The former world champion's 2018 World Bank Masters competition proved a great success. Even the fish got the memo…
Iain Barr reports on his World Bank Masters event
COMPETITORS came from as far away as Aberdeen and it remains the UK’s biggest cash prize competition, yet still the World Bank Masters refuses to go the way of other matches. There’s a relaxed atmosphere, in which anglers enjoy banter and laughs as much as the competition, while rotating around the catch and release venue of Farmoor 1. That Aberdonian, by the way – she’s 11 years old… She and the other entrants had to do without a Friday practice on Farmoor 1, a measure designed to ensure that fishing was at its finest when it mattered, over the next two days. Stocked on the Monday before, fish therefore had time to spread and ‘naturalise’.
“Fewer than 30 fish clinched the 2017 Pairs title but it took more than double that to win this year’s event.”
Saturday’s singles event saw 80 anglers brave cold conditions, and Snakes and other lures claimed most of the deep-lying fish. With shooting heads prohibited, many opted for the Airflo Booby Basher line which casts incredible distances with ease. Airflo Di-7s and Di-5s were also popular. Going against this grain was the ever-consistent Pete Appleby, who used a floating line with a heavy Damsel lure and fished the ledge with precision; casting over it at about 15 yards and fishing the drop to good effect. When the first five pegs were fished, the scorecards revealed a three-way tie for the lead. With cash prizes down to 10th place, plenty of anglers were within range of a payday. As temperatures rose, the fish responded and, as last year, more fish were caught in the afternoon, even though it usually slows as the day progresses. In the thick of it was the aforementioned pre-teen, Jasmine McPhee, who had travelled down from Aberdeen with her dad and brother. She netted three fish to beat both of them, one trout a Farmoor special of over 4lb. Not only did the return journey to Scotland probably feel shorter, but the smile on her face alone made my running the event feel totally worthwhile! With a few pegs remaining, it was very tight: England international Andrew Scott pushing last year’s winner Matt Griffiths all the way. Pete Appleby and his two sons were up there again but quietly ticking over were England and Airflo Costa Team’s Ben Race and the ‘Norwegian Army’ - Erlend Nilsen and Terje Haugen Lie - all in the hunt. There would be no stopping this year’s World Bank Masters Champion, though - Andrew Scott netted a whopping 24 fish, catching off every peg, for a total of 34 points. Second was last year’s champion, Matt Griffiths, whose superb morning pace could not be sustained, allowing Andrew through in the afternoon. Matt totalled 20 fish off nine pegs, for 29 points. Ben Race had 16 fish from eight pegs for third place, and Erlend Nilsen and Terje Haugen Lie finished fourth and seventh respectively. With Norway iced over, the latter two come here for a short break every year and are always very welcome. All told, the competition produced an impressive rod average of 5.7 fish.
Farmoor's famous buzzer hatches
Day two saw the pairs event; this is always a relaxed affair as mates team up for a fun day’s fishing, and fun it certainly was, as the wind lightened and temperatures nearly doubled after a cold start, prompting a favourable response from the trout. As temperatures rose, trout emerged from all areas, and marshals were kept busy marking scorecards. There were very few fast sinkers on show, as fish were moving: many anglers opted for intermediate lines or Di-3s. Some anglers caught well using floating lines and Buzzers. Fewer than 30 fish clinched the 2017 Pairs title but it took more than double that to win this year’s event; you needed 39 fish just to make the top-five! Rods were bent everywhere as Farmoor’s famous buzzer hatches stoked an exciting feeding frenzy. When the spray settled, Rob Edmunds’ 29 fish made him the top individual, and ensured consolation for boat partner Matt Griffiths, whose 25 fish made the duo runaway winners. They fished a mix of sinking lines, working up the layers as the fish rose. Many fish were taken just a few yards out, as flies were hung static under the rod tip before re-casting. In second place were Airflo’s Gareth Jones and Keith Tanner, with 48 fish. They, too, carefully followed the fish through the layers, taking many fish on the hang. Snakes and lures, in black and green-and-olive, claimed many of the top pairs’ fish. Third was the consistent Norwegian duo, Erlend and Terje with 45 fish. An overall 13.7 rod average told the story of an incredible day, and those who didn’t win cash prizes still had a shot at cash and tackle prizes worth over £4,000. Tagged fish were introduced to the lake and for those not caught, their associated prizes - rods, reels, lines, tying materials and clothing - were given away in a scorecard draw. Even the event’s serious side was well-received – “I’ve only been fishing for nine months and I think I gained 20 years’ knowledge in two days,” one entrant told me. I must thank Thames Water and the Farmoor team for helping make the weekend a huge success. Thanks also to sponsors Airflo, Snowbee, FNF, Fasna Flyfishing, Craghoppers, Costa Glasses and, of course, to the anglers for making this event possible at all. I’m already looking forward to 2019…
Iain Barr: Has fished for England 24 times across World, European, Loch-style and Rivers International Teams.