Hotrods star Northrop leads the way in final practice match

Stu Northrop.
Stu Northrop.
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It was another big weekend on Decoy Lakes and our fenland drains as anglers from all over the country got in some last-minute practice for this weekend’s prestigious Angling Trust Winter League Final.

The trouble is, all the practicing puts extra pressure on the venues and that showed in results on Sunday, particularly on the fenland drains.

The big March Open fished on the Old Nene above and below March town centre saw some anglers really struggling but those on the fish still had a cracking day’s sport even if the weights were below par.

Leading the way was local rod Stu Northrop. The Browning Hotrods star drew six pegs above Wigston Bridge and caught on bread punch steadily all day to finish with19lb 15oz.

He had a head-to-head battle with team-mate Paul Durrant fishing the next peg. He fished a similar method to the winner but fell just short on 19lb 2oz.

Third was Sensas Mark One angler Barry Stacey, who drew on Pig Market Corner in the centre of March and finished with 17lb 8oz.

Thankfully the venue will get a rest now as no competitors can fish the venue before Saturday’s big match. That’s the good news. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not good at all with a really cold snap returning towards the end of the week.

March Open, Old Nene: 1 Stu Northrop, Browning Hotrods, 19lb 15oz; 2 Paul Durrant, Browning Hotrods, 19lb 2oz; 3 B. Stacey, Sensas Mark One, 17lb 8oz; 4 D. Brook,16lb 14oz; 5 L Kerry, 16lb 6oz; 6 T. Marshall, 16lb.

Stan and Fizz Binge from Stanjay Tackle have also been running matches on venues to be used in the final, including the Old Nene at Benwick, the Twenty Foot Drain at March and Factory Bank, Ramsey.

Top rod from the old Foot Bridge section on the Twenty Foot was Ian Shepherd. He caught a roach weight on the pole fishing pinkie and maggot over groundbait for 27lb 3oz.

Runner-up from the same area was Ramunas Sabacius, who weighed in 26lb 8oz, followed by Pete Duffy on 23lb 4oz.

All the leading weights came from the Twenty Foot, but 15lb plus won sections at Factory Bank and Benwick.

Stanjay Tackle Open, March, Benwick, Factory Bank: 1 Ian Shepherd, Daiwa Gordon League, 27lb 3oz; 2 R Sabacius, 26lb 8oz; 3 P Duffy, 23lb 4oz; 4 D Micklewright, 18lb 11oz; 5 R Priestley,16lb 12oz; 6 A Otterway, 16lb 2oz.

Decoy Lakes also had two matches - one on Saturday and another big match on Sunday - and both were spread across the whole complex. Again it was a little patchy but in the grand scheme of things I think it fished well considering the time of year and the weather.

It’s certainly not the best time of year to fish for carp so to see several 100lb weights just shows you how good Decoy Lakes is and why it regularly gets chosen for big events.

On Saturday it was Oxford rod Mick Denton taking the honours. He was on Oak Pool peg 22 and caught on the long pole with maggot to start before switching to a short line with pellet to finish on 183lb.

Runner-up Andy Flitz was on Oak 11 and put 164lb 3oz to the scales, fishing a bomb and sweetcorn approach.

On Sunday fancied Oak Pool once again saw some big nets put to the scales with city rod Dave Thornton leading the way with a massive 200lb 10oz. He was on Oak 21 and fished a maggot and pole approach.

Second was Andy Dyson, who was on Oak 11 and caught on the pole and pellet for 169lb 15oz.

Inevitably John Whincup made the frame. He was on the Yew Pool 11 and dripped maggots in on the long pole line to take third place with 154lb 6oz.

Decoy Lakes Open (Saturday): 1 M. Denton, Drennan Oxford, 183lb, Oak 22; 2 A. Flitz 164lb 3oz; 3 A. Geldard, MAP Dynamite Baits, 149lb 3oz; 4 G. Thorpe, Garbolino GOT Baits, 146lb 15oz; 5 B. Bell, Maver Milton Keynes, 136lb 14oz.

Decoy Lakes Open (Sunday): 1 D. Thornton, 200lb 10oz; 2 A. Dyson, 169lb 15oz; 3 J. Whincup, Frenzee, 154lb 6oz; 4 S. Conroy, 153lb 2oz; 5 R. Young, Browning Hotrods, 141lb 9oz; 6 R. O’Connor, 139lb 7oz.

So with all the practice over we have our two local teams Browning Hotrods and Stanjay Tackle Gold taking on the rest of the country’s top teams all hoping to take the coveted winter league final trophy.

Both have a good chance, even if the freezing cold weather does return as forecast as they know the venues really well. We wish them both good luck.