By Liam Moakes 21/06 Updated: 21/06 09:38
THE Evesham Angling Festival qualifiers began at the weekend despite the River Avon being in flood and very coloured, and what a contests they turned out to be.
With heavy downpours preceding the opening day, 71 anglers were faced with a coloured, rising river as they turned up to fish the first Shakespeare Championship qualifying match of the 2012 season on Saturday.
Drawn on fancied peg one, Shakespeare stalwart Leigh Gardner made years of experience count and put together a venue record 84-12-0 net of bream.
Gardner fished a 30g groundbait feeder at 16m slightly downstream, and took 21 bream to 6lb to make up his astonishing haul.
Another Evesham regular, Drennan Oxford rod Paul Glenfield, took second. Drawn on peg 75 he made the most of a nearside crease and attacked his peg with a pole feeder just eight metres from the bank.
Again, Glenfield found quality bream with single and double worm hookbait proving best.
Third place and the final qualifying position went to Preston’s Michael Buchwalder, who also caught quality bream on a pole feeder.
WITH increased rainfall seeing river levels rise still further, many anglers again decided to tailor their approach to targetting the Avon’s resident bream on Sunday.
After drawing the peg that broke the record on the Saturday, Sheffield rod Nick Crouch was keen to make the best of it, despite the fact that he had only ever fished a river once before, that being the previous day.
Fortunately for Crouch, Gardner was on hand to advise him on how he put together his record breaking haul and doing as he was told, Crouch fished groundbait feeder at 16m.
Five hours and 22 bream later, he dragged his net to beat the record once again, beating Gardner’s weight by 1-12-0.
Sensas ace Matt Godfrey was second who caught two good bream on pole feeder and a few bleak for a 15-7-0 total. One of the Avon’s legendary whiskery residents filled third spot, with Rob Badhan luring 10-2-0 barbel on halibut pellet from peg 26.
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