England star Steve Hemingray has topped the Silverfish League at Meadowlands Fishery at the halfway stage. Here’s his rundown of the first three rounds where three completely different approaches were required for success.
The Meadowlands Fishery Silverfish League kicked off at the beginning of January and it has become a fiercely contested individual league with some of the best anglers from around the country competing over six rounds. With your best five results to count on points it always guarantees a close finish. Superbly run by Paul Garner with help from Darren Cox, it’s a great event and one I look forward to every year.
Both lakes at Meadowlands are used; the Warren, which is only two to four feet deep, and Lambsdown, which various from 4ft to 14ft. There are two sections of nine anglers on Warren and four nine-peg sections on Lambsdown. Roach and skimmers are the main quarry on both lakes, so casters, maggots, worms, groundbait and pellets can all play their part.
One of the great things about these matches is it’s great to meet up with old friends from out of your area who you don’t see on a weekly basis, so after all the handshakes and pleasantries it was down to business for Round One!
Peg 21 on Warren was my home for the day. The talk on the bank was that although in past years Lambsdown is generally the best lake for big weights of skimmers, in recent weeks the Warren had been fishing the best and the area I was in had some recent form.
With the Warren being so swallow it can sometimes take a while for the fish to come within pole range in any numbers, so I planned to start on the waggler and loose feed casters. No chance of doing that today however! With a face wind I felt this restricted the distance I could feed and made my pole and waggler line too close to each other. This could potentially even stop fish from coming to my closer pole line.
So, my starting gambit was a small cage feeder instead, fished at only 30 turns. With the short distance and size of skimmers and roach I expected to catch I set up an Acolyte Ultra 10ft Feeder rod with a soft 1oz tip to 4lb Feeder & Method Mono. A 0.10mm Double Strength hooklength and a size 18 B911 F1 hook completed the setup.
I decided to feed two pole lines at the start of the match. Bearing in mind I was fearing the fish might not come in too close I decided to feed micro pellets at 16 metres and fish a 4mm expander on the hook. Tackle for this was No5 elastic with a a 0.25g G-Tip 2 float on 0.12mm Double Strength to a 0.08mm Double Strength hooklength to a 16 B911 F1 hook.
I fed my other pole line at 14 metres, slightly to the right, to create some distance between this and the pellet line. Here I fed a small amount of groundbait with dead maggots and casters and planned to loose feed casters over this all day for roach. Two rigs were put up for this swim, both with No5 elastic. One was a 0.5g G-Tip 2 with a bulk of No10s and two droppers, a 0.08mm hooklength to a size 20 Silverfish Match hook. The other was a 0.2g AS3 float with strung out No12s, a 0.08mm hooklength and a size 18 Silverfish Match.
Starting on the cage feeder with dead maggots and castors and a single dead red on the hook, after 10 minutes I started to catch the odd hand-sized skimmer. Looking around I soon realised there were already a few fish being caught and so the lake would hopefully fish well. I then knew it would become a pole match, so after only 20 minutes I had a quick look on my pole lines. One small roach first drop in then nothing, so I was soon back on the feeder. Another 10 minutes and a few more hand-sized skimmers and back on the pole for another look. As I hoped, the fish had now arrived on the pole and I didn’t pick up the feeder rod again.
For starters I just caught roach and odd hybrids on casters at 14 metres before finding skimmers at 16 metres on pellets. It was at his point I realised I had made a bit of a mistake with my distances. The high bank behind me it made it difficult to ship in and out at speed, so with 90 minutes gone I took a gamble and pulled both of these swims in by a metre using my short dolly butts. My 16m pellet swim became 15 metres and the 14m caster swim was now around 13 metres. Although it was a little iffy for half an hour or so, eventually both lines were as good as before. More importantly, the metre less distance made a big difference to my shipping speed. I spent the rest of the match topping up and alternating the two lines to keep the fish coming all day. I ended with 27lb for a section and match win for a great start to the league!
