Chris Pondsford with the superb bronze sculptured trophy he

won by being crowned Maver Midland Specialist of the Year for 2002.


Maver Midlands Specialist of the Year Final 2002, Larford Lakes Fishery


WORCESTER’S Chris Pondsford (pictured above) is celebrating after being crowned ‘Midland Specialist Angler of the Year’ following a nail biting final at Stourport’s Larford Lakes Fishery.

The 48-year old qualified earlier this year after catching a superb barbel weighing 15lb 5oz from the River Severn, the best from the venue for three years.

But he was up against tough competition from some of the best big fish anglers in the Midlands, who had all qualified through Midland Angler magazine following outstanding captures of their own.

The event was backed by Maver and Midland Angler


The final, which was backed by tackle manufacturer Maver to the tune of £2000 in tackle prizes, took the form of a ‘species hunt’, with anglers scoring points the more species they could catch.

The eleven qualifiers were given 12 species to target in an 11 hour period from 8am to 7pm. These were bream, roach, rudd, carp, tench, chub, barbel, dace, eels, pike, perch and hybrids.

At the end of the match the angler who had caught the biggest bream would score five points, the angler who caught the second biggest four points and so on down to one for the fifth biggest.

The same rule would apply for all 12 species and anglers could only score once for each fish, so were encouraged to show their all round skills by catching as many species as they could.

After much exchanging of emails and gnashing of teeth between Midland Angler editor Gareth Purnell and sponsor Phil Briscoe of Maver UK, it was decided that for a true test of ability, they had to find out who was the best angler at catching a number of different species. And the test had to be on both still and running water.

“It was tough for the competitors as they had to fish during the day, which is generally not the time to catch big fish. But it was the same for everyone,” explained Gareth.


Larford Lakes

There are not many venues that could have hosted this kind of event, but one that can is the fantastic Larford Lakes complex at Stourport.

This picture postcard Severn Valley venue includes a magnificent one-and-a-half mile length of the mighty River Severn, which is home to some lovely barbel and chub, plus plenty of roach, perch and pike too.

Better known perhaps is the venue’s 22-acre Main Lake, which has already become famous in the Midlands for its big head of specimen bream that run well over 14lb.

The Main Lake also holds stacks of big carp to 37lb with loads of twenties, plus some big eels, perch to over 4lb, roach to over 2lb and a very large head of roach/bream hybrids that run to 4lb but average out at under 1lb.

The qualifiers could fish both venues and made the draw at 6.30am to see who would get first choice of swims, before heading off into the rising morning mist.

The match turned out to be a real nail biter with the anglers regularly switching between the lake and the river, transported on the fishery’s quad bike.

 However Chris, who had put in several successful practise sessions, stuck to his plan of moving only once, fishing the river in the morning until he caught a barbel and the lake in the afternoon.

In fact Chris was falling behind leader Lee McManus until he hooked and landed a fine 5lb 13oz barbel, which turned out to be the biggest of the day.

Lee MacManus scored

good points with this barbel.


That was his queue to move to the lake, but it was only in the last hour that he put the result beyond doubt, catching the biggest carp, tench and bream of the day in a 90-minute burst.

In the final analysis Chris laid claim to the biggest bream, rudd, carp, barbel, roach and tench. He came out a full 12 points clear of the field on an impressive 38.5 points out of a possible 60, with Leicester’s Lee McManus second on 26.5 and Northampton’s Chris Berry third, just knocking Mountsorrell’s Matt Clayton out of the prizes by a point on 22 to 21.

 Chris claimed £1000 in tackle prizes from Maver, plus a magnificent bronze trophy sculptured by Solihill’s Dave Hughes and the top three also received engraved glass trophies which they get to keep forever.

As everyone congratulated Chris he made a confession:  “I have to admit I’ve put in a couple of practises and I’ll be honest and tell you that I was put onto the river swim by a couple of locals.

“It’s called The Ledges and is known for barbel and I had several there in practise, so I was determined to stay there until I had a barbel and only then fish the lake.

“It’s been a fantastic competition at what really is a great fishery and I’m overjoyed and very proud to win the title,” he added.

As in any match, there was nothing to prevent Chris from a few practise sessions, and everyone agreed that the best angler on the day won.

You could hardly argue with a winning margin of twelve points after all. It just goes to show that practise, plus a little local knowledge, makes perfect!

“It’s been quite hard in conditions that were less than ideal, but the fact that all 12 target species were caught shows that the anglers put their all in,” commented Phil Briscoe.

Chris was out on the bank again the week after the final and celebrated his win with style, landing another fine barbel of 13lb 13oz form the Barbel Society controlled Beauchamp Arms section of the Severn.

• For the full picture report on the Maver Midland Specialist of the Year final, read December’s Midland Angler, out November 12.


The top three. From the left, Chris Berry,

Chris Pondsford, Phil Briscoe and Lee McManus



Midland Specialist of the year 2002, top three

1 Chris Pondsford, Worcester, 38.5pts

2 Lee McManus, Leicester, 26.5pts

3 Chris Berry, Northampton, 22pts



Second placed Lee McManus with his trophy.



Target species                                   Larford fishery record

Bream                                                  14lb 14oz

Roach                                                  2lb 8oz

Carp                                                    38lb

Tench                                                   9lb

Chub                                                    7lb 8oz

Barbel                                                  12lb

Dace                                                    10oz

Eels                                                      5lb

Pike                                                     29lb

Perch                                                   4lb 3oz

Hybrids                                                4lb 2oz

Rudd                                                    3lb