The Nationals campaign for 2021 was rounded off by the Division Two clash on the Gloucester Canal, fished by a healthy turnout of 40 teams.
The event saw one of UK team fishing’s famous names back on top of the leader board as Saints swept to glory with a 335-point score. Second, on 311pts, were local side Sensas Lobby’s Tackle, who also had the individual winner in skipper Andy Jane. He bagged 24-480 of bream from the Splatt section. Milo Bait-Tech Midlands completed the podium with 280pts for third.
There are still some familiar names in the Saints side, including captain Paul Hughes, former England youth cap Kev Lavelle, Welsh international Ian Leach and old hands such as Steve Clegg. But, more importantly, the fire has returned – as Kev himself explained.
“We rejoined the Nationals in 2019 but did no good, missing out last year due to Covid. We were so were keen to do well this time and we fancied it, as we all have lots of experience of the venue,” he explained.
“Little changes are needed on the canal in terms of the lines that you fish, but we hadn’t practised much, and were going to be reliant on that experience!”
Those lines revolved around the feeder, long pole and short pole, the plan being to begin on the tip looking for an early bream before moving on to the pole.
“Casting to the far-side slope, an hour would be spent here and, if bream were caught, we’d stay on it, if not, we’d get on the pole,” Kev added.
“Our long pole line was put in just up from the base of the near slope, fed with Sensas Lake and Canal Fine and some leam, but only 100ml of casters, pinkies and dead maggots for six balls. We left out choppie, as this attracted eels and we felt that if eels were about, no skimmers would be. We did feed worm in fishmeal groundbait if there were no bites, turning this line into an emergency eel swim!”
“On the short line we looked for 7ft of water but fed a different mix of Roach Fine and leam, drier and more active to catch roach and perch in the shallower water,” he continued.
“It worked more or less to a man. There were a few hard areas – Paul only had 900g but came 10th in section with that, while Ian Leach had 850g for the same score in his.”
Unfancied peg turns up trumps
Bream were always going to decide the individual race, yet it was a little-fished section at Splatt Up that produced the top weight for local rod Andy Jane, who took 24-480.
A regular on the canal, even he was surprised to win off what was not a fancied area, although while he was setting up bream were rolling all around his peg, which was G4 in the match.
Starting on the bread feeder, no bites were forthcoming, so Andy changed to the groundbait feeder with double dead red maggot cast to a far-bank tree and picked off around 3lb of rudd in the first hour and a bit. At this point he saw the anglers on the end pegs to his left start to catch bream on the pole.
“Dropping on to the 13m line, where I’d fed groundbait at the start, I had three quick bites that I missed. I thought they were little fish, but then the fourth bite produced a 3lb bream,” he revealed.
“It went quiet after that, so I fed another ball and took a look on my 6m line for a few roach. After two or three little fish, my next two drop-ins gave me a pair of 5lb bream.”
Going back on the feeder with two hours to go, Andy had a good spell, landing five bream before this line went quiet. The rest of his match was then a case of rotating the feeder and long pole lines, picking off bream as they came along.