Section wins were needed to decide the victors in this third and final semi, local lads and reigning champions Trafford Angling getting the nod over home-based favourites Partridge Fishery thanks to three maximums against the runners-up’s one, both teams finishing with 23 points apiece.
Also joining them at the final in a fortnight will be South Yorkshiremen Kiveton Hall who took third on another section countback from former winners Hemsworth Angling White, with Strayside Anglers the other team to make it to Tunnel Barn Farm after a match that proved to be a real fish-catching five hours as the small carp, F1s and silverfish made for plenty of bites and close sections.
On the Covey Lakes, 40lb was needed to get good points in most sections, while on Holbar the gamble to fish for the big carp misfired a little due to spawning. Small F1s and chub meant that those who went down the little fish route came back with decent points.
“The Holbars were actually the lakes we worried about the most because they don’t get used in matches a lot and none of us had fished them before,” said Trafford’s captain Kerry Kirkwood. “We had a great draw, with three anglers on the end of the islands on the Covey Lakes, and those really are good summer pegs. We had originally planned to catch around 30lb a man as we thought the pressure on the lakes in the run-up to the match might affect the fishing, but quite the opposite has happened. We’re a team that likes fishing positively and catching plenty of fish, so as soon as it became apparent we’d need nearer 50lb to do well, we stepped our game up.”
A pellet approach was all Trafford needed, fishing up to the island grasses on the Covey Lakes and down the edge on Holbar 1 and 2, coupled with a Method feeder chuck to the island. Kerry felt that worm would get more bites but from smaller fish.
“With the amount of ide and roach in the lakes we’d have been pestered on worm, but pellet always catches the better stamp of fish, and when they’re peas in a pod in terms of size, anything that’ll catch fish those few ounces bigger is crucial.”
“Tunnel Barn Farm is next up and hopefully we’ll defend the trophy,” Kerry added. “A few of us fish there a bit and it’s more of the same in terms of fish-catching, although the carp and F1s in there are a bit bigger, but we’re confident. If we could win at JCB where it was rock hard then we’ve got to fancy our chances at somewhere as prolific as Tunnel Barn!”
Those sentiments were echoed by runners-up Partridge, who are also looking forward to their trip to Warwickshire. They started the match alongside Trafford as favourites, but like the winners they were also in the dark about the Holbar Lakes.
“All we knew was that it would be big fish on there, so we had a plan to fish the tip to the island and paste, and we got a third and second in section, so we must have done something right!” said skipper Graham Sixsmith. “The Coveys looked after themselves, and we fish them a lot, so were in tune with what was needed, which was chopped worm and caster to catch what you could, be it an ide or a carp. We aimed for 40lb a man on there, but the lakes have actually fished better than that.”
Team result (top five qualify for final):
1 Trafford Angling, 23pts (section wins)
2 Partridge Fishery, 23
3 Kiveton Hall, 38 (section countback)
4 Hemsworth Angling White, 38
5 Strayside Anglers, 40 (section countback)
6 Fisherman’s Way Bury, 40
7 St Anthony’s AC, 43
8 Mosborough Tackle Box, 46
9 Fishing Tackle Direct, 51
10 Woodland Lakes, 52
11 Prince Albert AS, 58 (section countback)
12 Hemsworth Angling Blue, 58
13 Hull DAA, 61
14 Congleton AS, 71
15 Carlisle DAC, 77