Kamasan Starlets’ love affair with the Division 1 National continued as the West Midlands outfit chalked up their third win in just six years to lift the silverware by only three points from Maver Image Van Den Eynde. More importantly, they also booked their place in the World Club Champs fish-off at Evesham next month.
Winners in 2004 and 2008, Starlets racked up 498 points to deny Image by that slender margin, with Mirfield AC picking up the bronze medal. Other teams joining them on the Warks Avon for the big match included Shakespeare, Trentmen, Barnsley and Drennan NW, which should make for a brilliant match.
First, though, they had to overcome the Trent on a day where bream didn’t show throughout much of the match length. That made small fish the main targets, something that was always in the mind of Starlets, as skipper Darren Cox explained:
“We felt it was going to be a waggler match today, but the river was carrying more pace than expected so we swapped to the stick float,” Darren said. “The plan was to kick off on the feeder to see if any big fish were around while priming our float lines.
It was then a case of catching little fish unless you caught a barbel or bream on the tip.” Starlets took everything but the kitchen sink with them, Darren alone setting up eight rods, such was the nature of the river where any method could have delivered.
Some anglers caught on the pole, some on the tip and some on the float, but the key was to have everything covered.
“When you don’t have a clue what will work it can be dangerous to go down the route of spending too long on one method,” Darren continued.
“Experience plays a huge part in knowing when to chop and change. This team is full of seasoned river anglers who have got a lot of experience of the Trent in the last few weeks. Much of that has been down to Danny Ashington, who has been brilliant in keeping the team on the go and turning out for practice.
“We also had a fantastic team meeting the Wednesday before the match when we talked at length about the river and came away feeling more than prepared.”
Versatility was the key to success ¬ Darran Bickerton, for instance, having to catch dabs on the tidal section on chopped worm, while Dave Harrell nicked a bonus barbel on Newark Dyke and then went back to whipping out gudgeon, so all signs point to Evesham for the champions ¬ and Darren can’t wait.
“We’ve been crying out for big team matches and this will be tremendous,” he said.
“The calibre of teams fishing it couldn’t be better and of course we’d like to qualify for the Club Champs by right, but Evesham is a good river for us. It’ll be a busy few weeks of bloodworm fishing, what with the Team Champs final as well, but this is what you should want at the top end of the sport.” There aren’t many Nationals where only three points divides first and second, especially at Division 1 level, so the disappointment of Maver Image Van Den Eynde was understandable but like Starlets, they too are looking ahead to Evesham.
“Fair play to Starlets, they’re a class act,” said captain Steve Clark, who set the event record the last time the National visited the Trent five years ago. “Our aim was to get in the top 10 but to come this close to winning is gutting. We had some good pegs and I think we only dropped four points from the sections on the tidal river where a lot of teams came unstuck.” Boasting the likes of former Essex County men Gary Miller and Chris Vandervleit plus ‘old-school river men’ as Steve put it, Image’s plan was similar to that of the winners in terms of starting on the feeder with long tails and small hooks, while feeding the waggler or stick line. After this foray, the float took over with a back-up plan of going on to the feeder if the roach didn’t show.
Top 10 teams
1 Kamasan Starlets, 498pts
2 Maver Image Van Den Eynde, 495
3 Mirfield AC, 460;
4 Maver Barnsley, 454
5 Shakespeare Superteam, 451
6 Fox Match Trentmen, 447
7 Collins Green AC, 442
8 Drennan NW, 441
9 Maver Tipton Bait-Tech, 436
10 Garbolino Harrison’s Lincs County, 435