Lee Kerry was crowned champion at this prestigious event and pocketed the £25,000 first prize in one of the closest finals in the competition’s history.
With cold mornings all week, many expected around 50lb to be enough to win, but as it turned out a titanic battle ensued, with four anglers looking to be in with a shout until the last hour.
But Lee showed the form that saw him clean up at the Preston Innovations Festival, which is the qualifying event for the final, and once again grabbed headlines for his sponsor.
Falling just short of the magic ton with a well-earned 99-12-0 total, the Leeds rod held off a determined challenge from fellow Preston-backed angler, Lee Edwards, with a run of late fish on the long pole.
Previous winner, Des Shipp had a few decent sized fish early on from corner peg 1, but couldn’t keep the carp coming and a scattering of small roach and perch were scant reward for his last hour-and-a half.
This wasn’t the case for Lee as four quality fish in the last half-an-hour were enough to seal victory.
“I knew I had drawn a good peg on the final morning and that the fish would come shallow on the long pole line, so I didn’t start on the feeder like everyone else as I was so confident the fish would be on the 14.5m line,” Lee told Angling Times.
“I lost a few foul-hooked fish during the match and I was a little upset when an 8lb carp swam into my keepnet in the first hour and broke me, but I did land a ‘foul-hooker’ later to tip the balance.”
‘Slapping’ a shallow rig with a two pieces of worm on a size 14 PR27 hook was the winning tactic for Lee. He used a 4x10 Durafloat 9, with a bulked shotting pattern to help him create more noise in the water, which made all the difference.
“I think the fish get irritated by the noise of the slapping and grab at the hookbait,” Lee contined.
“Feeding chopped worm with plenty of the peat in the cup draws the fish up-in-the-water and pinging in a few 6mm pellets also keeps them hunting for some grub.”
Most of the other anglers added liquid dyes to their chopped worm to form a bigger cloud in the water and constantly fished other lines in search of those extra few bites.
But Lee stuck to his guns all match and even gave up feeding meat on his 5m line because he knew the fish would keep coming shallow on the long pole.
Runner up, Welsh international Lee Edwards, took an impressive 90-0-0 catch, but got the feeling it wasn’t going to be his day when he lost a couple of fish in the last hour, which cost him a crack at the big money payout.
After splitting his winnings with a couple of mates, Lee still added another £18,000 to his week’s earnings and amid calls on the bankside for him to get called up to fish for the Drennan Team England squad, he had time to reflect on his achievement.
“I am over the moon, I really don’t believe it,” he told us. “It is not about the money, though, it is about being here and winning such a high profile event in this company.”
Result: 1 Lee Kerry, Preston Innovations, peg 16, 99lb 12oz; 2 Lee Edwards, Preston Innovations, peg 15, 90lb 8oz; 3 Des Shipp, Preston Innovations, peg 1, 64lb 1oz; 4 Andy Bennett, Fox, peg 18, 63lb 3oz; 5 James Dent, Maver, peg 8, 62lb 6oz; 6 Ben Fisk, Middy, peg 5, 60lb 5oz.