If there’s one thing that the cold winter has done to the Angling Times Team Champs Semi-finals it’s to make them close affairs - this match seeing a single point divide first from second, with Drennan NW beating local favourites Maver Midlands by that slenderest of margins.
Scoring 50 points, Mark Addy’s men showed their all-round versatility to get the best of a peggy venue that fished surprisingly well given the savage beating the weather had dealt it. Joining the duo in the final are Ted Carter Preston and Garbolino Ossett - both finishing within striking distance of the leading pair.
“Whether we’re on commercials, canals or rivers I always feel the team has what it takes to do well,” Mark said. “There were probably a few eyebrows raised when we chose to fish this semi as opposed to the canal, but we’ve fished almost all of our Team Champs rounds on commercials and decided to stick with it.”
Mark admitted that the team was a touch lucky at the draw, with some good pegs, but like everyone there were also some hard ones to sort out. But Drennan adopted a pragmatic approach to these to make sure their quest remained on track.
“Good pegs look after themselves with a decent angler on them,” Mark explained. “On the poorer pegs we aimed for reasonable points to limit the damage and that meant fishing for anything. That’s why we pinned our faith in maggots.”
Like many teams, Drennan kicked off fishing breadpunch using 6mm and 8mm pieces but on the hard pegs, that was soon replaced with single maggot fished over a very light feed of either maggot or micro pellet potted in, with the team concentrating on that long pole line up to far bank islands or features.
“We did have a plan to catch on pinkie on the hardest swims to get a few roach in the bag, but that didn’t happen today,” Mark revealed.
Of course, local knowledge helps and Drennan had a fair bit of that when it came to fishing Heronbrook but not as much as runners-up Maver Midlands, the bulk of who are regulars at the fishery. That meant that they were well in tune with the lakes despite the never-ending snow, ice and cancelled practice matches.
“We’ve had stacks of information from the anglers fishing, but we still didn’t formulate a concrete plan,” said captain Wayne Mellings. “Every angler fished the peg based on their experience of the situation but we had two main approaches that we knew from practice would catch.”
Breadpunch was the first, feeding nothing as practice had shown that feeding liquidised bread made the fish back off. Maver’s second string was to fish maggot over finely crushed expander pellets, with the aim of creating a fish-attracting cloud without any real food to fill them up.
“I looked at the draw this morning and it was a mixed bag,” Wayne continued.
“I knew some would be fine but those that weren’t I told not to bust a gut to win the section - a fifth or sixth place would do nicely.
“It’s been all about concentration today and we’ve had four bank runners to keep the boys on their toes. They were told to ignore what was going on around them, concentrate on their float and to be prepared for the last hour when the fish could suddenly switch on.”
Team result (top four qualify)
1 Drennan NW, 50pts
2 Maver Midlands, 51
3 Ted Carter Preston, 56
4 Garbolino Ossett, 59
5 Fox Match Tipton Van Den Eynde, 60
6 Quorn Van Den Eynde, 67
7 Chamber’s Champs, 69 (section countback)
8 Sensas Wibsey, 69
9 Ted Carter Southport, 70
10 Hull DAA, 73
11 Fox Match Stanjay, 80
12 Browning Quaker, 82