Match Lake Whacker - Elliott Gray

Not too long ago I had the pleasure of visiting the famous Yateley Match Lake, I’ve fished over the road a bit and had always fancied the match so I was certainly looking forward to it.

Upon arrival at the lake with one our sponsored lads, Dave Finn, it was immediately obvious that the weed was going to be a problem. We did our lap and eventually settled in two swims next door to each other, both of which commanded a fair bit of water.

I opted not to use a marker float because was going to make things hard work – instead I decided to have a good lead around. The right hand spot was like a gift from heaven and the lead cracked down first time on a tiny little gravel spot. I checked it a few times and although it wasn’t exactly plain sailing but I soon had the spot clipped up and logged in my mind.

The left hand rod proved to be a little more of a problem and it must have taken me a good half an hour to locate a fishable area. The weed really was a problem and it soon dawned on me how lucky I was to have got the right-hander sorted so easily in comparison. Whilst leading around in search of a left hand spot my lead kept locking up in the weed, which was a nightmare – I didn’t even have a rig on. At times it would take me 10 minutes to pump in these large amounts of weed, in fact a couple of times I thought my line was going to snap!

Eventually I find a small slot in one of the large weed beds where I was able to get a lead to drop down through and onto a firm area, it wasn’t gravel, just firm. It felt like a really good area, they generally are when they’re like that, small and surrounded by intense weed. It took me a good 15 casts to get the rod precisely clipped up but in the end it was sorted.

I tied a bottom bait rig for the right hand spot and decided to put my variation of the hinged stiff-link on my left hand rod. I didn’t want to risk putting a bottom bait out there. The pop-up would guarantee my presentation.

Whilst sorting my rigs out I looked down at the helicopter rigs that I had attached to the rods, it then dawned on me that I needed to change. I’m not a fan of changing what I do but when I have to, I will. This was a ‘you have to’ situation – if I didn’t drop the lead then any carp I was fortunate enough to hook would almost certainly be getting lost in the weed. I decided there and then to change over to Hybrid Leadclips.

It took me a few casts with each rod before I was happy with them but in the end I had two rigs in position. With both spots being so small and surrounded by thick weed, I decided on a style of baiting that I find very important in that situation. With the use of both a catapult and then a throwing stick, I deposited 15 baits tightly around each rig, right on top of the PVA foam nuggets and then spread a further 150 baits (a mixture of Mainline Activ-8 and Baitworks Kingfish) around each rod. I like to do this so this fish can home in on the spot, the tight bait is to get them down to feed over the rig and the spread is to draw them in as they pass the areas.

The rods were sorted just before it got dark and I decided there and then that they would stay there until I left the next day. I wasn’t going to move them – they were perfect so why re-do them?

It was a decision I was glad to make as the next day at around 12pm the left hand rod melted off and after a rather hectic but weed free battle, I was fortunate enough to slip the net under the lakes biggest resident – a Redmire-strain common of 38lb!

The lead had ejected which made things much easier, in all honesty I probably wouldn’t have landed it without at least using a boat, had I not dropped the lead. The size 4 Choddy hook was bang centre of the bottom lip and going nowhere but had the lead been left on then I’m sure it would have weeded me up solid somewhere and made life hard. Thankfully it didn’t though and I left smiling!

Elliott Gray