Here is an article from MAPs website after my Fisho win. For more see MAPs website.
Jamie Hughes is a name that's synonymous with UK commercial angling; now a two-time winner of the £30,000 Fish 'O' Mania title and with a domestic record that also includes three appearances in the Match This final alongside the 2010 Matchman of the Year title, he's arguably the most 'in-form' commercial angler in the UK when it comes to big events. Part of the MAP team of elite anglers, Jamie spared us his time straight after this year's Fish 'O' Mania victory to shed light on what it takes to be a champion...
So Jamie, how’s it feel to be Fish ‘O’ Mania champion once again?
To win it for the second time is quite simply unbelievable - I still wake up now wondering if it actually happened! Since winning my first title in 2013 my biggest goal has been to win it again, I just never believed it would happen again so quickly!
Talk us through the match – you drew fancied peg 4, what did you do to get the most from the peg?
After drawing peg 4 I was extremely happy. Practice had shown that the most consistent area was between pegs 3 and 9, so this was where I felt the final would be won on the day.
I approached the match with four lines in mind: a short pole at seven metres in four feet of water; a long pole line at 13m in a foot deeper; a small method feeder cast to the island so it landed a couple of foot from the overhanging grasses, and a margin swim fished three metres from the bank in three feet of water.
My main lines were to be the 7-metre swim and the method feeder, which I rotated to keep fish coming. The other lines were fed in case the main lines dried up or I needed to catch bigger fish to catch one of the other anglers up. As it turned out, the 13-metre and margin lines were hardly used, with both producing just a single tench in the short time I spent on them.
The pole played a big part in the early stages of the final - talk us through your rigs on the day?
My pole rigs for the day were kept very simple, as the strong wind blowing into my peg made the light rigs that I had caught on in practice totally useless!
For both short and long pole lines I set up 4x14, 4x16 and 4x18 floats, all with wire stems and hollow bristles to help keep my hook bait still. All rigs were shotted with a bulk 12-inches from the hook and two large droppers. Line was 0.14mm to a 0.10mm hooklength with a size 18 Gama pellet hooks were on every rig.
Going into the match you were the bookie’s favourite - does this level of expectation help or hinder in how you fish a match like Fish ‘O’ Mania?
I never really take any notice of the betting odds before the big finals. I know that a lot of my friends and family had bet on me and this possibly added a small amount of pressure, but also it helped to increase my confidence on the day knowing that other people believe in my ability.
The venue was recently re-stocked with small carp; was it the right decision to change the fish stocks so close to the final?
During the practice sessions I was really impressed with the work that the fishery had done on the arena pool; the fishing leading up to the final had been brilliant with lots of bites on every method. Weights up to 100lb of small carp, F1s, tench and skimmers were common and seemed to be well spread around the lake.
The fishing on the day of the final was a lot different to what every finalist expected, possibly due to the disturbance on the bank and the unique pressure that a Fish ‘O’ Mania final has on a fishery. It’s inevitable that some people will see the fishing as bad on the day but it was still a fishing match where everyone had to really dig deep and use their heads to catch as much as they could. The fact that anglers were shuffling around on the leaderboard backs this up and my nearest rival, Connor Barlow, was pushing me all the way to the end. You can’t ask more from a final than that in reality.
At what moment did you realise you’d got the match in the bag?
During the final 30 minutes I was keeping a close eye on Connor, who was three pegs to my right and 3.5kg behind at the last weigh. He’d caught a couple more small fish than me, then with 12 minutes to go my tip went round and I landed a tench weighing a kilo. At this point I finally relaxed, as I had a similar weight to Connor in that period with 10mins remaining, making it almost impossible for him to catch up with the size of fish that Arena is now stocked with.
The attention from the Sky Sports cameras must be intense – is it easy to deal with camera crews while you’re fishing such an important match?
I’m very lucky to have experienced several finals so I actually quite enjoy having the sky cameras and reporters getting involved. I find it helps to calm any nerves I have down. It’s all part and parcel of a televised final and thankfully I thrive on it.
