It seems strange to see an England team catch so many fish in practice yet still have reservations about their chances but at the 2009 coarse fishing World Champs taking place in Holland - altered dramatically by the introduction of a new sections system - that’s just how the reigning Drennan Team England World Champions are feeling.
Reckoned by many to have been well on the road to retaining the title they won 12 months ago in Italy after practice ended, everyone involved in the squad is keeping their cards close to their chests despite managing to catch their fair share of the elusive Lage Vaart Canal bream, which managers Mark Downes and Mark Addy reckon will be the match winners and losers.
You see the canal has gone from a bite a chuck venue that at the start of practice produced so many roach that the consensus was that you could see off an angler with a bream or two solely with a small fish weight but as the week wore on, those roach became fewer in number and now a 2.5 kilo bag will be a good weight. One big bream could easily wipe that out.
So England will still need those little fish but will definitely need a slab or two to breathe a little easier but bream being bream, they’re not to be found everywhere on the canal. Some sections have them, others hold just a smattering and it could well be that an English peg this weekend is a peg that holds none.
There is a saving grace however. The new system for deciding sections means that even if you are in a poor area, you can still claw back decent points by beating those around you. With 38 teams fishing, each section will be divided into three (two of 13 anglers, one of 12). All you’ll need to do to score at worst three points is win your mini section. From these three ‘winners’ top weight will get a point, second two points and third three. The process is then repeated for the three runners-up in section all the way down to last.
This should favour those teams that can catch the fish in front of them but Co-Manager Mark Downes is still unsure as to how it will all pan out.
“My biggest worry tomorrow is if we have two anglers go for bream and get beaten on small fish,” Mark said. “It could well be that you win the World Champs by having five anglers fish steadily and return thirds and fourths and take few risks but at the other end of the spectrum you could win by having two or three section winners with bream and a couple of average scores. Each possibilty requires a different approach and we know that you can’t do both. We have a decision to make.”
Mark Addy agrees...
“There’s fewer and fewer silverfish showing and I’m now convinced that it will be a bream match,” Mark added. “That will mean we must catch them at some point. We’ve managed it in practice but have we just been lucky and fished good sections this week? We’re confident about getting one if we need to but we also feel a cautious approach could be good enough. It’s one to discuss at the meeting this evening.”
Guarded they may be but the two Marks had already picked the team well in advance of the final practice and largely worked out how to fish the canal. For the second year running Stu Conroy will sit out day one but while he struggled last year, this year’s omission is not down to angling ability.
“It’s been the toughest decision yet,” Mark Downes admitted. “Everyone has fished well in practice with no one man standing out or being off the pace. We felt Stu was the one to miss out but it could have been any of them and of course he’ll have a role to play on the bank and if we need him on Sunday.”
The final practice did, as it always does, throw a few spanners in the works. For example, Belgium have been catching well on pinkies, a bait not on the England map at present. Will the waggler work? Have England been catching enough small fish? Those and other questions are being answered as you read this in the crucial eve of battle team meeting.
“We’ll be fishing two roach lines and 6.5m and 10 – 11m and a bream line at the maximum allowed 13m,” Mark Downes explained. “The shorter roach line will have a dozen balls of Sensas Canal Black and Canal Noire plus damp leam balled in holding 200ml of joker, another 10 of the same going at 10 or 11m via the pole cup. We’re also feeding big balls of raw joker for the bream and perhaps some chopped worm. We have used this and it has worked but there’s still a question mark about whether it’s in or not. Likewise we will think long and hard about caster and pinkie on the hook. We missed a good opportunity today to try them out but they will be in our plan now.”
“Our big worry is that if three of the lads catch 2 kilos or less and teams in our mini section get a bream. You can’t catch 4 kilos of small fish and if we’re talking stats I reckon a bream backed by roach will give you good points, 2.5 kilos of roach or maybe a lone bream will be average but 1.5 kilos or under will put us in trouble. We’ve got a plan but it needs a lot of tuning but I still fancy us to be on that podium and I think we’d be unlucky not to win it!”
ABOUT THE VENUE - THE LAGE VAART CANAL
The Lage Vaart is no different to the shipping canals around Doncaster, weighing in at around 50m wide and a couple of metres deep at its maximum. It’s featureless and being ruler-straight gets battered by the wind but it holds a lot of fish. Bream and skimmers plus roach, perch and small ide are the main target species along with a handful of rarely-seen carp and millions of tiny ruffe and while most local anglers fish the feeder to the far bank, it won’t be an option this weekend as legering is banned! Flow is largely non-existent with only the odd boat disturbing the peace and rigs between 0.5g and 1g will be the order of the day.
For a full insight into the day one match results, and links to the results, click HERE.