09.05.15

Five things learnt from competition carp fishing - Bradley Greening

As a young lad, I grew up fishing low stock, big fish waters. Through my teenage years I competed in the BYCAC and have since then for the last two years competed in the British Carp Angling championships, alongside other British competitions.

Many people stereotypically associate competition anglers as match-style anglers who can only catch small fish. In my opinion, those with that mind-set could not be any more wrong. My favoured style of fishing is chasing old elusive carp from some notoriously difficult lakes. I enjoy the challenge and the buzz when all your hard work has paid off and you have one in the net. It really is an amazing feeling.

I am a firm believer that having experienced both types of fishing, I can honestly say that match-style fishing has improved my ability massively as an angler all round.

By having a match-style mind set incorporated into my big fish style of angling, I think it’s really helped, such as ensuring I am over-prepared for any situation or even small things like changing the colour of a hook bait if I feel I could be doing more to get a bite. It has all made a huge difference and definitely made me a more versatile angler, which I’m convinced has helped me put more fish on the bank


EVERY SECOND IN THE WATER COUNTS

This really hit home after winning the BYCAC when I was 17 years old. I had come last out in the draw in an unfancied area, therefore I had to make the most of any opportunity.

The final morning, miraculously the fish moved down into the bottom corner I was tucked away in and I started to catch. Five minutes was all that was left, and I managed to get a bite and land it with seconds to go. The fish won me the competition by 6oz! One fish made all the difference.

The majority of the bites came within a mad spell. Some fish came within a minute of casting out when I had the fish feeding on my baited area - 5 minutes in 48 hours is nothing. However, 5 minutes extra of my rods being in the water, was the difference between winning the match and coming second.

If a rod is inactive after catching a fish or tying up a new rig or bag to recast etc, then you simply cannot catch fish if the rod isn’t live. Over a 48-hour match, if you spend an extra 10 minutes each time getting the rod back out and you have 20 fish for example, that’s over 3 hours of non-fishing time!

10 minutes in 48 hours may not seem a lot, but in reality the chances are that it could make a massive difference. To achieve this though, preparation comes into, play which is what I am going to talk about next.


PREPARATION

You can never, ever be over prepared. When competition angling, you need to have every base covered. As soon as you land a fish, or for example you miss-cast, you should have another rod, or rig / PVA bag etc ready to cast out within seconds. If not, then you are unprepared! Being prepared requires a lot of hard work and effort. However, effort equals reward!

In order to be prepared, it is vital to have assessed every scenario. For example, have different rigs in your armoury covered. Examples of this include zig rigs, bottom baits, pop-up rigs, PVA bags, solid bags, floater hook links – basically each presentation / style of fishing covered for that particular venue.

You then need to assess how many fish you could catch. If you’re fishing a lower stocked water, you may only need 10 of each rig tied to start off with. If fishing a prolific venue like Drayton reservoir, you may need 100 rigs of each variety tied to start off with.

The more prepared you are, the longer your rods will be active and fishing, giving yourself more chance of catching fish! The last thing you want is having one less rod in the water whilst you tie up a fresh rig or bag.

Also, having things such as spare rods clipped-up etc helps too. For you younger guys reading this, this may not be possible due to budgets etc. I was the same when I was your age and when competing in the BYCAC, I only had two fishing rods as it was all I could afford. This however, meant I had to be extra prepared and the only time a rod was out the water and not fishing was if it needed re-clipping up.


WATERCRAFT

Watercraft is a very important aspect of competition fishing. Watercraft is something that can’t just be learnt overnight or by reading a magazine. Watercraft is learnt from experience. In fact, you will never ever stop learning. Every session is a learning curve, which adds to your watercraft.

Every person is different, therefore have a different approach within their watercraft in correspondence to their personal style as an angler. When match fishing though, there are certain aspects which my angling approach must consider.

I’m not going to explain these in detail, as watercraft is a personal subject and I feel it’s better to learn yourself so you understand as an angler why you do certain things which lead to your capture. If you don’t have an idea of why you have caught a fish, you won’t know to improve or achieve the similar result.

Watercraft determines your choice of peg. In match fishing, you chose your top locations, and the order in which you get to choose a peg is then determined by a draw. It isn’t the case of finding the fish in the morning of the competition, and choosing your swim choices closest to the fish.

In 48 hours everything can change and 9 times out of 10, as soon as the hooter goes and the water is thrashed to a foam, the fish will now react completely differently. An example of this is choosing a swim knowing you won’t catch for the first 24 hours whilst other swims will.

However, the weather is due to change and if the fish move into a little bay because of this, you might know from experience that when the fish go into that little bay, massive hits can be had and you have a good chance of winning more so from the final 24 hours if this happens.

Not all anglers may think like that though, and their approach may be different. That’s why watercraft is personal. There is no set objective to follow. However, the main thing to consider is base your watercraft on being able to either qualify, or get that ultimate 1st place in the final over the course of 48 hours – especially as moving swims isn’t an option!


ADAPTABILITY

In a match situation, being adaptable is imperative! Every bite counts, and each fish landed will increase your weight, leading you closer to victory. However, you need to be able to adapt your tactics in accordance to the current situation.

One little change can make all the difference. If you’re not getting as many bites as you feel you should be having in relation to your swim choice, then it’s vital to be able to change. Simply by switching the colour of hook bait, switching bait, a recast (the rig might be sitting funny, even though it went down with a nice ‘donk’), change of rig – the list is endless. If you feel as if you should be getting bites and you’re not - then something has to change!

Another aspect of adaptability relates to the size of fish you’re fishing for. For example, many match venues have a large smaller stamp of fish compared to bigger fish. A suggested approach could be to start off with boilies to try and single out the bigger fish.

If that’s not working and you’re still only catching the smaller fish, then it may be wise to adapt in accordance to catch the smaller fish i.e using particles. This could get you more bites and build your weight up with the smaller fish even quicker. Alternatively, vice versa, and adapting your approach to single out the bigger fish may be a better viable option (bigger hooks, bigger baits etc). Either way, it is important when match fishing to try not to be one dimensional.

To win a match, you need to ring the changes as the given fishing situation changes throughout the competition. Ultimately, it’s entirely down to you to make a difference and adapt in accordance to the fishing situation.


ETIQUETTE

Etiquette should be an important aspect considered by all within fishing. Everyone should respect those fishing the lake, regardless of any circumstances. At the end of the day, all of you fishing on the lake are equal, therefore everyone should be treating the other anglers in the same way they wish to be treated.

In match fishing, it can often become quite heated. Each peg commands a certain area of water. Many disputes arise from people casting out of their boundary. If you are unsure of your boundary, rather than going ahead, simply either speak to the person in the concerned peg next door / opposite etc.

If you cannot reach a mutual decision, then it is down to the event organiser / marshall to come to a decision. Whether or not you do not agree, you must respect their final decision.

Match fishing can be expensive. Etiquette however, costs nothing. Treat other competitors with respect and follow the rules accordingly. If not, you will find your match fishing experience will not be very enjoyable which defeats the objective of why we go in the first place.

Be competitive, yes. However respect the environment, respect the lake and its surroundings and respect the other anglers.

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