Super Cooper tops strong Christmas March open field

Dave Cooper, winner of the March Christmas match on the Old Nene kUljqiuJkSH0CBebQZp-
Dave Cooper, winner of the March Christmas match on the Old Nene kUljqiuJkSH0CBebQZp-
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The big Christmas March open is always a well attended affair and this year was no exception, writes Ken Wade.

In fact there were several anglers from as far afield as Yorkshire and Surrey lining the banks getting an early look at the venue in preparation for the big Winter League final to be fished on the Old Nene at March in late February.

John Whincup, winner of the Barry Mason winter series at Decoy Lakes, Coates.

John Whincup, winner of the Barry Mason winter series at Decoy Lakes, Coates.

It certainly didn’t disappoint anyone, with some huge weights taken throughout the match length – proving, once again, if there was any doubt, that this is one of the best winter venues in the country given the right conditions.

Topping a very strong field was local rod Dave Cooper. The Sensas Mark One rod drew down at Wigstone’s Bridge on the noted culvert peg and took full advantage of a good draw, netting 26lb 15oz of roach. The first half of the match saw him taking roach after roach on bread punch, but it was the switch to hemp seed that gave him the edge taking some quality fish.

Runner-up was team mate John Taylor, an angler at the top of his form right now who seems to make the frame wherever he wets a line.

He drew one peg below Wigstone’s Bridge and caught all day on pinkie over groundbait to finish with 26lb 6oz. In third place was Rob Hurn on 25lb 3oz, then came Rob Johnson with 24lb 3oz.

I think just about every section was won with a double-figure weight – even the pegs in the Allotment section produced some very respectable weights, so the next couple of matches before the big final are going to be sell-outs for sure. I just hope the venue does not get too much pressure on it.

March rod Barry Mason has found a winning formula in his well-run matches on the Decoy complex through the winter months. Sections are hand-picked around the Beastie Lake so that anglers are fishing against a similar quality of peg. It’s not perfect and never meant to be, but at this time of year it’s about as fair as you can get.

Top rod on Sunday was the consistent John Whincup. He pulled peg 30 out of the draw bag and finished top with 95lb 2oz. He caught an odd fish shallow but after two hours had not much more than 10lb to show for his efforts, but a switch to full depth on a long pole line proved to be decisive as he went on to take carp and F1s for the rest of the match.

Second place went to Nigel Baxter. He fished red maggot on a short pole line to take some big carp for 81lb 9oz. Barry himself got back into top form, putting 80lb 1oz of feeder caught carp to the scales to finish third on the day.

If you are looking for venues to fish over the Christmas holiday period then the Fenland drains are well worth a visit. Ramsey waters have been in fine form and the likes of Raveley drain, The Old Nene at Benwick and March and the North Level at Tydd Gote should all produce consistent sport. Still waters are on the turn to winter mode, despite the mild weather we have had leading up to the end of the year carp have not been that easy to catch. Look to fish smaller baits, lighter lines and drop the feed level down and you should still catch.

Pike anglers have been waiting patiently for the frosts to arrive, winter always seems to get the bigger fish feeding – for now, though, spinning or lure fishing could be a better option.