Club champions and the best from the south’s angling clubs came together to pit their wits against the challenge of Gold Valley Lakes’ Gold, Middle and Syndicate lakes, for a place in the final of the biggest club-angler event in the calendar – the Garbolino Club Angler Of The Year.
With 15 places to be filled, the match was split into 15 sections – five on each lake – with the winner of each section qualifying for the Grand Final to be held in July at Barston Lakes in the West Midlands.
Conditions were pretty good as the anglers lined up for the 9am draw – it was warm and muggy with very little breeze, and after the competitors were appraised of the rules by John Raison, the draw took place in the clubhouse, overseen by Match Fishing editor Tom Scholey, with Garbolino’s UK manager, Darren Cox handing out caps from the event’s sponsors.
The best of the action at the complex prior to the event had been from baits fished on the Method, bomb and pellet waggler, and as Tom and Darren wandered around the three lakes it was clear that many of the competitors were geared up to fish the same tactics, although some had also set up poles to try shallow or down the edge as the match progressed. It was also clear that the venue’s big carp were the main quarry, as although the pools held good stocks of skimmers, you would need to catch the carp to be in with a chance of qualifying.
The match started at 11am, and right from the get-go, it was easy to see that rod-and- line tactics would dominate the early stages of the five- hour event, as floats, feeders and leads all landed close to the boundary ropes stretched across the middle of each lake.
The first 60 minutes passed, and the reports filtering back indicated that the fishing was hard, with just the odd fish being taken in the low hundreds on Syndicate, and very little action from the other two lakes – although there were plenty of fish mooching around just under the surface.
It had become clear that the fish were not going to feed in earnest, as they were still recovering from their recent spawning. This prompted Darren Cox to point out that he believed the best way to get bites would be to keep chopping and changing tactics regularly, as there were bound to be the odd fish willing to pick up a bait, and that the best chance of one would come on the waggler or feeder. The harder you worked at it, the greater the chances that you would get a bite.
The action picked up on Gold in the third hour, with John Light on Peg 5 catching carp on the Method, as was Anthony Flint on Peg 24.
Jack Harcourt had landed a big lump on Peg 49, so it was starting to get interesting.
The action on Syndicate seemed to be focused on a small section with Stefan Gent, Andy Palmer, Charlie Dalton and Lynas Neale all catching the odd carp on the waggler or Method. However, it was a real struggle on the other side of the lake.
Middle Lake seemed to have switched off in the early part of the match, but as the event entered the fourth hour it had become clear that one or two fish could be enough for a section win on the pool, and two anglers who were edging their sections were Brian Spiking on Peg 66 and Jeb Attwood on Peg 85. Steve Hunt had also seen some action on Peg 99.
The last hour has always been a critical time on Gold Valley, and as the clocked ticked many of the anglers had picked up a fish or two, with the odd skimmer also showing, especially on Gold Lake.
Even with 10 minutes to go, it was still unclear in most of the section as to who would qualify for the final. One fish might make all the difference, and as the hooter to end the match was sounded at 4pm there were still fish being landed.
There was no dispute that it had been a challenging five hours. However, as the weigh-in progressed, it seemed that most competitors had caught and, as predicted, a few fish would be enough for a section win in a few areas.
The action on Gold Lake did improve in the final hour of the match, and it was the pool that produced the overall winner on the day in John Light, who put 12 fish in the net on Peg 5 to finish with 89-4-0. Syndicate Lake provided the runner-up, where Lynas Neale’s 59-0-0 put him 12oz ahead of third- placed Jack Harcourt, who finished up with 58-4-0 on Gold.
Back in the clubhouse, Darren Cox presented the section prize money, with the top two in each section receiving an envelope, along with the Superpool payout to the top five anglers. Tom Scholey then announced the 15 lucky qualifiers who will fish the Grand Final on July 15th, where they would join the 30 other finalists from the northern and Midlands qualifiers. All the results and the names of the qualifiers can be seen on the table on the next page.
It was a testing day, but overall the event was fairly close in most of the sections. We would like to say a big thank you to John and Will Raison, plus the rest of the Gold Valley team for hosting the event and their hospitality, and to Darren Cox for his and Garbolino’s continued support of the event.
The Winner’s Story
Fleet, Hampshire-based John Light managed to catch 12 carp and a skimmer for his match winning 89-4-0, but it wasn’t plain sailing.
“I was aware that I’d drawn a pretty good peg, but it was slow going as I didn’t get a sign of a fish until I finally got a carp after two hours of waiting,” explained John. “I knew Gold Lake had some big carp, so I stuck with the Method and alternated my hook baits between 8mm fishery pellets and dumbells using a 50/50 mix of groundbait and micros.
“I managed to snare the odd fish here and there, where I think the key was to keep recasting regularly to try and pull the carp to the noise” he added. “This is the first time I have fished the event, so I’m really pleased to make the final”