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…


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…


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.


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.

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