Matt Hayes Experience

Matt Hayes Experience at Furnace Mill Fisheries – 21st October 2011

Fresh from Dundee to the Furnace

They say that you should never meet your idols for fear of being disappointed, but in my case the trip to Furnace Mill Fisheries proved to be every bit as thrilling as I had hoped.

Arriving at the hallowed venue early, at quarter to eight in the morning to be exact, I was literally buzzing with excitement mixed with nervous trepidation about the day ahead. Not only did I have a fitful night’s rest, fretting about meeting one of the finest all rounders in the business, but questions such as “would I blank?” or “will I make a catalogue of schoolboy errors?” kept swimming around my head like sharks circling a potential meal. As it turned out my fears were soon put to rest.

Being the first to arrive I was met by a gate barring my access to the Furnace & a huge sign explaining the etiquette & rules of the fishery. In large bold letters the sign at the gate exclaimed ‘No entry until all nets have been dipped.’ Serious stuff I thought but an essential practice in order to prevent transfer of unwanted biological debris & water bourn disease from other sources. Good housekeeping in working practice. Without delay, I proceeded to dip both nets, baptizing them in anti-bacterial solution before entering what I consider to be sacred water. No sooner had I finished dipping, the gate eerily swung open, allowing me ingress.

I drove the short distance from the entrance & parked up in the angler’s car park. Still not knowing what to expect I stepped out of my car & after a short introduction with the owner Ed Brown, who was busy preparing for the day in a pair of fetching blue gloves, I hasten to add that Ed was decent & the gloves were not all he had on! I asked permission to have a stroll around the fishery pools & take a few photographs for the album. Permission granted.

On my tour I was presented with a clean & obviously well maintained coarse venue with each peg clearly marked with individual plaques sighting all the do’s & don’ts expected during an anglers stay, something that really appealed to my particular nature. I was already pleased & the day had only just started.

The next eager fisherman to arrive was Daniel Cooke, shortly followed by Richard Round, Paul Griffiths & Ryan Warner. I should explain that Ryan turned up a little later then the rest of us as he had only found out about the day a short time after returning from fishing for barracuda & bone fish in Mexico. Needless to say, he was sporting a tan & beaming like a Cheshire cat. Jealousy is a terrible beast. I should also point out that my fellow fisherman had all been given the day out as gifts, it seems that I should probably seek some sort of integration with my fellow man & spend less time hanging around with fish, until that happens I will just have to pay for my own expeditions!

After meeting everyone that had turned up for the day & being introduced to Jane Brown, Ed’s wife, co-owner & provider of excellent homemade food, the moment we were waiting for was upon us. The boy from Hampton Loade had arrived. I would like to think that I stood tall & looked confident as Matt approached but I probably quaked & starred open mouthed looking like a chub about to gulp a large piece of bread flake. Anyway, chub like or not this was it. The moment I had been waiting for had arrived.

After Matt had introduced himself to the expectant party of five anglers, we were all ushered inside the fishing complex for an informal discussion on rigs, bait & tactics for the day over coffee & tea. It was a good opportunity to discuss the target species & also let everyone have an individual say on what they intended to get out of the event, whether it was improvement on bait presentation, or simply to address the fundamentals of getting a good catch at Furnace Mill. The emphasis was that everyone chose what they wanted to do with guidance from Matt & Ed on the best way of going about doing it. It was agreed that the Mucky Meadow pool was probably going to be the most suitable venue for incorporating everyone’s needs. Advice on swim selection was given by Ed, this proved to be very useful.

Having decided I wanted to enjoy my favourite method of fishing, I set up using a Drennan 1.5grm loaded insert crystal waggler on 3lb Daiwa sensor monofilament. Opting to use a size 12 barbless hook in the first instance fished with two maggots, I soon had a 1/2lb roach & a 1lb skimmer. However, I was missing a few bites so this called for a bit of friendly advice from Ed who suggested a change to a smaller size hook (size 16 on 3lb 8oz link) & also perhaps change my loop to loop connection to a water knot link, to tidy things up a bit. He’s a good guy to have around that Ed.

My feeding regime was also politely called into question as I was making a very common mistake (enter the school boy error) for fishing this sort of venue, while the other guys were managing to break through the barrage of smaller silver fish (particularly Paul Griffiths fishing the pole on the other bank who had a nice mixed bag of golden orfe, tench, crucian carp, roach, rudd & chub.) I was managing to catch very welcome, but small fish including a delightful & unexpected gudgeon. Daniel Cooke was also hitting into some good roach so I must have been doing something not quite right. Ed advised feeding eight to ten pellets every two minutes or so to get the fish competing & draw in the larger ones, then to step up the feeding to small handfuls to keep them interested. This tactic was echoed by Matt & soon started to produce results with a healthy 4lb common followed by another 4 pounder of the mirrored variety. Things were looking up.

Lunchtime was upon us & we were reluctantly called up to the dining area for hot & well needed sweet potato soup. Cheese & ham sandwiches were also on offer, with all the refreshments a pack of hungry fisher folk could ask for. It was great to be able to sit together with like minded people & swap stories of venues, plans for the future, what fish we would most like to catch or just to sit back, listen & take in the atmosphere. Although everyone was getting comfortable, we came to fish & with days well & truly drawing in there was no time to loose. The first to break ranks & get back to the action was Paul shortly followed by the rest of us.

The afternoon session proved to be just as much fun as the morning although the wind had picked up slightly, blowing in from the south west. The temperature was beginning to dip too as the late October sun began to wane. Glad of my down jacket (which I never leave home without), I hunkered down & was soon playing a 9lb fighting fit mirror carp. Matt later remarked that Ed must feed these fish on steroids due to the fact they don’t half hang on. I judged my success due to another pearl of wisdom given by our hosts just before lunch, to bait my swim with a few handfuls of pellets. Something I would have ordinarily neglected to do. Ryan was also in to another nice carp fishing the method feeder after landing a 13lb common before lunch.

Baits used for the day included, Furnace Mill’s own Hi-attraction hookable sinker baits, white & red maggots (everybody’s favourite), sinking & floating pellets, floaters for taking those crafty carp off the surface. Richard Round finally had success with this method after some expert tutelage from Matt & many frustrating snubs from a worthy fishy opponent.

As the light at the Wyre Forest venue began to fade & it became increasingly difficult to focus on the tip of my float, finally, grudgingly, I was forced to retreat to the fisherman’s cabin along with the other guests so as not to appear rude. I had to remind myself once again that interaction between other humans is just as important as socialising with fish. I’m sure many of you out there may disagree & you might not be wrong but remember, a fish out of water too long does not make very good conversation. So back inside to learn more of Matts fascinating insights, tips, tricks & breakthroughs in the angling world before unwillingly returning to my accommodation for the night & the long drive back to Dundee in the morning. Just time for some more all important (I am human after all) photo opportunities with a true gentleman of the sport.

My thanks goes out to Matt, Ed & Jane, Daniel, Richard, Ryan & Paul for making the day such a pleasure to attend & a great success for Furnace Mill Fishery, one that I hope will be repeated very soon. All details for fishing the furnace can be found at where there is also extensive information on local accommodation ranging from bed & breakfast accommodation to rustic camping. I can tell you from personal experience that The Royal Forester Country Inn & its individually themed luxury rooms is just what a weary fisherman needs after a day sweating at the furnace.