Local Somerton estate agent manager Ray Hayward (Carps AC/Team Viaduct) undoubtedly had the shortest journey of all the 130-entry in the first of the sixteen Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifiers.
Ray’s house virtually overlooks his favourite fishery at Viaduct and his experience showed as he went on to win the event. With the weather rapidly warming up and plenty of carp visible on the lakes the talk was for a draw on the prolific Campbells Lake.
After several weeks of cold and icy conditions, tactics were quite open and it really was anyone’s guess as to where the winner would come from and what tactics he would use. Ray drew on Spring Lake peg 22, at the other end to Campbells and ironically he was in two minds about whether to fish or not as he really didn’t fancy the shallow swim.
However, ‘in for a penny’ Ray gave it a go and received a little more impetus when the angler drawn next to him didn’t show up to his peg! Word soon got around that they were catching well on the other lakes while Ray landed his first carp after a quarter of an hour, albeit a large one, on waggler, with an 8 ml banded pellet fished well out. He stuck with the rod and line and waggler approach while he catapulted pellets down the margins towards the vacant peg, occasionally looking for any fish activity in that vicinity.
On the three hours mark he had caught just three carp on the waggler and he thought he was really out of the match when he spotted a tail swirl on his inside line. A quick switch to the pole saw him land nine more lumpy carp, twelve in all, scaling a fantastic 136-3-0. Ray had three carp in between 18 and 19 lb in his haul. Despite some big weights from the other pools, Ray was declared the winner. It is the second time that the 49-year old has reached the final; he last did so in 2003 after winning the qualifier at Barford Lakes.
Ray also won the Wednesday Open with a similar weight at Viaduct and on Thursday his mate Keith Massheder (Langport) did likewise with a double ton. To keep things even more local Keith, who works for the Royal Navy, came second in the Fish ’O’ Mania with another dozen carp, again on pellet, for 127-6-0 from Lodge Lake. Myles Levy (Basingstoke) and Brett Cooper (Eastleigh) were the pick of the other huge weights with their third and fourth scores of 111-14-0 and 110-3-0 respectively.
Qualifier number two will be at Tunnel Barn Farm in Warwickshire this Saturday when the next finalist will be decided.
Angling Trust Competitions & Events Manager, Sandra Drew said: “This year there has yet again been a huge demand for tickets for this very prestigious event which is managed by Matchroom Sports and administered by Angling Trust. Fish O Mania is considered one of the biggest and most exciting matches in all angling. Congratulations to Ray for his superb win at Viaduct, making him the first to qualify in 2010. Anglers all over the country will be watching eagerly to see who will join Ray for the 16-angler final in July at Cudmore”.