Stu Ballard, a finalist in 2010, and a Construction Works Manager from Aldridge, west Midlands became the seventh qualifier for the 2012 Fish O Mania final.
A bitterly cold north easterly wind and cloud, accompanied by occasional glimpses of sunshine greeted the competitors at Maver Larford Lakes, who were all hoping that the weather forecasters had got it right for once and there wouldn't be any rain, which thankfully turned out to be the case.
Drawn on Specimen Lake peg 13, an area where the bigger carp tend to show from and with the wind in his face, Stu decided to fish two lines, one short at approximately five metres, just on top of the shelf and the other at 12 metres.
Alternating these two lines with the method feeder and pole, feeding little and often, no more than half a dozen pellets at a time, and alternating meat and corn on the hook, he weighed in 58.20Kg, all carp, with the biggest fish being 22lbs 8ozs, with another of 14lbs for good measure.
Unfortunately there were only 125 competitors fishing out of the 130. There were 17 no shows and only 12 reserves turned up to take the vacant places. The Angling Trust requests that anyone unable to fish in a qualifier should contact the Trust by phone in advance, so that their tickets can be re-allocated to people on the reserve list who want to fish the match. If their ticket can be used by a reserve angler, they will get a refund of their entry fee.
It was two of the reserves who were fortunate enough to get one of these no show tickets that took first and second places in this qualifier, both of whom fish for Maver Midland and know the venue well.
In second place and drawn on Match Lake peg six, another past finalist in 2008, and team mate of the winner was Les Thompson a Carpenter from Kingswinford, West Midlands. Again with the wind in his face, he also decided to fish two lines, one at approximately seven metres down his peg at two metres out from the bank and the other at the same length six metres out. Again alternating these two lines and feeding four millimetre pellets with pellet as hook bait, he caught a net of f1s steadily throughout the match to finish with a weight of 43.08Kg.
In third place was Peter Shryan, an Account Manager from St Helens, Merseyside, drawn on Arena peg 38, with a weight of 38.91Kg of mainly Carp and a few skimmers. Fourth was Darren Cox, another regular Fish O Mania competitor and past finalist, U.K. Manager for Garbolino from Ettington and fishing for Starlets, drawn on Match Lake peg 17 with a weight of 38.40Kgs of Carp to 10lb and F1's.
In fifth place, and admitting that he's fished more Fish O Mania qualifiers than he can count was, Geoff Ringer, retired, from Ravensthorpe, Northampton. Drawn on Specimen Lake peg 76 he finished the match with a weight of 36,330Kgs.