Keith Arthur: There are more ways than one to tackle the Fish O' final

There are more ways than one to tackle the Fish O’ final The weather at Cudmore Fisheries could have been kinder ¬ for the spectators at least ¬ but I think the competition on show at both events on the Go Fishing Show weekend was fabulous.

On both days Arena Lake produced wonderful Fish O’Mania matches with a nail-biting result on Saturday as a compelling performance by Neil McKinnon pipped Tom Pickering ¬ who has been ‘studio pundit’ for most of the previous finals ¬ at the final weigh-in.

I don’t think I’m wrong in saying this is the first time a winner has gone to the top of the leaderboard at this critical stage of the match.

Sunday was even closer ¬ with 30 minutes to go there were five anglers all in with a great chance of winning. Just one decent-sized carp separated them and the fish were having a bit of a go on the pole line, whereas for most of the match it had been Method feeder that was producing the most consistently.

Nathan Watson turned in a performance of real maturity. I don’t think I could have put the band on a pellet in his situation, yet he did. Even when, under really intense pressure, he cast short, then too long into the grass and lost his hooklength with less than 10 minutes to go, he didn’t panic ¬ he calmly tied on a new hook and caught the fish that changed the outcome of the event. It was stunning stuff.

Matt Hall was brilliant on both days.

On the Fish O’Mania final Matt replaced Tom in the pundit’s hot seat and brought his own style to the proceedings, while on the Sunday he was just short when the
all-out sounded.

A quick analysis of the results is interesting. On the first match Neil McKinnon won fishing shallow on the pole, Tom was second on the Method, Andy Benwell pushed himself into third with two absolute whacking great carp ¬ both 5kg - from the margins, while  Ray Hayward caught most of his fish on the long pole using worm and caster.

On Sunday, Nathan triumphed on the Method, Matt ran him so close on the pole with worm and Dave Pimlott caught shallow ¬ three carp for 12kg in the first 30 minutes ¬ and topped-up late on down the edge.

On both days no angler knew where they wanted to be drawn to win, and this was a contest decided by the anglers making the correct decisions, then executing them to perfection.

Neil McKinnon, for example, based his match on catching carp shallow on pellet. Now, if you’ve ever tried to do that, the most critical thing is to keep fish going into the net, with the peg usually getting stronger as the day wears on.

Neil had a blank hour mid-match. I can tell you, I would NEVER have pursued his option...but that’s why he is now £25,000 better off. All in all it was top, top angling from a top bloke.