Along with Matt Hall, you’re the only other angler to win it twice – was it easier to win second time round?
This win was definitely much harder than the first. During my first win I had a lot of fish in my peg, mainly barbel, which allowed me to build up a big lead quickly and retain a big gap throughout the match. This year the fish were much smaller and creating a gap between myself and the other anglers was much more difficult as a result By constantly rotating my lines and changing my feed I was able to slowly edge ahead but it could have all been undone if someone like Connor had put together a run of tench or one of the odd bigger carp that are still in the lake.
The crowd was firmly rooting for you throughout – does having friends, family and fans cheering for you have any effect on how you perform?
Having your friends and family behind you, cheering you on is awesome. Every time you catch a fish it’s met with a cheer with the crowd getting louder the closer you get to the final whistle! I find this also helps me concentrate more and try even harder to get the next fish into the net.
You had Craig Goldstraw sat with you throughout the match – how important is it to have a friend (and match angler) sat beside you? What do they offer to your overall match experience?
Craig has a great understanding of top-level match fishing, which is vital in a Fish ‘O’ Mania final. It’s hugely important to have someone next to you as a sounding board for ideas in addition to keeping an eye on all others competitors around you. Even though you can see the scoreboards, there’s always a lag and Craig just kept me up to speed with everything he could see. The important thing about having someone there beside you is they are able to give good advice when needed and reassure you that what you’re doing is the right thing!
Craig was great on the day, telling me the stamp of other people's fish and keeping me calm when my own peg went quiet at times.
After winning an event like this, do you need to take time off or is it just back to normality with your coaching day job?
After the final I have three days away from fishing to spend time with my family. The weeks leading up to the final have been intense with constant prep and practice sessions so it's nice to relax for a while. After that I'm straight back into a full coaching schedule.
With Fish ‘O’ Mania vying with Match This as the premier domestic title, can you see changes being made to the format of the event? Is it still THE best of the big-money titles?
To be honest, I love the current format of both events. My entire season is based around fishing the qualifying matches for both Fish ‘O’ Mania and Match This; these matches have an atmosphere that you don't get in any other competition!
I feel that the only way that either event could be improved would be for the finals to be held at a fair venue. Unfortunately, I don’t believe this is possible in reality - whatever the venue, there are always favoured areas and that’s something that just has to be accepted. Match fishing is like that, whether it’s on a club level or in the big money finals.
You’ve now got to look forward to Match This qualifiers, the UK Champs and a place in the BW Stillwater final – does winning Fish ‘O’ Mania effect the effort you’ll be putting in or are you hungrier than ever to continuing your winning ways?
No matter how big the match is I always put 100% into my preparation and still wake up excited about the match. My ultimate goal in fishing is to remain consistent for as long as possible. These days to keep yourself at the top you can never take shortcuts or lose focus.
Fish ‘O’ Mania is very much the epitome of UK commercial fishing but does the thought of fishing internationally ever enter your head?
Fishing internationally has never really been a goal for me; my fishing career has been 90% commercial fishery based and with such a thriving commercial match calendar in the UK, there are still plenty of competitions that I would like to win. The international scene requires a different level of dedication and sacrifice, with your domestic fishing sometimes suffering as a result.
At present I am enjoying my fishing more than ever before and really enjoy the varied fishing that competitions such as Fish ‘O’ Mania, the UK Champs, Match This and the BW champs gives me.
If you could win one more major title from Fish ‘O’ Mania, Match This and the UK Champs, which would it be and why?
I think that I would have to say the UK champs. I was lucky enough to finish 4th last year, which was the first time I had fished the event. This year I am lying joint 4th with one round to go. I feel that this is the ultimate test for a commercial fishery angler in the UK, as all the best anglers in the country fish this event.
...And finally, the question everyone wants to know – how are you going to spend the £30,00 winner’s purse?
At the moment I have no idea what I will be spending the money on. I still have most of the money left from my first win. I think possibly a nice holiday for myself and partner Emma, but other than that I have no plans as yet.