless minutes passed by before with just 25 minutes to go the tip pulled round again only this time it was a carp. A 7lber was soon in the net and four more quickly followed before I hit carp number 13 with just 3 minutes to go, it felt a decent fish and I played it accordingly only for it to come off half way back. To say I was gutted is an understatement as I couldn’t help but think that fish was going to cost me. Anyway I chucked back out cursing my luck only for the feeder to hit the bottom and the tip to go straight round and another carp was on! I had it half way back when the whistle went and it was around 2 minutes after time when I slipped the net under a lovely mirror of around 8lb. The question was would it be enough, I felt I might have a 100lb as whilst I was sure I had 50lb plus of carp I really had no idea what my F1’s and skimmers would weigh.
Word on the bank was that Adam Wakelin had a weight, plus Tommy Pickering and my brother Phil. Tommy was first to weigh and he put 100lb on the scales which looked like being the weight to beat. That was until Dale Shepherd weighed 111lb out of the blue to set a new benchmark. Adam then weighed in 102lb before Phil edged him with 104lb. Soon it was my turn and I couldn’t help thinking I didn’t quite have enough. I pulled my F1’s/skimmer net out first as I knew I needed that to go over 50lb to give me a chance. Sure enough there was a bit more in there than I expected and two weighs later this net had gone 59lb. I now knew it was going to be close and when I pulled my second net out I thought I’d just about done it and so it proved as another 59lb gave me a grand total of 119lb 11oz and the title of the Kamasan British open winner for 2013. To say I was pleased is an understatement as it’s a match I’ve always wanted to win and with it being the last one it has only served to make it extra special.
As a foot note I would like to take the opportunity to thank Kamasan for their very generous sponsorship of the event over the years, it really has been much appreciated.