I thought that I would complete a blog of my yearly matches as a club angler and the struggles involved in trying to improve week in week out. I had planned to start this next year but a quiet day at work has prompted me to begin. A bit about me first though.

My name is Mark Nicholl and I live in mansfield with my wife and 16 month old son. I started fishing at about 13 years old when I went to the river Bann in Portadown with some school friends and caught some small roach. I was hooked so to speak and joined the school angling club where for the next 3 or 4 years we would go on fishing trips throughout Northern Ireland every couple of weeks during school terms. We even took part in the Northern Ireland Schools Championship and in my final year at school we won our qualifer and came 2nd in the final fished in Enniskillen where I recorded a section win on the very hard Dolans Ring section. I almost missed out on the presentation as our teacher forgot to come and pick me up.

I went to university in Edinburgh and gave up fishing for a few years to concentrate on other things ( booze and women mostly ). Four years ago I was offered a job in Nottingham and got the fishing bug again. I bought all new equipment including a pole which I had no idea how to use ( some may say I still dont ) and ventured off pleasure fishing to places such as Lakeview near Melton Mowbray and Sherwood Forest Farm. I remember getting up before dawn and spending all day fishing and going home when it was dark. I fished a few charity matches and soon got the bug for competition.

Last year I joined a local club who fished every sunday from April to mid November. I had a terrible start weighing in 1 lb 15oz in the first 2 matches and finishing last both times. Never one to give up i carried on and improved slowly throughout the year. I was unable to fish every week as my wife was about to give birth so it was quite hard to prepare properly. I started to win my section every now and then and narrowly missed out on my first win after losing a 5lb carp after the wistle at Holmedale lake at Sherwood Forest. I was also beaten by 3 oz at Willow lakes in Foston in one of the last matches of the year. Over the winter I prepared much better and this year has brought much better results.

April

The first match of the year was fished at a very cold lakeview fishery. We fished Oasis lake and I managed 1 fish for 1 lb 9 oz to finish 8th. My first frame came in the 3rd match of the year on the Old lake at Portland where I finished 3rd with a catch of small carp on the method feeder.I managed a section win in the next match back at lakeview on stream. This also happened to be the first leg of round one of the club knockout so I carried an 8lb advantage to the second leg.

May

I began with another section win on lagoon at lakeview and 4th in the match. I weighed in 32lb including a carp of 7lb 12oz that led me a merry dance on light elastic. I missed the next match due to a family wedding but as the fish chose this weekend to spawn I wasnt bothered at all. Ok I was bothered a bit. The last match of May saw another section win and 5th in the match this time at Little john lakes fishing a small feeder to the corner of the island for a nice bag of small carp.

June

The first match of June was fished at a new venue for the club Kilburn lake in Derbyshire. Reports suggested it was full of small carp and silver fish and that they could be caught close in. It was raining quite heavily and the ground was quite muddy so I wasnt best pleased to draw the peg furtherest from the car park. It was an end peg however so I wasnt that annoyed after I arrived at my peg. I could see every one setting up short poles to fish 5 meters out so I plumbed up to find only about 1 1/2 ft deep. I could also see fish topping further out so I decided to fish shallow at 10 mtrs and try something completely different from everyone else.

It paid off as I weighed in 53lb 2oz for my first ever win.The next week we went to another new venue Mill Dam near Collingham. We fished the old lake and I came 2nd thanks to some nice carp in the margins late on. Next up was the second leg of the first round knockout. We fished Maid Marion lake at Little John Lakes where I caught over 30lb for a section win and 4th in the match. I also made it through to the next round of the knockout with about 15lb to spare. The 4th match of the month saw us return to Lakeview to fish Marina Lake. With near gale force winds blowing down the lake everyone fished in the margins or just 2 sections out. I had a great day finishing with 59lb 10oz of small carp. I was told that both end pegs at the end of the lake the wind was blowing into had not stopped catching all day so I wasnt too confident. It was won off peg 1 with 69lb but the other end peg only had 55lb so I managed 2nd in the match. The last match of june was a disaster and I finshed 11th but apart from that june was a great month with my first win 2 2nd places and another section win.