Peg 40 did it again as last year’s winning swim defied the sceptics to give victory to West Midlands commercial ace Grant Albutt as he won a memorable head-to-head battle with England star Des Shipp.
A runner-up in the event’s 10-year history twice before, Grant finally got that monkey off his back to pocket the £25,000 winner-takes-all prize, alongside Fish O’Mania the biggest payday in UK matchfishing, with a 78-6-0 haul of F1s against the 67-8-0 of big carp taken by Preston Innovations man Des, himself a former Parkdean champion.
Fished by the top 24 anglers from the Preston Innovations Festival in the days preceding this big-money final, the strong field included the likes of Tommy Pickering, Darren Cox and Steve Ringer, plus a host of commercial experts.
Grant did it on the cheap too, using just one hook pellet all day as his Superglued 6mm Van Den Eynde offering accounted for a string of F1 hybrids after a slow first 30 minutes from the peg that Adam Wakelin won off 12 months ago, the Garbolino/Van Den Eynde man keeping the fish on the boil with loosefed 4mm fishery feed pellet.
“That’s the best match I’ve fished ¬ not because I’ve won the money but because I had no tangles, fished smoothly and everything went to plan,” Halesowen man Grant said.
“Nobody fancied the peg at the start, but it won last year and I was quietly confident it could spring a surprise. I was just relieved to be in the final though because I sneaked in through the back door in 23rd place in the Preston festival after winning my section on the last day. I suppose it doesn’t matter where you finish in that one though ¬ this match is a straight shootout!”
Starting on the Method feeder to the point of the island, a snag made things hard going, and with nothing to show for 20 minutes fishing there, Grant was forced to look early on his 14.5m pole line where he’d been pinging pellets in. A 1lb F1 after 15 minutes got him on his way and from then on it was steady fishing, the odd quiet spell splitting up good bursts of fish-catching as he finished with 61 fish in the net, fishing between 3ins and 7ins deep and constantly flicking his rig over to slap it on the surface.
“Word was going around the lake that I was winning, or at least close to it, but I was worried about Des who was catching big fish,” Grant explained. “I was catching well enough but with big fish you can never be sure. My mates were sat behind me during the match and told me that I had 20 F1s in the final hour for roughly 20lb, while Des only had around half that, so that’s gone a long way to winning it, but I still didn’t think I’d done enough.”
“I was last to weigh, and with Des having 67lb I didn’t think I had that,” he continued. “I was sick inside and very twitchy, thinking ‘not second place again!’ As soon as I weighed my first net though, and that went 40lb, I knew I’d won it because I’d split my fish 50/50 between nets so had the same in the other. It’s a relief to win it after so many near misses ¬ you think your chance will never come.”
Result: 1 G Albutt, Garbolino/Van Den Eynde, 78-6-0; 2 D Shipp, Preston Innovations, 67-8-0; 3 A Rutherford, Team Mosella Garbolino, 31-7-0.