Frustration for Norfolk pair as Leathers takes top prize at Barford Fish O’ Mania qualifier

So near but yet so far. That was the disappointing lot of Norfolk anglers at the Barford Fish O' Mania qualifier where two top local matchmen came within sight of making the last 16 battle for the mega match prize of £30,000.

Lee Carver, a member of the Norwich UG Angling Club, sponsored by the international fishing tackle company Berghaus, and Chris Knights of Harleston and Wortwell, who qualified for the 2007 final, were third and fifth respectively behind the runaway winner, who was St Neots ace angler Andy Leathers of Browning Hotrods, who smoothly heaved out a staggering catch of carp totalling 154lb 15oz.

Our own reigning Fish O' champion Warren Martin crashed out of the reckoning pegged on the no-chance Railway Lake.

Leathers, a postman by trade, must have thought he had received a delivery from a higher agency when he drew the hotly fancied peg number 30 on the Barford match lake.

And that wasn't the whole story, for lady luck played her cards right into his hands leaving three blank pegs to his left, their vacancy caused by absentee anglers.

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A dejected Carver, who was top rod on the Pleasure Lake, recalled: 'I drew peg 29 and really fancied my chances there. Big carp were splashing about all over the lake, but would they feed? No they would not.

'And I landed a few decent fish totalling 78lb 6oz, won a cash prize of £200, but that was no consolation.'

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He concluded: 'A photographer came round early on and told us Leathers was well in front and suggested the rest of us might as well pack up and go home. He was spot on.'

Knights was also on the Pleasure Lake at peg 13, where he weighed in 73lb 4oz, while Martin struggled to finish with around 30lb.

However, it was not the end of the road, for Carver and Martin have more entry tickets to further qualifiers before the Cudmoor final on July 13.

They are: Ashton Park May 25, Messingham Sands May 29, Partridge Lakes June 1, Woodland View June 5, Woodland June 15 and Lindholme June 28.

At the Cobble Acre two-day festival, Suffolk's former national champion Rodney Finch ran away with the spoils on day one with huge carp nets totalling 190lb 8oz.

Alas the Deben Club man failed to score a decent number on day two and the overall winner, with five penalty points, was Angling Direct shop boss Andy Flint.

Dennis Goodwin (North Walsham) and Craig Gladding (Rhino) both scored six points, followed by Tony Gibbons (Norwich) with seven.

On the big fish waters, Norfolk top specimen hunter Darryn Stolworthy has banked the heaviest bream of the year so far, a monster of 17lb 7oz.

Stolworthy has not revealed the venue but the local specimen hunters' grapevine is pointing at Bawburgh Lakes.

Taswood produced a PB common carp of 35lb for Norwich day permit holder Mr M Pigott. The best of the rest were 20s for Alan Topley (Norwich) Steve Aldous (Great Yarmouth), Mike Plane (Sprowston), Matt Ireland (Brundall) and Kevin Smith (Lingwood).

Best of the week at Swangey was a 32lb 8oz common carp for Andy Rix, of Wymondham, who added a mirror of 29lb 5oz and three others around 20lbs.

More of the same fell to Shaun Geary and Rob Stone of Gorleston, Daniel O'Docherty, Thetford, and Mark Dyer of Mildenhall.

Tench to 8lb were evident in the net of Peter Vale of Old Buckenham and Ivan Trevors had a shock when an eel of nearly 4lb seized the bait intended for a carp.

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