Chris claims spoils after big net result

“I have just gone through three days of hell” - that was young match man Alex Bates' agonised reaction while still suffering 72 hours after being disqualified from the big Fish 'O'Mania qualifier at Barford Lakes last week.

“I have just gone through three days of hell” - that was young match man Alex Bates' agonised reaction while still suffering 72 hours after being disqualified from the big Fish 'O'Mania qualifier at Barford Lakes last week.

The 18-year-old from March in Cambridgeshire had lined up among 130 other top rod men hoping to become one of the 16 bidding for a first cash prize of £25,000 in the final showdown.

With a winning haul of 139lb 9oz from peg 18 on the Willow Lake, he thought he had made it. But then it was disaster after it was discovered he had infringed a strict fishery rule that no more than 65lb of fish was allowed in one keep net.

The contents of one of his nets was on the 75lb mark, and in one stroke of the pen he fell from hero to zero as disqualified was marked against his name.

The beneficiary from this dreadful oversight was Chris Knights jnr of Harleston, who, with a catch of 136lb 10oz from the Barford Top Lake, was awarded the ticket for the £25,0000 final staged on the Hayfield Fishery near Doncaster in July.

Speaking from his Cambridgeshire home, Bates, of the Sensas Mark I squad, lamented: “I accept I made a serious error of judgement.

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“I actually thought I was well inside the catch limit for my keep nets, but I completely misjudged the average weight of the F1 carp I was catching.

“I accept that rules are rules, obviously I am gutted, but I am determined to succeed in this event and shall be back again next year.”

Chris Knights, a local government officer, could scarcely believe his luck and said: “I did not fancy my draw on the Barford Top Lake. Obviously it is a shame the winner was disqualified, but I was not even in the running until I netted a 15lb carp in the last five minutes to beat Shane Trower of Doncaster, who was fishing opposite and was well ahead of me at the time and finished only 4lb adrift.”

Fishery manager Sarah Thomson said a copy of the rules had been circulated on match morning and they had to be enforced. She explained: “The guideline here is no more than 50lb per net with a leeway of 15lb either way. I explained to Alex Bates that it would not be fair to waive this restriction and he had to be disqualified. He accepted this as did the National Federation of Anglers who are the main organisers of the tournament.”