reports from the Feeder Masters final at Bough Beech
Steve reveals the tricks he used at the recent £20k Bough Beech final
WITHOUT doubt one of the best events I fish each year is the Preston Innovations Feeder Masters final at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent – and this year it proved to be an absolute cracker again!
Feeder Masters is a two-day final in which 60 top feeder anglers take part after qualifying from regional events. This year some of the country’s best anglers had won through, so it was always going to be a tough one.
The venue itself is a bit of a challenge too. For those who don’t know, Bough Beech is a big expanse of water with depths of up to 30ft in a lot of pegs, and the main species are roach, skimmers and bigger bream. The final is decided on weight so it’s all about being positive; something that I feel really suits my attacking style of fishing…
DAY 1 – GOING THE DISTANCE
I have to admit I wasn’t too sure where I wanted to draw on the first day because the opinion was that the natural bank would provide the biggest weights, with the dam area fishing a lot harder.
When I drew peg 52 in front of the yacht club I feared the worst, as I felt it was just off the fish.
That said, when I got there I actually started to fancy it because it was further along than I thought and possibly only two pegs from where I wanted to be.
With this being a weight match I felt that my best chance was to try and fish past everyone around me and be really positive with my feeding.
With distance in mind I set up three Tournament 12ft SLR rods, Daiwa’s new long-range feeder models, and teamed them with the large-spooled Castizm 25QDA reels loaded with 0.10mm Tournament Evo braid.
Rather than fish braid direct I opted for shockleaders of 10lb Tournament ST mono and fished my feeders on short running paternosters.
Hooklengths were 50cm of 0.15mm N-Gauge to size 12 Guru Feeder Special hooks. That might seem like a big hook, but the fish in Bough Beech are wild so aren’t hook or line-shy.
After a bit of thought and a good plumb around I opted to fish one line at 62m. I did set two roach rods up for fishing short too, but because I never had a bite on them I’m not going to spend any time talking about them!
Feeder-wise my plan was to start off on a cage and alternate between that and a window feeder to try and keep bites coming.
At the off I put 20 large Guru Baiting Up feeders in full of particles, including chopped worms, pellets, corn, and dead maggots.
The thinking behind this was that if the fish did move my way I wanted to give myself a chance of holding them for a decent length of time. I then had 20 minutes fishing close for roach for no reward before deciding to have a look long. A couple of small, 2oz to 4oz skimmers on two and three dead maggot hookbaits got me off the mark before the tiniest of bites saw me pick up something bigger.
A 4lb bream certainly settled the nerves and when I had a twopounder two casts later I started to think I had a real chance of a weight. From that point on for the next two hours I caught slowly, but the fish I did have were of a good stamp fish.
At the halfway point I thought I had 25lb in the net. Considering my target weight was just 15lb this was a start way beyond my expectations.
Just as I was thinking that 50lb-plus was on the cards the bites dried up totally and despite keeping the bait going in with
regular casting I just couldn’t get them back.
In fact, in the last two hours I managed only three fish, losing one foul-hooker, for a 32lb 12oz total and the first day lead!
Looking back I still can’t believe I never had another run of fish. In hindsight I wish I had worked a little bit harder to try and nick a fish or two. That said, had I been offered 32lb 12oz before the start I would have bitten your hand off so I was more than happy.
Looking at the Day 1 leaderboard I had a 4lb gap between myself and second place but there was a host of top names only 5lb to 6lb behind me. It was all to play for…
DAY 2 – FINDING THE FISH
A 4lb lead was always a slender one, but it was a lead nonetheless and at the draw I was praying for a Dam Wall peg between 4 and 12 while really needing to avoid 29 to 31.
I pulled out peg 20 which I felt was a steady draw and gave me a real chance of holding on to my lead.
Approach-wise I decided to go with all-out attack again, but this time with the dam area being so deep I didn’t want to fish as far out. Over the weekend it seemed that the further out you went into deeper water the bigger the fish were.
However, fishing in the deeper water meant you missed out on your smaller, ‘bread and butter’ fish like skimmers and roach.
Therefore I felt it was a case of finding a line that offered the chances of catching both the small fish and still have the chance of a bonus fish too. After a good plumb around I decided to fish at 50m distance as the bottom felt nice and clean and it wasn’t too deep.
BAIT AND WAIT
Going into Day 2 I debated about whether to attack the swim, but I decided that it’s what I do best, so at the off I put 15 big feeders in again with a view to setting the swim up for later in the match.
However, 30 minutes in it started to look like I’d made a bad decision – while anglers around me caught I couldn’t buy a bite.
Eventually though I started to get an odd bite and when I did catch the fish seemed to be of a better stamp than those being caught around me.
Again bunches of red maggots seemed to be the best hookbait, although I did pick up odd fish on pieces of worm too.
Interestingly, it seemed after the first two hours the best way to catch was to have four quick chucks on a cage feeder for no bites, then chuck the window straight over the top to catch a fish.
I can only think the cage helped to draw the fish into the swim but then to drag the fish down to the bottom you needed to use
I used a cage feeder to attack the swim and draw the fish in. A window feeder kept the fish down where they could be caught. CAGE FEEDER WINDOW FEEDER
Feeders were packed with a mix of particles.