Venue: Packington - Geary's Level.

I was really looking forward to this short series of just four matches with best three results to count, and coming off the back of a runners up spot last year my confidence was high. However I didn't know what to expect as I haven't fished this lake since November and like most of the lakes here it's been fishing very hard due to the low water temperature's of recent weeks. Today was no different a bitterly cold wind was blowing across the lake into the favoured high bank pegs where the deeper water can be found - all four feet of it lol.

Even though the high bank was the best area I didn't want to freeze my nuts off, therefore I'd settle for any peg with the wind off my back. Unfortunately I drew peg 20 which did have some calm water behind an island but a gap between the shore and island was creating the effect of a wind tunnel so I would be cold all day.

Time to try out a new rod today - Free Spirit 9' F1 model this comes with two glass tips perfect for skimmers and shy bites and 1oz Carbon tip for summer bagging lol. I choose to fish the 1oz glass and matched this to a small cage feeder and instantly I can tell I'm going to like this rod as a replacement for my Tricast's.

Casting about 25 metres into open water and level with the island was to be my main line of attack. Pole lines at 14 metres in open shallow water and tight to the island my back up lines for small skimmers and roach. A slow start on the feeder didn't worry me as I was sure my pinkey approach today would find a few willing skimmers, but after two hours on all lines with only one missed bite to show for my cautious approach I was a little concerned. Another hour drifted by and I was still blanking and knew that my short lines in shallow water were not going to produce - I'd even searched around the edge swims looking to put a small roach or perch in the net just to avoid a blank at all costs.

Time to change tactics so I slipped on a small maggot feeder and cast this twice the distance at 52 turns. I still loaded this with pinkies and a pinch of Crumb and alternated with all combinations of maggots on the hook. With just an hour to go the soft tip finally moved positively to register a proper bite - and as I lifted the rod sure enough a Fish On 😄 and something worth catching too, at first I thought a Unwanted Carp had picked up my four fluro pinkies but then I felt the slow nodding that could only be a proper skimmer. So I was taking my time as this fish would be crucial and worth good points. I was winning the battle nicely retrieving line at a nice steady pace when all of a sudden the soft rod let me know instantly that the hook had slipped and with it my heart sank.

I wasn't to get another bite and so the dreaded blank and 9 points would leave me gutted. That lost skimmer I'm sure would have given me 2nd in section as only 2.8.0 was next best after a four fish haul off peg 19.

13.8 won the match from peg 31 with two 9lb weights as back up, there were a few blanks else where too and odd fish all around the lake.

So clearly not the start I was expecting and gutted to have blanked, however I must remain positive and remember I had 3 section wins last year so I can still do it ???.