The inaguaral World Pairs event in September 2012 was an event not to be missed, with a prize pot of £60,000 of which £30,000 would go to the winning pair! Having fished, and "paired" together for over twenty years myself and Cathal were very keen to find out more!
After many months of anticipation the time for the event came around. With over 100 pairs at the opening ceremony, including many of our own angling heroes such as Kevin Ashurst, Bob Nudd, Tommy Pickering, Mark Pollard, it was going to be a great week! The match was to be run over 5 days on venues in counties Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh, with a rotational draw every pair would travel around and fish the same venues.
Like any Irish festival this match had to be fished one day at a time, even on the bad pegs you have to make every fish count, take the maximum weight out of each peg and hope that it will add up to enough by the end of the week. Whilst most of the venues were unfamiliar to us the methods required were not. Having fished large, open, wild venues all our fishing lives we certainly were not going to be out of our depth.
After 3 days we were more than happy to find ourselves in 5 th place, after a great fourth day we had moved up to first overall with Mark Pollard and Derek Willan only 2kg behind! At Fridays draw no nerves were apparent, no need, it was only another match!! (for £30,000) We drew our pegs, wished each other luck, and headed our separate ways. The phone rang shortly after the end of the match, obviously it was Cathal, he had weighed 12kg, which along with my 6kg left Polly and Derek needing 20kg. After a very long nervous wait we received unconfirmed reports that the lads had caught 17kg between them, we had won it!! It took a while to sink in, to win such a prestigious match in its first year was unbelievable, to win it with your lifelong fishing partner and best mate made it even more special!!
With the 2014 world feeder championships to be held on Inniscarra in Cork the 2013 had an extra compliment of world class anglers in the entry list. Could we do it again, especially against even tougher opposition? Of course we wanted to win again, but to fish against such opposition and to try and hold our own was the main objective.
With the worst zone out of the way on day1 we were playing catch-up. Some steady fishing along with a bumper 60Kg day on the Wednesday saw us going into the last day 10kg behind the lead pair of Bait-techs Dean Barlow and partner Steve Fleming. Whilst they were going to a fairly poor section myself and Cathal were headed to the ever consistant Lough Garadice. Once again we were in a position where we could win this great event!! So, off to our respective pegs, hoping that the hybrids in Garadice would feed one last day.
Straight after the all-out Cathal rang, admitting to 25kg, along with my estimated 20kg we were feeling quietly confident. With a confirmed final days weight of 49kg and a total of 185kg for the week we had won the 2013 title!! To top things off Cathal had won the individual title which runs within the Pairs, the Daiwa Cup, narrowly beating angling legend Steve Ringer into second.
The World Pairs Championships was a whole new concept, it has worked, ask anyone who has fished it. It is different fishing a festival with someone relying on you to do well, or someone to fall back on when you don’t do so well. It is a really well run event, is a really friendly event, with great hospitality and craic in the host towns. For anyone thinking of fishing a festival in Ireland, the pairs is the one, grab a mate, get booked in, and get on the ferry.