Fish‘O’ Legend Steve Cookes up Eighth Ticket To Final!

Fish‘O’Mania legend Steve Cooke, a winner in 1999, has booked a record eighth appearance in the finals of the annual ‘FA Cup of Fishing’, winning through the field at the at Messingham Sands qualifier.

Anglers arriving at the well-established fishery complex at Messingham Sands, found the weather warm, with a forecast of a fine day with temperatures in the 20’s. After the draw, when anglers got to their pegs, many were amazed at the vast numbers of quality carp cruising around and thrashing in the reed beds and water lilies, clearly with spawning on their minds.

Fishery owner Kev Johnson had been generous with pegging, spreading out the 90 competitors over 2 large lakes and 3 smaller ones- which would provide the winner? Only time would tell.

As the match started, it was clear that many competitors had decided that under these conditions, the best tactic would be to “mug” the fish as they cruised just under the surface. This involves carefully scanning the area, wearing polarised glasses, often standing up. When a fish was spotted, a shallow rig was dropped in front of the fish with a long pole hoping for an instant take. If no fish were visible, then likely spots could be “dobbed” by lowering a slowly sinking bait to tempt a fish.

Those anglers on the smallest pool, Hollywood, were using these tactics to great effect, with Ray King on peg 7, Dave Roberts 16, Matt Arnold 22, Steve Cooke 26 and Dale Haywood peg 30 reporting between 50 and 80 lb of fish after 2 hours. Meanwhile, Jamie Wilde found his peg at Tripp 25 had a bay to his left where the wing had blown in a covering of scum- a likely hideout for the carp. He was flicking a method feeder to the edge of the scum, as well as fishing a pole to the far margin and both were producing carp.

On Oak Tree, the three competitors on the roadside were catching carp by pinging long as well as fishing down the edge later; Oliver Stringer on peg 3 seemed to have the edge here. On swan pond, venue regular Graham Greendale was catching on the point peg 49, as was venue and Fish O’ Mania debutante Matt York on peg 57, who would go on to weigh his first ever 100lb plus match weight, an achievement shared by F section winner Steve Howard on peg 26.

At the weigh in, it was clear that Hollywood had fished the best, with 5 of the ten anglers finishing with double figures, ably led by the vastly experienced Steve Cooke who weighed in 205-15 to win the match and qualify for his 8th Fish O’ Mania final. Steve dobbed meat on a long line to land carp to 12lb. Runner up was Ray King, who travelled from Norfolk on spec to take up a spare ticket to net 194-04 of carp by mugging with 8mm pellets from Hollywood peg 7. Jamie Wilde ended up with 179-08 from Tripp peg 25 for third place, Andy May mugged fish all day from Islands peg 62 for 162-03 and Dale Haywood who also travelled to take up a spare ticket was rewarded with 157-14 from Hollywood peg 30.

A great day for weather, well distributed pegs, lots of fish and some fine angling skills. Thanks again to all the staff and helpers at Messingham Sands, and congratulations to all prize winners.

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