Before I get started on this blog I want to acknowledge the fine work done by Jamie Rich on his site “Men against fish” I have come to know his contemporaries and follow his exploits with interest. This blog is not intended as a copy of his format but will have some similarities on occasion and I hope my readers will bear with me and his followers forgive me. Hopefully our experiences will be sufficiently diverse to appeal to both sets.
So Friday the 13th at Willow. I was expecting to go to Willinghurst and had bought 4 pints of maggots in preparation. Willingshurst, especially Old and Top lakes have been responding to heavily fed maggot down the margins. Willow sadly doesn’t respond in quite the same way as 90% of anglers fish ands feed large hard pellet. Anyway This being cancelled I ended up on the Over 55s match at Willow Park, in Ash,near Aldershot. It was a small turnout, only 11 fishing on the small lake so it was held as a rover, 12 pegs were chosen and as each person paid their entry and pools they drew a number for choice of peg, (or walk off. ) I drew No. 6, which was sufficiently low to ensure I didn’t get pegs 16 or 18 but not low enough to put me on a flier. When it came to my turn I dithered between 21 and 31 and having seen 31 struggle in the Wednesday match chose 21. I mixed up the maximum allowed 1kg of groundbait, using a 50/50 mix of F1 Sweet fishmeal and some left over green fishmeal. You have to be careful with this not to over wet it as the F1 can go quite claggy if to damp.
I got set up on the huge platform, with pellet and corn as my back-up should the maggot not work.

Peg 21 ready to go

A loaded side tray

I set up two rigs for the top 2 plus 2 both with a 0.2 gram Rizov series 91, a size 14 maggot hook to 0.15 bottom on one and the other with a band for large pellet. For the edges I set up a maggot rig for the left margin and a pellet and or corn rig for the right. I had no one on 21 so the corner was in play but it is very hit and miss there, recent matches have seen very little coming out, Peg 19 is never included in matches and peg 18 is the one to avoid. Not only no fish but also in the shade all day.
On the hooter I fed 3 balls of groundbait to my right 2 + 2 swim and a cup full of 6mm pellet to my left 2 + 2 swim. I started on the maggot and immediately had a run of small skimmers in the 2 to 3 oz range. After 6 of these the float went under with a whoosh and I was briefly attached to a carp, flou hooked which came off halfway across the lake. Next put in , a similar bite this time a good carp hooked fair and square. After a long tussle the hook pulled at the net and a fish of around 8 to 10 lb swam off. Another foul hooker followed and this killed the swim. The pellet swim produced nothing in 30 minutes, not even a wobble on the float and dropping back in on the groundbait produced just a couple of micro perch. I decided on an early look down ther edge and immediately started to catch bigger skimmers and perch in the left edge. This went of for an hour. or so before I went bwack over the groundbait. Mean while, with the exception of pegs 11 and 28 which were both end pegs on the day, everyone around me was struggling. Peg 18 was getting similar size skimmers but fewer than me and on peg 23, John “the blade” wasn’t catching anything at all on pellet. It was clear I’d picked the wrong end of the lake.
I saw a fish in the left margin and concentrated there for another hour for a few more silvers, and then alternated swims until the end of the match adding just one proper carp on the maggot line and a foul hooked F1 plus lots more silvers.
I ended up on the scales for my section and was first to weigh, the two carp went exactly 10lbs and the Skimmers added another 17lbs 5oz. John on 23 didn’t weigh in, then the weights started getting better, with the end peg 28 winning the match

Serial winner Ian Turner had to settle for 3rd place on peg 27 behind Terry Pilgrim with a great 120lb. THe other section was won by Adrian Hoile with 92lb from unfancied peg 11. In retrospect I chose the wrong end of the lake but did have plenty of bites and a good days fishing. The weather was glorious and for a Friday the 13th things didn’t go too badly. Subject to their approval I’ll introduce a few of the Willow characters in my next blogs