I was back on Warren Pool for the second round, this time on peg 15. Right lake, wrong peg (or so I thought). Although I had won the lake of this peg a few years before with 48 lb of roach, that was the last round in March when it was warming up. This peg’s winter form is often terrible. For those who don’t know the lake, peg 15 is up an arm and well out of the main lake with no feeder chuck and only about 18 metres to the far side.
With the weather having taken a turn for the worse and some parts of the lake being frozen I thought the fishing would be hard, however, which did give me a glimmer of hope. My peg at least had some form for perch; mainly small ones but the chance of the odd brute! So, with perch in mind and next to no chance of any skimmers I set my stall out for the species to try and make the best of a bad job.
I picked three lines to fish for perch; six metres to the left and right of me next to the nearside bushes and a far side swim on the edge of the bushes at 16 metres. All these swims were fed with fine chopped worm and caster with a small amount of casters loose fed over the top all day.
Each swim was about two and half feet deep, so tackle was simple. No5 elastic, a 4×12 Drennan Choppa float with strung-out No12s on 0.12mm main line to a 0.08mm Double Strength hooklength and size 18 Silverfish Match hook. This was baited with either a small piece of worm or a caster.
As a token gesture, I also stuck 16 metres as far towards the open lake as possible and fed here with pellets to give me a chance of a skimmer or two. I tried this on and off all day with not a bite.
By rotating my three lines I managed to keep fish coming all day, starting with just small perch. Later in the day when it warmed slightly I caught roach and some much bigger perch. A couple of these were close to 2lb. As I thought the fishing for most was hard by Meadowlands’ standards and my 19lb 8oz was enough for a section win and 4th overall.
I drew peg 35 on Lambsdown, which I was happy with, as I’d been on what they call the Pump Bank on several occasions and had some good results. Although when everything is right with wind direction and temperature the pole can produce good weights, it is predominantly feeder fishing with the pole only coming into play towards the end of a match.
A medium cast of between 30 and 40 metres is all that’s usually required, so I set up my Acolyte Ultra 12ft Feeder with 6lb Feeder & Method Mono with a 0.10mm Double Strength hooklength to a size 18 B911 F1 hook. I also put up an Acolyte Ultra 10ft Feeder with 4lb Feeder Mono and the same hooklength for a short chuck on or just past the pole line if required.
It’s a reasonable depth here with 8ft to 10ft at about 14metres, so I put up three rigs for one line. These were a 1g and a 2g G-Tip 2 float with olivette bulks and four No10 droppers plus a slimmer 0.6g AS3 with strung out shot for roach. All were on 0.12 main line to a 0.08mm hooklength and size 18 Silverfish Match hooks and No5 elastic.
I expected to spend the majority of the match on the feeder, certainly the first two hours, I I decided to feed the pole a little differently to my first two matches. At the start, I threw six balls of groundbait on the pole line, containing casters, dead maggots and worms, then loose fed casters over the top.
On the feeder line, I wanted to catch straight away, so I just fished a small cage feeder at the start with no spodding of bait with a bigger feeder, trying to get some bites and slowly build my peg. As the match progresses I don’t fish a cage feeder all the time. Instead, I will occasionally swap to a normal plastic open end feeder for a few casts to see which gives a better response. In the feeder I fed a few micros and dead maggots with dead maggots on the hook, again alternating the amount of feed to groundbait ratio, looking for a response all day.
To cut a long story short, the match went pretty much as expected catching skimmers from 6oz to 1lb on the feeder for the first three hours. I later found by alternating between the pole and feeder I could pick off a few fish, mainly roach on the pole and odd skimmers on the feeder, to finish with 18lb and another section win.
The Halfway Stage
To sum up after three rounds, I have had three totally different days where a variety of methods and baits have really come into play. At this point I am just in front with three wins, but it’s close as always. I sadly have to miss the next two rounds due to team commitments, but with stand-ins’ points allowed for one round I will hopefully still have a chance to frame in the league.