Could Will Raison and Ben Leach win again at this year's Maver Pairs Challenge?

Only Steve Mayo and Des Shipp have won the Maver Pairs twice. They won the first Maver Pairs back in 2005, but since that glorious August day, England internationals Ben Leach and William Raison have found turning in a repeat performance a little harder to achieve.

Their Dorking teammates Des Shipp and Steve Mayo managed it, but no one else has come close, but this weekend’s final at Maver Larford Lakes looks likely to see them start as one of the favourites for the £5,000 top prize, not that such lofty billing means a lot to Ben.

Out of fishing action since December with elbow problems, Maver-backed Ben has only just returned to matchfishing after the lay-off, and he reckons being favourites is nice, but knowing Larford as he does, the draw and where the wind is blowing still play as much a part in deciding the winners as fishing itself will.

“Larford has obviously had its problems this summer, but the Match and Specimen Lakes are solid, and I only think the Arena Pool is harder than in last year’s final,” Ben said. “The wind does play a big part in moving the fish around, and if it’s been hacking down one end of the lakes for a few days I’d want to draw here. That said, you can only try to win your 10-peg section, so that’s all Will and me will be worrying about.”

Indeed, having Will on his side is a huge relief for Ben. He rates the 2008 World Champion as the best angler in the world with an uncanny knack to pick out the method to catch well at Larford, as he proved in last year’s final and the subsequent Pole Pairs match that saw them finish second.

“I don’t know what it is, but Will can get up off his box halfway through a match, set up another rig or rod and bash out 100lb,” Ben explained. “I never have to worry about what Will is up to and how he’s getting on. That makes my job in doing well in my section so much easier, and I think we’ve got a pretty good record at Larford despite the fact that not many matches take place after the Maver Classic is May.

That means practising, and accurately working out how the lakes will fish for the Pairs is a tough one.”

Ben will fish either the Match or Arena Lake, while Will faces the Specimen Lake, a decision taken in 2005 when the competition first started.

Ben flipped a coin when they decided to enter their first qualifiers and those choices have remained, something to do with having a good record on each lake.

“I never get on too well on the Specimen, and Will’s the same on Match, oddly,” Ben added. “What I do think will be different this year on the Match Lake will be the impact of the carp that were stocked in there a few years back. Match always used to be an F1 race, with the first to 150lb winning, but now those carp give you a get-out-of-jail card if you slip behind on the F1 front. You can catch 100lb of 5lb mirrors down the edge - I did it in the Maver Classic this year.

“On the Specimen Lake it could be the same, but with bream playing a part,” he continued. “A lot of people get sidetracked by the huge carp in there, but to win a section you can easily do it with bream and skimmers, plus a few smaller carp on the feeder. It’s all about keeping it simple and fishing just a few methods that will get the most out of the peg - and that’s where Will excels - I’ve just got to keep up my end of the bargain!”


Match facts

Venue: Maver Larford Lakes
Lakes in use: Match, Arena and Specimen Lakes
Date: Saturday, August 14
Draw: 9am at the fishery café
Fish: 12 noon until 5pm
Pools: £20 per angler
Scoring: Match to be decided on section points. In the event of a tie, section countback will be used. If there is still no winner then aggregate weight will be used.
Contact: Maver Larford Lakes on 01299 829373
Web address: has a full list of rules for the fishery as well as information on the lakes themselves.


Match payout

Winning pair: £5,000 plus Maver tackle prizes
Second pair: £2,500 plus Maver tackle prizes
Third pair: £1,500 plus Maver tackle prizes
Fourth Pair: £1,000
Lake winners: £500
Lake runners-up: £300
Lake third: £200
Section winners (by default): £120
Section runners-up (by default): £80