It was in reality a whirlwind 7 days as on Sunday we fished the practice match and whilst both myself and Phil didn’t really do our pegs justice, it did help us as we learnt loads which meant we hit the ground running on the first day of the pairs come Monday morning.
Moving onto day 1 after drawing Garradice on the Sunday we found ourselves back there on the Monday. Better still I pulled out two end pegs, 13 on Connelly’s and 8 on Haughton’s. Whilst I really fancied 13, Phil’s peg was an unknown quantity as it hadn’t been fished the day before in the practice match. As it turned out this didn’t help as whilst Phil won Haughton’s with just over 14 kilo the other part of his section on church fished a lot better with 21 kilo being needed for fourth. Back to my match I had a really good last two hours on the feeder catching hybrids to finish with 25 kilo which was enough to win my 13 pegs plus put me third in the county. Therefore at the end of day 1 we had 39 kilos on the board and were up and running!
Day 2 was the mud flats and not a day to remember for me. I drew peg 12 in B section which was opposite a marina and to be honest looked superb. To cut a long story short though I really struggled catching just one small hybrid and a last gasp bream to put 2 kilo on the scales. Meanwhile Adam Rooney fished brilliantly to weigh nearly 10 kilos at the next peg! I’m still not quite sure what I did so wrong but there must have been something! Luckily for me Phil performed brilliantly and weighed nearly 16 kilos to win the county and keep us in the hunt.
Day 3 loomed and we really needed to push on with Lough Scur and Kiltybarden being the potential destinations. As it turned out I drew pump house on Lough Scur and Phil was on Kiltybarden. With no information on my peg I sent a quick text to Dean Barlow to see if he knew anything about it and he replied that there had been some pole fish there on Monday. This advice was to prove invaluable as I managed 21 kilos of roach and hybrids on the pole to win the county. Phil had suffered with snags but some later skimmers saw him put 9 kilo on the board and we had a 30-kilo day!
Day 4 was crunch time, we were sitting a little off the place and our destination of Enniskillen was a chance to put this right. All we needed was a couple of decent draws and to avoid 3 pegs at the airport which were fishing hard. I drew first and was in the middle of Crom Lake on peg 3, I then drew airport 14 for Phil which was a disaster! Grant Albutt had blanked off it on day 1 and since then it had struggled to manage a kilo! Phil though despite being obviously disappointed excelled once again to catch 6 kilos of roach and perch from an area I feared he could blank from. Back to my peg after a slow start I had a purple patch mid match catching big 1lb plus hybrids on the feeder to really boost my weight and whilst they disappeared in the last hour I still managed 35 kilos. This was enough to win the county and most importantly give us a 40-kilo day and kept us in the hunt.
Day 5 and looking at the top ten we were lying 7th although with a few of our rivals above us going to the mud flats which had got harder as the week went on we knew a 30 kilo plus day could see us jump up that leader board. The draw saw Phil heading for peg 3 at Brackley, whilst I was on peg 8 at Bunerky. Again I had good information only this time from Cathal Hughes who informed me that the pole line contained a lot of roach and if the skimmers didn’t show on the feeder line to get on the pole early. This is exactly what I did and after 25 minutes I picked the pole up and never put it down again. Finishing with 220 plus fish for 18 kilo. Now it was all down to Phil and unbelievably he had managed 204 fish on the feeder again for 18 kilo! In fact his slightly higher weight than mine was enough to win the county putting me second. Most importantly though it gave us 36 kilo for the day and it was now a case of waiting!
Early news soon came in that last years winners Cathal Hughes and Phil Jackson had put a big weight on the board from Garradice and looked like certain winners but after that it seemed second place was anyone’s!
And so it proved as come the results whilst Cathal and Jacko were confirmed as deserved champions, myself and Phil had leapt up to 2nd place, a result we were understandably over the moon with! On top of that I had also ended up 2nd in the Daiwa cup which is for the top individual over the 5 days! For those interested this was won by the unstoppable Cathal!
To sum up it was an unbelievable weeks fishing for us both and to catch 167 kilos of silver fish between us in five days was far above and beyond what we expected! On a separate note id like to thank both Lakelands and Inland waterways plus Daiwa for their extremely generous sponsorship of what is a fantastically run event. We’ll definitely be back next year, only this time hopefully to go one better! Roll on 2014!