“The final was being held on Cuton’s A12 Lake and we arrived nice and early to have a good walk around, even though we already knew where we wanted to be fishing. We knew the venue had a large head of carp in it and having been down to the lake during the week we knew what tactics we needed to use if we got the area we wanted. To be honest after our qualifier the previous weekend we were just happy to have made the final after what was a very tight contest.
The draw was scheduled for 10am and at it seemed to take forever to arrive but it did eventually – and the nerves kicked in! The teams were called up in the order of the qualifiers, so we were second from last to pick a number out of the hat. It was my turn to pick the number so I went up and got the ticket but I asked Mark to look at it as I was too nervous. When he looked I could tell straight away by the huge smile on his face that I had got lucky and when he showed me that I had picked peg 15 I nearly fell over as that was one of two swims every team there wanted!
It slowly dawned on us that we had ‘the’ swim so it was all down to us and we took all of our gear to the swim and started to get everything set up. At 11am the first horn sounded to say we could start baiting up and marking our rods to the correct distance.
We took the decision NOT to bait up at all but to get our rods clipped to the exact distance we needed, as we knew we were going to have to be very accurate with our casting. We needed to get our rods within six inches of the reeds and a bush that was just touching the water’s edge and as this cast was about 80 yards it took us both a few chucks to get them as perfect as we could.
With the rods all clipped up, rigs tied and baited and about 100 PVA bags tied up we just waited for the second horn. When that sounded we were ready and with our rods all clipped to the correct distance they were both cast out.
We didn’t have to wait long before my rod was away and only five minutes after slipping that fish back Mark’s rod was away too and all we could think was we were going to be very busy but the next three fish were dropped at the net and it got us both a bit worried.
We kept on doing what we had been doing but there were no further signs and unfortunately the fish just seemed to have moved off so we decided to move both of our rods slightly to see if we could pick off any other fish in the area. We still kept the rods tight to the far margins, just positioned on different spots, and after about an hour we had the first sign of interest when my rod was away and Mark netted what turned out to be the biggest carp caught in the final at 21lb 3oz.
We went to sleep in third place but, apart from a few liners, we didn’t have any action in the night.
We were up just before first light scanning our swim for signs of fish and we saw a few very, very tight to the bush so we adjusted our clipped rods a little and hit the exact spots we needed. Nothing happened until around 10am when Mark’s rod was away and the fish was soon in the net, when it had been weighed we worked out that we were only 3oz from second place so it was all hands on deck and we re-cast both rods. They both landed in perfect positions and we just knew one of them was a bite and we were right as minutes later my rod was away and, with the fish safely netted, we went into second place.
The final half hour seemed to go on forever but when we heard that horn we just looked at each other and smiled knowing we had done our very best and we had worked as hard we could.”