An unsteady start
The London qualifier was held at puddleduck fisheries on Friday the 12th of July. The draw for places to fish (pegs, as they are called) was held in the onsite café at 8.00am sharp. The competing anglers then have two hours to go to their drawn peg and set up their equipment. Some even say two hours is not long enough, as boxes, rods, poles and pole rollers have to be set up. Ground baits are mixed and bait tables laid out with all sorts of delicacies for the fish, as fishing took place from 10.00 am to 4pm.
I sounded the klaxon to let the anglers know of the "all in" or start of the match. The conditions were not good, bright sunshine, but with strong winds, which hampered some anglers from fishing the long carbon poles on this snake type lake at Puddleduck.
Rebecca Oakley shines through
However, the anglers soon started to catch fish and one of the early leaders was Rebecca Oakley on peg 4 - getting off to a good start catching carp. But disaster struck as "Becky's best", a carp of at least 15lb, was too big for her landing net. She managed to get half the fish in the net but as she lifted out her prize catch, it fell out of the net and the hook came out. Disappointed but still in the hunt for a qualifying place, her resolve to be the first woman qualifier to represent London was undeterred.
Further along the match, Michael Elsom had drawn flier peg 10 and was catching steadily. If the peg fished to form, he would've stood a chance to win the match.
During the coarse of the event, anglers who had caught well and were amongst the early leaders, began to stop catching and finding feeding fish.
It had become a struggle noticeably for Rod Gavin, an early leader with four carp. His fish had all but vanished. However, it was a different story for Roger Lampkin, who by midday was admitting to a lowly 3lb but caught well in the later stages of the match. Lampkin qualified by changing his tactics, fishing a straight lead on the rod and reel to get amongst the fish.
Further down the venue on the end of the peg was David Northern, who with seven early carp was the front winner. This was not a surprise, as this peg had won the match last year. But the peg prior to Northern was Dennan Bordon, sponsored angler Mark Wells who was fishing long pole to great effect. However, he was being plagued by small fish and plenty of bites that he simply could not connect with.
Going into the final hours / minutes, things began to change. Those who had caught early were now struggling and those who had had a lean time were now catching the odd fish.
So who would qualify?
It was a tough call and only the scales would tell. At the end of the weigh in, Mark Wells had shown his class by winning with over 80lbs. But congratulations must go to Rebbeca (Becky) Oakley for being the first lady angler ever to represent London in the qualifying event! Luckily, her partner Michael Elsom also qualified finishing second as room sharing at the final to keep costs down is a requirement. Luckily, problem solved. Other qualifiers were David Northam, Roger Lampkin and Robin Driscoll.
- 1 - Mark Wells - 82lb 1oz
- 2 - Michael Elsom - 64lb 14oz
- 3 - Robin Driscoll - 51lb 8oz
- 4 - Roger Lampkin - 48lb 12oz
- 5 - David Northam - 42lb 11oz
- 6 - Rebecca Oakley - 36lb 13oz
- 7 - Rodney Gavin - 30lb 9oz
- 8 - John Brennan - 28lb 14oz
- 9 - Dennis Walden - 26lb 8oz
- 10 - Kenneth Russell - 24lb 10oz
- 11 - Geoffrey Ashcroft - 22lb 2oz