The three moments that won the £30k Eric's final...

Our match fishing journey began the way most fishing stories do - an idea sparked over a pint in the pub then solidified a few weeks later over a cup of tea, sat behind our rods on a misty October morning.

Our journey had begun and we both hoped for a busy year. Our first match, the Eric’s Carp Champs qualifier, came in April. We loaded the van and made our way to Dorset to fish Big Hayes at Todber Manor - a venue neither of us had fished before. The excitement of the swim draw loomed, full of hope and anticipation of an early call out...then 8th out of 12, our names were called.

We were up against it from the get go but our hard work paid off. Boilie fishing and little Guru method feeders did the damage in a busy section of the lake, capitalising when the fish were in front of us. We finished second overall with a weight of 179lbs 13oz, qualifying for the next round at Shearwater.

We had a better draw at shearwater, coming 3rd out of 16, managing to secure a peg we practiced in the week before.
By the end of this weekend all we could see was blurry water and floating pellets that had been burned into our retinas. For near enough the entire weekend we either had our floater kit in our hands or our spod rods.

We relied 100% on our Interceptor floats and size 10 Mixa hooks doing their job through darkness and they passed the test. Floater fishing in the darkness, first light and the evenings powered purely by Red Bull and the dream of making our first final in our first year fishing together - 48 blurry hours passed and we won our section with 537lb of fish to secure our place at the Farlows final...


Both Rob and I practiced at Farlows - neither of us wanted to turn up blind. We had both sacrificed an awful lot to get there, we'd worked too hard and had too many people supporting us, the fear of letting them down made us more determined.

There was one area of the lake that we wanted to be in, it was accessible by many swims but it suited our own fishing to the ground. Thick Canadian weed stretched to the surface, vast dead weed beds drifting on the wind and covering the spots and most importantly this area was holding a lot of carp. We weren't the only competitors to notice this...

This draw was more tense than any of the others, all the anglers in the car park had walked the walk and could talk the talk. England internationals, past finalists and winners all stood side by side, swim choices held tightly in their hands. This was going to be the first moment that changed our final..

The areas we perceived to be prime slowly got snatched, stolen from us by the cruel draw bag. Other exceptional anglers drew later than us but we can only give our account and express our emotions through pen and ink. We came 11th out of 16.

We called peg 11, situated in a bay with a long island directly in front of us, a small dot island either end, weed and some open water to our right. With neither of us feeling particularly hopeful we did not do a coin toss to decide who fished left and right, Rob desperately wanted the right hand side of the swim, I honestly figured that if we are here for 48hrs and blanking I'd rather he was happy!

The draw took place at 9, come 10 we were looking out from our peg.Come 11 we were pacing the banks as quietly as we could, the wind started to push into our bay, the sun had kept up and with it came the carp. Suddenly we had a lot of fish in front of us.

We spoke in depth before the 12 o clock all in as to how we were going to angle in this scenario. Based on our own experiences we feared they'd move out if we caused too much disturbance and spook them before we had a chance of a bite.

We opted not to lead around, bait up or check for clear spots at 11am, instead we patiently waited ‘till 12 and the start of the contest. For the first two hours we fished for bites. Naked chods were flicked out and tiny messy bags laid over bubblers and shows... Come three o clock we were once again silently pacing the banks. Other had started to catch and we felt we should have had bites. Then it all changed.

Out of nowhere my right hand rod hooped downwards and the Stow snapped against the bank stick on its descent. A weird tension hung over us. I have picked up the habit of dropping my first fish and with Rob reminding me of this fact in ways only a mate can, I nudged him out further in the waders to help land our first fish amidst the thick marginal weed.

As it neared the spreader block we heard another alarm cry out. Rob’s right hand rod was screaming for attention. Within a space of minutes our heads were well and truly back in the game.

Safely unhooked and carefully placed in retainers, we repositioned our rods, called the marshals and looked at each other in disbelief. Do we have a chance? Did that just happen?? Neither of us said anything to each other, it was too early to vocally get excited but both had a feeling. A 28lb and 33lb common were held for pictures by two dazed carp anglers.

As we expected, the fish only tolerated us for so long - a few more quick bites followed and we built up a lead. We were very lucky with the average size of our fish and by the Saturday (the first full day) we had 129lb under our belt. We had no bites during the night and fully expected to have been over taken come that morning.

Early morning came and we sat drinking our fist turbo coffee - we saw nothing in front of us, however as the sun slowly lifted we could see fish showing and tell tale signs of fish to Rob’s extreme right.

In the matches your swims have boundaries, they are mapped out and given to all the competitors before the event. To Rob’s extreme right was the entrance to another smaller bay that had not been pegged. He went and investigated the area and returned with a big grin. It turned out that a lot of fish had decided to reside in this "safe " area. Now, we could not fish into the bay however rob could reach and legally fish the entrance.

It was more than a tricky cast - waders donned and bare lead attached to his marker rod, he managed to get a surprisingly solid drop right in the teeth of the entrance. There and then we knew how important that rod would be. A Sticky Baits pink Signature pop-up was flossed onto a hinged stiffy utilising a size 6 Choddy hook, 20lb Mouth Trap and a boom of 20lb IQ2.

It instantly did the damage and once again we were nicking bites. The final morning was the tensest of our lives. Again, we were fishless during the hours of darkness and expected to have been caught up. We were now only 26lb in front (for Farlows that could easily be one bite) and by 11am we were sure that we were going to be overtaken. At 11.30am we wanted to go home and forget all about the weekend.

By 11.45am we felt physically sick, still thinking it was a cruel dream and we were going to be pipped in the last few minutes. At 11:50 we were plunged into the cool Farlows water as Rob’s right hand rod, the one we knew would do the damage, had bent round once more.

Neither of us can remember much of the fight, again we did not speak. Rob eased the 17lb common towards the net along with a great ball of Canadian. All was engulfed and the fish was in the net - the cheer that erupted behind us will stay with us both. It was enough. We had done it.

As Rob, Nick Longpre (our runner) and I smiled for the cameras with the final fish, we laughed about how we got here, the drunken conversation, the serious cup of tea, now we were stood in Farlows margins, smiles wider than our nets as the Eric’s Carp Champions 2015.


Farlows is situated just off the M25 in Buckinghamshire and is formed of two lakes plus short sections of the Colnbrook river and Grand Union Canal. Fishable on a day ticket, the historic venue is home to numerous big scaly mirrors and dark commons with a lake record of over 44lb.

Go to www.ericscarpchampionships.co.uk for details on how to enter next year’s event.