For the penultimate match of the Marsh AC season we would see ourselves gracing Hartleylands Farm Reservoir in Kent. A bit of a strange match this as there are no results to go by. This is due to the water closing down during the summer months to the carp and bivvy boys. So with this in mind you do not know how it will respond.

All the usual suspects were there, Pete, Troy and Mick, having sorted out his stomach issues during the week. A busier than usual motorway system saw us arrive at the fishery in plenty of time having had the customary stop off for breakfast. With the MK Nugget sitting at 12-8 to me, Mick was keen to close the gap as the year is running out of available matches. He had won the last two and I must admit my form has not been great.

I decided to let the others draw first and I was happy to take what was left but with Mick having drawn peg 7 on the far bank I was keen not to draw in view of him (if he was catching I did not want to know and if I was catching I did not want him to know either). Pete had drawn peg 3 and Troy was on a good peg in 9. I put my hand in and out comes peg 10. Peg 9 and 10 are separated by a willow tree and plenty of carp have lived under it for a few years gone by. Dave had sneaked into peg 1 and Al into 19 both good pegs.

As the water is a reservoir supplying the surrounding apple orchards it is quite deep in places so a variety of methods tend to work. Feeder, Pellet Waggler and both pole long and short. I had opted to fish short, but realised that historically the fish do not tend to come in till late. I set a line up at top 2+2 for fishing corn in 4ft of water and set up two margin lines. One under the willow tree in 18 inches of water and the other on a top three to the left in 2ft of water. Both were NG Mini Diamonds to a size 16 MWG hook and .20 Stroft. Feed was 9 pints of 4mm GOT Sinkers and a kilo of corn. My plan was to drip feed the corn line at top four and dump feed pellet down both edges only going over it if I saw any indications.

At the all I potted two full pots of pellets onto both margins and starting feeding the top 4 line by hand. A good handful to start with then dripping in around 8 grains every minute. The carp in here grow to around 28lb and have seen most things so I did not want to overfeed a line in open water. I could back off if required but wanted to get some feed in early. After 20 minutes on the top 2 +2 line I had a couple of small dips on the float for nothing to show for my efforts, Mick was already catching much to Troy's delight in telling me each time he hooked another carp. A change was required and I swapped hook lengths to fish banded pellet. I placed an 8mm pellet into the band and dropped it in over the corn line and was rewarded with my first carp around 2lb. Another soon followed and I thought I was going to start making headway into Mick's fish. He was now on 8. Alas it was not to be and the line died.

Mick was catching as was Martin in the corner on 5 fish, Gino and Clive were catching regularly albeit in 15 minute intervals. Pete had a 15lber on the board, but both Troy and myself were struggling.

With no more bites forthcoming I had a look under the willow tree, expecting the float to go under straight away. I had left it for two hours and not seen a swirl, but had seen odd fish come in and have a look before drifting off. Needless to say after three hours I was still on 2 carp for around 4lb. At this point I saw a small swirl to my left close to the bank. I gentle lowered the willow tree rig in and within 30 seconds the float had gone and a 5lb carp was in the net. I re-fed a half pot of pellet and went out again on the slightly deeper rig and was rewarded with another 5lber. A couple of foul hooked fish followed so I went back out with the willow rig and a "gelled up" pellet and hooked a proper carp around 15lb, doubling my total weight. I still had a good two hours left and thought if I could catch a few more lumps I may be able to catch up with Mick. I could see Gino still catching and thought he would run Mick close, as was Al who had started off slowly but was now getting a few down the edge. Clive, Martin and Dave were now struggling to get bites. Chris had been content catching silver fish but the carp had moved in over his feed and was now plundering them.

I was now catching and a few more fish to 8lb had graced my landing net along with another 15lb fish. In the last hour though all I could muster was a couple of 4lb fish. It had slowed significantly and I thought the MK Nugget was gone. If they had turned up an hour earlier or stayed an hour longer I would have been close. That's fishing though.


1st Gino Exell 148-00

2nd Al Loader 134-00

3rd Mick Wright 129-08

4th Chris Withall 111-12

5th Keith Ashby 93-00

6th John Holdsworth 75-00

So another nugget finds its way into Mick's back pocket. I must try harder. I have worked it out though, if I only fish against Mick at the last match and the Xmas match then I will win. So no more midweeker's or impromptu matches. That wouldn't be fair would it?

I must admit I was really pleased for Gino, scoring his first match win with a decent weight from a hard venue to crack. Well done mate. Now you can stop and start rehearsing for panto season.