There was only one fish in it at the end of the Woodland Lakes Fish O Mania heat as the 100lb weights that had been expected in the run-up failed to materialise.
As the field of 146 tackled up at their pegs, it was clear that competitors were in for a day of little wind as an area of high pressure settled over the region. The waters were flat calm, with a big fly hatch and the carp were seen to be cruising close to the surface in the middle of the lakes. Local information also revealed that the fish had just finished spawning- all indications that fishing could be tough.
The early stages of the match had the carp cruising about and reluctant to feed; the corner pegs were not really producing, and it was difficult to see anyone building up a lead. James Howarth on Kestrel 21 was catching a few fish, as was Steve Rothery on 25 and Karl Richardson on 26. Curlew was tough with only odd fish being caught; Partridge low numbers were quiet, but Raymond Shaw on peg 5 was spotted landing one or two decent carp on the bomb and Chris Kendall on opposite bank 29 was mugging fish as they cruised around, as was Tom Bainbridge nearby on 31. A similar pattern showed on Skylark, with middle peg 8 yielding carp to Greg Cooper fishing shallow with pellets on the pole, and Barry Hollingsworth on opposite bank peg 20 catching a few on the same method.
As the match drew to a close, it was apparent that the 100 lb plus weights of a few days previously would be unlikely and so it proved at the weigh in.
Greg Cooper won the battle of the Sparkys, weighing 79-2 from Skylark peg 8, landing carp to 12 lb on pellet fished shallow on long pole; adding 2 fish on maggot fished short. These fish would prove crucial for the Electrician from Mansfield as he narrowly led the field to qualify for the Fish ‘O’ Mania semi-finals in July.
The unlucky runner up was Electrician Raymond Shaw from Wigan who patiently landed carp to 10 lb on 8mm pellets fished on the bomb from Partridge 5; finishing agonisingly close with 78-8. Chris Kendall was third with 68-12, mugging fish to double figures on meat, just ahead of Tom Bainbridge 2 pegs away on Partridge 31 to net fourth spot on 67-14. Completing the frame were Barry Hollingsworth, Skylark 20, 65-2 and James Howarth finishing top weight from Kestrel with 64-0, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Disappointing weights, but tight competition with anglers adapting best to the conditions being rewarded with results from unfancied pegs.
On now to the next qualifier, a 200 pegger at Partridge Lakes in the North West- Let’s hope anglers turn up in numbers to have a chance to fish for the £50,000 final winning prize money.