Mark Downes insists it's time to change the match fishing rulebook

Fish to international rules.That's the only way England's club scene can hope to rival the achievements of its world-beating counterparts, according to Mark Downes, whose Kamasan Starlets side do battle this weekend with the cream of Europe's club sides in the World Club Championships.

Not since 1984, when Essex County took gold, has an English club won the prestigious event, and the Div 1 National winners head to Slovakia's River Vah to try and change all that. Packed with international talent they have a very good chance, but until the English match scene falls in line with their Continental cousins, success cannot be guaranteed.

"The lack of success is simple ­ club teams in the UK do not fish to international rules," Mark said. "There are only around a dozen anglers in England who are comfortable fishing this way (those involved in the various England set-ups) so no matter how good a team is on British soil, it¹s always up against it abroad. If we got used to fishing like this across the board here, the change wouldn't be so painful."

But how do you make this change? Mark currently runs the Sensas Challenge, fished strictly to international rules, that attracts 38 teams of four. What he would like to do is roll this event out nationally, creating a competition that will not only give entering sides a taste of Continental fishing, but boost their stock if they fish the World Club event.

"With the demise of the Superleague I believe there is a place in the market for this event," Mark explained.

"I'd like to have regional winter matches fished on commercial waters that allow bloodworm and have good stocks of silverfish, like Hallcroft, Gold Valley and Woodland View. You¹ve only got to look at how popular local teams of four leagues are, and every team would be able to compete because they'd be using their best four anglers.

"This would bring us into line with Europe, which would also be good for developing anglers with England potential."

Starlets' chances

The Vah is where Alan Scotthorne and Will Raison have won gold at World and European level, but on the team front, England have yet to claim a gong.
Mark knows the river well and is aware of just how peggy the venue will be.

"Some sections will be won with a kilo, and that can be one fish, but we¹re always confident of performing well on tough venues," he said.

The big flat floats will be out in force again, aiming for the big bream and barbel in the river, but with levels low in the height of summer, the pace will be slower and the water clearer, which will only add to the difficulty of the job in hand.

"It'll be peggy and we¹ll need to draw well, but that'll be the case for everyone," he added. ³For the local teams, such as Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czechs, this type of fishing is right up their street. There's even a rumour that the Italian team fishing is virtually their World Champs squad!"