Stalham ace proves pick of the bunch to win nationals
- Credit: Archant
There is only one Ben Smith!
That's the chant currently in fashion along the match banks since Stalham's angling ace pulled off a fabulous fishing victory at the final of the Angling Trust's National Stillwater Championships.
The 32-year-old paint sprayer drew peg 23 among the 36 strong all star line-up around the CRT Blythe Water Fishery near Solihull.
Our Norfolk hopeful coloured in a mental picture of what swam beneath the surface of his pitch on the bridge pool and decided it was green for go along the margins.
Thus his chosen modus operandi was based on pellet float fished close to the bank – and it paid off in spades.
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He finished with a dozen cracking carp that totalled 34.100kg (75lb 2oz).
This catch was narrowly ahead of the 32.150kg (70lb 2oz) netted by Midlander Jason Benning.
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Commenting on his stunning success, the Wensum Valley Tackle Shop squad member said as he pocketed £2,520: 'This is the top performance of my match fishing so far.'
Other Norfolk finalists who finished out of the frame were Lee Carver, Glen Mason, and the champion's father Nigel, a retired boat builder who said: 'I'm delighted Ben came out on top. I felt I should have done better but that's being wise after the event.'
On the pike fishing match scene, Sean Allen caught the most valuable predator in his four years in the game – a beauty of 19lb 6oz that earned him the top prize of £250 and the title of East Anglian Pike Champion 2015.
The 45-year-old business development manager from Chedgrave, who caught his prize fish on a deadbait, said: 'Despite it being my only catch of the day I was delighted, since it was my personal best.'
Runner-up was local based Joe Scammell with four fish totalling 17lb 2oz, then David Trollop of Norwich with two fish for 15lb 2oz.
Stephen Roberts, chairman of the organising Norwich and District Pike Club, added: 'This year the event was well supported on a top class venue and we were grateful for the continuing support from John Lambert of Avenue Angling.'
Meanwhile anglers entering the Wensum Valley two-day autumn festival were washed out and then flooded out. Saturday's drenching during the entire five hours put off a number of entrants before a line was wet.
The result of that relentless downpour raised the river by two feet, leaving the only fishable spots the eddies off the main stream.
The majority wisely headed for the alternative Lenwade Bridge lakes and benefited on both days.
Brian Bygraves (NDAA) with 13lb 9oz and 46lb 9oz earned top honours with an aggregate of 69lb 14oz. He caught seven different species – carp, tench, roach, bream, rudd, perch and gudgeon.
Gary Marjoram (Ipswich) was runner-up with 31lb 6oz and 20lb 10oz for a total of 52lbs. Then followed joint organiser Keith Westgate with 6lb 4oz and 13lb 5oz, totalling 19lb 9oz.
Top river catch fell to Mo Morrish (NDAA) with a net of roach and dace totalling 8lbs.
Tony Gibbons, the other joint organiser, thought attendance suffered because of fixture clashes and explained: 'There are only so many match anglers to go around and a two-day event at Barford and a league match on the River Wensum was certain to draw anglers in. Hopefully the winter Wensum Valley event in March will avoid these clashes.'
The Barford Silver and Gold Pairs Challenge, as ever, was well supported.
And although the penalty point system of scoring was enforced, the final reckoning was down to aggregate catches to settle a six-point three-way tie.
Barford's pair of Alan Hilton (48lb 5oz) and Paul Ashford (13lb 3oz) were winners with 61lb 8oz, followed by Suffolk AD's 60lb 4oz from David Jarvis (23lb) and Simon Smith (37lb 4oz).
Round two of the Angling Direct Sunday League on the River Wensum was plagued by Riverside pike attacking contents of keepnets and hooked fish.
'There are dozens of pike out there,' declared league organiser and match winner Pete Swan with 14lbs.
Dave Gooch (Norwich) was runner up with 11lb 1oz, then Colin Urry (Dukes) 10lb 8oz.
n The Angling Trust Eastern Region reports that juniors who were accepted in the Talent Pathway stage towards reaching international skills were Adam Bigadike, Zac Worby, Finley Bulbeck and Josh Newman. The stage two was held at Barston Lakes.