Angling: Hughes nets rare Fish O Mania title double

Not seen for hundreds of years, the breakthrough point on Knostrop Weir on the River Aire will be the approximate position of the new fish pass.
Not seen for hundreds of years, the breakthrough point on Knostrop Weir on the River Aire will be the approximate position of the new fish pass.
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Angling’s most prestigious domestic competition the Coral Fish O Mania final has been won for the second time by the Wirral’s Jamie Hughes, who joins Nottingham’s Matt Hall as the only other angler to have achieved the double in a competition that all the country’s top match men could merely dream of winning once.

Cudmore’s Arena Lake hosted the 16-man final that was the culmination of 16 area qualifiers which, in turn, featured a total of 2,400 entrants.

Hughes took the £30,000 cheque and trophy after a faultless performance from fancied peg 4. His 16.600kgs catch, consisting of mainly F1s with a couple of tench and a few skimmers, was four kilos better than his nearest rival Connor Barlow, who pocketed a cool £5,000 as runner up.

The event – the brainchild of Match Room’s Barry Hearn and televised over the two days by Sky Sports – this year broke crowd records, proving that anything in angling done properly can be a massive success.

Over the years other events have been added to the format, with the international pairs being my favourite, though I think the England pairing of Will Raison and Des Shipp will be the reason for future handicapping as they are too good for the rest,.

Raison’s individual win, with a weight of 17.150 backed up with 13.700 from Shipp in third, gave their Team England a total of 30.850 – over 8kg ahead of Holland, and the £10,000 first prize for the third time in three years.

Over the past few weeks I have given a head-to-head form guide of the region’s rivers through local match results.

This week, the Calder has again come out on top with Dave Armitage winning the latest round of the Calder League with an impressive 34.2 catch of bream from the Pear Tree section. Back-up weights of 33.2 of chub from in form Steve Newns and a 23.5 mixed catch from Tackle 2 U angler Pete Barron show the river to be improving as the season goes on.

Bream again were needed for a midweek first and second on the Ouse below the Nidd mouth with Pontefract’s Dean Grace taking four three pounders on the feeder for 13.12, just edging the four smaller bream of John Smiles, second with 10.10.

The tidal Wharfe at Ulleskelf remains tough with Leeds’ Bill Collier needing only 6lb of dace from the salmon pool to win the annual John Smiths Trophy.

Though other rivers seem to be coping, it looks as though the Wharfe is in desperate need of rain and a good flush through.

I was lucky this week to witness a little piece of history as the flood alleviation scheme on our River Aire moved into another gear.

The river’s city weirs, built as part of the navigation scheme with the Aire and Calder Canal, have always been an impenetrable barrier to the rivers migratory fish and for 200 years being no more than a visual wall of water.

The engineers and machinery of Bam Nuttal unearthed works seen by a small gathering of interested public and anglers for the first time since around the last industrial revolution.

And it created (even though it was looking like a building site) a clear path through Knostrop to the city centre for any new and surprised fresh running fish.