In-form angler Simon Skelton will be aiming to land the sport’s biggest prize later this summer after qualifying for a prestigious national final.
The Melton angler topped a 90-strong qualifying field to make it through to the Maver Mega Match This final in September when the UK’s top anglers will fight for the £65,000 first prize.
It will be the third time Skelton has fished the showpiece final in the last four years, with the 2016 match being televised for the first time by BT Sport.
In 2013 he came agonisingly close to the loot when he finished third, and the following year, while again missing out, was a section winner in the final.
Skelton said: “You’re up against 130 anglers and only the winner goes through so it’s hard to qualify, but luckily I’ve done it again.
“I had fished at that venue a few times, but never on that lake so I just attacked it.
“I knew I had to get around 130lb to be in with a chance and at the end I had 135lb.
“I knew it would be in the top 10 and had a chance, but it was 10lb clear of the rest.
“Normally I qualify quite late in the year, but this was only the second match of the series so I’ve got all this time now until September 3 to practice at the venue.”
It could be a season to remember for Skelton who has also qualified to fish the four-match UK Championships for the third straight year, as well as the Pole Fishing Championships.
He has also come close to reaching the high-profile Fish O’Mania final after fourth and sixth-place finishes in qualifying matches this season,
Skelton will have two more cracks at winning a qualifier in the coming months.
“Every year you set your sights to be in one of the major finals and I’m already in one,” he added.
“It’s not about winning money; it’s seeing your name up in lights for a year.”
Aside from angling and the 24/7 demands of running a plumbing and heating business, Skelton has also started coaching Melton Foxes Under 9s.
But time will still be found for the many hours of preparation as the final approaches.
Chiefly there is an unfamiliar venue to master at Hayfield Lakes, near Doncaster,
He said: “Life is busy, but angling is a big part of my life. The preparation that goes into these matches is ridiculous.
“If you don’t go prepared there’s no point in going. You need to cover every eventuality.”
Skelton expects fierce competition in the final with several internationals already through, including Des Shipp and under 18s star Matt Godfrey, as well as five-time finalist Andy Power.
“The competition in the final is going to be absolutely amazing,” he added. “But I’ve got a one-in-24 chance and someone’s got to win.
“The first final was nerve-racking, but I’m really looking forward to it this year.”