Hot on the heels of Richard Chapman, Tony Curd has managed to book his place in the prestigious £50,000 Fish'O'Mania final, qualifying from Monk Lakes in Kent. Amassing a total weight of 134lb from peg 136 on Lake 4, we caught up with him shortly after the match...
MAP: Tony, Firstly huge congratulations on making your third Fish’O’Mania final, can you talk us through your match?
Tony Curd: I drew Peg 136 on Lake 4 – I’d come 2nd from this peg a couple of years ago with 180lb, the peg itself is one of only a few on the lake where you can reach the island with a pole and having fished it previously I knew that is where I needed to catch if it was going to be my day. With that in mind I set up just three rigs for fishing to the island on two lines, one in a little gap in the grass where I could reach the shallowest water, and another tight to the grass on the point of the island to the left where I had the same depth. The rig I fished on the deck was a 4x12 MAP IS3 float to 0.18mm MAP Power Optex which was quite heavy but there was a good chance it would get a lot of hammer from the island foliage, to an 0.13mm hook length and a size 18 B911 shotted with a simple bulk. Elastic choice was a nice soft 6-10 White TKS Twin Core. I also set up a few shallow rigs to fish across tight to the bank as that was key the last time I drew there.
The bait tray couldn’t have been any more straight forward if I tried, some 4 and 6mm Carp and Coarse Pellets which were given a coating of Liquid Pellet to ensure they all sunk along with a mixture of 4 and 6mm Xpand Pellets for hook bait, I decided to stay away from micros as I felt they may cause me problems with foul hooking fish and getting lots of false bites so bigger pellets were going to be my focus.
At the start of the match I simply started off on the line in the gap in the grass feeding a few 4mm pellets via a flexi pot to just gauge the response to begin with while leaving the point line for later, all the while I was fishing in front of me I kept pinging pellets to the point which would hopefully get it built up strong for when I needed to go there. I caught well from the off only small carp and the odd F1 but the name of the game on Lake 4 is to catch right the way through the match so I set myself a little target of a minimum of 20lb an hour. I managed to keep this going for the first two hours of the match with plenty of small carp and the odd F1 going in the nets. After the two hour mark I felt I had 40lb which I was told was quite good by Mike Mcmillan and the venue was fishing hard so that gave me a bit of confidence that all the 16m shipping wasn’t a complete waste of time just yet…
Half way through I felt I’d given the line to the point of the island enough time to build and I decided to have a look there to hopefully catch a lot quicker, potting in some more 4mm pellets I dropped in and immediately the float shot under and the first of a good run of slightly better mirrors was on it’s way to join the rest in the net, I stayed on this line until the end of the match swapping between the deck rig and the shallow rig but I had to stop myself from persisting with the shallow approach as it wasn’t right on the day, and I think where it worked so well the last time I fished the peg was the water was quite a bit higher, and obviously a few more fish present!
I’d managed to keep catching until the end and I had absolutely no idea how well I’d done on the day, weights started to come back and when the scales reached me I was the last angler to weigh in on the match and word was 131lb was the best weight… Having had a little look in my nets I knew I had a bit more than the 90/100lb I thought I had so it was down to the scales, which when all added up came to 134lb enough for the win and a place in the Fish’O’Mania final where £50,000 is on the line. It’s been a long wait to get back to the final and I’ll be hoping it’s third time lucky this time around…
MAP: You mentioned that it was a peg which you had previously finished second in a qualifier from, did you fancy it after the draw?
TC: To be honest it wasn't one I'd have chosen on the day as I'd heard that a lot of the fish had been moved out of the lake into another but Monk is full of fish so there just had to be plenty left in also! I felt that if the weight was going to be less than 150lb to win then it would be my only chance of qualifying from that particular peg. The fish are quite small in Lake 4 averaging around 1lb with the odd fish 4lb so catching all through the day is the key to doing well from there, having fished the peg previously I knew exactly where I needed to fish from the off and that was a massive help in catching what I did.
MAP: Managing to qualify so soon, frees you up a lot of time over the coming months, is it all guns blazing for Match This and Golden Reel?
TC: Absolutely! Qualifying early is great as it frees up a couple of months which would have otherwise been busy with Fish'O Qualifiers, so I'll definitely be looking to get another final under my belt this year.
MAP: With a number of changes in the final including a larger field this year, do you see this as an improvement on the semi final format of 2016?
TC: It's definitely a step forward from the Semi-Final format, lets face it, it's not every day you can go to a Fish'O'Mania Qualifier and win a 100 peg match so to win one - potentially after many years of trying - and not make the final in the semi would be an extremely bitter pill to swallow. The competition is as popular as it's ever been and it was only really a matter of time before the size of the final increased.
MAP: Thanks very much Tony and huge congratulations once again! Good luck in the final and there is still time for a few more of #TeamMAP to join you...