Tunnel Barn winter league
Firstly, thank you for visiting my website, in this section I will post a blog every couple of weeks, describing the matches I have found most interesting.
For my first blog I am going to cover the first round of the tunnel barn winter league. This event is possibly my favourite of the year, and after being asked by Joe Carass to join his matchfishing draw bags team last year, we finished 2nd overall.
This year I have made the decision to focus solely on the tunnel barn league as commitments with maver Midlands made me miss a few rounds last year. Meaning I sometimes felt a little out of sinc with the venue.
The team draw for the first round was best described as a steady one, I had drawn joe 39 extension, Paul Bick was on 19 house pool, Jon Arthur on 43 high and for myself I had my usual new pool draw. I was on peg 27 on the road bank, which gave me a typical canal style peg. None of these pegs were fliers but still, each gave a good chance of a top 5 finish in the 22 peg sections.
With the match starting at 10.15am, I was quickly at my peg plumbing up, the depth in this area of the lake is lovely with around 5ft down the middle and a nice gradual far bank slope where I could find depths of 3ft around a meter off the far bank cover 2ft tight to the cover and a final swim in around 14inches, right next to the far bank just in case they had a proper chew late on.
As far as baits were concerned, I had decided on keeping my options limited to just maggots, soft micro pellets, hard 4mm pellets and some bread for dobbing.
I had spoken to joe during the week about pellet options and we had both decided that a hard pellet approach may be better for the first few rounds while the weather is still good.
This is something that I have noticed at a few venues recently where hard pellets are much better than the standard micros and expanda option. I put this down to the versatility that hard pellets have as they can be fed in different ways to either attract fish in the peg or to get the fish competing on the bottom where they are easier to catch.
For my peg I had chosen to put in the following lines:
At 6m down the middle I decided on loose feeding maggots by hand, this area is normally good, later in the match and with the warm weather catching shallow over this was also a possibility.
Rigs for this line were slim carbon stem floats in 4x14 for on the bottom and 4x10 for off deck.
Shotting was spread no10s on both with size 18 gamma pellet hooks.
At 13m in 3ft of water and at 14m in 2ft I set up 2 rigs for each line, firstly a 4x14 slim wire stem float shotted with just no9 shot spaced 1inch apart starting 3inches from the hook for when the fish were feeding hard on the bottom. Secondly I set up a 4x10 float for each line, shotted with spread no11 shot, these were spaced 3inches apart, starting 4inches from the hook, hooks were size 18 b911s with hair rigged bands.
These would allow me to fish through the water when the fish are taking the pellets at all depths.
For my far line in 14inches of water a 4x10 float was used, shotting was a bulk of 11s 3inches from a size 18 pellet hook.
My final rig was a 4x12 float set at 16inches for dobbing bread, shotting was a simple bulk of 10s directly below the float with 3 no12s spread evenly down the rig. To a size 18 gamma wide gape maggot hook.
All rigs on the day were set up on .14 mainline to .10 hooklegnths.
When the match began I chose to start at 13m, because everyone around me started by fishing short, I felt that having that line to myself for a while may give me a good start. I began by cupping in around 10 hard pellets every couple of minutes. Each time I shipped out I would tip the pellets in from around 1m off the surface to make a small noise, this quickly brought fish into the peg, once I was getting plenty of indications I swapped to cupping the pellets in by touching the water with my cup. This worked well and a caught well for the first 90mins with around 15 f1s which was the best I could see.
Towards the end of the second hour is were the match went wrong for me if I'm honest, I moved from my 3ft line onto the shallower 2ft peg thinking I may be able to catch some bigger f1s. I fed this line in exactly the same way but was unable to get many proper bites, I could get plenty of indications but only a couple of fish were added to my net. I feel that by moving to this line I spit the competing fish into 2 areas which in turn killed both lines, I should have been more patient with my original swim as it was still producing fish when few other anglers were catching.
For the next couple of hours I really struggled to settle, I caught the odd fish by swapping between my 2 pellet lines and a quick try on the short maggot line resulted in just a few ide and small silvers.
At this point with the lake showing signs of waking up I potted 150ml of maggots onto my shallowest line tight across, after leaving it 10mins to settle I went across and had a great run of 10 big f1s, I really thought at that point it would be a really good finish, but this line also faded leaving my scratching around until the end of the match.
At the weigh in, it was the usual case of all the weights being really close, this is why I like tunnel so much, it really makes you think back about how you could have caught those extra fish!
The scales arrived and I put 62lb on the scales. MAP designer Sean Little had won the lake with 78lb. He had fished a nice steady pellet match which is exactly what I felt I should have done myself!
My weight put me 10th in the 22 man section which I was really not happy about, I felt that the match I had planned to fish was right but by trying to rush things and make the fish feed when they didn't want to, I had eliminated the competition among the fish by splitting the shoal.
The second mistake I made was to feed maggots down the middle, this seems to be a favoured method at tunnel, but on the new pool I really struggle to make it work when the weather is warm and there are lots of small silvers feeding. Pellets would have been much more selective as bob on the next peg showed with a good run in the final hour.
On the team front we had a nice steady start with around 65 points, putting us in 3rd position.
The MAP lads won the day with an awesome 75points!
Overall, it was a good start to the league, the match gave me the kick I needed to get back into tunnel mode, there will be a lot that changes as the weather cools but hopefully now I can be in tune with the venue a bit more and make the right decisions!!