The 2016 Sandhurst 2nd Qualifier was a disappointment for and my fishing team mate Vinny Barton. After coming 4th out of the draw bag, expectations were high as we secured the Pipes Swim and grew even more in confidence when we discovered that nobody had picked second pipes next door! We almost ran to our swim to set-up excited at our prospects.

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The marshals were keen to point out the boundaries of the various pegs as there had been some complications on the previous qualifying round.We did however still control a fair bit of water, including the silt hole which pipes is notorious for. On the first hooter we immediately went about finding the depression and marking it around 21 wraps, within our 23 wrap boundary. The bottom seemed clean and glassy over the spot, which was a complete contrast to the rest of the lake which was a weed festooned disaster zone.

The other area (where I was fishing) was a different story, the weed was to the top in places and being around 5ft this meant getting a good line lay was tricky to say the least. After a lot of messing around, and I mean a lot of messing around, I found two spots which didn’t quite lock my lead up, but were still weeded over with silk weed.Finding nothing else and concerned that time was ticking on, I put both rods on the spot and lightly baited with CC Moore Pacific Tuna.

The fish didn’t seem to mind the weed and took great glee in displaying in the upper layers throughout the first day. Zig rigs are banned on Sandhurst and this tactic would have definitely been the way to go. I can see why they are banned however, as the weed would have snagged fish up immediately. Into the first night everyone was scratching their heads and we had other competitors coming around to discuss clear spots and how little they had found. It was all to play for.

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At 4.30 Vinny’s silt patch rod was off and in a desperate struggle through the weed and entangled with his other rod we secured the first fish of the competition. What a relief, at least we had a spot which was working. The marshals duly came around and weighed her up at 20lb 13oz confirming that we were in first place.

It was short lived however as Kevin Williams & Iain Chapman right down the other end of the lake went into 1st place with a lovely 34lb 09oz, and a new PB. We were now in 2nd, and knew that we needed another fish to have any chance of going through.

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Although others caught fish that morning we were still in 2nd place all of the remaining 24hrs until Anthony Warrington popped up with a 21lb 8oz Common to pip us into 3rd. Nothing had really changed as we were still hunting that 2nd bite. I had moved my rods onto two more clear areas and applied plenty of bait to try and pull the fish down onto my spots. Our baits were soaked with CC Moore Feedstim XP which leaves a lovely smelly attraction through all the layers when applied with the catapult.

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Going into the 2nd night we were surprised that our first choice swim, peg 1 or “secret” as it is also known hadn’t done a bite The fish must have been in their area as they were passing us and moving through to them. We were still in a qualifying position although we knew it was all to play for. Peg 1 did come on the feed, starting with a 12lb 2oz and then going into the lead with a 24lb 3oz common marking the last 12hrs.

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All was quiet in our swim, our banker silt patch was quiet and as the sun rose and started to warm the margins, the fish had began to cruise again. The Carp-Talk Team of Rob Julyan & Ash Taylor took the lead as it gathered into the sky. They were fishing “Bailifs” swim which was opposite the lads who had the 34lb’er. We just needed another bite. The more that the sun came up the wind accompanied it and was pushing into our faces. Bang on we thought. The fish must have moved as the island pegs in the middle of the lake had some action and I think given more time we may have had the fish back in front of us again. The remaining bite never came and we slowly got pushed into 6th position needing 17lb to qualify. Given the stamp of fish at Sandhurst, it was always possible, but on this occassion not to be. The final score board was

Rank Competitor Weight Fish
1 Kevin Williams & Iain Chapman 53lb 06oz 2
2 Ash Taylor & Rob Julyan (CarpTalk) 39lb 06oz 2
3 Ashley Izzard & David Warren 36lb 15oz 2
4 Dave Pendergrass & John Stembridge 26lb 03oz 1
5 Anthony Warrington & Jaye Carpmail 21lb 08oz 1
6 Vinny Barton & Ricky Keating 20lb 13oz 1
7 NICK SINGLETON & DANNY CLARK 20lb 03oz 1
8 Jon Neave & Ian Spraggs 0lb 0oz 0
9 Shaun Sharman & Becky Sharman 0lb 0oz 0
10 Jack Lamb & Brian Byford 0lb 0oz 0
11 Dan Davy & Ricky-jay Birkin 0lb 0oz 0

I would like to thank everyone for a good match, the competitors mostly respected their boundaries and the marshals did a sterling job. We are now beginning preparations for next year’s competition season.

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