The Groundbait King

With the passing of Marcel Van Den Eynde, Angling Times paid tribute to the man who changed groundbait and how we use it in the UK, talking to three of the men who knew him best – Bob Nudd, Jan Van Schendel and Pete Clapperton.

A one-man success story, Marcel Van Den Eynde’s empire started low-key with 10,000 bags of his special mix sold in plastic bags from his Dendermonde tackle shop in the early 1980s.

Without a name, the mix came in three varieties – Canal, Roach and Lake – all designed with a specific use in mind. It was a huge gamble for the former postal worker, but the sale of every bag within two months suggested the groundbait game might be a bit of a goer.

From this small acorn grew the mighty Van Den Eynde oak and with the tackle shop sold, two moves of premises as the business expanded saw the company arrive at the massive industrial site it now occupies.

“Supercup was perhaps the first groundbait we exported to the UK,” said Dutch international Jan Van Schendel, who played a key role in establishing the brand across the North Sea. “I’d fished canals in the UK and noticed they were very different to the ones we fished in Holland and Belgium. I knew Supercup would be spot-on, which is why it is still a best-seller today, 25 years on.”

Bob Nudd, who was also at the head of expansion into the UK, couldn’t have foreseen the full impact Van Den Eynde would have on the British scene.

“Van Den Eynde first stocked his shelves in 1985, I think, and when it took off properly, the response from British anglers was incredible,” Bob recalled. “I think it gave anglers a massive amount of confidence to be able to fish with a mix designed for specific species. Groundbait knowledge was minimal back then, but Marcel certainly changed all that – you’ve only got to look at the England team’s current knowledge.”

Said Pete Clapperton: “Marcel was not only a great sportsman, angler and entrepreneur but a kind, caring family man. He will be greatly missed, not only in Belgium, where he is rightly regarded as a sporting hero, but all over the globe.  He was a thoroughly nice man and a true winner in every sense of the word. Marcel was a legend in the fishing world.”