BYCAC Champion Crowned - Michael Bamber

This year’s British Young Carpers’ Angling Championships (BYCAC) event was held on Oxlease Lake, part of the Linear Fisheries Complex, near Oxford.
Going into the event I felt a little more relaxed because it suited my style of fishing a little better than in previous years on Brasenose Two. Oxlease is well known for being a maggot-dominated water, but I had a sneaking suspicion that half of the anglers wouldn’t use maggots, because it wouldn’t suit their styles of fishing. This is how it all went down...
My eliminator was on the Tuesday. My brother had qualified for the final the previous day, so the pressure was at an all-time high. Although I was fairly relaxed, the draw just seemed to get me a little edgy. I didn’t quite know what to expect. I picked out peg 33, which I was fairly happy with, as it had produced fish in the previous eliminator.
The peg was situated just to the right of the island and that was perfect for me. I thought I could pick off the fish as they patrolled around the island. With loads of fish showing in front of me, I was confident that I could maybe nick a bite or two.
My first fish came just under two hours after the hooter, and weighed in at 18lb 7oz; big enough to put me in second place. After having two more upper doubles after 1pm, there was a silence between takes. However fifty minutes later, a screaming run on the RX was an epic sight. As soon as I hooked into the fish, I could tell immediately that it was a bit bigger; it wasn’t kiting from side to side like an upper-double would. Instead, it held its ground and stayed deep. After thirty minutes of arm-aching battle, and a couple of gulps of air, the fish finally give in. I knew at that moment that it was big. I eased its head up and scooped the net below it. It was at that moment that I knew that it was a thirty. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the Reuben Heatons went round to 36lb. This was another PB for me in the BYCAC event, an unbelievable start to the event. I couldn’t have wished for a better day. After the mid-thirty was safely put back, the takes came quickly and for a while I didn’t get a chance to get my second rod out. I stormed into a lead with ten fish caught altogether, which put me in first place with a winning weight of 188lb.
With my brother and I through to the upcoming final, it was time to prepare and get enough rigs made up. The morning of the final is always interesting. Two hours to walk around the lake and choose your favourite pegs. Walking round and talking to people, I gathered that peg 33 would be the first peg on most people’s list, after what happened on the Tuesday. The draw was made for the final and I was still quite edgy. As I thought, peg 33 came out first in the draw. I managed to I come out about 15th in the draw and peg 17 hadn’t been chosen yet, so I didn’t mess about and picked that peg before I had chance to change my mind.
As the hooter sounded, I immediately started catching on zigs. It was at the hottest part of the day and I thought about 9ft in 13ft of water was about right to begin with. I was frequently catching every 30 minutes to an hour. Filled with anticipation, I was eager to keep catching and keep the fish in the area. I wanted to do something different from everyone else that would attract the carp quicker. So I slid a white maggot round the bend of the hook on zigs. I chose a white maggot because it’s more visible in mid water. I was Spombing out red and white maggots on their own and wanted something to imitate a falling maggot. It seemed to do the business and no one else was doing it, which helped me get more fish in the net.
As nightfall approached, I decided to stay up all night and keep topping up the swim with more maggots to keep the fish in the swim. The action dropped away dramatically, however the tactics of staying up through the night managed to pay off, and I had four fish in the night, which put me closer to first place.
By the Saturday morning the sun had come out, meaning it was time for the zig aligners to do the business once again. The action was coming thick and fast, and by midday on Saturday I was 1lb behind first place. As I had another double take, I knew that I would soon be in the lead. However, as I’ve experienced before, that can very quickly change. By 5pm I was slowly edging towards the 400lb, which gave me more determination to reach the target. By the Saturday night I was 240lb in front of second place, which helped me to relax a little bit. Once again, I stayed up most of the night and managed to get two fish, which made it almost impossible for second place to catch me. By Sunday morning I was shattered, however I managed to keep awake. Just to put the nail in the coffin, I had a 28lb 6oz mirror within 20-minutes of the hooter. By this time I’d had over 500lb of fish. What a way to end the journey. When the hooter sounded, I couldn’t quite believe that I’d won. It was almost unreal and as tradition dictates, I jumped into the lake to celebrate. I was in shock. Everything was just really a blur and I didn’t know how to express my emotions. Standing on the podium and holding that winner’s trophy up for the first time was immense and still being in shock I didn’t quite know how to react!