Mildenhall angler James Lee-Hardy ready for showpiece £100,000 Fishing Association Super Cup final in Yorkshire
James-Lee Hardy admits it will be a ‘big buzz’ to pit himself against some of the country’s best anglers on Saturday.
After coming through six rounds of regional qualifying, Mildenhall-based Hardy is one of 20 competitors that will take their place in the Fishing Association Super Cup final at Thirsk in Yorkshire.
The first prize is an impressive £100,000, with the field containing big names such as three-time FishOMania champion Jamie Hughes and serial title winner Andy Power.
“It’s such a big buzz and it is going to be an amazing experience,” said the 35-year-old. “There are so many top anglers at the event. Jamie Hughes has won FishOMania a few times and Andy Power is always there or thereabouts at every final.
“More than half – probably 12 or 13 – of the people in the final are sponsored and get out fishing three or four times a week, while I maybe get out a couple of times a month because of work and family commitments.
“But that is why I do the qualifiers for these events. The buzz of being around such skilled anglers is a big thing and I actually do quite well when I’m there.”
Up against such experienced and highly-skilled opposition, Hardy does not feel any particular pressure heading into the tournament.
However, if the draw goes in his favour, the former Mildenhall College Academy pupil is confident that he can be competitive.
“When you fish these matches some of it is about the luck of the draw and thankfully I tend to get pretty good draws,” he added.
“If you fish in those good areas, then all you’ve got to do is know how to catch fish.
“These sort of events can often be won in the first and last hours, that’s when a lot of the fish are caught.
“But it can also be those little changes in tactics in the middle of matches that make the difference. I’ll have to see how it’s going at the time, but maybe I might be able to change it up a little bit.
“The way the spectators are placed may also end up pushing the fish towards the anglers, so that may also make it more of an open competition.”
When Hardy gets under way at 12pm, it is probably fair to assume that his late grandfather Fred Hardy will not be far from his thoughts.
Fred taught Hardy and his cousin Callum Mulvenna, who reached the third round of the regionals, to fish when they were young.
Hardy said: “He’d be over the moon to see us both fishing and for me to be in the final.
“I used to live with him and my nan in the school holidays and we’d get up early most days to go fishing.
“He taught us a lot and although I didn’t do it as much as a teenager, I’ve been keen ever since I took it up again.”