World Feeder Championships (Sat & Sun)
La Vilaine River, Rieux (15 teams)
It was something of a miracle that the Preston Innovations England side were even competing, given that just a few days before the official practice week began, travel restrictions on visiting France were lifted.
Last-minute prep and booking of bait and accommodation saw the squad off to Rieux to do battle, but seventh place on 68 points was all they could muster, Belgium taking gold on 36 points with Spain second and France third.
The England team of Steve and Phil Ringer, Rob Wootton, Lee Kerry, Adam Wakelin and Mick Vials, under the management of Dean Barlow and helpers, scored 31 points after day one in red-hot weather to sit fourth overall, well within striking distance of a bronze medal, the Belgians leaving the rest fishing for second after a tremendous nine-point score.
England’s day two 37-point tally saw them slip down the rankings. Our top performer was Rob Wootton in 13th spot overall on nine points, and Adam Wakelin on 10 points for 17th.
Arriving a day into the practice week, England did miss out on one session, but manager Dean didn’t use that as an excuse. Instead, he pointed to the team’s lack of experience of Continental-style fishing, especially knowledge of groundbaits and additives and how fish react to them.
“What goes on across the Channel bears absolutely no resemblance to the feeder fishing we do in the UK,” Dean said.
“We had a meeting after the second day, where we were incredibly honest about where this team failed and where it needs to improve. If we want to keep winning medals, we must move forward. We can’t take many positives from the weekend, the one plus point being that we’ve accepted we’re off the pace and have identified what needs to happen.”
The venue should have suited England – a wide, slow river holding skimmers. But practice week got hotter and hotter and, with no wind, the river began to creak under the pressure from the fishing. However, as Dean pointed out, that was the same for every team.
“We got it wrong, not our rigs or tackle, but in terms of groundbaits and additives,” he revealed.
“A lot of teams used standard off-the-shelf mixes, but they then added their own special bits and bobs to it. For some reason, the mix we went for just didn’t work. The Belgians had a homemade mix, Spain used Sensas Lake, as we did, but with an additive. France used four kinds of groundbait and two kinds of leam, while Hungary used an enhanced sweetener. What any of those were, I couldn’t tell you!
“We’ve got 12 months to prepare for the 2022 event in the Ukraine and I’m going all out to set up events or matches against the likes of France, Belgium and Holland, simply to give us the experience of fishing abroad and seeing the baits and feeding that they use,” added Dean.
“It’s no use to keep fishing the likes of Barston Lakes every weekend. We’ll learn nothing.”