I’m just an everyday angler who’s obsessed with catching big fish… I’m in total shock.” These are the words of Iain McDonald, who’s been crowned champion in the world’s biggest specimen fishing competition.
In one of the most convincing victories in the Drennan Cup’s 32-year history, votes cast by the UK’s best big-fish specialists saw the Kent angler’s dreams come true as he finished 53 points ahead of his nearest rival, Stoke-on-Trent’s Bob Pickering.
Iain secured no fewer than five Drennan weekly awards during a season to remember. It all began last May, when he banked a 4lb 3oz perch from his local Mid Kent Fisheries – a venue that also produced a pair of huge tench weighing 10lb 9oz and 10lb 5oz just a few weeks later.
Not bad for a man who doesn’t drive – and who relies on his trusty pushbike and lifts from his mates to get him to the banks of waters that have produced fish many can only dream of!
“I just can’t believe this has happened to me,” an ecstatic Iain told Angling Times. “My rigs are simple, I don’t have the money to buy loads of bait or fish expensive syndicates and I don’t have a car. But here I am with the biggest prize in specimen angling… it’s incredible.”
Despite breaking his arm when he fell off his bike last summer, the 45-year-old from Canterbury soldiered on, turning his attentions to running water when the season started. His third weekly award came in the shape of a 15lb 4oz barbel from a southern river, and this was followed by a 1lb dace from a river in Kent.
A fin-perfect 2lb 10oz roach, again caught from a Kent river, was the icing on the cake of Iain’s incredible season and a fish which saw him scoop his fifth and final award.
“This just goes to prove that as long as you have determination, watercraft and know where to find big fish in your local venues, anyone has a chance of winning this prestigious trophy,” he said.
“The fact that my name will now be mentioned in the same breath as so many fishing heroes of mine really hasn’t sunk in yet… I’m not sure it ever will.”
Determination is an attribute that second-placed Bob Pickering has in abundance, as it was a giant bream that he’d been trying to land for no less than 30 years that saw the cream of UK specimen angling vote him into second place.
It weighed 21lb, and was taken from a daunting 90-acre mere in the North West where he fished a 6mm pellet cast 60yds out in to the huge stillwater.
Third place went to Hampshire’s Simon Daley, who enjoyed arguably his best-ever season in search of barbel. It was this species that earned him three of his four Drennan weekly awards.
Personal-best barbel of 15lb 8oz and 16lb 5oz were both caught from his local River Avon. The Hampshire specialist also struck gold when he set a new barbel record for the River Itchen with a fish of 15lb 10oz.His final award was for 7lb 9oz chub from the Hampshire Avon.
Matt Jackson took the final place on the prestigious Drennan podium by banking his fifth roach over 3lb – it went 3lb 5oz 8dr, and he caught it an hour before sunrise on a frosty February morning on banks of a southern river.