A big turnout at Warwickshire’s Tunnel Barn Farm for the Midlands Qualifier of the new Marukyu-backed Veterans Championship ensured that the competition was fierce for the 20 available places in the final.
With the weather set fair, the expectations were high as 75 competitors booked on for the Midlands qualifier for the inaugural Marukyusponsored Veterans Championship, with Tunnel Barn Farm’s High, New, Extension, House and Canal pools expected to provide plenty of action throughout the day, and hopefully, some big weights.
The new-for-2016 event is aimed at anglers aged 60 and over, with 20 competitors from each of the four qualifying rounds going through to the fi nal, which this year is to be held at Packington Somers in Warwickshire on August 12th.
The format of the match was simple. The top 20 on weight would qualify for the final, but it would not be an easy task as the competitive field contained some of the region’s top senior anglers, including former World Veterans Champion Joe Roberts, Drennan’s Kevin Folwell – a Tunnel Barn regular – plus a number of top guys who also fish the venue regularly.
The draw took place a little after 9.15am, after Match Fishing editor Tom Scholey had run through the rules of the match, and Les from the fishery team had given a reminder of the fi shery rules. The match itself would be divided into 13 sections, with the winner of each to pick up a percentage of the superpool monies. The top three individuals would also take home cash from the entry pool.
The match kicked off at 11am, and as expected it was a slow start for most, the exception being High Pool, which had started to produce bites for many, with Joe Roberts and Dave Purvis, both on end pegs, getting small runs of F1s in the fi rst hour. Kevin Folwell was also catching well from the start on New Lake, but small ide and perch dominated his early action, which was fast and furious on his shallow, open-water line.
With two hours gone, it was clear that the venue was fishing well in most areas and it was interesting to note that many competitors were catching short or down the edge – a tactic that allowed them to put fish in the net quicker than if they had been fishing a longer line.
By the halfway stage of the match, news filtered through that some of the best of the action seemed to be on High Pool, with Extension also starting to produce in the twenties. The sport on House had also picked up, as had the fishing on New. Canal, however, was proving to be a little moody, with bites not easy to come by.
Into the final hour and it was clear that it had become a race to the finish, as the action had become frenetic, with Extension and High pools especially seeing anglers land a run of fish. Tony Watling on House was also being kept busy on Peg 6. Over on New, both Kevin Folwell and Steve Johnson had seen plenty of bites and had now got the carp feeding on the inside. It had been a slow start, but as the final minutes ticked by it became clear that it would not be easy to pick out the top performers who would go on to fish the Packington final until the final angler had weighed in.
The all-out sounded, and it quickly became clear that there were some big weights around, as the fi rst two competitors on High weighed in 126-5-0 (Joe Roberts, Peg 2) and 80-11-0 (Keith Winn, Peg 4). Reports of more 100lb-plus weights from Extension and New were also fi ltering through.
The overall picture of the match was that it had been an excellent event. There had been 12 100lb-plus catches and many weights over 50lb, so other than a few exceptions where Canal Pool proved to be a struggle, it had been a brilliant day for most.
High Pool won the day, as it produced the individual winner – Dave Purvis with 157-6-0 from Peg 48. The lake also produced nine qualifi ers for Packington, including third on the day – Phil Mason with 135-2-0 from Peg 13. Lucky for some!
Extension was the next best pool, as it produced four weights over the ton and six qualifiers. However, it was New Pool that provided the second-best weight of the day, with Steve Johnson carding 140-11-0 from Peg 29, which saw him qualify for the August 12th final along with two others on the lake, including venue regular John Berry who did just enough to claim the last spot with 79- 6-0 from Peg 15. House Pool fished well – it produced 50lb-plus weights for the bulk of the competitors – but there were only two weights good enough to make the top 20: Tony Watling with 133-15-0 and Ray Redwood with 92-5-0. Canal Pool, however, was not the best draw as it failed to produce a big weight, so it’s better luck next year for the 11 anglers who drew the lake. At least the two section winners had cash to take away with them.
Overall it was an outstanding match, and all the qualifiers can look forward to fi shing the final at Packington Somers in the summer.
A big thank you to Mike, Sarah and all the team at Tunnel Barn Farm for hosting the event, for their help with the draw and weigh in, plus their wonderful hospitality. The full list of results and qualifiers for the event can be seen on the previous page.
Dave Purvis is a regular on the Tunnel Barn veterans’ scene, and had been looking forward to the Marukyu match. He was more than happy with his draw on the venue’s High Pool. “I had a simple plan, and that was to fish paste short to my left and right,” he explained.“I caught fish regularly throughout the match, so I knew I was on for a good weight. “I’m really pleased to have qualified for the final, and it was a real bonus to win the match too.”