Steve Ringer

on the tac­tics which won the mega-pop­u­lar Feed­er­Fest event

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FOR those that aren’t fa­mil­iar with Feed­er­fest it’s a five-day fes­ti­val on the mas­sive In­nis­carra Lake in south­ern Ire­land.

This huge reser­voir has been very kind to me in the past – it was where I won in­di­vid­ual and team gold with Eng­land at the World Feeder Champs in 2014, and I was for­tu­nate enough to win the first Feed­er­fest event here in 2016.

The event at­tracts a lot of top an­glers – 98 of them this year – and with the win­ner de­cided on weight it’s an event that ap­peals to my pos­i­tive style of fish­ing…

SET­TING UP FOR SPEED

Quite of­ten fish­ing in Ire­land can be about catch­ing lots of small fish quickly, and you can’t leave any­thing to chance – five min­utes lost can cost you a match, which in turn can cost you a fes­ti­val.

Each day I set up four iden­ti­cal rods – all 11ft Daiwa Tour­na­ment quivers with the 1oz tips fit­ted – and 4012 TDR reels loaded with Guru Pulse8 braid.

Rather than use a shock­leader for roach work I much pre­fer to fish braid di­rect. Bite de­tec­tion is so much bet­ter, as a re­sult of which I find I miss far fewer bites.

Feeder choice varies but the theme is small, and I nor­mally fish either a four-hole, 28g Nisa plas­tic cage or a 30g mini win­dow feeder.

Hook­length also varies, but as a guide I will al­ways kick off on 50cm of 0.15mm N-Gauge to a size 10 Tu­ber­tini se­ries 18 hook – yes, you read that right, a size 10!

The im­por­tant part to re­mem­ber here is that in Ire­land you are fish­ing for wild fish that aren’t hook and line-shy and so you can fish a lot heav­ier than nor­mal.

A size 10 hook is also a lot harder for the small roach to deal with, so you miss fewer bites and lose fewer fish.

BAIT CHOICES

As far as ground­bait goes I stuck with my usual roach mix of two pints each of Dy­na­mite Fren­zied Hemp Black, brown crumb and Van Den Eynde G5, mixed in equal parts.

As a guide, six pints in to­tal was enough for the full five hours due the size of feed­ers be­ing used.

On top of the ground­bait I had a kilo of worms, two pints of cast­ers and half-a-pint of red mag­gots, which were purely for the hook.

In­ter­est­ingly, I fed vir­tu­ally no cast­ers over the five days, find­ing very finely chopped worm a much bet­ter op­tion.

On the hook a sin­gle red mag­got hooked straight through the mid­dle was all I re­ally fished as far as the roach were con­cerned.

DAY 1 – C SEC­TION GREEN­WAY

The first day saw me draw C45 on the Green­way. This was an end peg which I thought was a half de­cent start – af­ter all, there is no such thing as a bad end peg in Ire­land!

While there are lots of skim­mers in In­nis­carra, at this time of year it’s the roach that are the banker species and worth pur­su­ing.

Af­ter a quick plumb up I quickly es­tab­lished this was a shal­low area so I went with two lines, one at 31m on a count of seven with a 1oz bomb, so around 15ft-18ft deep.

This was fur­ther out than I’d have liked but I was wor­ried about the depth, or the lack of it!

The sec­ond line was at 20m, which I hoped would pro­duce in the last 90 min­utes.

Look­ing back, I ac­tu­ally had a de­cent match, fin­ish­ing with 138 fish, mainly roach for 8kg 880g which was enough to win the sec­tion.

The short line also came good, although not un­til the last 30 min­utes when the light dropped, and then I put 32 fish in the net.

DAY 2 – D SEC­TION GRAVE­YARD

The sec­ond day saw me head­ing to D sec­tion. This had pro­duced all the best weights on day one, so I knew if I was to have a chance of win­ning the fes­ti­val I needed 15kg-plus from here.

I found my­self drawn on 71 at the Grave­yard, which was the first peg in the trees and at the deeper end of the sec­tion.

Plumb­ing up, I had an eight count at 16m, and with it not get­ting any deeper fur­ther out I de­cided to gam­ble and fish short.

I felt I would need 200-plus fish so the shorter I could catch them, the quicker I would be.

