This was a brilliant weekend, with lots to see and do no matter what your angling interests. Daiwa were there in force as part of the Carpfest area, with Stephen McCaveny and Simon Marshall from Head Office in charge of the gear displays and consultants Brian and Martyn Skoyles looking after the casting and fishing demonstrations. Daiwa’s interest in the Fish-O-Mania final was with match ace Kieron Rich, so we all had our fingers crossed.
Stephen reports …Kieron Rich @ Fish O Mania
For many, getting to the final is a massive achievement but for Kieron Rich it has been an annual pilgrimage since his first qualifier a few years ago. With the rounds ticking down Kieron queued for the draw at Boldings near Bridgenorth after fishing and winning The Catfish Challenge (a 24hr grueller) he was hoping for continued good luck. That luck did continue with 61 kg of F1’s to give him that golden ticket.
Cudmore is familiar territory to Kieron as well as having featured in the final last year too. Like the professional he is, time was put aside for practicing on Arena. Barbel and carp would be the key and all that was left was the draw.
Peg 10 met Kieron’s hand, putting him slightly away from the favoured pegs but not out of it. On the morning the crowds poured in, surrounding Arena. Would the high tree cover behind peg 10 help Kieron? We would soon find out.
Shortly after 12.00 O’clock, in the middle of miserable rain and dull conditions, Sky TV went live to the final and the loudspeakers boomed for the all in. The crowd was buzzing as anglers potted bait on their pole lines and most set off on the method across.
Fishing tight to the reeds across Kieron focussed down at the tip, waiting for signs and that reassuring ‘rip round’. Many continued to wait as the fish eventually began to give themselves away. It was slow. One more cast ‘down the hole’ and Kieron knew that with no liners or indications a change was needed.
A move to the pole at 13m saw a quick skimmer get him on the board. Two barbel then proceeded to boost Kieron’s weight.
As with previous finals the early catches have little bearing on the result as the final hour can turn it on its head. So patience and clear thinking was needed.
At the event they regularly weigh in each angler to ensure the score board gets updated. That way everyone knows who’s got what and the spectators and viewers at home can keep tabs on how it is all going.
Throughout the match the scores shifted around but the crowds stayed, almost ignoring the on off showers. However a clear lead was emerging on peg 1 with Shane Atkins putting a few together and creeping well ahead with over 12kg. Chasing Shane with a shade under 10kg was Simon Christian, pegged between Kieron and Andy May. But Kieron, sitting 6th was only a couple of good fish away now with almost 8kg and knew that the later stages of the match offered the best chance of catching up.
Plucking out little cubes of meat on the catty Kieron brought the bomb to the bottom of the far shelf, sneaking out a few barbel.
However the best of the sport was certainly on peg 1 with Shane Atkins. Although it went quiet for him when the wind changed he still managed to find two late carp to boost some daylight between him and the chasing pack.
To everyone’s surprise the late rush of bigger fish did not materialise and everyone had to settle for what they had put together earlier on. Kieron knew that there were less fish at his side of Arena and there was little chance of catching up. The crowds also knew that Shane Atkins was well in front and so it proved to be at the hooter.
Well done to Kieron at another place in the final and we all look forward to next year.
As for the rest of the weekend, the British weather tried its best to put a dampener on things, with heavy rain on and off over the weekend, but it didn’t succeed. We were all kept busy with a steady stream of visitors taking a detailed look at the gear on display, or taking the opportunity to try their hand at spodding, or catching one of the many carp from the nearby lake.
I was on the lake looking after the fishing side of things, hectic, doesn’t really describe it. Was I shattered at the end of each day? Completely!
Although I’d never fished the lake it was obviously very heavily stocked, and a regular feed of small pellets kept the fish active and feeding in my swim. I’d opted to use the 2 ¾ Black Widow carp rods with 4000 Regal Z reels, and they were a perfect combo for the steady stream of carp that were coming to the net.
In the next swim Danny Fairbrass, Korda boss, was working really hard, catching steadily, and at the same time providing a brilliant running commentary on his successful methods and tactics. For my part perhaps the most enjoyable part of the day was seeing the sheer enjoyment on the faces of some of the younger anglers, as the buzzers sounded and you passed the rod over, so they could experience playing the fish for themselves. At times all the anglers fishing had queues of people waiting for a turn, great fun!
On Sunday I managed to get a quick walk round the show and it was very impressive. I think it would be fair to say there was something for everyone.
This was my first experience of the Great Northern Fishing Show, but hopefully it won’t be my last.
Well organised, well stewarded, and well attended… All I’ve got to do now is dry my gear out!