Making it count at Farlows
2nd September 2016

Rob Burgess and Marc Cavaciuti recount the ups and downs of a very tricky round of the UK Carp Championship on Farlows Lake, where the pair’s ability to adapt to changing situations put them in with a shot at the title.

Rob explains: We stood looking at Farlows Lake with 15 other teams, all anticipating the draw. Our homework had been done, and we knew the areas where we genuinely stood a chance of retaining our title. It was now over to the carp gods. We both stood anxiously waiting, praying that our draw bag run of bad luck would change. We watched all our top choices slowly get snatched away from us, and our names were eventually called 15th from 16!!

We opted for Peg 16, which commanded a lot of water and gave us plenty of options, something vitally important in match-fishing situations. Many would have been disappointed coming out so late, but for once we were quite happy. It was an area of the lake that throws up big hits of fish; however, in the build-up to the match, the fish hadn’t really been getting there in numbers.

The start horn was blown at 12 midday, and all we could do was give it our best and not switch off. The chances would be few and far between, and we needed to be ready to capitalise should they occur. The first half day was very quiet for us. Others were catching around the lake but very little was happening in our peg. It looked lifeless and the bobbins remained motionless.

On the second day we had our first chance. The fish were taking mixers at range in front of us. We managed to flatten our water right off using lots of Cap-Oil (something that really did put us on the podium), and our first fish was a 22lb mirror, a typically stunning Farlows fish. Then disaster struck. Our next two floater takes resulted in a cut-off (on one of the many bars) and a snapped hooklength. Those two bites really would have shot us up the leader board early, and we could have sulked, but we battled on.

On the final morning, our perseverance and ability to adapt quickly paid off. In the early hours of the first morning, we noticed fish showing at mega-short range just outside our swim boundary. We decided to fish two rods into the silt on our boundary limit, and baited quite heavily in the hope that if the fish turned up again, we could get them feeding heavily, allowing us to have a few chances. Pink Signature pop-ups were presented on soft boomed Hinged Stiff Rigs, bright and visual in the hope of them being picked up first.

The plan worked a treat, and at 3.00 a.m. one of the rods was away. As it went into the net we saw fish after fish lump out in front of us on the same close-in line, roughly 30 yards out. We had a massive chance of a hit; it seemed the carp gods had thrown us a half chance, so we needed to capitalize. The water in front of us was deep, roughly 10/13ft. For whatever reason, we couldn’t buy a bite on Zigs and we needed to adapt, so we came up with the idea of fishing solid PVA bags filled with Krill and Bloodworm pellets. Before we filled and sealed the bags, we dumped our leads, hooklengths and hookbaits in Manilla glug/Cap-Oil. If we couldn’t get a bite on Zigs, we hoped a small solid packed with liquid food would pump flavour through the water column and drag the fish down, if they weren’t already on the lookout for food.

The plan worked and four quick bites followed, and we sat with four full retainers, which as it stood then would put us into second place. However, deep down we knew others would have caught during the night, and they did.

As the sun came up, the fish slowly left us, but we knew we had half a chance on the surface. Some more heavily Cap-Oiled expander pellets were spodded long, and once again the water was flattened off. At no stage did we have large groups of fish Pac-Manning in front of us, but fish were travelling through our swim, casually slurping down mixers which were in their path.

If we were to get a bite it would be as opportunistic as it comes! We were literally casting long in front of their patrol route and slowly retrieving, in the hope we could tease our baits in front of them and hope for a chance. It worked a treat, and at the first chance, our 12mm Krill pop-up was engulfed at 80 yards.

A few people gathered in our peg, and the fight was horribly powerful, with the thought of two losses playing on our minds. Eventually we caught a glimpse in the margin, and silence fell. As it rolled into the net we both let out a massive sigh of relief. It was instantly recognised as the Smudge Common, a fish which has done 40lb in the past, but after a good spawn it was much lower. The scales settled on just over 32lb.

We were back in second place, and with a few hours to go we were desperate for more bites, but sadly they didn’t come. As the final hooter sounded, we watched the new and deserving champions celebrate, as we applauded from the other side of the lake. We both gave it our all, and we couldn’t have done more than we did. After coming out second from last in the draw, we were buzzing about our performance. We got second place, and were part of the overall team champions with Phil Sainty and Adam Snowden. The prep now starts for next year.

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