Mark Pollard finished a mammoth month-long Irish festival campaign almost £10k better off after claiming a quartet of top-four finishes on a wide range of venues across the Irish Sea.
The Matrix/Dynamite Baits angler, one of the most consistent matchmen in the UK, stayed on after the recent World Pairs in mid-September to fish the Horseshoe Festival, Fermanagh Cup, Cootehill Festival and Muckno Autumn event, weighing in with a win, a second and two fourths.
The fishing was far from easy, with clear water and cagey fish presenting the ultimate test.
‘Polly’ kicked off with fourth place in the 65-peg Horseshoe on the Erne system around Enniskillen, and the same venue then hosted the 120-angler Fermanagh Cup, where he took second. Next Mark headed south to Cootehill and won the 105-peg event, before signing off with fourth at Muckno.
“The fishing was diverse,” he said. “The Erne system is a vast expanse of wild water with migratory fish, whereas the southern lakes are landlocked and a little more like what we’re used to in the UK.
“On the Erne the fish came in spells and when you caught two or three you were rubbing your hands thinking ‘here we go’, only to then not get a bite for half an hour! The clear water made the roach and hybrids cagey, while in the south, once you caught you kept on catching all day.”
Tactics across the four contests were varied, and Mark revealed how one day the waggler worked best, while on another it would be short lining at 13m on the pole, followed by fishing the feeder 24 hours later.
“The bait bill wasn’t cheap and when you’re fishing for wild fish on big lakes, you need a lot of it to keep them in the peg,” he explained. “I’d feed up to four pints of casters and six bags of groundbait, but if you want to win big money on these festivals, you can’t do it on the cheap.
“It was also important to make the right decision on when to change methods. Typically I’d start on the feeder to let me feed up the pole line and then come off the tip after 40 minutes unless I was catching well. That was the good thing about the venues – the fish told you what would work and what wouldn’t.”