THIS year’s NuFish Feeder King final at Southfield Reservoirs was hit by heavy deluges of cold rain in the days before the big match. That saw water levels rise and temperatures plummet.
As a result, the bream and skimmers shut up shop, and only four of the 32-strong field caught – one fish apiece! In fact anyone could have got a bite out of the blue to win the £10,000 first prize.
Match legend Neil Mallinson’s single bream of 2lb 6oz netted him the cash and the title from peg 31. Second went to Alan Wilson with a 12oz skimmer from peg 40, third was England man Rob Wootton on peg 45 with a 9oz fish, and fourth place went to event co-organiser Andy Renton with a 5oz skimmer fishing from peg 44. Winner Neil takes up the story...
At the peg
“Drawing peg 31 I was happy, because it’s an okay area with the chance of a few bites. I felt I could catch 7lb or 8lb and have a shot at winning a few quid although, like everyone, I knew it was going to be tough.
“What concerned me most were the high water levels, well up on the practice match the Tuesday before. That had to be down to the rain, and I was just hoping it hadn’t chilled the water too badly.
“Knowing Southfield well, I was aware that the first few hours can be slow, but even if you don’t catch a bream, you can pick off a few little skimmers and hybrids. Rob Wootton and Andy Renton, further up from me, had their fish early on so when, like many, I hadn’t had a sign after two hours, I was worried. Even with a tiny piece of redworm on the hook, I never had a sign.
“It’s amazing how many times at Southfield you don’t have a touch for hours and then catch a few at the death. There’s certainly no shortage of bream, but they can be near-impossible to catch on certain days. I knew that I needed to stay focused and not do anything daft.”
Finally! A fish
“After three hours the tip pulled round, and I hooked the bream at 48m on the cage feeder, using a redworm tipped with a dead red maggot. The funny thing was, I knew a fish was there because I’d had an indication on the tip just before and I made certain I took my time. Lee Kerry next to me said ‘play it like your life depends on it!’ I don’t know about that, but I had the feeling that £10,000 might depend on it!
“I took my time, landed it and fully expected to get a few more, thinking that this was when the fish would start feeding for everyone. They had other ideas, though.
“Usually, I just get my head down and focus on the fishing, but in that last hour, I couldn’t. Every time I heard someone talking on the bank or walking about, I couldn’t help but feel that a fish had been caught. As the time ticked by it did get me closer to winning, but it also meant less and less time to come back if a bream was caught on another peg.
“I was shocked at how hard the fishing had been, but that’s fishing. I’ve been around for decades and know that on some matches, one fish is enough, but I was still surprised at the results, given the talent on the bank. If they couldn’t get a bite, it shows how hard it was. I’d have loved to have caught one more to take the pressure off a bit in that last hour, but we got there in the end. I know my old fishing mate Gary Skelley, who’s not with us any more, would have been looking down and beaming - and probably laughing too!”