Phil Ringer fishes on alone to seal World Pairs title

Brothers Steve and Phil Ringer finally got their hands on the coveted World Pairs trophy after two near misses in previous years. They won the £10,000 first prize by over seven kilos from Lee Addy and Paul Keeley – but they were lucky to even be alive after a motor accident on the way to their pegs on the final day that saw Steve sent to hospital and Phil decide to fish alone, despite being badly shaken.
However, a five-star performance by the Ringer Baits boss saw him take the biggest weight of the whole week with a superb 28-800 of roach from Maghoo Lake, a performance England Feeder team boss Tommy Pickering hailed as the best he’d ever seen. It was a weight that saw the Ringers out in front and with a happy ending to what had started off in horrific circumstances. Phil’s big weight also saw him leap from nowhere to win the individual Daiwa Cup and add another £1,000 to the kitty.
“I’ve still got a sore head and a bad neck and the van is a write-off but we’re well aware that it could have been a lot worse!” Steve said. “The fishing has been almost secondary after what happened and it should make all match anglers realise that life is short and although we all moan about bad pegs, bad fishing and so on, they just aren’t important compared to life itself. We’re all in one piece but I can’t lie and say we weren’t relieved to get home.”
Having been second in the past two years, Steve and Phil had earmarked the Pairs as one to win in 2015 and after a slow start, they began to click from around halfway to move up the leaderboard and sit just a few hundred grams off the leaders with the final day to fish. They also proved that despite doing so well in the past, there were always things to learn and improve on.
“I think we adapted better this year as in the past we’d been very regimented using short hooklengths and piling the bait in wherever we went, but we thought about it this time around and in the clearer water used longer hooklengths but also fed depending on the species that would dominate,” Steve explained. “If that was roach then we fed caster through the feeder, but if it was skimmers and hybrids, that changed to worms.”
“Patience was also important as the hybrids would feed for little spells then go absent for half-an-hour so casting regularly, every 90 seconds or so, to keep the bait going in was crucial as was fishing stronger hooklengths as many of the venues had ledges that would cut you off on lighter lines. We went from 0.15mm to 0.17mm because when the fish were a good stamp, but there weren’t lots of them, you had to make every hooked fish count.”
Day 1 saw Phil at Bunerky Lake where he took seven kilos of small fish on feeder, Steve replying with nin kilos on the pole and feeder from Blackley Lake, but the way the rotation of counties worked out, the brothers knew they would be on one of the more prolific sections on the final day so the early matches would be all about keeping in touch with the leaders.
“If we could hang in and get a weight on the last day we felt we’d be there or thereabouts,” Phil said. “We weren’t too concerned about what was happening as long as we were within six kilos of the leaders on Thursday night. We felt we could catch 20 kilos from Maghoo and Rock Island on the Friday and be in with a great shout.”
Connolly’s Shore on Lough Garradice saw Phil take 13 kilos of hybrids on the feeder while Steve bagged 12.5 kilos of skimmers on the tip from the Churches section on day 2 to really begin to motor. Relatively short chucks of 40m with three maggots on a long tail proving the most successful approach as so many fish were being caught just as the feeder settled.
“Things got better on Wednesday as we were off to Killedeas and Horse Island,” Phil recalled. “I drew a legend peg on the pontoon at Killedeas and had 12-900 of hybrids on the feeder and Steve won Horse Island with 16-800 of skimmers and hybrids. That moved us right into contention and although we had a low weight count the following day, we were right where we wanted to be.”
“The draw gave Steve Lough Scur, which is a pole venue and suited him and he had 15 kilos of roach and a few skimmers, which was a blinding performance,” Phil continued. “My target from Kiltybarden Lake was five kilos and I had just over six kilos on the feeder so that was job done. That put us second behind Rod Scott and Michael Buchwalder by around 300 grams and I was all set and fired up for the final day.”
The draw gave Phil a belter in end peg 13 on Maghoo while Steve had an average peg on Rock Island and they agreed that 15 kilos for Phil and five kilos for Steve should do it. But then it all went wrong!
“One minute I was talking to Steve about how to fish and the next we were in a hedge 40 yards further down the road,” Phil said. “The van was ruined, Steve had to go to hospital and plainly couldn’t fish and even I doubted I could make it as I was so shaken, but I was passed fit by the paramedics. The lads travelling behind us took my gear to the peg, the match was put back an hour and I wanted to fish so off I went.”
“Phil Bardell offered to step in and fish Steve’s peg and I want to thank him for that, but we decided that Phil’s weight shouldn’t count as it didn’t sit right with us – if we were going to win it, then we preferred it to be from our own performances, if we didn’t win then we didn’t - as simple as that,” Phil explained. “I got to the peg, still not right and chucked 40m with three red maggots on a window feeder and had a golden day with 131 roach up to 1lb, plus a bream for 28-880 and the best weight of the week across all the venues. It was amazing fishing.”
That weight surpassed the target set in the morning and saw the lads home for a popular victory, but while Phil was fishing, Steve could only wonder about what was happening and if their chances of winning were unravelling.
“I wanted to fish, but wasn’t allowed. I had to go to hospital and then the police station. All day I felt as though I had let Phil down,” Steve admitted. “I went to see him with around 15 minutes to go but daren’t ask him how we getting on. He saw me and said ‘I’ve got 131 roach – it’s solid!’ so I thought ‘right then, I’ll leave you to it’. He then caught a 4lb bream just to rub it in.”
Pairs result: 1 S Ringer and P Ringer, 123-055; 2 P Keeley and L Addy, 115-785; 3 R Scott and M Buchwalder, 111-890; 4 B Nudd and D Davies, 103-800; 5 W Freeman and A Leathers, 102-325; 6 G Miller and C Vandervleit, 101-685.
Daiwa Cup result: 1 P Ringer, 68-330; 2 R Scott, 60-850;
3 L Addy, 59-560; 4 G Miller, 57-225; 5 P Keeley, 56-225;
6 M Pollard, 55-670.