DERBY rod John Lock took the RiverFest title and the £14,000 top prize with a combined 105-14-0 weight that saw him end up over 20lb clear of the chasing pack.
The Loughborough Soar AS man was clear favourite after an incredible first match that saw the 53-year-old take 94-7-0 of bream from the roadside section. Second was Colin Beech, with 67-3-0 of chub and barbel on the Nelson Field section of the Trent.
Theoretically, a steady day on small fish on Sunday would keep John clear of any further big weights, and he came good with 11-7-0 of roach and dace from the Rack section.
Colin ended up second overall on 82-6-0, while third was Paul Passmore on 59-6-0, who relied on barbel on day two.
How day one unfolded
“I always suspected that someone would get a weight of big fish on day one, thanks to the bit of fresh water from rain. I know that this happens a lot on the Trent, but I didn’t think it would happen in my peg!” said John.
“I drew peg 31 in A section on the roadside, an area with some bream. When I got there, I could see some signs of fish right across the river, which gave me the confidence to start on the feeder and stay on it for a bit longer.
“Casting across into around 5ft of water on the groundbait feeder, it took around 10 casts and 45 minutes before I hooked my first bream. My hope was that it would trigger some more into having a go, but even if I could pick off only half-a-dozen, it would put me in a strong position for day two.
“After that first fish, things became very steady, with bites after five or six minutes on pieces of worm tipped with a maggot, double dead maggot or, towards the end, redworms. I missed just one bite all day and lost four fish, ending up on 21 bream from 3lb-6lb.
“What was important was using a long 5ft hooklength. When the river is clear, the bream sit just off bottom and follow the bait down as it sinks slowly. Weighing 94lb obviously made me think I’d never get a better chance of winning – it would depend on whether the big fish fed again on Sunday as, by then, everyone would know the pegs where they were.”
Nothing fancy needed on day two
“I drew peg 77 on the rack, not a big-fish area and one very much dominated by small roach and dace. My plan was to catch 10lb or 12lb to stay out in front and hope a big weight didn’t come from elsewhere. Even if it did, I told myself not to worry as there was nothing I could do about it!
“Alternating between long pole and stick float over loosefed hemp and caster, I caught some good roach along with lots of smaller ones and some dace, but by the end I think I’d fed too much, as the peg was full of little fish. So I changed to a waggler with maggot at half-depth to pick off the small dace. I was pretty pleased with my 11-7-0 at the scales, but there were a lot of pegs still to be weighed in and we know what match anglers are like for fibbing. And there’ll always be a freak weight that no-one saw coming!
“I knew that Hadrian Whittle, on my peg from the day before, had only eight bream and Paul Passmore, on Colin Beech’s peg from Saturday, had eight barbel, so that was two potential match-winning pegs gone.
“But I couldn’t see anywhere else producing enough big fish to catch me up.
“In fairness I’d done enough on day one, but on rivers where there are lots of big fish you just never know, especially with the quality of angler that was fishing the final!”