With the River Wye at a good seasonal level there was much excitement before the draw for the fifth RiverFest final. There had been some good catches in ‘B’ zone below the old railway bridge in the weeks leading up to the final and many felt this is where the final would be won and lost. ‘A’ zone had also thrown up some decent weights from the swims below the pump house.
The swims immediately above the old railway bridge were included in ‘A’ zone and they had also fished well over the previous week. This is where Mike Bedding and Sam Merry drew and a fascinating duel between the two went largely unnoticed by many of the spectators who had focused their attentions on the swims lower down the river.
Mike was on end peg 77 and Sam was above him on peg 76. Both anglers put most of their faith in a bolo approach with groundbait, caster and loose fed maggots. Mike and Sam were both using maggots on the hook as well and by the end of the five hours there was just 6oz separating them. Mike took top spot with 41-10-0 and Sam recorded 41-4-0. These weights put both anglers in a very strong position for the second day, as they would both be moving to the favoured ‘B’ zone.
The good weights continued with Dan Ashington finishing third from peg 83 with 36-10-0. Pete Morris also put himself in a good position with 36-1-0 from fancied peg 96. Making up the top six were Colin Taylor with 29-10-0 from peg 95 and Alan Henry with 29-7-0 from peg 82.
The upstream pegs in ‘A’ zone had fished much harder, but with those anglers moving to ‘B’ zone on the following day, everyone felt that the competition was wide open in terms of the aggregate two day weights.
An influx of cold water and a slowly rising river saw the weights plummet on Day Two. Most of the anglers who had been at the top end of ‘A’ zone on the first day were struggling again, apart from those who had drawn near to the main A49 road bridge. At peg 94, England International Sean Ashby was into fish from the off. Using bolo tactics and feeding groundbait as well as loose maggots he kept the small chub and dace coming until the end to finish top on the day with 26-10-0.
A few swims above Sean, at peg 91, Deron Harper used stick float and bolo tactics to record a mixed bag of 16-10-0 for runner up. Then followed Mark Halksworth with 15-12-0 from peg 92 and Lee Edwards with 12-14-0 from peg 65. Making up the top six were Ant White with 12-7-0 from peg 93 and Kevin Hall with 11-2-0 from peg 88.
While all this was going on, all eyes were on Mike Bedding and Sam Merry as it soon became clear that one of them was going to take the title. Mike had drawn peg 64, two swims above the rowing club and Sam was three swims above on peg 61. Another close battle ensued with Mike just taking the spoils again with 8-13-0 of perch, dace and bleak. Sam finished 9oz behind this time with 8-4-0.
These results meant it was Mike who took the 2017 title with a total of 50-7-0, ahead of Sam on 49-8-0.
- Mike Bedding 50-7-0 (£13,000)
- Sam Merry 49-8-0 (£6,000)
- Sean Ashby 37-14-0 (£4,000)
- Dan Ashington 36-10-0 (£2,000)
- Pete Morris 36-1-0 (£1,500)
- Andrew Murphy 32-6-0 (£1,400)
- Colin Taylor 29-10-0 (£1,300)
- Alan Henry 29-7-0 (£1,200)
- Steve Hemingray 29-6-0 (£1,100)
- Lee Edwards 27-7-0 (£1,000)
In addition to the main list prizes, 24 six-peg section prizes of £250 were also paid out.
The Angling Trust can confirm that the competition will be on again in 2018 and qualifying venues will be announced in January.