Competition: The Ottewill Trophy (Feeder Only)
Venue: Inniscarra Lake, Coachford, County Cork, Southern Ireland
With the 4th CIPS World Feeder Championships due to take place in just one week´s time the pressure has really been on the project manager and his team to get this exciting new venue ready for this prestigious event. The massive task of creating a match length designed purely for match fishing at the highest level has made some huge leaps forward over the last few weeks. The key to the success of this venue however has been the design and creation of the access road which runs adjacent to the uninterrupted 200 pegs which means every peg is accessible by vehicles. Due to bad weather and high water levels over the winter and early spring, the creation of this road could only start seven weeks ago but the project team have made massive progress in that time and the scale of the project could only really be appreciated once you visit the venue. The road which they have created enters the section close to the bridge at Rooves Bay and runs right alongside the lake in the direction of Fergus. The contractors have had to cut through rock, trees and rugged farm land in order to create the road and it was decided that this event would be used to ‘test’ the road as to how effective it works and how logistically anglers can access the pegs with their vehicles. And as most of this stretch hasn’t really been fished before, this event would also give a huge insight to all involved about the contours of the pegs and how the fish would respond in readiness for the World Championships. The only real downside to this was that the contractors would still be working on the site racing to get it finished so that would have an impact on how and where the anglers would be allowed to use their vehicles.
The Ottewill Trophy was fished over three days and it was decided to be a feeder only competition as it would give teams the perfect opportunity to use the event as a practice for the forthcoming championships. Also, the anglers got the opportunity to fish an open match the day before the festival started which meant that this would give them an extra day to fish the stretch. The open match on the first day was simply a one day event and anglers could draw anywhere on the match length. However, the three day festival was to be split into three sections and anglers would rotate through the sections meaning that they would all get to fish each section at some stage during the festival. These sections were simply called A, B and C with A section being the first section you arrive at (closest to Rooves Bay) and then B section and then C section was the furthest away at the far end of the match length.
As regards the actual fishing, Inniscarra Lake is renowned for its fantastic Roach fishing but the lake is also full of Skimmers and Bream as well as Perch and Eels. Bream used to be dominant but quite often during the Summer there are so many Roach here that it makes it extremely difficult to catch Bream because the quantity of Roach simply get to the bait before any Bream can get to it! However, the day before the anglers arrived for this event it was rumoured that the Roach had left this area in preparation for spawning. If this was true, it would have a huge impact on the fishing and how the anglers would approach the venue so this initial open match could set the standard for how anglers would approach the festival.
The Open Match
Naturally anglers were quite excited and apprehensive at the draw for this match as they were to be treat as ‘guinea pigs’ for how this stretch would actually perform! Although the stretch hadn’t been fished, anglers expected there to be very few fish initially because no feed had been introduced there was little reason for the fish to be there! Having said that, experienced local anglers expected fish to appear once some bait had been introduced but this could happen through the duration of the match or it could take a couple of days but only time would tell! The weather was quite windy and it rained a couple of times (this is quite normal for Irish fishing!) but with 20 minutes of the start of the match it soon became quite clear where the snaggy areas were! Inniscarra Lake is basically a flooded valley so beneath the water there are still the remains of old trees, fields, stone walls and even buildings in some areas. With no documented records of what the lake was like before it was flooded we have no idea where there may be snags and submerged features beneath the water which may cause angling a problem. Although snags on these types of lakes can be quite random, there certainly appeared to be a pattern in the problems that some anglers encountered. Although there are always going to submerged features on these natural venues, section A was definitely the section which had more obstacles in it. Admittedly the strong wind made this more of a problem as the tow and wind obviously affected presentation but there certainly appears to be a defined ‘ledge’ for the whole of section A. Depending on the peg number, this ledge is between 15-25 metres out and is a well-defined drop-off into deeper water. The depth here ranged from an 11 second fall with a 28g bomb at the top of the ledge down to a 22 second drop at 45 metres. Some anglers tried to fish over this ledge with plastic feeders and others fished a long way past the ledge in order to make sure there feeders had risen high enough in the water to clear the ledge when reeling in. As expected, this section fished quite hard for most anglers and the frustrating aspect was that even when an angler did manage to hook an elusive fish, a lot of them were lost in the snags. Having said that, once these areas where identified, anglers were able to change accordingly to avoid these problems. This event was attended by some of the best feeder anglers in the world and they were soon able to make adjustments to their rigs, types of feeders and range in order to combat problems.
As expected the match started slowly for most but after a couple of hours fish began to feed as they homed-in on the feed being introduced. Some anglers in sections B and C however caught almost straight away and the match was won by English angler Dave Carter with an impressive first match weight of 14.600kg of Skimmers. Henkel Roskam from Holland was runner-up with 6.250kg with England Feeder squad member Rob Wootton taking third with 5.000kg. All in all, most anglers had a few bites but this turned out to be a very important exercise for gaining more knowledge about this new stretch. The general feeling from the anglers after the match was that there would definitely be more fish in this area the following day now that a large quantity had been introduced. Importantly however, there were hardly any Roach caught! This confirmed the rumours and so it would appear that the festival would now be a Skimmer and Bream event. The average size of the Skimmers caught were 500-800g so a good weight could be amassed if you managed to draw on a shoal of them.
There was a real exciting ‘buzz’ at the draw for this long awaited event and there was a real mix of anglers from different nations here to compete. It appeared that the largest presence here was from the English. As expected the whole international team were here to take the opportunity to fish the lake in readiness for the championship but there was quite a few anglers here from Holland and Belgium. There weren’t as many of the Irish team here as expected but I’m sure they will be spending more time on the venue over the next four weeks.
The biggest piece of news about the event however was that A section was to be left out. Now whilst everybody knew that the reason for this was because of the problems incurred because of that ledge, most anglers here for this event were attending with the sole purpose of learning as much about the new match length as possible. Some anglers were quite unhappy with the decision to leave out section A but the organisers had made this decision because they wanted the anglers competing to enjoy the event as much as possible so it was a decision made in the interest of the anglers. This meant that the new A section would be the section known as the Garden Centre. This section had been fishing really well so at least the anglers were almost guaranteed some good sport. As it turned out, the Garden Centre fished fantastic on Day One with Preston Innovations angler Will Freeman winning the section and the match with a brilliant 37.400kg of Skimmers and Hybrids. In fact at one stage, Will said that he was getting so many line bites that he had to cast closer and closer in order to keep catching! The wonderful thing was that the whole section fished brilliant and for those anglers pegged there it set them off with a cracking start to the festival.
Section B was won with 20.300kg whilst section C was won by Tom Pickering with 19.600kg of Skimmers. The general consensus was that the Garden Centre wouldn’t fish as well as this again but sections B and C would get stronger as more bait gets introduced. This was certainly the case for Day Two with England’s Rob Wootton having a fantastic day winning the match from peg 45 in section C with 34.600kg. Day Three saw very consistent weights but as you’d expect in any festival of this nature, anglers who were trying to catch the leaders on weight would take a slightly different approach in order to build a bigger weight but there were plenty of fish caught in all sections. Day Three was won with 27.050 from end peg 16 at the Garden Centre.
All in all this proved to be a fantastic event and the overall winner was English Preston Innovations angler Will Freeman with an impressive 71.650kg. As it turned out, four out of the top five anglers were English so could this send a warning to other competing nations or is this purely a reflection of how many English anglers were actually competing? Who knows, but one thing is certain. This venue will fish very differently in July especially if the Roach have returned to this part of the lake.
I’m sure you’re all keen to hear how the road performed?!! Well, the actual work completed on the road is brilliant. For the design team and contractors to have completed as much work as this in such a small space of time is very commendable and it will bring a large sense of admiration to the Irish Federation and local people for what a fantastic job they’ve done in order to make the hosting of this event a success. Logistically however, we did see a couple of problems. The unfortunate detail to this road is that it’s only wide enough for one vehicle at a time. There are some passing bays and wider sections though were vehicles can pass each other. Obviously the reason for this must be because of cost or the availability of land but this did become a problem.
This event however was a ‘trial’ run and was used to show the organisers exactly how it could work and to highlight any areas for improvement. The organisers Tommy Lawton, Kevin Gray and Mike Stone all did an amazing job at running this event with Tommy even organising the anglers on the bank at the beginning of the road making sure that the whole coordination ran smoothly making the experience as enjoyable as possible. They have no doubt highlighted the issues and I know for a fact that they are hard at work right now making further improvements.
The World Championships being hosted on Inniscarra Lake will be a very exciting event as regards the natural, wild fishing it offers and I’m confident that the immense amount of hard work undertaken to stage this event will make it a very successful Championship.