Julian Chidgey has won this year’s Drennan Cup after being voted the best specimen angler in the country by his fellow fishermen.
Following a sensational season during which he banked impressive tench, pike, eels and roach, the 27-year-old Devon-based specialist held off a late challenge from eel-fishing fanatic Barry McConnell, with the pair polling almost 50 per cent of the votes between them.
Outgoing champion Terry Lampard finished in third place, having taken four weekly awards over the year, just ahead of Mark McKenna, who smashed the British bream record last September with a huge 22lb 9oz fish.
As well as getting his name inscribed on the sport’s most prestigious big-fish trophy, Julian also picks up a cheque for £2,000.
“I’m absolutely over the moon! Since childhood I have been inspired by the catches that have featured in the competition. Although I set out to do as well as I could this season, I never thought for one minute that I would win,” he said.
“The truth is that no-one can win a competition that requires such a huge level of commitment and motivation without support from their friends and family, and I would like to thank them all for their help. I can’t wait to pick up the trophy from Peter Drennan and Terry Lampard as they are two of my angling heroes,” added Julian, who works full time as a recruitment manager.
The extent of Julian’s season-long efforts were not lost on those responsible for handing out the weekly awards. Stewart Moss, from Drennan, said: “Congratulations to Julian for a richly-deserved win. Not only did his consistency and effort stand out in a really tough season for specimen angling, but to win the award by taking the majority of his fish from the south-west of England is inspirational.” Meanwhile, runner-up Barry McConnell, the captor of a monster 9lb 2oz eel in August who picked up £1,000 for his efforts, insisted his prize money will be put to good use.
“What a fantastic surprise! I wasn’t really expecting to win anything, so thanks to all the anglers who voted for me. The cash will certainly help pay for a few more lobworms!
“It’s a pity I don’t really fish for other species, because each year I catch plenty of big fish, including carp, perch and bream, on small deadbaits intended for eels, especially early on in the season. Maybe I should have a proper go for them next year,” joked Barry.