As much as I love my individual fishing, the more team fishing I do, the more I love it. I am very lucky in that the group of lads and lasses that I fish with are what I call a ‘proper’ team, in that we all get on brilliantly, and there is very little internal politics and backbiting – which I know has torn so many other teams apart. I like to think we are a squad of very good anglers, but I know that we are a group of friends.
I think one of the main reasons for this is that we have no real egos in the team, we all just enjoy our fishing, and work hard to get the best results that we can. For us, 2013 has, without question been our best year for some time. Although a big win has eluded us, we finished second in the Commercial National, third in the Preston Innovations World Club Classic, and missed out on third place in the Match Fishing Team Championship by just a couple of points. Everything was going great for us, then we started our Winter League Campaign on the River Soar…
Despite being on the brink of folding earlier in the year, the Soar Valley Winter League has ended up being one of the biggest Winter Leagues in the country – with seven teams of ten taking part. Our record on the river in past years has been brilliant. Although I don’t have an official set of past results, I am pretty sure that we have won six out of the last eight years, being pushed into second place last year by the up and coming Drennan Leicester team.
For the three years that I have been in the team and fished the river, I have always done relatively well. Although I have had one or two slip ups, I have invariably finished in the top three in my section, securing good points for the team. My impression of the place is that it is a very simple river to fish. As long as you apply a bit of watercraft and common sense in terms of what methods to fish, you can generally get the best from the peg that you draw. It is without question, a great fishing venue, as almost everybody catches two kilos or more. I have to add though, I don’t think that it is a great match fishing venue, as certain pegs, and areas seem to hold fish more than others –and dominate as a result.
So what happened to Matrix Dynamite Trentmen in the league this year? Well, to say we had a nightmare would be an understatement. Going in to the last round on Sunday, we were lying in last place, with no hope at all of making the Winter League Semi Final.
The first round was a complete disaster. I had a reasonable day, finishing third in my section from Sutton Bonnington, but as soon as I saw captain, Rob Perkins, face at the results, I knew the team had a very bad day! We finished second to last – a far from ideal start!
I was away when it came to the second round, fishing the Preston Festival at White Acres, but I had a very depressing phone call with Rob on the Sunday night – the team had come last, and with Leicester winning both rounds, we knew that any hope of winning the league had gone out of the window.
What were we doing wrong? I racked my brains, and I genuinely couldn't think of any reason why our results should be suffering as much as they were. As I have said, I have always found the Soar to be a very simple venue, and anglers were coming back with results which didn't do their ability any justice whatsoever. Rob Perkins is one of the best river anglers in the country in my opinion, and he had come last in his section twice! The only thing that I could put it down to was bad luck at the drawbag.
I was back for round three, and we had a slightly better day with the team finishing third. I managed a second in section, again from Sutton Bonnington. If our team can learn anything from what happened on the Soar, it is from what happened next however.
Like many teams, we have at our heart, a very committed and hard working captain in Rob Perkins. He quite literally takes care of everything, from ordering products from our sponsors, to sorting bait on team matches, picking the team, and keeping everyone up to speed on what is happening – and I know his own fishing suffers as a result at times.
His only real indulgence in terms of individual angling, is the three or four matches per year that he fishes on the Tyne around Newcastle, and the fourth round clashed with one such excursion. With the team lying well down in the league, none of us were really in the mood for talking too much about the river, and when Rob said that he had fixed ten people to fish, none of us thought any more about it.
To cut a long, and very painful story short, Rob made a mistake, and put somebody down as fishing who had in fact told him he couldn’t make it. I couldn’t make that particular match either, as I was on a feature, and because nobody thought we could do any good anyway, no one made the last minute calls they needed too on the morning of the match to get someone to fish.
Given the circumstances, what happened next was entirely predictable – the team fished a man short, and did brilliantly! They finished third on the day, but had we had a full complement, we would have won. To make thing worse, the team who were lying second in the league bombed out and finished last, meaning fishing a man short really cost us.
Poor old Rob was quick to blame himself – but we could all see that the real problem didn’t lie with him, but with the rest of us. Truth be told, we had been relying on one man to do far too much for far too long. Human error is inevitable – but the fact that no one else picked up on it told a story in itself.
Perhaps a bigger problem was the fact that we had all become defeatist, believing the league to be over for us, when in fact, as history proved, it only took one freak result to put us right back in it.
We have learned our lessons though. Lee Wright and myself are more involved in the running of things going forward, which will hopefully take some pressure off Rob and let him concentrate on picking the teams, and also help him to enjoy his own fishing a bit more.
After a fall, all you can do is pick yourselves up, look what you can improve upon and move forward, and a couple of new signings in the shape of Derby lads Tom Potter and Matt Parkin has helped us do just that. They have already proved a real asset to the team, and with out other ‘youngster’ Sam Randall, I can see very bright things for the future.
Hopefully, it is a sign of good things to come that we managed to win the last round of the Winter League with 28 points – promoting us from last place up into fifth. It was also great to see one of angling's unsung heroes and nice guys Ant King win the individual aggregate with a remarkable nine points. Just think how badly we would have done without his results! :-D
The last few weeks haven’t been our finest hour, but I know we can look forward to much better things to come.