Anglers were fearing the worst for the first Riverfest qualifier held on the River Calder around Mirfield, as the river hates extra water and the signs weren’t good.
Sixty of the best running water anglers in the country turned up for the draw to the good news that the middle lengths were just a few inches higher than normal and a cracking match followed.
Welsh international Darren Frost used all the river tricks in the bag to take the overall daily win but, more importantly, he became the first of the year to qualify for the big-money River Severn final later in the season.
His catch of just over 20lb comprised most species that swim in the river, including chub, dace, trout, grayling roach and perch, and all fell to different methods, including the waggler, stick and bomb and lobby.
A similar catch took the next qualifying place for Tim Peters, who took B zone with 19-04 and Ian Hughes took the final spot, winning A zone with 16-12.
Riverfest now has a prize pot of over £40,000 and a winner’s prize of £13,000.
The Calder match provided great fishing, a tight finish and 14 double-figure weights. Put this all together and it is one that should not be missed.
Unlike the Calder, the Yorkshire Ouse around York has always loved a flood flush through and throws up its most consistent weights when it has a bit of flow and extra colour.
The Ouse opener fished around Poppleton didn’t produce the expected bumper catches of previous seasons but it was still the usual big fish affair.
Pontefract’s Arthur Benstead, drawn just below the fancied Church Farm, took top spot with four bream that fell to his feeder fished worm and caster cocktail and gave him a 19lb total.
Big-weight specialist Steve Edson fell just short with a mixed bag of two bream, a chub and a rogue barbel for just short of 17lb from his peg in Killingbeck’s rough field.
All the other prizes were made up of one or two lump size fish in the shape of 5lb bream. The day’s winner also took the first Tim Harrison Memorial Trophy after his untimely death just a few months ago. This trophy will now become one to win on the York circuit.
Pleasure/specialist anglers made the most of the good conditions with good catches of barbel and chub being reported from the Wharfe, Swale and Nidd and one angler telling of a red letter seven barbel catch from the Leeds water at Hammerton.
Surprise catch of the first week went to Whinmoor’s Tony Hart, who wrestled a large common carp of 17-08 from the tiny River Nidd above Skip Bridge.
This stretch is getting a reputation for providing the unexpected as the carp joins the two European Wels Catfish that were caught last season.