At the start of the match it took me 10 min­utes to get a bite, and with oth­ers around me catch­ing from the off fur­ther out I was won­der­ing if I’d made a mis­take.

Even­tu­ally, though, the roach turned up and in the first hour I had 43 fish – I felt the swim was get­ting bet­ter.

To quicken things up I de­cided to come back a me­tre and up the weight of my feeder from 28g to 44g.

My think­ing was that if I could bring the fish shorter I would be able to catch quicker. A heav­ier feeder would also sink quicker, sav­ing me time.

This worked a treat, and in the sec­ond hour I put 66 fish in the net be­fore bites started to slow and I had to drop back down in feeder weight.

The rest of the match was steady, if not ex­actly spec­tac­u­lar, and I fin­ished with 216 roach and three skim­mers for a match-win­ning 17kg 780g – I was very much back in the race!

DAY 3 – E SEC­TION PUMP HOUSE

Wed­nes­day’s lo­ca­tion was a split sec­tion – one on what’s called the con­crete and one on the Pump House.

For a de­cent weight I re­ally needed the con­crete, but my draw­ing arm failed mis­er­ably and I found my­self on the Pump House.

This is a very deep sec­tion that can pro­duce skim­mers, but it isn’t one you can fish for roach on. So while I had an early look for roach it was a fu­tile ex­er­cise and I soon set­tled into a skim­mer match.

In hind­sight this never re­ally got go­ing and I ended up with just seven skim­mers and a few bits for a dis­ap­point­ing 4kg 430g.

I foul­hooked two skim­mers and lost them. If I’d have been more pa­tient then 6kg was a pos­si­bil­ity. How costly this would be I’d have to wait to find out.

DAY 4 – A SEC­TION GREEN­WAY

My trip to A sec­tion on Thurs­day was real­is­ti­cally my last chance of a de­cent weight as B, which I’d fish

on Fri­day, had been hard all week.

Ev­ery­one wanted A1 but I wasn’t un­happy with A7, as this was an end peg of sorts with no-one un­til peg 3.

That said, it was a peg I felt only re­ally of­fered a roach op­tion so I was go­ing to be busy and set up to fish two lines, one at 25m and one at 15m so I could catch quickly.

I ac­tu­ally had a strange match and re­ally strug­gled to get the fish to set­tle at all.

Bites were also very iffy, even on braid di­rect the way through. I even­tu­ally worked out that the best way to hit them was to fish with a slack tip and let them pull them­selves on – fish­ing with a bend in the tip just re­sulted in missed bites ga­lore.

My short line never pro­duced a bite either, which was dis­ap­point­ing, and I even­tu­ally fin­ished with 116 fish for 6kg 320g. Bar­ring a mir­a­cle, my chances of re­tain­ing my ti­tle seemed to be away with the lit­tle peo­ple!

That said, a chance of top eight was still up for grabs so there was still plenty to fish for on the last day…

DAY 5 – B SEC­TION GREEN­WAY

The last day saw me in the tough­est sec­tion of the week, bang in the mid­dle of Green­way.

My tar­get to stay in the money po­si­tions was 4kg so I opted for two lines, not al­ter­nat­ing them.

In­stead I kicked off at 25m on a 12 count (around 30ft deep) with a view to fin­ish­ing at 31m on a 14 count – get­ting on for 40ft deep!

This worked re­ally well, and while those around me started longer, I kept plug­ging away closer in and had 24 fish in the first hour be­fore it died.

I then had an­other burst at 31m, plus a nice bonus in the form of a 1lb 8oz perch.

This line even­tu­ally slowed up, but by fish­ing a tiny win­dow feeder and short hook­length I even­tu­ally fin­ished with 90 fish for a 6kg 540g. This pushed me up the leader­board into sixth place over­all which, all things con­sid­ered, I have to be happy with.

Look­ing back, I think fourth was prob­a­bly the best I could have done off my draws and the way they fell.

That said, it was a re­ally in­ter­est­ing week and I felt I’d learnt loads, which of course is what it’s all about!

My 17-780 win­ning day two Grave­yard haul.

Size 10 hooks are not too big for Ir­ish roach. These win­dow feed­ers cast like bul­lets.

Bait – cast­ers, mag­gots and worms.

A win­dow feeder and mixed con­tents.

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