VAC Carp match heat 1 at Smallford

The Return of the Carp...(well, sort of...)

Late May saw the return of the Matt Mills Memorial Trophy - a carp pairs match which has been running successfully now for several years, and is getting ever more popular.

This year we were inundated with entries, and even after expanding the competition to three qualifying heats and increasing the number of swims to accommodate as many as possible, we've still had to turn people away this year. Many apologies if you were one of the unlucky ones - get in earlier next year!

So, this year's event is to be contested by a record breaking total of 82 anglers. And these are by no means all carp anglers. As well as the regular carpers from Moor Mill and Smallford, we have a fair representation from the VAC match circuit. We have entries from Turnford anglers, and those strange chaps that inhabit Troy lake have also threatened to put in an appearance. Some of the big fish specialists from the Leather Lake have thrown their hats into the ring, and we have some very young pairs in the draw as well, doing their thing for the VAC Junior Section. It's a diverse entry list, which just makes the competition all the more interesting.

The first batch of these hopeful souls descended upon Smallford to do battle over 40 hours of fishing in mid May. Confidence was high amongst the anglers, with some of the first timers in the competition wondering what the hell they had let themselves in for. Still, after a relatively trouble-free draw, the anglers settled into their swims on Friday evening and at 6:00pm the competition began.

With swims baited and rigs dispatched, the hardy bunch sat back and waited...and waited...and waited. All, that is, apart from Jake Gourd and Nik Taylor-Pugh on Small Point. Jake has become a bit of a "bank tramp" in recent times, seen wandering forlornly around Smallford's banks at all hours of the day, trusty floater rod and net in hand. He likes catching them off the top, so with a bit of sunshine and some high pressure he was in his element, quickly putting two carp on the bank in the first few hours. While everyone else waited...and waited...

It's fair to say that Smallford didn't exactly fish it's socks off over the course of the weekend. Apart from Jake and Nik on Small Point, only two other pairs were troubling the scorers. Old Smallford hand Nick Dayton had plotted up on Marlborough with his partner Chris Saunders, who is just...well...old. Chris had managed to arrive for a 40 hour carp match without any carp gear, so spent the first few hours scrounging the various bits he needed to get going. For those of you who know him, that's no surprise. And I'm not sure how much of the gear he "borrowed" has actually been returned. Still, between them Laurel and Hardy somehow managed to bank three fish over the weekend to take first place. Nik and Jake on Small Point secured second spot with a third fish.

They say there's no substitute for experience, and our 2008 Champions, Paul Lawrence (Skip) and Jon Healy had again plumped for unfancied Noddys Bank. Again it served them well, as they too took three fish to finish in third.

Now normally we have four pairs qualifying from this heat for the Grand Final. However, technically, everyone else came joint fourth. Yep, you guessed it - not another fish caught by any other pair. Nearly all of the favoured swims produced nothing, and the guys were fishing hard all weekend. As a result, we have decided to hold the last qualifying place over for the "best loser" in the next two heats. It seemed the fairest way to do it.

As you should all know by now, we hold this event in aid of the Mount Vernon Cancer Appeal - it's a local charity that is very dear to our hearts, and we aim to raise as much money as possible for them. We hold a Barbeque on the Saturday afternoon of each carp match, and all members, their family and friends are invited. I'm pleased to say that the BBQ appears to have been a great success on this heat, and I'd like to thank you all for your support. It really is in an excellent cause, and the BBQs are great fun too.

Please bear in mind that the next heat is coming up at Moor Mill on the 18th-20th June. The Barbeque will be held on Saturday 19th starting at 4:00pm. All are welcome. Please come and lend your support, and join us for a burger and a beer. There's lots of banter and a great atmosphere. We also hold a prize raffle, so if you can donate a prize, that would be most welcome.

Lastly, can we extend our thanks to everyone that helped out over the weekend. The marshals, cooks, servers, the Smallford bailiffs who prepared the venue, and all the Specialist guys who pitched in. It probably takes about a dozen people to put one of these matches on, and these guys and girls unstintingly donate their time and effort to the cause. Also, many thanks for some very generous donations to the raffle - you know who you are! I'm not going to name names, as I'm bound to forget someone. Suffice it to say that you are all stars!

The photo's from this event are in the gallery section of the specialist pages,

See you at Moor Mill in June!

Paul Hill

VAC Specialist Committee

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