Angling Times Match Editor, Richard Grange, reports from the banks of the Lage Vaart Canal in Holland at the final of the 2009 World Coarse Fishing Championships. Pictures of the Champs by Angling Times chief photographer, Mick Rouse...
In ten years of covering the World Champs I’ve rarely seen an England camp more dejected than the one I’ve just witnessed.
A fair amount of empty stares at the floor and a full-blooded post mortem followed what has to be the closest event there’s been for decades as the reigning World Champs lost their crown to Slovakia, this year’s surprise package. In fact England didn’t event finish in the medals which might sound bad but there was good reason for the despondency.
Just 3.5 points separated England in fifth place on 42.5 points to the new champions on 39, points which as the post-match discussion and a good helping of hindsight revealed could have been easily scored with just one correct decision made in the heat of battle. It was made worse by France taking silver on 40, Belgium bronze on 41 and Russia fourth on 42.
England had a game plan though, one carefully thought out and one that all agreed while being high risk would be capable of winning gold. It boiled down to a lost fish here and a little too much time spent fishing for bream there hence the frustration at the realisation of just how close England were.
There was a bright note to emerge from it all though. Outgoing individual World Champ William Raison almost made it two wins on the bounce, settling for the silver medal after another faultless three hours fishing at this intense level. He might not now be the best angler in the world on paper but anyone who witnessed him here this weekend can be in no doubt that he is when it comes down to doing it on the bank.
So what really did go wrong? Co-Manager Mark Downes insists that if the team had to fish the canal again they wouldn’t do anything drastically different.
“I can analyse this weekend until next year’s match and still not come up with a definitive answer,” Mark said. “There have been lots of little things we didn’t do quite right and there are a million ifs, buts and maybes floating around. Decision-making is always critical at any level of matchfishing and the ones we made were in the interest of gaining maximum section points but I feel that some of those decisions taken may have been a little premature.”
“For example we now know that Des Shipp today needed only another 100 grams to score three more points and that would have given us silver. He fished for a bream for the final hour and didn’t get one. Had he done it would have been cigars and medals all round and Sean Ashby was in the same boat yesterday. Alan Scotthorne lost a bream that would have won him the section, an individual medal and us the gold medal but it came off and Stu Conroy hooked one today right on the hooter. Two minutes earlier and it would have been in the net! So there’s lots of little reasons.”
England had planned to fish bigger baits for the roach early and this worked but where they thought bream would be important, nowhere near as many showed today and that left those teams fishing a steady match for roach, perch and skimmers to come through and take the medals.
“Slovakia and France have fished just like that on both days and they’re first and second,” Mark explained. “I’ve felt all weekend we were a little off the pace on the small fish front and we overlooked the impact that maggots, casters and pinkies would play. In 30 years at this level I have never know and roach and skimmer venue to respond to those baits and we caught a bit of a cold.”
“I also feel we perhaps played up a little too much to the pre-match talk,” he added. “England are always expected to win at this level and I think sometimes we risk a little too much trying to make that happen.”
And what about William?
“He is still the best angler in the world,” Mark argued. “Technically he is perfect, his temperament is unflappable and tactically he is on a different wavelength to most other matchmen.”
Read more from the 2009 World Coarse Fishing Championships...
Final reults, click HERE.
William Raison picks up the silver medal, click HERE.
Day one rundown, click HERE.
Day one results, click HERE.