THE best match anglers in the Midlands are sharpening their hooks in readiness for one of the biggest prizes in match fishing.
The final of the Ultimate League takes place over two days at the start of June, with the 40 best anglers from both Hallcroft and Moorlands Farm fisheries going head to head for the £10,000 first prize.
And what’s remarkable about the Jack Purchase Holidays sponsored fish-off is that it pays out big money right down the list, with the sixth placed angler getting a cool £1500 and even the angler who finishes tenth of the 80 pocketing £600.
“This is the big match of the early summer and a great chance to see how the top anglers in the Midlands go about their business,” said Moorlands Farm owner John Talbot.
“The venue should be fishing really well at the start of June providing the fish don’t start spawning, and we would expect weights approaching 100lb. Spectators are positively welcome and as we have a licenced bar and an excellent cafe, they can make it a great day out.”
The eighty anglers have qualified for the final through blood, sweat and tears over the last nine months, scoring points for section wins or by coming in the top four in open matches at one of the two venues.
The final itself takes the form of two four-hour matches on Saturday June 1, with a five-hour match on the Sunday. Anglers will fish in sections of five on Meadow, Silver Carp and Banks Pools, making it very fair, and it will almost certainly take a perfect score of three to win it.
Now in its sixth year, the last two Ultimate League finals have been won with a perfect three points by Midland Angler columnist Grant Albutt, a remarkable achievement considering the strength of the opposition.
Among the big favourites taking part this year are Grant himself, former world champion Alan Scotthorne, Kieron Rich, Tom Pickering, Jamie Masson, Lee Richards, Barry Gannon and Clive Munslow. But with so many quality stillwater anglers on display, it is very difficult to pick a winner.
“As it’s my home water I guess I’ll be favourite this year, and I hate being favourite,” admitted Grant. “Nobody has ever won it three times and we are talking about taking on the best rods in the area here. But I’ll be giving it my best and it’s a great match to watch.
 “If you match fish and have nothing booked for that weekend, you’ll learn a bundle by coming along as a spectator to what is a first class venue.”

Match: Ultimate League Final.
Venue: Moorlands Farm, Hartlebury
Pools used: Bank, Meadow and Silver Carp Lakes.
Number of anglers: 80.
Date: June 1 and 2.
Match details: First match starts 9.30, second match 3.30pm. Sunday match starts 11am. Presentation: Will be made by Ann Pickering and Barbara Purchase on Sunday June 2 at 5.30pm.
Facilities: Bar, cafe and toilets on site.
How to get there: Take junction 6 off the M5 and head for Kidderminster for about eight miles on the A449. The venue is clearly sigposted at Hartlebury off this dual carriageway.

Qualifiers from Hallcroft
Jamie Masson, Geoff Bennett, Phil Morgan, John Dudley, Ian Temple, Andy Whitehouse, Keith Noble, Neil Vernon, John Ashwell, Steve Clarke, John Powell, Mark Foy, Rob Fackerall, Andy Oldham, Alan Scotthorne, Arthur Berresford, Ray Abbs, John Howard, Tim Hannon, Franco Pezzulo, Chris Gaves, Jason Skipper, Phil Raw, Tom Pickering, John Forster, Steve Robbins, Andy Sellars, Phil Chapman, Alan Crouch, Ray Shaw, Craig Reed, Dave Maiden, Steve Rothery, John Gooden, Nigel Shipman, Gary Kirby, Mick Cooke, Pete Cooper, Stuart Gray, Graham Hopwood
* List correct at time of writing only and subject to change.

Qualifiers from Moorlands Farm
Lee Richards, Bob Jones, Neville Groves, Clive Munslow, Neil Machinen, Neil Henshaw, Andy Newton, Les Thompson, Chris Hill, Darren Clewley, Mail Watson, Ian Whitehouse, Andy Robinson, Mark Tooze, Jason Neath, Paul Foster, Mike Lutwitch, Stuart Parker, Colin Pace, Steve Pearce, Barry Gannon, Giles Cochrane, Dave Newton, Dave Hill, Martin Lefevre, Tony Webb, Grant Albutt, Kieron Rich, Lee Nutland, Adam Toll, John Motterhead, Tony Parker, Bob Marklew, John Cockayne, Steve Woodhall, Andrew Ashington, Pete Whitehouse, Dave Elliott, Simon Richardson, Alan Higgs.
* List correct at time of writing only and subject to change.