McKinnon wins Fish'O'Mania in dramatic style
NEIL McKinnon has won the Totesport.com Fish'O'Mania XVII in the most dramatic style.
McKinnon had not been in front at any stage of the prestigious angling competiton but a sensational last hour saw him sweep the glory.
It was heartbreak for former World Champion Tom Pickering who had been well ahead up until the last few moments but a late surge won McKinnon the title and earned him a place in Sunday's Fish'O'Mania Champion of Champions.
"With an hour to go I just stuck to my plan and fished my heart out and it has worked for me," said McKinnon.
"I knew there was a lot of carp there and I had to be patient to find them. But I perservered and perservered and I caught five or six fish in the last half hour and it has made all the difference.
"What a day. I missed a few bites near the end and I thought that might've cost me but it didn't. I might buy a new car or go to Las Vegas. Viva Las Vegas!"
McKinnon was 6.15kg behind with only 30 minutes remaining but then caught 10.25kg compared to nothing from Pickering, who ended on 23.88kg, while McKinnon claimed the victory with a total of 27.98kg.
Despite the disappointment of not winning, Pickering paid tribute to the winner.
"Neil fished a great match in the last hour and I couldn't catch anything in the last half hour," said Pickering.
"He deserved to win it and I'm pleased for him. I will just have to try again.
"Finishing second you might as well chuck yourself in the water and drown yourself. I'll be smashing up everything in the house tonight but full credit to Neil."
It was a thrilling day of fishing at the Cudmore Fisheries in Staffordshire with the event broadcast live on Sky Sports 2.
Neil Machin, the 2006 champion, was the early front runner in the race for the £25,000 top prize. Pre-event betting favourite Tommy Pickering, a former World Champion, started badly as he was in last position after the second weigh-in but soon made his way up the positions.
In the weigh-in at 2.30pm he had moved up to second and with a big fish in the bag was on the verge of moving from last to first inside two hours.
Pickering became the fourth different angler to be in front after Andy North, Rob Wootton and Neil Machin had been leading the competition but McKinnon took control when it mattered the most.
There was an added incentive for all the anglers as the biggest fish of the day would net them £2,500.
Tim Bull, brother of 2008 winner Mick, led that competition with a fish of 3.42kg, slightly ahead of Pickering's ghost carp which weighed in at 3.26kg.
However, that effort was later beaten by Andy Benwell's 5.05kg monster that looked to have won him the money. But there was to be a twist in the tale as Andy North caught a huge 6.08kg carp in the last few moments to claim the £2,500.
1st - Neil McKinnon 27.98kg, 2nd - Tom Pickering 23.88kg, 3rd - Andy Benwell 20.27kg, 4th - Ray Hayward 16.71kg, 5th - Rob Wootton 16.37kg, 6th - Andy North 14.87kg, 7th - Neil Machin 14.75kg, 8th - Tim Bull 13.87kg. 9th - Kieron Rich 12.62kg, 10th - Stuart Ballard 2.07kg, 11th - Steven Seaborn 10.99kg, 12th - Sean Huggins 9.85kg, 13th - Luke Bamford 9.25kg, 14th - Richard Hoskins 8.07kg, 15th - Ben Emery 5.99kg, 16th Steven Bamford 5.36kg.