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Pre-Pre-match practice - Homeground Lake -Todber Manor

This week’s pre-match blog is bought to you by Puddletown’s favourite habitual shopper, Sgt. Jerry Bracey…

Jerry was joined by the birthday girl, Annamama and her wunderkind offspring, Aquaboy Ollie. Going to Todber is always an eyeopener after the going almost anywhere else, but it never ceases to surprise me.

Jerry and Ollie set up shop on pegs 78 & 79 on an apparently pleasant day, particularly in the afternoon. These pegs are on the bank nearest the shop, and I suspect the shortest walk from the car! But, with the lake all to themselves, it wasn’t going to matter where they sat. A good day was on the cards. Both these pegs have a feeder chuck to one of the two islands that live in the lake, but were they going to need it?

Both anglers fished with just their top kits (the section with the elastic inside, and nothing more), this means that you are fishing very close to where your keep nets would be in a match. It pays to position your keep nets pointing more to one side or the other. This will allow you to create more room to catch the fish in really close to the bank. Elastics: If you are going to fish with a pole, elastics need to be on the stronger side at Todber. Both fished with elastics rated at about a 16 to 18, very much at the higher/stronger end of the range. Line: To balance the strong elastic, you will need a strong rig. Main lines for pole rigs need to be in the 9lb to 12lbs range. Not because all the fish are massive, but because the line will take a beating trying to catch so many Carp. Especially if you are trying to do it quickly. Hooks and hooklinks: Match your hooklink to your main line. Minimum 7lb to 8lbs hooklinks if you are using 9lb main line. Stronger hooklinks for heavier 12lb lines. Hook links should be short too. 10cm Method Feeder hooklinks are ideal for this kind of fishing. You will be looking to use hard pellets on the hook as we sail towards the warmer weather, so your hooklinks will need to be banded. Hooks for Jerry and Ollie were size 14. I would have some size 12 with me too because these fish are not fussy. Feeding shallow: The water is getting warmer, and the air pressure is hopefully rising. This will mean that the fish are in the top layers of the water, shallow near the surface. When the fish are shallow, you need to keep feeding pellets constantly to keep them up in the water. But do not feed great big handfuls, 10 to 12 pellets fed almost constantly will keep the fish interested and easier to catch as soon as your hook bait hits the water.

I will let Jerry tell you the rest of the story….

“In the first 2 hours I had 29 fish. During the 3rd hour, due to snapped elastic, I changed to a shallow rig 30cm (12 inches) deep. Still with 6mm pellet on the hook, but now feeding 4mm pellets. Fishing shallow was quicker, less foul hooked fish and the fish were a bigger average weight. Whilst I was fishing with the pellets, I the fed both margins with margin ground bait and 6mm pellets with some 8mm meat. I fed all this by hand to make some noise but would use a pole cup in a match. I caught well on 8mm meat fishing tight to the bank. It was not as fast as fishing shallow, but I caught some bigger fish including a couple of 8lbs fish, and a good fish of 10-12lbs. When I got to 92 fish, my purple 16 hollow elastic snapped. Leaving me with only the shallow rig left intact. But I caught straight away on 6mm pellet, taking my total to 100 fish.”

“I would advise that you have plenty of spare rigs and use minimum of 9lb line maybe even 10 or 12lb line. Have a short lash (the distance between the float and the tip of the pole) of 15cm (6 inches). This needs to be as short as you can be comfortable with because often the fish will hook itself before you have had time to strike.” “I changed to a latex fine mesh net because the hook and bait bands were going through the bigger mesh and getting snapped off.” “I didn't have to use too much bait. Half a tin of meat and no more than 2 pints of pellet. Ollie caught on pellet, pizza crust (? - JS), wafters, and even raisins(?? - JS). Maybe contemplate dry 6 or 8mm expanders for the shallow fishing? I fished a match here a few weeks ago the fish caught on the method feeder by the island, but the fish were much smaller. If the fish are feeding well on the match day, then the junior fishing a pole well should win it.”

So, there you have it. What did Jerry learn from this session? For a start you will need much beefier elastics and pole rigs. Have a look at the elastics in your top kits to see if they need changing or not. The best way to test them is to stretch them in 15cm sections and look at them closely. If they look ‘feathery’ change them. Another way to test elastic is to stretch them in 15cm sections and rub them over your lips (Mouth closed). Lips are super sensitive, and you will be able to feel if they are rough or not. If they are very rough, change them. Depending on how long the elastics have been in the pole and how much they have been used/abused, I might change them anyway. Take plenty of pole rigs! Make sure the mesh in you landing net is not going to constantly snap the bands off your hooklinks. Have plenty of hooklinks with you. You might need more 4 and 6mm pellets than normal. You may need some margin groundbait. (No need for the silly Carp stuff with whole sun flowers in it! Just some coarser grained margin feed)

Next week I will be joining Jerry at Todber to get a personal view on things. The conditions then should be representative of the conditions for the match later in the week. After this first practice, the signs are there that the junior match record could be broken. Will someone get to 200lbs?

Until next time… Juniors Sec…

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