Sunday September 7, Ibis Hotel, Cremona

Well what a day that’s been! Three medals for England and a new world champion! There’s plenty to talk about so you’d best make a nice cup of tea and pull up a comfy chair – here we go!

Drennan Team England are the World Champions and they’ve done it the hardest way possible with victory in Italy’s backyard. In fact, the hosts only just made it onto the podium to take third after a strong day-two comeback but the simple fact is that England had not only that priceless lead from day one but also the angling ability – after all, they were fourth today despite having a couple of poor results.

The 29 point margin of victory says it all and despite being put up to be shot at after a sensational first day, nerves held firm. To cap it all off England again produced the individual champion as William Raison posted three points and his Dorking team mate Steve Gardener claimed bronze, Irishman Willie Wheeler separating the two – I think it’s fair to say it was England’s championships!

I’ll talk about the team result first and then get onto the three medallists and how the home nations got on so first off, England’s win. Better than Paris in 2001? Close but not quite according to managers Mark Downes and Mark Addy.

“Paris was special because it was our first win on our first World Champs as managers,” Downes said. “But this is only just behind it – what a great weekend it’s been! The lads have been outstanding all week in practice and over the last two days when it mattered.”

“Our aim today was to finish around the top ten of each section as we knew then that those chasing us wouldn’t come close, even if they had a good score sheet,” he explained. “As it turned out, in a lot of the sections we’ve been near those in contention so we’ve been able to keep a precise eye on exactly what’s happening. In this situation, the task was simple – beat our nearest rivals. It didn’t matter if a Bosnian caught carp all day and won the section – Italy, San Marino, Belgium and the Czechs were the ones we were watching.”

Spearheaded by section winner Steve Gardener and seconds from William and Sean Ashby, England could absorb a bad result making Des Shipp’s 29th place in a rock hard A section irrelevant. With outgoing World Champ Alan Scotthorne turning in a steady performance in E section, the pressure turned to those chasing England and none came up to scratch.

“We altered things a little today with using longer lines and flicking past the pole tip as we’d noticed how the better fish backed off the feed easily,” Mark Addy said.

“This worked for Sean yesterday and a lot of teams did it with some success. We also upped the amount of groundbait in our mix as we felt there wasn’t the food content to hold the better fish in the peg. Leam also acted like a magnet to the ruffe as well.”

And while the short line, England’s secret weapon failed to produce much on day two, Mark Downes’ concern about everyone else fishing it came true. However, he thinks a lot of teams spent too long fishing it while England had a quick look. He also thinks the weather played a part.

“The short line worked best when it was hot and sunny as the fish found some shade close in,” he revealed. “Today was cloudy and they just didn’t seem to come in. On the draw front, Italy had a belter and I’m not surprised they won the day. We had three decent ones and two bad and Des had a shocker but we always felt that area would be impossible to score well from. Thankfully, we had the points in the bag from Saturday to cushion the blow.”

So did England’s less cavalier approach, as Mark Downes talked about in AT last week work? The results speak for themselves.

“We’ve been guilty of going out and fishing for first place from the start,” he said. “When we arrived last Monday I sat down with Mark Addy and we agreed that the team needed to be pragmatic in their approach. There was no room for an attacking gung-ho set up and as the fishing got harder and harder in practice, we knew this best. Forcing it wouldn’t make any difference. Over the last two days we’ve relied on the type and numbers of fish in each peg to tell us what to feed after the initial balling in. There’s been no set formula because the venue has fished differently on every day!”

“It’s just a magic feeling to beat the Italians here,” Mark Addy chipped in. “In fact it’s been quite convincing but there were plenty of spells during today when I felt it could have slipped away from us. Des struggled and I couldn’t help but think what that would do to us, especially because the word was that Alan hadn’t done that well and Sean was eighth or so. It’s only when everyone has weighed in and the sheets are finished that you realise how much use bankside gossip is! When I found out William, Steve and Sean had five points between them, I knew we’d won it because no one had those results on the day and was capable of clawing the points back on us with the rest of their team. What a fantastic weekend!”


How did England fare on day two?


Here’s the scores and the pegs they came off:

A section – Des Shipp, peg 14 – 2kg 180gr – section 29th
B section – Sean Ashby, peg 23 – 11kg 800gr – section 2nd
C section – William Raison, peg 36 – 10kg 260gr – section 2nd
D section – Steve Gardener, peg 6 – 8kg 020gr – section 1st
E section – Alan Scotthorne, peg 26 – 4kg 100gr – section 18th

Team gold in the bag, what about the individual gongs?


Here’s William’s story...

“It’s always been my aim to fish for England since I was a boy and of course with that aim comes winning the World Champs as an individual,” William said. “People keep asking ‘when am I going to win the World Champs’ and it does get a bit annoying because I’m not here to win it for me – I’m here to do it for the team. I was brought up team fishing and absolutely love it and having fished with these lads for a good few years now, all I care about at the World Champs is doing my bit and not letting them down. I don’t strive to win, I strive for consistency. Still, winning it overall is pretty nice!”

Day one and a section win and a big weight for William, day two put him in C section where pegs towards the end of the section would be prime draws – peg 36, one off the end would do nicely then!

Despite the growing crowds and pressure being ratcheted up, William looked utterly unfazed by it all as he once again showed why he made it into the England set up a decade ago at such a young age with a measured performance beaten only by Italian Stefano Defendi on the end peg at the opposite end. Three points though, would be enough.

