Angling Trust Division 2 National (Sat)
Birmingham/Fazeley Canal (28 teams)
Team result: 1 Sensas Black Country AS, 205pts; 2 Matrix Halifax CRFT, 204 (weight); 3 Drennan Oxford, 204; 4 Browning West Midlands, 202; 5 Drennan NW, 201; 6 Sensas Dams & Lock, 197; 7 Sensas Strike Angling, 192; 8 Maver Midlands, 187; 9 Scunthorpe Blue, 170; 10 Browning Central, 164; 11 Scunthorpe Dynamite Baits, 161; 12 Maver Coleman’s Bait & Tackle/Matchpack, 157; 13 Canal & River Trust AC, 154 (weight); 14 Tubertini Apollo, 154; 15 Browning Wickford, 153; 16 Slaithwaite DAA, 147; 17 Colin Barlow AC Sale, 134; 18 Stoke-on-Trent AA, 128; 19 Sensas Coleman’s Bait & Tackle, 124; 20 Long Eaton Federation, 117; 21 Tang Hall MG, 106; 22 Tring Anglers, 102 (weight); 23 Notts AA, 102; 24 Coleman’s Cottage Fishery, 96; 25 Littleport AC, 90; 26 Listerhills Old Boys AA, 79; 27 Chelmsford Angling, 73; 28 Washington & Harraton AC, 70.
Sensas Black Country made their in-depth knowledge of the Fazeley Canal worth its weight in medals as they won the Division Two National crown by a single point.
The local lads, most of whom live within a 20-minute drive of the venue, are all regulars on the canal and the feeling was that if they got a half decent draw they could ‘do a job’ in captain Mark Hardman’s words.
Promotion, though, was their main aim, and they felt that their mass of experience should bring home the bacon.
“There are 192 pegs on the Dams & Lock stretch and we fish the Summer League each year with two teams, but this year we rotated the lads around the various areas so they could all get a feel for it,” Mark said.
“We knew almost every peg that was in, but of course, they don’t always fish as you think they might. I looked at the draw and it was steady, no screaming flyers but importantly, only one shocker in G section where I thought our lad would do well to get a handful of points.
“Bream were likely to show as conditions were perfect but the boys knew that whether they had to ship in 250 little fish or go for bream, they could do it – that’s where knowing the water so well comes into play,” Mark continued. “We did, however, think that the fish were sick of seeing chopped worm so we based a lot of our bonus fish work around just casters alongside the more standard squatt and groundbait fishing for little fish.”
The general plan for Black Country was to fish a short line near the keepnet for a few perch while their other lines settled, then go three-quarters of the way across in 2ft or 2ft 6ins of water for bread-and-butter roach, perch and gudgeon on squatts. Big-fish lines went at the same range of 11m but at angles just into the deeper boat track with double caster as hookbait.
“We knew that if we drew a peg with skimmers or bream we’d need to spend a good amount of time trying for them, whereas in an out-and-out small-fish swim it was a case of heads down and keep something going in the net with the odd look for a bonus,” Mark revealed.
“We got back to HQ and from half of the side we’d scored 130 points, so we reasoned that 210 or 220 would see us in the top five and promoted.
“When the results were read out, Browning West Midlands, who we thought had done really well, were only fourth so for a moment I did think that we might not have made the top 10! Simon Nickless soon told me to stop being so daft and reckoned we might have won it!
“So we’re in Division One on the Shropshire Union Canal next summer, and that’s another canal we know really well. Our deal with Sensas has really helped us and we’ve now got the perfect mix of experienced old heads and some great youngsters coming through,” Mark added.