Championships in the Czech Republic was a great experience, and I think the
only word to describe how I felt about Sean Ashby’s success is emotional!
In fact, I don't mind admitting, both me and Tom Scholey who I went with had
a tear rolling down our cheek! It was great to see him win, a privilege in fact.
We’ve also undergone an office move, and despite my efforts to get out of
it, the ‘not so new’ ginger boy is still first in the tea round every
morning! I’ve had an exciting last few weeks, and covered some brilliant
events, the Subscriber Classic and Drennan Knockout Cup Final to name just
two. I‘ve been on the bank with the likes of Steve Ringer, Rob Wootton and
Darren Cox, and even been left to my own devices to head back up north to
carry out my first feature alone…I hope you like it!
In the fishing stakes, things have been blowing hot and cold. The last two
weekends have seen me focusing on the Newark Dyke, preparing and competing
in the Preston World Club Classic event with the Ultimate Barnsley Blacks
squad. For those who don’t know, the top ten teams from the national are
invited to fish this final, with the winners receiving £7,000 and an invite
to the World Club Champs in Italy.
Last weekend was the practice, and to say it was poor is a huge
understatement. Twelve members of our team turned out on a low and clear
river on the Saturday. After two hours, only half our men had caught a fish,
and many anglers from other teams were walking the bank out of frustration.
I ended up catching a single tiny perch, with four minnows, before deciding
to walk myself. The following day was no different, and saw two anglers
catch a chub, while the rest were left scratching around for a handful in
gudgeon. I normally strive at the challenge of a hard venue, as do the likes
of top-flight anglers such as Lee Kerry, Alan Scotthorne and Sean Ashby.
However, after the practice weekend we all felt rather deflated that such a
poor venue had been chosen, with many teams and individuals quite literally
wasting time and money to turn out. It was the first time I took a negative
slant on team fishing, and normally do everything I can to support it. I
realise it’s hard to please everyone, but I’m sure the majority of anglers
would have voted for a venue offering better fishing in the most prestigious
team even of the year. To name just five , the nearby Fossdyke Canal, the
Stainforth and Keedby Canal, Furzton Lake, Barston Lake, and Packington
Somers are all great international style venues, and the final three are
very central for teams. Surely its better for everyone to get plenty of
bites…that’s what we go fishing for isn’t it?
Luckily, Mother Nature came to the rescue, and the week before me match we
had heavy rain, imparting plenty of colour and more than two feet of extra
water into the river. Things were still set to be very difficult, and big
fish were predicted to dominate the event. Many teams were unable to obtain
the appropriate gear at short notice, with flat floats in excess of 50g
required. The event is fished to full FIPS international rules, and is
therefore no ledgering is allowed. Our team came up with a positive approach
after Alan had caught some big fish the previous day, and planned to catch
as many ‘blips’ as possible, before focusing our efforts and a man rig! I
was drawn on peg B2, which I felt was a good area! My rigs for the long line
were rather butchering, and consisted of a 25g flatty for nailing a bait,
with a 15g version for inching through. Both were on 0.26mm mainlines, with
0.20mm hooklengths and size 10 Super Spades. The target fish were bream and
barbel, and in the powerful flow I couldn’t take any prisoners! I also set
up some scratching rigs to fish with bloodworm around my net, but these were
merely to avoid the dreaded blank!
At the all in, I threw in 10 jaffa’s, contain some corn and a tiny bit of
joker. I then made the decision to cup in 18 balls absolutely full of bait.
Corn, hemp, dead maggots, casters, chopped worm and joker all went in. I
wanted to be accurately fishing over these particles, as I was only looking
for a handful of bites.
After starting short and catching just six minnows in the first 20 minutes,
Dexter the lobby was soon getting speared before I dunked him in on the long
line. First chuck a 6oz perch settled my nerves, and in the next three hours
I had the odd bite, and went into the last hour with 5 perch and a skimmer
for around a pound and a half in weight. I had constantly been topping up
with feed crammed balls to try and tempt a bream, with Trentmen ace Rob
Perkins on the next peg catching eight big boys!
With half an hour to go, a positive bite was met with a solid clunk, and a
big 2lb plus skimmer rewarded my patience. I finished a very pleasing 2nd in
the section, with 1.940kilo, beaten only by Rob who weighed 9kilo odd! The
team did well, with ever-consistent Mr. Kerry contributing a section win to
our 3rd place position, which was well in reach of the winning spot going
into Day 2.
The second day, my peg didn’t look so nice, and was a real ‘barbel or bust’
hole. I was in the section James Dent had struggled in the previous day, but
with confidence in my positive approach, I was determined to snare one! I
fed very similar to the day before, but needed 30g to hold bottom. The first
half hour saw only three perch in the net, which remained constant for
pretty much the whole match. Every half hour I fed four balls full of bait,
and had my first indication with 30 minutes of the match remaining. I’m
convinced it was a liner, but after being told I was stone cold last in the
section, I was on it! With 20 minutes to go, away she sailed and wallop! Dog
on! There was number 15 Hollo all over the river, and to say I was a tad
nervous is a major understatement! On 0.26mm line, and a size 8 barbel
special, it wasn’t long before the culprit was in the pan. I’d gone from
last to second in just one bite!
After shaking for a while, out I went as what thought was the five-minute
hooter sounded. In international rules, the fish has to be clear of the
water to count, and with two minutes left, clunk! I had to pull really hard
to try and gain control, and with only a minute to go, I had to give her the
big’un. Unfortunately the hook pulled, but in that situation I felt I did
the right thing.
However, to my disappointment, somebody had blown the hooter at the WRONG
time, and there was another five minutes left! I was extremely angry with
this, and it 100% cost my team a point. Lee Edwards won the section win with
4kilo against my 2.700kilo, and the barbel was at least as big as my first
one. More to the point, Trentmen’s Adrian Higginbottom did exactly the same,
thinking he had only minutes left, and pulled out of a barbel which not only
cost him winning the section, but the Trentmen winning the event and going
to Italy. Lets just say he and the team were rather cross!
Nevertheless, the finish was extremely tight, with the Kamasan Starlets
beating us to the winning spot by just 1.5 points! Hadrian Whittle won the
event individually with an exceptional two point score, proving his class on
moving water yet again. Will Raison, Lee Kerry and myself tied on points for
2nd place. I ended up 3rd on weight count-back behind Will, but was chuffed
to bits with it! Had I had my second barbel, I would have been second, but
we wouldn’t have won as a team which makes me feel a little better about the
The event turned out to be OK, but without the rain, I dread to think what
it might have been like! If it was a month earlier I’m sure there will have
been more fish to catch. Starlets put in an exceptional performance, and
are greatly deserving winners! Well-done lads, and all the best in Italy!
This evening, Mr Scholey and myself are heading south for the Preston
Innovations Autumn Festival at White Acres in Newquay! I can’t wait! Every
evening this week has been spent on preparation, so hopefully it will pay
off. We’re in the ‘lodge of love’ with Jon Arthur and Neil Mckinnon, and I
have somehow been given the responsibility of turning the casters for the
week! I’ll let you know how it goes!
Matt Godfrey is Pole Fishing's Editorial Assistant, and a top flight match angler.