“I was more than pleased to draw on 36 as it had done a few fish in the area on Saturday and there were plenty of fish topping as I set up,” commented William. “The Italian on the end was a concern so that made my first job to get the team points and it soon became clear that the race was between the two of us as I had around five kilos in the first hour to match him on the end peg.”

Double white maggot at 13m again did the job, William feeding stickymag and groundbait with small amounts of joker and bloodworm as top up after the initial balling in. A steady stream of loosefed maggot was also trickled in to keep the fish in the area and England had found this to be better in the hot weather.

“Hot weather means low oxygen levels in the water and that means the fish come shallow so keeping them on the hunt off bottom was only possible with loosefeed. Just potting in got us half as many indications and bites in practice as loosefeeding did,” he explained. “Today went like clockwork really and I had that great start and then a carp of around 4lb just on the hour, quickly followed by one a bit bigger. It slowed a bit after that but I kept picking off skimmers and small carp and carrassio. The funny thing is, at no point in the match did I wonder whether I was going to be World Champion.  All I was worried about was the team and whether I was beating the Italian, the Czech and the lad from San Marino and how well the team were doing – that’s what we’re here for.”

There was also added pleasure at seeing long time mate Steve Gardener on the podium too collecting his bronze and William dedicated his win to Steve as much as himself.

“No one deserves a medal more than Steve,” he smiled. “Along with my dad I owe Steve everything when it comes to fishing. He took me under his wing when I was a teenager and drove me to matches, helped me out on the fishing front and really made me what I am today. I’m just disappointed that my dad couldn’t be here this year as he’s not missed a World Champs that I’ve fished and has really been a help and inspiration.”


William’s winning rig:


Elastic: Blue Hydrolastic
Float: 0.6g Milo Oxon
Mainline: 0.16mm Daiwa TDR Rig line
Hooklength: 0.12mm Drennan Double Strength
Hook: Size 16 Gamakatsu Power


The first Irishman on the podium for two decades


Willie Wheeler became the first Irishman to get on the podium since the late Bobby Smithers was crowned world champ back in the 70’s. Here’s how he did it...

“As soon as I knew I had the end peg I was happy because everyone knew there were a few fish there,” Willie explained. “There were a lot of very good anglers close by though but I still fancied it for a good score – maybe not a section win but something to give myself the chance of a medal.”

Fishing just as he did on day one when he took second in A section, Willie fished at 13m with double maggot over potted in stickymag and hemp, fishing rigs between 1g and 1.5g on a long line past the pole tip, loosefeeding hemp over the top to create a bit of noise as the feed hit the water. This had drawn fish into the peg during practice and obviously did the job today.

“It was steady from the start but the carrassio were quite small,” he said. “Thankfully they were there in numbers and I think I had around 18 fish in total for my 7-830 so they weighed pretty well! To get on the podium is fantastic and it’s just a shame that Bobby isn’t here to see it as he would have been beside himself – it’s been a strange World Champs without him.”

England's longest serving angler graces the podium

And what about Stevie Gardener - finally an individual medal for England’s longest-serving angler.

“I was hoping for second so me and William could be up there together but bronze will do just nicely. In all honesty, it’s great to be on the podium full stop,” Steve said.

With a third in section from day one, peg 6 on D section put him in an area with a few fish but with double World Champion Tamas Walter on one side and Italian Jacopo Falsini two pegs away on the other, plus Willie on the end peg, Steve certainly saw off some talent to take the section win. Level with Willie on four points, Steve didn’t quite have enough in the weight bag, losing out by grams.

“It’s been better here than where I was Saturday and I’ve caught well from the off but then it’s slowed down as it has everywhere,” Steve explained. “I also lost a 1 kilo carrassio at the net today and that’s probably cost me silver but I won’t moan! I was lucky yesterday to catch so many big fish down the side, which really got me out of jail. I do think though that when you haven’t been catching on this canal, it’s to do with the fish not being there as opposed to you doing something wrong.”

Steve stuck to the 13m all day, decking double white maggot after feeding the standard mix to land a 1.5kg carp, two decent carrassio plus a raft of smaller fish, several decent skimmers and a bonus 1 kilo catfish, one of only a handful seen on the venue all week – some people have all the luck!


Was there any more joy on the home front?


After finishing sixth on Saturday, Daiwa Scotland’s charge faded and with Tubertini Ireland struggling despite Willie’s efforts, it was left to Shimano Team Wales, fourth last year, to claim a top ten finish with sixth.

Eric Humphreys’ lads actually came second today behind the Italians and the big man himself, while pleased after a disappointing day yesterday, feels the draw did the team few favours.

“It’s an old moan but Saturday left us devastated because although we had a few results, some of the pegs gave us no chance, there just weren’t any fish,” Eric reflected. “Today has proved to us that tactically we were spot on and with a few better pegs I’d have loved to have been challenging for a medal. Still, fourth last year and sixth this is a great improvement on a decade ago and the squad I have now are becoming more experienced at this level and results prove this.”

“I’d like to think our luck will change one year but slowly we are gaining the respect of the top teams,” he revealed. “They no longer see us as whipping boys but as possible challengers in each section and that’s perhaps the most pleasing thing for me.”


Read the final points tally by clicking HERE.