There was little joy for sides south of the M18 hunting glory at this weekend’s Angling Trust Division 3 National as Yorkshire sides completely dominated proceedings in a match that attracted only 23 teams - one of the lowest turnouts for a major National in recent times.
Despite the low numbers, the South Yorkshire Navigation and New Junction Canals produced fish for all and suited those local sides ¬ Scunthorpe Blue being crowned champions as their delicate small fish approach paid off handsomely with a 22-point victory.
Next best and heading a South Yorkshire two-three were Dick Clegg Barnsley followed by Sheffield lads Tackle2Fish.co.uk, who also ignored the bonus fish option, of which very few were caught. Small roach and perch provided once again medal winning glory.
That was also the case on the individual front where little fish dominated, although gold medallist Darren Hall, whose win helped his team into third overall, did include a bonus 1lb 8oz perch in his 5-800 haul from the New Junction, landed on a light squatt rig intended for those roach. In fact the frame saw four of the six men in it fishing for the top three teams - a perfect example of their mastery of what are to them local venues.
As jubilant Scunthorpe captain and old hand on the northern match scene Graham Frith said, it was always going to be a squatt match, the better fish that had shown in practice on bolder chopped worm or caster tactics only showing for a handful of anglers.
His men knew the score and delving into their years of experience on these local canals put their squatt fishing skills to good use.
“We didn’t practise as a team as most of us know the canals pretty well,” Graham said. “Instead we came down in small groups to get our rigs right and play about with feeding and a few other things.
“As soon as we saw the colour drop out of the canals we knew it would be a small fish job.”
Balling in groundbait on shortish lines at 6m and 8m to avoid the boat traffic, meagre helpings of squatt and hemp did the job, keeping the roach exactly where the Scunthorpe lads wanted them.