Those of you who follow the news updates on our official Century Fishing Facebook page will have read that our very own Lee Collings and his partner Roy Russell had a great result recently dominating their semi final of the 2012 British Carp Angling Championships at Barston Lakes. Lee used his 13ft 3.5lb Century SP+ rods to great effect and booked himself a place in Septembers’ final in the process.

Lee had this to tell us:

Now I understand match fishing is not everybody’s cup of tea as most people think of fishing as a relaxing a sport and an excuse to get away from the pressures of work and the Mrs but personally speaking I get a buzz when it comes to fishing for 48hrs under pressure and pitting your wits against some the best anglers in the country.

A lot of the matches are won and lost at the draw and the last four years myself and my partner Roy Russell have had poor draws coming out late in the bag but you win some and loose some. We qualified from Baden hall in the BCAC qualifier in April by taking a major gamble by going in a bay which hadn’t produced a fish since last October this could well have back fired on us but luckily it didn’t.

The BCAC Semi-Final at Barston lakes in Warwickshire is a match men style venue with matches taking places on a weekly basis and there are certain areas of the lake capable of producing weights of over 1000lb in 48hrs. The lake was diveided into seven sections to make the match fairer of which four teams of anglers would fish against each other in each of the seven groups with the winner of each section would go through to the final.

It was a game of cat and mouse during the draw as a lot of good anglers had qualified so it was a case of having your sections mentally marked down on the map but this could change depending on which anglers chose which section. Realistically there are two ‘banker swims’ that always produce well and that virtually guarantee qualification every year so as soon as these swims are taken the other three swims in each of the sections are often a near waste of time.

The draws started at 9am on the Friday and we were both nervous as it is make or break time you are hoping to come out early so you get choose the swim you want and try to avoid the stronger pairs of anglers in your section. As the names were drawn it seemed like an eternity until we were finally drawn twenty fourth of the twenty eight teams and with only four swims left to chose from it left us with a hard decision but eventually we choose a section that would not do many fish so that would always put us within a shout as the leaders wouldn’t have loads of fish making the section tight. The biggest threat would come from the awesome match fishing dynamic duo Kev Hewitt and Mark Bartlett who were in our section….. just what we needed-NOT!

If I’m honest the choice of swim was not ideal and nowhere near our choice of top swims but you have to try and make the best of a bad situation. The swim was situated half way along an island requiring around a forty yard chuck to hit the island so my partner Roy decided to fish the middle of the island fishing tight under the overhanging trees and I choose to fish the end of the island and the open water.

The match started at 12oclock on Friday dinner and we both decided to fish solid Pva bags of pellets with bright hook baits but we soon found out the F1 carp loved these and after having a fair few of these in the first couple of hours we were getting fed up catching them as the weight limit had been upped to 5lb this year this meant none of the F1 could be weighed in as most of the fish were only weighing 2lb.

We still persevered with solid bags hoping to wade through the F1 and constantly feeding 15mm and 18mm boilies over the top. The rain became torrential and it had now been raining non-stop for twenty four hours since Thursday evening seeing us get through a couple of sets of waterproofs in the process.

Roy managed to land the first fish that we could weigh in at 5lb 15oz fishing tight to the island which put us in the lead in the section for a few hours but we were soon pegged bag into 3rd place after Bart and Hewitt and Collins and Collins both had fish.

After landing over forty F1 carp, none which we were able to weigh so we decided we might have got the tactics wrong so it was time to change our approach, fish PVA stringers and ditch the solid bags and small bright hook baits. We settled three boilies on a PVA stringer and a boilies tipped with mini plastic corn for hook baits.

The action soon slowed up but we soon stared to pick up a few better fish off the end of the island and my first fish weighed 9lb which resulted in a nervous battle as I was using barbless hooks which are the fisheries rules. The carp no doubt used this to their advantage as they seemed to go crazy under the rod tips trying to shed the hook at every opportunity.

While this was all going on the weather was getting worse and the river behind us had burst its banks with the amount of rain we had and some competitors had already had to move there bivvies or they would have been flooded out this was on our mind as it only needed to rise another foot or so and it would be level with our bank.

Friday night turned out to be pretty uneventful and we only managed one take in the night from a F1 at least we managed to get our heads down for a couple of hours.

Saturday morning bought a few fish first thing and we managed to keep our lead of 54lb with six fish. The biggest was 19lb which is like having a four fish catch all at the same time which was a bonus but we were being chased hard by Bart and Hewitt on 50lb and Collins and Collins 39lb
By dinner time on Saturday things were starting to get tense and we had only had one more fish and now we were only in the lead by 9lb. Now Roy’s rods had gone pretty quiet fishing the middle of the island so we decided to move one of his rods into my swim and fish his rods in open water hoping to pinch any bonus fish as the team next door were catching out in open water and it wasn’t long before Roy had some action and soon moved both his rods into my swim to maximise our chances.

Going into Saturday evening things were quite slow so we made a team decision to stay up all night and recast the rods every half hour trying to pick up extra bonus fish. I would love to be able to say that this tactic worked a treat, but unfortunately it didn’t and by 3am we were questioning our own sanity as we still hadn’t caught anything despite watching the guys on the opposite bank catch all night and they were not fishing a million miles away from us.

We didn’t receive our first take of the night until first light but we then we managed to put five fish on the bank in quick succession and put us on fifteen fish for 129lb. We knew that Bart and Hewitt had caught a few fish in the night and not that far behind with eleven fish for 105lb then Collins and Collins had four fish in quick succession taking them onto 102lb.

The nerves were starting to take their toll and that combined with tiredness saw us praying that lady luck would help us out as we fished as hard as we could. It was very tense and to top it off I ended up losing two fish in a row which I thought had to be costly and might well have cost us a place in the final. We were pushed all the way but in the end we managed to put another five fish on the bank in the last couple of hours taking us to a total of 178lb so when the horn went at 12 o’clock we were relieved to have won the section after a hard battle with Bart and Hewitt on 118lb and Collins and Collins on 113lb.

I think we ended up catch over eighty small F1 carp which we couldn’t weigh during the duration of the match so as you can imagine it was a tiring match which took me over a week to recover from…….and I thought fishing was supposed to be enjoyable!

Roll on the Final in September

Tight Lines
Lee Collings