Now Fur and Feather matches rekindle the spirit of fishing in my mind. No big money prizes to be won, just a bottle or two for Xmas, maybe a few small stocking fillers. A reminder of those halycon days where the winner recieved a turkey and a bottle, down to pheasants,chickens and rabbits as prizes for the lower placings. Many of these matches saw anglers double the normal turnout for a club match.So when Richie Dell asked about a Midlands Fur & Feather match on the website I eagerly put my name down. The venue was localish so no real problems getting there. There is nothing worse than travelling through the pitch black winter nights and then have to do it again going home. Surprisingly leading upto the event only seven anglers had put their names down to fish. I know it was winter, but feel that Richie was a little let down by the response. Still he did not cancel so we braved the freezing cold wind and rain to show how insane us anglers are at times. After a cup of tea in the onsite cafe the draw was made thinking that the far side of SWALLOW lake would be best, as this offered the greatest protection from the elements. Now Richie had known the lake had been switched from Brook to Swallow on the Thursday beforehand, but had seemed to forget to tell anyone else. Dodgy as the two lakes require different approaches.

Personally I drew peg 7 which mean't I was on Peg 25. Strange, I know,but it is a maggotdrowning match and nothing ever seems to go right on them. I had planned to fish at 9m for my main line with a margin swim close to a pallet in the water to my left. Bait was pellet and corn feeding micro pellets and a few expanders. I had also brought some new Atomic Cloud with me to try out. I started off with a half drennan pot of micro with a few GOT 4mm Expanders in with a single 6mm expander on the hook. Rig wise it was an old rig I had used at Stafford Moor (well it close to the right depth and had a size 16 B911 on, so it would do). However, after the first couple of bites from skimmers I felt the hookbait and hook were a problem, the fish seemed to be mouthing the bait for too long before a positive bite took place. I switched over to a size 18 B911 and a 4mm expander on the hook. More positive dips on the float took place and although the fish were small they were still coming to the net.By this time the wind was causing a problem as although only fishing at 9m it was ripping the pole all over the place and blowing fish off the hook whilst swinging them in. So a quick look down the side followed. Nothing, even though the depth was good, so I fed a cup of Aniseed Atomic Cloud into the swim and first put in over it resulted in a carp of about 1lb on sweetcorn. None of his mates followed so it was back out onto the 9m line. Still the skimmers and small blade roach came.

It soon became apparent that the carp were not playing ball and it would be a tight afair with low weights being recorded down our end of the lake. For company, I had Peter on peg 23 in the corner, Lee Johnson on 21 and the match organiser on 19. Lee was catching small stuff and had snagged a small carp around the 1lb mark. Peter was foul hooking too many small fish. Richie was getting a few but could not keep them coming. Me, I was plodding along catching whatever swam in front of me. I managed to sneak another small carp around the 8oz mark and Lee followed soon after. Peter started connecting with a few silvers and was building a reasonable weight given the conditions.

At the end of a very enjoyable 5 hours, I was soaked, wind beaten and could not wait to pack up. I knew Lee had done me as in the last hour I sat it out for a carp in the knowledge that one fish could win me the match, however it was not to be and the time messing around cost me the skimmers I would have caught. My 7lb 6oz was enough for third overall with Lee managing top spot with 9lb 8oz and Ray( sorry did not catch his last name) taking second with 8lb 4oz from the other side of the lake.