My first White Acres festival of the year and one I was really looking forward to after a winter of fishing at Packington. I’d gone down to Cornwall a week before with the wife to open up the caravan from its winter slumber and was hoping to get some early practice, but the weather was not kind in fact it was similar to what we have all experienced over the last few months and therefore couldn’t find the enthusiasm to venture out.
The pre-draw for sections is done on the Friday and posted about midday, so I couldn’t wait to scan the sheets - omg I found myself in a section of really good anglers all capable of winning the festival, to name just a few Richy Hull, Kevin Fowell, Joe Roberts, Tony Butler, Colin Mulholand and many more seasoned Vets.

Practice Days: Sat and Sun I caught really well with approximately 135lbs of Carp from Twin Oaks 17 and 80lbs of waggler caught F1s off Polawyn peg 15 this got me in the mood and I felt confident for the first 2 days with Twin Oaks and Polawyn to follow.

Day One
Due to the Coronavirus the draw is done by Clint and he has kindly handed me (shouted) Twin Oaks peg 10 and I’m happy with that as it’s a fair peg in with 6,7,9 and 12. Instantly I thought about peg Six having loads of room (5 spare pegs). So it was no surprise to see the angler catching well from the off whilst the rest of us were struggling for bites. Eventually I found a few Carp on bomb switching frequently between 6mil and orange wafter which was keeping me ahead of the anglers either side, but still well behind that end peg. At the all out I was to finish with 53lbs and unbelievably just one good fish off winning the section, still a 2nd is ok in this four day festival with no droppers allowed.
Day Two
Polawyn peg 20 - a very good peg in a tough section of all good pegs - that’s how Clint pegs this lake to make it as fair as possible. Danger peg is 45 winning the section yesterday and then Rich Hull on peg 27. Whilstle goes and just like yesterday end peg 45 is emptying it from the off and we’re all fishing for 2nd again. With the wind off my back I’m hoping the waggler will work and give me a chance of a win, at one point in the match it did start to produce decent F1s but they kept backing off - the matched turned out to be a frustrating one having to chase the fish, catch 2 and then switch methods again. I ended up with 42lbs good enough for another 2nd and 5th on the lake (first out the money). I was 17lbs off peg 45 but pushed Rich into 3rd spot and that will probably cost him big time come 3.30 on Thursday.
Day Three
Trelawney peg 17 an end peg but not the best - a quick scan of yesterday’s results and it was fourth......um. I would need to find a run of the big F1s in this lake and my best chance would be the margins late on. It was my turn today with a strong cold wind in my face so the long pole shallow was out. I started on a small cage feeder with 6 mil pellet and this caught me a few carrasios early on, then it died on me and I really was struggling. A lucky 7lb Carp came to double maggot and a few F1s followed but again this slowed up. I kept feeding the edges looking for them big F1s but caught perch and roach instead, finally In desperation I started feeding handfuls of caster and maggot to my left on top kit and foul hooked a few better fish, eventually finding an F1 of 5lbs and 3lbs before the all out - too little too late and I was to finish fourth in section. Rich was to win the section and lake with 87lbs and Tony Butler on peg 13 second with 66lbs. More importantly Kevin Fowell won his hard section from peg 7 and now leads the festival on maximum points by weight over two other anglers - he’s also taken our lodge sweep money every day.......
Day Four
Over dinner last night we discussed Kevin’s approach to this final day and apart from the obvious method he would fish (for silvers) we discussed pegs required to amass a huge number and weight. So he was a tad disappointed when Clint handed him peg 14 which is in with the flier peg 16, it has won every day or mostly if I recall as it did yesterday easily winning the lake with 70+ lbs. And then there was me right next door on 15 surely I wouldn’t hold back and let him take all the sweep monies, I’d never live that down with the guys who contributed £20 of their beer tokens to the K.F pension fund. Those that don’t know Kevin well he’s a brilliant small fish angler who honed his skills on the canal circuit catching literally hundreds of gudgeon, he still competes on Commercials through the winter months fishing this way against the Carp boys, and he often does well winning numerous envelopes. It’s this ability to focus, remember every fish caught that has earned his recently call ups to the England Veterans team.
So the match starts and Kev is swinging in a 1 oz roach before my feeder lands, I need blinkers today as I wait for my tip to pull around. It takes a few casts to avoid the rotten veg that is up tight to the bank of the island and I finally find a few carassios a metre off. After an hour Kev has 78 fish and he feels he’s 30 short of target - I have seven and I’m definitely short of any target. At this stage Peg 16 is leading the section with two Carp and a few F1s and is owning up to 12lbs, Kevs on 10 and me 5lbs. The pattern follows over the next few hours and I feel it’s close between 16 and 14 with me possibly 12lbs behind. I’ve been feeding 6 mil pellet tight over and picking off the odd better F1 on bomb and corn which is keeping me in the race against Kevs 296 silvers. With 90 minutes remaining my catch rate is increasing all be it still slower than I’d like, however my fish are 1 to 1.5lbs and I feel I’m closing the gap. Then with just 25 minutes to go the wind drops and I can see small ripples breaking the surface and I remember the gaffer at Packington once telling me that this is F1s and not silvers. I decide to give the wag one more try and after adjusting the depth start to get indications and a foul hooker which comes off. I shallow up even further now just twelve inches and instantly hook a 2 lb F1, another smaller one soon follows. I can tell Kev is now concerned as he keeps offering me a tenner to go and get a coffee. In that last 20 minutes I put Six fish in the net for 10lbs and feel that I’ve really closed the gap......it’s close.

The moment of truth:
peg 17 - 4.0.0
peg 16 - 39.4.0
peg 15 - 37.2.0 me
peg 14 - 40.14.0 (366 silvers)
peg 13 - 33.0.0

Boy was that close - well done Kevin, fully deserved to win the festival fishing to his strength, believing in what he does best and sticking to his guns regardless of me catching well late on - am I glad I didn’t have just 10 minutes more that might have cost him the Festival......................what do you think as I handed over £160 of our sweep money

summary.
I got off to a good start but always felt I was chasing the much needed section wins against the better pegs, and being in a tough section didn’t help. Apart from day 3 a few more fish here and there and I might have been pushing for a frame position ending four points short of the 17 required for 9th place which Rich Hull snook in to take.......well done mate.

Another great festival and I must say fantastically run by Clint and his team under difficult conditions to keep us all safe. Apologies for the war and piece but as our fishing is on hold I thought you might enjoy this detailed account.

Tight Lines - roll on June 16th just like old times for those who can remember.

AB