Hello! Welcome to the Angling Times World Championships blog!

I’m AT Match Editor Richard Grange and over the next few days I’ll be reporting from this years World Championships in Italy as Drennan Team England go in search of yet more glory on foreign soil.

Every evening for the next four days I’ll be keeping visitors to go up to speed with exactly what’s happening in the championships, reporting on the tactics that decide the medals and getting reaction to events as they happen over two days of pressure cooker match fishing.

Each report will go up on line at around 8pm UK time when you’ll get access to breaking news as it happens - no waiting days for the details in print, just all the thrills and spills of match fishing’s biggest weekend within a few hours of it happening.


Thursday September 4 - Canal Navigable, Spinadesco, Italy

To win World Champs gold is a tough ask. To win it in the backyard of the most successful match fishing nation is even tougher but that’s what Drennan Team England must do if they are to upset the applecart this weekend and snatch the world crown from under Italian noses.

I think everyone is aware of the enormity of the task and speaking to England co-manager Mark Downes after arriving at the venue, it seems as though England are already playing a bit of catch up. He also has grave reservations over the peggy nature of the venue that could see a week of hard work in practice blown away in just one three hour match.

“My biggest fear is the pegginess of the canal,” Mark confided. “I know the lads are more than good enough to win this but we’ll have no chance if we don’t draw right. The fish just aren’t spread out along the whole length and some areas will be impossible to score decent points from.”

Mark is also acutely aware of the need to quickly work out whether each peg will be a skimmer peg or a carrassio swim as both species require different approaches. With each match only lasting three hours, England will need to get it right almost from the off.

“We’ve also discovered that skimmers are playing a bigger role than we first thought,” he continued. “We’ve just not been catching enough of these fish so far and are not on the ball. However, we’ve learned a lot in the last few sessions and I’m happy that it’s coming together nicely - it’s typical England really; we’re always up in the air going into the last day of practice but tomorrow will iron a lot of things out.”

On the method front, Mark is 99% certain it will be a pole match with the big waggler or slider fished to the far bank providing somewhere else to go if the main pole line at 13m needs resting.

“It really needs to be flat calm and the canal needs to be standing still for the wag to work best,” Mark revealed. “We’ve caught best on the pole, fishing maggot but a lot of the fish we are catching are well off deck - the skimmers are up to 10 inches off while the carrassio have responded better to going slightly over depth. That’s what I mean by working out which species the peg holds most of.”

Mark also told me that his first name is down on the team sheet - jolly Bristolian Des Shipp who has been pretty awesome in practice, top scoring in three sessions and catching for fun today. As for the other lads, nothing has been decided.

“Tomorrow is what we call ‘match day’ said former England boss and NFA International Events Co-Ordinator Dick Clegg. “The lads will be fishing as if it were the first day of the championships and there will also be places up for grabs. That is when it really starts getting serious.”

Des is obviously delighted to be given the green light, but like Mark has plenty of words of warning.

“We’ve been a bit spoilt in practice as we’ve drawn some boxes with plenty of fish in them,” he said. “The canal isn’t really that good though - the Italians have struggled today and I think there will be areas where you don’t want to draw. It’ll also be an odd match fishing maggot as bloodworm just attracts too many tiny ruffe at present.”

The final word though, and perhaps a controversial one goes to Mark.
“I think the time is coming where sections at World Champs will have to be split up,” he said. “This weekend there will be areas where you can catch 3 kilos and beat a dozen or so anglers around you but get stuffed out of sight by a 20 peg block at the other end of the section. This happened at the Youth World Champs this year as well and if venues like this are going to be used, then this has to happen.”

“I have a system in the Sensas Challenge where a large section is split into mini sections,” he continued. “Each section winner doesn’t get a point apiece. Instead, top weight from those winners gets a point, second gets two and so on. Then you do the same for the second places working down through the points. It sounds complicated but it works and it means that those anglers stuck at the wrong end of the section  can still return decent points.”



So what’s the canal like?

The Canal Navigable looks more like the Gloucester Canal back in England - only with more fish!

Around 30m wide and well coloured, the canal reaches it’s maximum depth of 10ft pretty quickly making it the perfect pole venue. However, it does tow at times and when this happens the waggler becomes a waste of time. Organisers have ensured the 37 teams taking part that the canal will not run over the weekend - going on previous World Champs experiences, I wouldn’t hold my breath!


The anglers

England have gone with the same six lads that have served them so well in the past. Steve Gardener fishes his 21st World Champs, a terrific feat while William Raison and Alan Scotthorne provide a wealth of international experience, backed up by Stu Conroy, Sean Ashby and Des Shipp. They have the pedigree and as Mark Downes says, are more than capable of winning - let’s just hope lady luck smiles on them this weekend.


So, one more practice day left and one last chance to get it right. Don’t forget to log on tomorrow evening when we’ll talk tactics and feeding, get the team’s views on the eve of battle and speak to unfortunate member who’ll miss out on Saturday - now I’m off for a pint!