Could we see Team Championships semi-finals in May? That’s the suggestion being mooted by Saints captain Derek Bennett as his side gears up for their big match on Stainforth & Keadby Canal in March.
Although the canal had been in sparkling form pre-Christmas, the cold snap and the worst that winter has to throw at the venue could see many scratching around for a few perch to earn valuable points, and that’s got Derek thinking.
While he is happy to fish the rounds through the winter, maybe even either side of Christmas, he feels that a semi-final fished in milder weather would not only be a more pleasant experience for the anglers, but also act as something of a reward for the hard slog in getting there.
“I’ve got enough experience of winter fishing to know that even in March you can get some of the worst weather of the winter!” Derek laughed. “Now that rivers aren’t used for the semis, I see no reason why the matches can’t be put back to April or early May. It’ll be warmer, the fishing will be better on both canals and commercials, and you’d look forward to it. The Stainforth in March could be very, very tough, and it can be demoralising trekking over from Liverpool to catch a handful of fish.”
Even with the introduction of commercial fisheries as semi venues, sport has sometimes been just as tough as the rivers they replaced.
Heronbrook, which hosts a semi this year, fell victim to snow and biting winds a few years back to see blanks recorded, while Cudmore just a few miles up the road was similarly hard in 2008. April or May, you would presume, would have to bring better fortunes.
“There’s no reason why it couldn’t change,” said Team Champs organiser Ken Wade. “We toyed with the idea a few years ago but decided that with matches in April it would clash with White Acres and Irish festivals. The fishing would be better of course ¬ I can remember going to the Bridgewater Canal in late April when Foot & Mouth stuck and it fished its head off ¬ but it can still be cold even then!”
“I think everything is up for debate, of course, and I’m planning a questionnaire for teams this year asking them what they want. Do they want the river back? When do they want to fish their matches? From that we’ll make any decisions that need taking.