Drennan Barnsley Blacks win Sensas Challenge

Drennan Barnsley Blacks’ stellar year of team matchfishing continued as the South Yorkshire giants signed off the river season with victory in the weekend’s massive Sensas Challenge Final on the River Soar, scoring 33.5 points to take the silverware by just 1.5 points from Kamasan Starlets.

The win now sits alongside Winter League, Division 1 National and Commercial National titles won by the team in the summer and helps to repair some of the disappointment felt by not qualifying for their Winter League division late last year.

All that will be forgotten after taking this international rules two-day event, the team of Matt Godfrey, Lee Kerry, Alan Scotthorne, James Dent and Simon Fields scored a superb nine points on the opening match to leave the rest playing catch up.

Day 2 saw a river with no real overnight change and Barnsley went with the same plan and, despite a blank, it paid off with 24.5 points to squeeze home. They also had the individual winner in the ever-consistent Matt Godfrey who won his section on both days.

Sensas Challenge Final 2015
River Soar (28 teams)

Whenever big team events are held on a river over two days you can normally expect some sort of change in the condition of the water or the habits of the fish in the space of that 24-hour turnaround. But for this annual huge international rules match, the Soar produced a carbon copy two days of fishing – and that suited no one better than the all-conquering Drennan Barnsley Blacks A side.

The South Yorkshire team will already be doing battle abroad this summer in the World Club Champs after winning the Division 1 National and they can pencil in a trip to France for the final of this one after scoring 33.5 points across the two matches. Day 1 in particular proved to be a real triumph with an incredible nine points from the five-man side that left the rest struggling.

However, there was always the chance of a blank on a river that, although good in parts for roach, was desperate in other areas with a big perch your best bet of getting out of jail. Barnsley had factored a bad score into the equation, so, when it came, it wasn’t a shock. Although the 1.5 point winning margin from the Kamasan Starlets A team looks narrow, the truth was that Barnsley had done much of the damage on the Saturday.

“We’d practised in the week and found there were areas that held roach and you could catch a weight and there were places where scratching for a few perch was the order of the day,” said Barnsley captain Glenn Lawrence.

“Those same areas fished exactly the same on Saturday and Sunday, which we found spot on because it meant that you knew what to expect as soon as you drew, so you went to the peg with the plan in mind. There were never going to be any what ifs.”

Big fish were spread throughout the match length but with strict rules on feeding and pole limits, fishing for them was a little haphazard. As it was, Barnsley settled for the roach attack that has served them so well down the years, fishing at 13m and balling in a mix of Van Den Eynde Secret and Black Superroach mixed 50/50 with damp leam. In this bombardment was 250ml of joker for those pegs holding roach and just a palmful if the peg was a potential disaster.

Additionally, hard swims saw a perch line fed at 6m or 7m where big flat floats were fished using lobworm tail on the hook over chopped worm fed in soil and with the chance of a 3lb perch on it, the swim wasn’t one to be ignored. Indeed, Alan Scotthorne and Lee Kerry both caught big perch from it on the Sunday to score valuable points.

“The approach is one we take on any roach venue and if the fish are there, we catch them!” Glenn added. “The roach were targeted using as light a rig as we could get away with – anything from a 1g to 1.5g float, size 20 hooks and 0.08mm hooklengths with single bloodworm for bites and a bunch on good pegs or when looking for a bonus skimmer or perch. Topping up is always the killer on rivers that are clear and on pegs with good form it was simple, but on tougher swims it was a case of cutting back on the actual feed going in and simply feeding to get a bite.”

“Scoring so well on Saturday we met in the evening and didn’t need to change a thing,” he continued. “We felt we’d know if we were on roach or not as the river hadn’t changed one bit – the pegs that produced 10lb of roach in practice were still throwing up those weights in the match and those that were bad stayed bad! This meant that we could target the peg before the whistle went and not be left wondering about the things we didn’t try.”

Team: 1 Drennan Barnsley Blacks A, 33.5pts; 2 Kamasan Starlets A, 35; 3 Sensas 28, 41; 4 Matrix Dynamite Baits Trentmen B, 46.5; 5 Sensas North, 53; 6 Kamasan Starlets C, 64.

Individual result

Having been three times Youth World Champion and a regular winner of bloodworm matches around the UK, many are expecting Matt Godfrey to make the grade in the England Seniors set-up in the not too distant future.

In distinguished company on the Soar, the Drennan Barnsley Blacks man turned in another consummate display to further enhance those prospects.
Scoring a perfect two points, Matt turned in a pair of section wins but needed aggregate weight to be crowned the winner as fellow youngster, reigning Ladies National Champion Kayleigh Smith, of the Matrix Dynamite Baits Trentmen side, also matched that score.

Matt’s Barnsley teammate Lee Kerry finished third on three points.

The opening day was a bit of a shocker though as Matt drew a hard section and scratched out 400g to claim the single point, Sunday producing much better sport as he returned more than 5kg of roach on bloodworm.

Individual result: 1 M Godfrey, Drennan Barnsley Blacks, 2pts (superior weight); 2 K Smith, Matrix Dynamite Baits Trentmen, 2; 3 L Kerry, Drennan Barnsley Blacks, 3.

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