FINANCIAL ADVISOR Steve Clark, 46, from Saffron Walden, Essex, produced the right figures to shatter the existing Individual National Championship record by 16.910 kg in the NFA Division One National Angling Championship fished on 25-miles of the River Trent between Nottingham and Dunham-on-Trent (Notts) on Saturday (July 17). Clark, who was fishing for A4 Oxford MG, hauled out 28 bream and eight barbel for an astonishing record-breaking catch of 72.920 kg … and he didn’t have a bite in the first hour of the five-hour event.
The prestigious team title from an entry of 62 teams (one team failed to turn up) of 12 anglers went to Barnsley and District who totalled 591 points from a total catch of 42.310 kg worth £1,386 pools money. Barnsley fielded a team of superstars including current World Champion Alan Scotthorne MBE and former World Champion Tom Pickering. They failed to collect a section medal but the team boasted six anglers with more than 50 points out of a possible 63 – a consistent performance that earned them the gold medal in the blue riband divisional event of the year. Team captain Tony Peel said: “We have a good blend of youth and experience and this was a solid team performance. We haven’t had much time to practice but we knew there were plenty of fish to be had. There was a little bit of extra flow after the rain and that helped. Big fish can get you out of trouble but they can also get you into trouble and so we preferred float fishing for smaller fish and cashing-in on the luxury of two pegs each.”
Individual winner Steve Clark collected around £5,000 in pools and betting money for his record breaking achievement. He had never fished the tidal Trent before but he checked out the website and noted pegs J1 and J14 were the ‘hot pegs.’ “I couldn’t believe it when I drew peg J1 (permanent peg 1A) just downstream from Cromwell Weir in the Collingham AA water. I had heard this pool contained huge bream shoals and barbel to 15lb and I tackled up with a Shimano Nexabe rod, 10lb bs line and a size 14 hook loaded with three or four red maggots.”
After an hour Clark was waiting for his first bite but then the fish moved in on the bed of casters and halibut pellets and he netted ten of his 28 bream in the second hour. He decided to stop using hempseed in his cage feeder and the bream and barbel continued to feed at 50 yards until the match ended. His previous best match weight was 68.000 kg taken at Lavender Park in Whitstable, Kent but this gold medal winning heavyweight catch from a river is something special for the former Trevs Browning star who has just signed for Sensas Image. *The previous record was 56.010 kg taken by Stratford, East London maintenance engineer and former England International, Dave Vincent, 49, on the River Cam in 2001.
Runner-up Jeff Perrin, 46, a member of the Shakespeare Redditch team waited an hour for his first bite and then took eight bream to 7-8-0 in a total catch of 20.210 kg taken from peg C10 on Hamms Bridge at Shelford. The catch was worth £1,269 in pools money. Perrin used an open-ended feeder with chopped worm and caster and alternated between worm and caster on a size 14 hook using 4lb bs main line and a 2½ lb hook length. He used 2½ pints of casters and ½ kilo of worms to keep the fish interested and he lost a good fish as the match ended.
Third placed Ian Roe, 45, a London demolition worker, fished at peg C13 (three pegs from the runner-up) to take seven bream to 6lb and one chub for a total weight of 18.340 kg worth £1,057.50p in pools money. He too fished caster and worm on a size 14 hook and he hurled a swimfeeder three-quarters of the way across the river. The Oakwood Eurobait member was fishing his second NFA National Championship.
Nottingham based Middy Matchman were just 14 points adrift of the winners with 577 points “It’s fantastic to finish runners-up in the top division event in the country. We had seven anglers with more than 50 points but we drew badly in two sections, we needed two more noted pegs,” said team captain Ian Donaldson, 56, a former Scottish International who collected a section winners medal for recording 8.900 kg in ‘K’ section at Collingham. Donaldson continued: “We practised on every section and had different tactics for the faster flowing tidal river. Our target figure was 2 kg per man. We had the weight advantage on the day of 47.070 kg to 42.310 kg but this competition is down to section points, not weight, and Barnsley did exceptionally well.”
Doncaster and District were third with 539 points. The team boasted nine anglers with more than 45 points and they too had a better weight return than the winning team. Team captain Reg Fearn handed the responsibility of drawing for the team to Mark Bawden. “I seem to be unlucky with the draw and Reg has a lucky streak and he did us proud,” said Fearn. The team had five anglers with more than 50 points, including two with 60 points, but they also had three with 30 points or less. “We decided on a big fish attack and Steve Donoghue nailed 12.540 kg of barbel in L section to earn 62 points. We were third last year and it’s great to be up among the best teams in the business,” commented Fearn.
The individual winners team, A4 Oxford MG, finished in 19th place with 419 points despite returning a total team weight of 92.310 kg – 50 000 kg more than the winning team Barnsley. If the event had still been determined on weight A4 Oxford MG would easily have won and Barnsley would have been placed eleventh!
The NFA were criticised in some quarters for risking their premier event on the once troubled River Trent. But it was a shrewd move by the NFA to hold the event in mid-July when the fish stocks were lively in the warm water. Only 26 of the 744 participants failed to catch a fish.
The record breaking catch of 72.920 kg landed by Steve Clark is not only a record for an NFA National Championship, but it is a five-hour record for the tidal Trent.
NFA DIVISION ONE NATIONAL ANGLING CHAMPIONSHIP: (River Trent) TEAMS: 1/ Barnsley & District 591 points; 2/ Middy Matchman 577 pts; 3/ Doncaster & Dist. 539 pts; 4/ Worksop DAA 532 pts; 5/ Handsworth AC 530 pts; 6/ Starlets 530 pts; 7/ Nottingham AA 516 pts; 8/ Army AF 514 pts; 9/ Southport & District 504 pts; 10/ Scunthorpe & District 502 pts.
INDIVIDUAL: 1/ Steve Clark (A4 Oxford MG) 72.920 kg; 2/ Jeff Perrin (Shakespeare Redditch) 20.210 kg; 3/ Ian Roe (Oakwood Eurobait) 18.340 kg; 4/ Jim Meakin (Nottingham AA) 17.770 kg; 5/ N. Smith (Swindon Isis AC) 16.020 kg; 6/ F. Holding (Southport & District) 13.420 kg; 7/ L. Moxon (Oakwood Eurobait) 12.750 kg; 8/ M. Gadd (Southport & District) 12.620 kg; 9/ Steve Donoghue (Doncaster & Dist.) 12.540 kg; 10/ Mark Addy (Drennan North West) 10.900 kg: