Runner up with 274lb 5oz - 3 day Somerset Leveller Festival @ Viaduct, The Sedges and Avalon
This was the 5th Spring 3 day Somerset Leveller Festival run by Mark Birbeck, commonly called the Birbeck festival, held on 3 different venue's over a long weekend.
You can read the full write up on the festival HERE
This year the matches were at Viaduct on the famous "Scary Carey" pool, Tile pool at the Sedges and the Moors pool at Avalon fisheries. Mark always runs these festivals with small sections with the winner decided on section points. This way if you bum out on the first day, your festival is not over and you can claw your way back into the mainframe. Its always close and no one really knows who's going to win it until after the last match.
Day One - Carey Pool at Viaduct - 2nd in match with 123lb 13oz
We arrived at Viaduct on the Friday morning, I drew Carey 105 which is the right end of the pool so I was told. "Scary Carey" is a big fish pool where you don't need many fish to do a big weight. So the plan was to fish the Bomb and 8mm pellet over 3 areas. The pole was really the back up plan and I set up several rigs. However I was prepared to sit it out on the Bomb and wait for a few big carp to pull the rod tip round. Its took an hour to land my first Carp, a nice Common around 12lb so this gave me the confidence and a caught several more in the next couple of hours. I need have a look on the pole but nothing really happened and I went back on the Bomb rod. Come the end of the match I had caught 12 Carp which went 123lb 13oz giving me 2nd in the match with 130lb winning the match. ( I needed one more Carp!) The winner was also in my section so I had to settle for 2 section points for the festival. None the less a good start to the festival.
Bomb Rod set up - 10'6" Preston Mini plus rod with a Daiwa 3012A TDR reel loaded with 8lb Daiwa ST Tournament mainline, the business end was a Preston ICS 20g inline match cube with a 15 inch Preston size 12 Banded, 0.19mm Preston Mag Store rig (baited with an 8mm pellet)
Day Two - Tile Pool at The Sedges - Section win with 72lb 8oz
The 2nd match saw me draw corner flyer peg 21. This peg won the match the last time we were down here in the Spring so the draw arm was working well so far this year. The plan was to feed 8mm meat into the corner and to give it an hour. Starting on the pole at top 2+3 with pellets. This first hour was OK but not brilliant, I caught a couple of carp and a few Skimmers. I then tried the corner but nothing yet! So I threw out a small Dura method to the right hand bank next but had no pulls. So I chopped and changed between these 3 lines for the next couple of hours, only catching a odd carp and a few Skimmers from the top2+3 pole line with hard pellet. The corner hadn't produced anything yet. I needed to do something else so I shipped out to 13 metres with hard pellet and began to ping hard pellets over the top. I began to catch carp straight away with only a couple of hours to go. I was then had to decide whether to sit it out in the corner or to continue to catch at 13 metres. I still hadn't seen any swirls in the corner so I decided to stick with the 13 metre pole line. Never come off feeding fish! I was having a good final hour, so I now completely forgot about the corner and I started to put together a decent net of fish. I weighed in 72lb 4oz which was enough to claim an important section win. Giving me 3 points over the two days. It was the constant feeding of the pellets that worked today. Potting it in was wrong.
Pellet Rig - 0.6g Nick Gilbert XT Finesse Power pole float in 6 fooot of water set up on 0.17mm Guru N-Gauge mainline with a bulk of no.8 stotz's with 2 no.10 dropper shot above a 6 inch 0.15mm size 14 Guru SLWG banded Ready Rig. set up on Nick Gilbert Amber core elastic (14-18)
Day 3 - Moors Pool, Avalon Fisheries - 78lb 4oz (54lb of Silvers)
Going into the final day at Avalon I found myself on 3 points and in joint 1st place for the festival. I also had a good weight advantage. So all that I needed to do was to win my section on the last day and the title was mine. Not an easy thing to do though.
We had all of the left hand bank of the Moors pool, 23 pegs all in a straight line. I just wanted a short walk so I hoped for a low number from the draw bag as the pegs didn't mean anything to me. Peg 12 stuck to my hand so I was around half way up the pool. Moors pool has islands at about 25 metres. So the plan was to start on the Bomb rod and then to fish the pole short later as the weather forecast was for strong winds up to 40 mph later in the match. I started on the Bomb with an 8mm hard pellet. I had two pull rounds in the first 10 minutes but I lost both fish, one broke my 0.19mm hook length and the other one pulled the hook at the landing net. It was a little longer but I did manage to land a carp around 4lb. It had slowed down to the Bomb now and I needed to start to put some fish in the keepnets. I'd been feeding 6mm pellets and a few 8mm's over one pole line and corn on another. I tried the pellet line next and caught another carp after 10 minutes and things were looking good. I felt I was just winning section two hours into the match. No more carp bites came from the pellet line so I felt I'd look on the corn line next. This resulted in a big Skimmer around 2lb straight away and then another and then another! These Skimmers were a good size. They were worth fishing for. So with not many carp being caught in my section I decided to fish for these Skimmers. It just got better and better. I was catching a Skimmer every put it on corn. Some of these Skimmers were even around 3lb in weight, I was starting to build a good weight. Now four hours into the match the angler on the next Peg, Robin Ballard had began to catch some big Carp and he was starting to catch me up. I needed to catch some more Carp. So I decided to rest the Skimmer line and tried the pellet line. Nothing happened though and Robin was now catching carp and he had overtaken me. I returned to the Bomb next and caught another Carp and I was thinking I could catch him up. The other anglers in the section were now miles behind me and Robin and I felt at least 2nd in the section was now sorted. The Bomb wasn't going around enough though and I was sat there not putting fish into the keep nets. Robin was now well ahead of me. Going into the last 30 minutes of the match it was clear I would be 2nd in the section. I was thinking weight could come into play for the final festival positions. I knew these Skimmers were big and so I decided to return to them. I'd still been feeding the corn on this line and I returned to it. They were still there and I continued to catch them. I decided to now increase the feed at this point as we were now late into the day hoping some carp would have moved in now. This worked and I caught another carp in between some more of the Skimmers. Come the weigh in as I predicted Robin won the section with 130lb. I also ready knew I had secured 2nd in section. I weighed in 78lb 4oz of which 54lb of that weight were the Skimmers. That's the best weight of Silvers I've ever caught and it was a pleasure to catch them. To be honest if I'd have fished for the carp I may have even beaten Robin and got 1st in the section but I fish to enjoy myself and catching these quality Skimmers really made my festival and a day to remember.
The final result
Once the final points and weights were worked out. I had tied the festival in first place on 5 points with Rob Butcher. Weight count back came into play but I already knew he had a far bigger aggregate weight over the 3 days. He'd won two of the matches anyway catching 379lb to my 274lb so I was an easy runner up this year.
This was a great 3 days down in Somerset the matchs were all good, everybody catch plenty of fish and the banter in the pub in the evening was excellent. I can't wait to do it all again.