On the second day of the Milo Bait-Tech Spring Festival on the River Wye, I drew the best winter peg in the UK, Peg 96. This is my story of the day with tackle and tactics.
Why is the peg so good, you may ask? Well, it’s an end peg in between the old Wye Bridge downstream of the peg and the new main road bridge upstream. Both bridges cross the river in the city centre. As the winter kicks in, the majority of the fish from the countryside migrate into the town stretch and drop into this peg. It’s a shallow and pacey peg with the cover of the bridges. The fish love to be here.
I have gone through the thought process of what I would do if I drew it many times. When the peg stuck to my hand, I was delighted. I slowed myself down, took a deep breath and slowly went about my business. None of my normal rushing around. This was going to be a big day and the Catch More Media cameraman Tom Scholey and spectators will be visiting me. The day before, Dave Roberts had the second-highest weight ever off the peg with an epic 215lbs. No pressure then! Surely, Dave will have flattened the peg to a degree, I was thinking.
I waded out to the top of my knees and set my Octbox Outrigger Platform System up. Rock steady, it is time now to tackle up. Three whips at 5 – 6 and 7 metres were set up, along with two wagglers and a stick float. All the whip rigs were stick floats shotted with strung out no 8 shot. The thicker tips of these floats will help minimise false line bites.
One big consideration with pegs like this is how you land the fish. You can swing them in, pick them out of the water, or use a landing net. My short arms and little hands mean my way to use a short landing net pole with a small landing net head and scoop close to my feet, then quickly whizz the net onto my lap. I can, however, swing bigger fish on the rod and line tactics.
Today there was a tricky downstream wind, so the whip was my favourite. I put three keep nets in before the start. I planned to just loose-feed maggots and occasionally a few cubes of meat. The meat option is all about trying to get a better stamp of fish, which can work. I had other bait on my side tray, but I didn’t use any.
I started on a stick float feeding maggots a couple of rods out, feeding one line but over-spraying maggots with a catapult. It took me thirty minutes to get a bite on a stick float and after three fish I swapped to the whip at 7 metres to hand and under spraying maggots, throwing them out by hand.
It was soon solid, with the first 30 fish averaging a pound and a half. I managed to get them closer and switched to 6 metres to hand. By the mid-match point, I had just over 100lbs. Now I was dreaming of going over 200 lbs. In the second half of the match, it got a lot more difficult with the fish backing off and the stamp of fish getting much smaller. After a mini-run of fish back at 7 metres to hand, they had gone. Experience told me they had gone down the peg or further out. After a brief look on the stick float, I realised they were further out and the last hour was spent on the waggler catching smaller chub and dace. My 189 fish split evenly into three nets weighed 147lbs 12oz, and was a comfortable match win.
I felt like I fished a good match. However, there is always some small room for improvement. My netting fish style with a short net handle and a quick scoop worked well. I only hooked the landing net maybe twice in the whole match, and this mishap is the biggest way to slow you down. Two hundred pounds plus? I don’t think it was on the cards due to the battering the day before but who knows, I was well on track at mid-match, but then the peg faded quickly. By the end of the match, I had fed nine pints of maggots and half a tin of meat. It was a fantastic day that I will remember forever and is the third-highest total ever from the peg, I believe.
Dave Roberts went on to win the 54 peg festival with a perfect two points and of course a huge weight advantage. I managed to finish in seventh place after my third in section on the first day. Massive thanks to the organising team and Dave himself. Also, great sponsorship from Milo and Bait-Tech. Catch More Media and Tom also did some great filming of the event. Some clips are live on Facebook, but a full tube video will be out soon.
Just for you tackle tarts, a list of the gear I used.
Cadence CP200 7-metre whip – Rigged up with a 4 no 4 Drennan clear-based stick float.
Cadence CP200 6-metre whip – Rigged with a DH Shallow Stick 3 no 4.
Cadence CP200 5-metre whip – Rigged with a DH Shallow Stick 4 no 4 (Not Used).
All whips are set up with Edge Hollow Elastic 10 – 12 red through the top section of the whip only.
Cadence CR10 Match 13ft #3 rod – Standard waggler for maggots.
Cadence CR10 Match 14ft #3 rod – Speci waggler (not used but for fishing meat on a Size 8 hook).
Cadence CR10 Match 15ft #2 rod – Rigged with a DH 4 no 4 heavy-based Stick float.
All rods coupled with Cadence CS6 4000 reels. All reel line Edge Tackle 0.18 Float Mono.
All rigs set us using Edge Tackle 0.18 Premium Mono.
Hook lengths all Edge Premium Mono 0.165 tied to a size 11 B711s.