The second qualifier this year at the popular Partridge Lakes was a triumph for Andy Bennett, who qualified for his first Fish ‘O’ Mania final after more than 30 attempts over the last 10 years.
The 34 year-old angling coach from nearby Hyde in Cheshire landed F1’s and carp to 4lb, fishing maggot shallow for 213lb 2oz from fancied peg 173 on Covey 6, giving him an early birthday present of £255 pools, plus a treasured place in the grand final in July. Andy had finished runner up in qualifiers three times, including the earlier one here in April when visiting raider Will Raison travelled north for his first visit to the venue. Will rightly sought out Andy for advice, only to draw next to him on Willow pool and pip him for top spot that day 142-7 to 140-14- just one more fish!
Conditions on the morning of the match were grim, with cool winds, and more rain forecast after a couple of days of downpours. Blocked motorways left around 20 anglers stranded, so the decision was made to delay the draw to give them time to make it.
Most anglers chose favoured venue tactics of fishing shallow with maggots or casters to tempt the F1’s and occasional carp, which local specialist Chris Weeder used to good effect on Covey 3 peg 53. Chris weighed 173-14, but felt he could not have done much more to challenge the winner.
H section on Covey 6 was a strong section, including winner Andy, another fancied local Kieran Marsden and well-known Ben Fisk. Kieran finished third overall with 169-02 again on maggot fished shallow, leaving Ben to pick up section money with just over 100lb.
Steve Openshaw was on Willow peg 7, and those watching from the nearby café thought he might have a chance as he caught steadily, particularly at the end, but a quiet spell mid match left him finishing fourth with 163-06.
All in all, a very good match with a new face for the final and three figure weights on most sections despite the cold, wet conditions. Thanks to Barbara and her staff at Partridge Lakes for their hard work and cheerful disposition on the day and to Mike Storey the match organiser on the day for all his hard work.
The next Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier takes place at Colemans Cottage on Saturday 15th June.
How to Book Tickets
Tickets for the Fish’O’Mania XXVI qualifiers will again be sold via the Angling Trust events booking website. Ticket prices have once more remained the same at £25 per qualifier
Top 6 Results;
1st Andy Bennett 213-02
2nd Chris Weeder Jnr 173-14
3rd Kieran Marsden 169-02
4th Steve Openshaw 163-06
5th John Jones 130-01
6th Ian Burley 116-04