Raffle Winner bags a personal best

At a recent slide show for Wetherby Angling Club as part of their fund-raising activities for the “Kids” charity, Daiwa Consultant Brian Skoyles offered a day’s fishing as a raffle prize. The winner was Shaun Leighton and after I had finished my talk we swapped contact details and sorted a date.

We had been offered a venue, Westerly Lake, by owners Barbara and Geoff Thornham, and I suggested we targeted the specimen perch that I knew the lake contained … we had a plan.

Date one was cancelled as the lake had a lid of ice on it, but our luck was in for date two! A mild south westerly breeze and a cloud free sky greeted us as we walked the gear to our chosen swims … perfect.

Shaun was obviously an experienced angler, so we got down to the serious business of catching some decent perch. I checked with Shaun what his biggest perch was, just under two pounds, so two pounds was our target.

We talked through my approach. A simple waggler set-up on the float rod, and a running ledger on the feeder rod. To me the choice of bait and how you bait the swim is the critical area, so we spent some time discussing what we would be doing. I knew the swims we were fishing very well, the perch tended to crisscross the open water area but also regularly patrolled the margins, so we put a few large raw prawns in the open water area, and in the margin a more concentrated mix of red maggots and chopped prawns. We did this first before sorting the gear, so the fish had time to find the bait without any lines in the water.

We sorted the ledger first and hair rigged a large prawn onto the size 8 wide gape hook. A gentle cast into open water, a long drop on the hanger, buzzer on, and the job was complete. Time to concentrate on the float rod. A 3BB waggler was set 30cms over depth, with one of the shot being set 20cm from the hook as a tell-tale, the other two 30cm higher. Bait was again a raw prawn, this time lightly nicked directly onto the hook. Shaun cast out and slowly brought the float back towards the margin. A few more maggots and a couple of bits of chopped prawn around the float, as a top up, completed our set up.

We settled back to watch and wait, but as it turned out we didn’t have long to wait as the float lifted, dipped and slid away. Shaun struck into a good fish, which had the clutch clicking. Sometime later, I got my first glimpse, it was a perch and a good one at that, I grabbed the net and Shaun made no mistakes. I had hope for a good perch later in the day, but the first fish of the day, so soon, was more than we could have hoped for. On the scales 2lb-9oz a new pb, what a start!

The day was to be a real red-letter day as Shaun had four more good perch as the day progressed with three more of them over the 2lb mark, and even managed a nice common carp on his last cast. Not bad for the cost of a raffle ticket!

The day turned out to be a red-letter day in more ways than one. I’d mentioned to fellow Daiwa Consultant Bob Roberts that I was going to Westerly and as he was free suggested he join us. Bob had fished Westerly before and readily agreed. Bob was well aware that Westerly contained a lot of quality roach, so decided to make them his target. Fishing maggot shallow on the pole at 8 metres Bob was in his element catching roach after roach. Although the lake does not normally allow keepnets, Geoff had made an exception for the prize day and what a net of fish Bob amassed. We had intended to take a full net shot but there were simply too many, so Bob just kept a few back for a picture and gently let the rest swim off over the net rim.

What a day two, totally different tactics but two fantastic results. A big thank you to Barbara and Geoff for their support. Back in the car park we said our farewells, I suspect it won’t be our last visit.

Brian Skoyles