England net bronze in World Feeder Champs in South Africa

The Preston Innovations England Feeder team’s African quest to be crowned world champions fell just short on the sprawling Bloemhof Dam as Tommy Pickering’s men had to settle for the bronze medal after trying with Hungary on points and missing out on second place by aggregate weight.

“Frustrated and disappointed” were two of the words used by Tommy as he reflected on a job that was so near yet so far, host nation South Africa cruising to the gold on both team and individual fronts as their vast knowledge of the dam came into play to trounce all-comers.

At the halfway point however, it was looking good for England as they were just a point behind South Africa and looking good to mount a serious challenge as the side got to grips with the long range feeder work needed and the carp that unlike UK fish had very soft mouths meaning lost fish, not to mention lots of snags from lost tackle over the practice week.

Angling Times columnist Steve Ringer was England’s leading man, recording a section second and fifth to end up in the top ten but well away from a medal, although drawing two pegs that in his own words were absolute ‘snag pits’ didn’t help the cause, the appearance of small carp on day two also throwing England a curve ball and stealing a few valuable points from their final tally.

World Feeder Angling Championships
Bloemhof Dam, South Africa (16 teams)

Mixed emotions were no doubt coursing through the minds of the Preston Innovations Englanf Feeder team after they signed off their marathon trek to South Africa for the feeder world championships with a team bronze medal - but it could all have been so much more.

Scoring 48 points, England were eight off the pace set by host nation South Africa but tied with Hungary only to see aggregate weight deny them a silver, not that the team would deep down have been happy with that as they headed south of the equator with gold medals firmly on the menu.

However, South Africa and their wealth of experience and knowledge of the massive Bloemhof Dam proved just too strong for the other 15 competing teams, England included and they proved their mastery of the event by winning the individual gold too to send England back home with plenty of questions to answer as to why a great position after day one slipped away.

“We had a chance to win but weren’t able to take it,” admitted boss Tommy Pickering. “We were excellent on Saturday and then fell apart on day two but that’s life and I’ve seen it happen in match fishing plenty of times. It doesn’t soften the blow and we’ve had two fantastic weeks fishing an awesome venue with brilliant fishing and when you reflect on it, you think ‘well we could have been fourth and have no medal’. I know I always say we go to win gold and we do and of course, we should think that way but I think when we get home we’ll be pleased with a medal.”

Practice has seen England catch plenty of carp, aided by a local angler and friend of
Tommy’s who sorted the side out with local groundbaits and flavourings, these additives proving key to catching the wild carp of Bloemhof and Tommy acknowledges that without them, England’s challenge may well have been scuppered before it go going.

Sticking to the same team for both days of Tommy, Mick Vials, Adam Wakelin and Phil and Steve Ringer, with Grant Albutt the man to sit out the weekend’s action, England soon learnt that fishing one main line at around 40m or 50m depending on the depth and then casting around that immediate area was the key to catching.

“We used big cage and open end feeders with 50cm hooklengths and fed the local groundbait mix that looks like ground popcorn,” Tommy explained. “Those flavours were added to this – one was a strong banana flavour and the other a secret blend. God only knows what was in that but they seemed to work over a plain mix. To the crumb we added corn and lots of hemp fishing a single piece of corn on size 12 or 14 hooks.”

“The carp in the dam were wild and had never been caught before to we used pretty crude tackle with 0.19mm to 0.125mm hooklengths and big hooks but it didn’t seem to matter,” he added. “Being patient was also vital and in practice we set a target for the opening day of 10 carp but we actually needed nearer 20! What did upset the cart a little was the appearance of small carp on day two and some teams seemed to have these sussed and knew how to catch them whereas we didn’t.”

“We came to South Africa confident because the style of fishing and the target fish aren’t alien to us but we always knew we had to beat South Africa to win. They even had maps of the lake showing the depths and where the snags were plus flavourings and additives galore. It’s always difficult to beat the home team but I’m proud of the performance yet brassed off to have missed out after being so well-placed after day one. We can soul search for months to come about what went wrong but I don’t think any of us will be able to say for definite – you just put it down to experience.”