Final Embassy Challenge qualifier, Fossdyke Canal, Saxilby, Lincs

LINCOLN anglers Paul Andrews and Alan Houlton celebrated in style after claiming the remaining two seats on the Embassy ‘Eagle’ – Embassy’s exclusively chartered Boeing 737-200, which will fly 80 finalists to a £21,000 Embassy Challenge Final in Spain next May.
With the
Fossdyke Canal – the oldest canal in the country – carrying flood water in the lower reaches, the organisers decided to move the 100-peg sell-out event upstream of the River Till, which empties into the middle reaches of the canal, to the match length above Saxilby, Lincs.
The length turned out a great match in which the top three pairs all had 90 points, but the
Lincoln lads did it on weight.
Paul Andrews, 46, a self employed
Lincoln joiner who fishes for ‘Lincs County, Southend Angling’ said: “I’m over the moon. We missed the Embassy final three times in a row by just one point and now we have qualified twice in succession. My heart was thumping at a rate of knots until it was confirmed that our weight total, 6.860 kg, was the highest of the three pairs who recorded 90 points.
“My catch of 2.150 kg from peg A33 consisted of roach to 4oz taken on pinkie and bloodworm presented on a 22 hook fished at six metres and 11 metres in front of the Pike House on the road stretch.”
Teammate, Alan Houlton, 43, a
Lincoln plumber, who is also sponsored by Lincs County, drew peg B33 near the Doddington drain mouth.
“I used a groundbait feeder packed with chopped worm and joker with worm on a 22 hook” said Houlton adding: “I netted three bream to 3 lb and a 2.5lb perch for 4.710 kg. I knew on the day it would be a good weight, but to have qualified for the next Embassy Final is terrific news and we will be sinking a few pints tonight!”
Houlton also finished runner-up in the individual event, won by Goole ace Steve Canty, 42, a company director, who has competed in three Embassy Finals (1998, when he was second) 2001 and 2002.
Canty drew B32 on the Doddington drain outfall and commented: “I drew exactly the same swim in a match four years ago and I remembered it is a bream area. I hooked four good skimmer bream on the feeder rig and landed three bream to 3lb on the pole, switching hook bait between caster, bloodworm, pinkie and worm on a 22 hook.
“I also lost a good bream on the pole and lost a foul hooked bream on the feeder rig during the final five minutes!”
The lost fish didn’t affect Canty’s position in the individual event; his weight of 6.120 kg made him a convincing winner on the day but his partner, Pete Kitwood from Goole, struggled in the coloured water for only 600 grams.
A disappointed Canty said: “This was our final chance to qualify and we were confident we could do it, but our best wishes go to all the finalists in next years Grand Final.”
RESULTS: Pairs (one pair qualifies) 1 Paul Andrews and Alan Houlton (Lincs County) 90 points 6.860 kg;  2  Steve Hemingray and Bradley Titmus (Daiwa Dorking) 90 pts 4.950 kg;  Steve Nurse and Graham Ellis (Grimsby Nomads) 90 pts 4.870 kg;  Individuals: 1 Steve Canty (Goole) 6.120 kg;  2 Alan Houlton  (Lincs County) 4.710 kg;  3 Maurice Thacker (Brigg Whizzo Angling Supplies) 3.850 kg;  4 Fred Bisphan (Harlequins) 3.250 kg;  5 Robert Jagger (Handsworth AC) 3.050 kg;  6 Steve Clarke (Daiwa Trentmen) 2.960 kg;