Guru - Bag'em Winter League Round One

Fri 28 November 14


After the birth of my daughter, I made the decision to drop out of my usual winter league as the travelling woud effect the amount of time I could spend with my family. To keep me in the game, I decided to organise a 6 match winters league on the superb Beastie Lake on the Decoy Lakes complex near whittlesey in Cambridgeshire. The Beastie was chosen simply because it offers great sport all year round, with every peg having the potential to produce big match changing lumps. So with the
twenty spaces available booked weeks in advance, it was full steam ahead to the opening round.

Lake Information

The oldest and biggest lake of the complex with a uniform five feet depth. It’s famous for it’s massive weights and big fish. There are loads of carp running to 21lb and thousands of F1s. The lake also has a good head of Tench to 3lb 8oz. All tactics ans commercial fishery skills are required to get the best results on this lake and anglers with a positive thinking approach will always get good results.

The Draw

As the event organiser, I decided to ask the fishery owner to draw my peg to keep things nice and fair. to my joy, she drew me peg 21 which is a noted method feeder peg with a long cast to the island. As luck would have it I had two rods set up that were ideally suited to this swim. My chosen tools for the job are the Daiwa Tournament Pro 12-13 ft Feeder rods, with mini big pit reels loaded with 8lbs Guru Drag Line which offers excellent strength and abrasion resistance.

Barry's chosen reel line

This set up is slightly over-gunned for most standard commercial fishery feeder work but I find it gives me the accuracy I require for this swim, every cast, no matter what the conditions.

The business end

My chosen method feeder for this type of situation is the Guru X-Safe 30g method feeder with addition lead sheet glued to the underside for greater accuracy and stability once it has been cast out and settled on the spot. To give the feeder just that little bit more accuracy, I changed the insert over to a long option, which believe it or not makes a massive difference to the accuracy of your casting, particularly at long range.

Additional weight added for accuracy and stabillity

My chosen hooklengths for all my method fishing are the Guru 4 inch X-Strong Method Hair Rigs simply because they are perfectly tied and feature the superb Guru MWG hooks, which is my preferred pattern for all method work. I use the Method Rigs with either a bayonet or banded attachment as these two options will cover all my baiting options on the day.

Barry's method feeder

My bait options were pretty basic for the match ahead. Starting with my hook baits, I selected the Bag’em 6mm dumbell pellets, these hi viz hookbaits offer a multitude of bright colour options to create a visual attraction and make your hookbait stand out from the free offering left in the swim by the method feeder. Alternatively, I will use 6mm or 8mm carp pellets banded on the method, just in case the fish want a hookbait that is natural in colour.

Natural coloured hookbaits can keep the bites coming

As well a pre-soaking micro and 4mm carp pellets for the method, I also prepare a groundbait mix for the session, just in case they back away from the pellets or simply don’t want them, instantly giving me an alternative feed option to keep the bites coming. My personal groundbait selections is either the Bag’em Pro Competition XP, Machin’s Method or Commercial carp. I usually use them on there own but in some cases I would use a combination of all.

Another key feature of peg 21 is the vast amount of open water you have in front of you. So instead of fishing the long pole, which is usual unproductive on this swim as you ae set back from the anglers around you. so I opted to fish the waggler or a straight lead rig at about 35 yards and to build this line up, I would feed 8mm pellet via a catapult. this line comes into it’s own whilst resting my main method feeder line near the island. this area has proven on numerous occasions to keep the bites coming. My final swim option on the day was a short margin swim to my right as I have learned from previous experience that the margins can still produce big fish on light gear, even in the coldest of conditions.

The Match

At the all in, I cast my method feeder to the island and left it for as long as possible without feeding my open water line. This gives me an opportunity to study what the anglers around me, as I like to suss out the mood of the other anglers before I finally decide my plan of attack! However, my wait for a bite was a short one, after only a minute or so, my tip curved round which produced a nice 6lbs mirror (good start).This was followed by a few more good stamp fish and a few large F1’s. As wel as catching steadily, I soon realised that the other anglers in my section were struggling for bite but I knew I had to stay on track as things can change dramatically on this very productive venue.

After a very steady 1.5 hours, my method feeder line slowly stopped producing fish, I then noticed that a few decent fish were rolling over my open water line. So I cast my waggler over to the spot, feeding only 3 r 4 8mm pellets at a time. I was about to retrieve my static waggler when out of the blue my float buried and a good stamp F1 slid into the landing net. I continued to work the open water line, to try and keep the fish coming during the traditional mid match switch off which is common place on the Beastie.

With two hours to go, I went back out to the island to my method feeder line, which turned out to be a very good move. The method produced a good run of fish to 3lbs. At the same time I gradually started feeding my margin swim with dead red maggots, micro pellets and a small amount of corn. This was fed via a pole cup directly onto my spot in 3 feet of water.
With an hour to go and after a steady run of fish on the method which had built me a very competitive weight. I then decided to have a look over my margin swim. Instantly my float burred and this was the start of a good run of fish but after 40 minutes, the margin swim dried up completely.

Wasting no time I then went back out on the method for the last 20 minutes or so of the match. After feeling this was a wasted journey, after 15 minutes without even a line bite. Then with less than 3 minutes to go, I got a positive drop back which resulted in an 8lb lump eventually sliding into the landing net right on the final whistle.


By changing tactics when required and paying attention to both my own swim and the anglers around me, i was able to stay on top of the changes happening beneath the surface and keep fish coming throughout the match. I weighed in 98lbs on the day and this proved to be a match and section winning weight and a great start to the Guru/Bag’em winter league, hopefully the angling gods would be as generous at the next one.

Tight Lines

Barry Mason



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