World Feeder Championship Diary: Day 2
After a decent night’s sleep I was up and sorting bait at 6am whilst Glenn went off to do the draw. On the team front although a medal now looked unlikely we hadn’t given up on the idea so there was still plenty of optimism in the camp. There was one change for day 2 with Mick Vials stepping down for Dean Barlow who had run my section on day 1. I really felt for Mick as he had put as much if not more effort in than anyone, but rules are rules and being lowest scorer on day 1 meant he was to be running for Dean.
Due to the fact I had free reign to go for an individual medal I decided to make a few changes on the bait front, I did away with the caster and instead took extra worms as they had played a big part in how the Dutch had fished on day 1. On the groundbait front I also decided to simplify things and stick with the local yellow sweet mix, my theory being this is what the fish were used to seeing so why not just go with it, after all it had worked for other teams. With the bait all done Glenn returned with the bibs denoting the section numbers, I have to admit at this point the nerves crept in as I was desperate for a low number, ideally 3-5. Well peg 7 was my destination which I was happy with as although it had been a poor area on day 1 I wasn’t far from the fish. Also as a team we had worked out that a middle draw for me meant a decent overall team draw and on paper several of the lads were sat on pegs that had produced decent weights the day before. So after wishing everyone good luck it was off to A section again.
On arrival at A7 I initially quite fancied the swim, there was a dead tree at the downstream end of the peg which looked like it should hold fish. My only concern was how much of the tree was underwater, as if this was the case it could be a potential snag pit. This was something I would only find out once I could have a cast around with a bomb though, and until we were allowed into the zones I could only speculate as to what the swim might plumb up like. In my head I already had a plan in that I wanted to fish down one hole all match if possible. Ideally this would be across but if this wasn’t possible down the middle would be fine as long as it was relatively snag free.
Once in the zone the first thing I did was get my box sorted plus get all the accessories in the right place so everything was to hand, then it was onto rods. I could potentially see three swims although my plan was to fish only one I wanted to keep all my options covered. So for across which was around 60 yards I set up two Tournament 13’5’s, these were teamed up with Caldia x 4000 reels loaded with 4lb sensor mainline and an 8lb shock leader of Tournament ST monofil. Next up was the three quarter line and for this I elected to go with two 12-13 Tournament feeder rods at 13’, again with the same reels in the Caldias, only this time they were loaded with 6lb sensor line with a short shockleader. Last but not least my middle line where I set up two 12-13’s again only this time at 12’ as the middle was only a short cast away. Reels as before were Caldia 4000 X’s which were loaded with 6lb Guru Drag line. At the business end I went for the same set up on all 6 rods in 0.22 Guru N gauge hooklengths and size 12 hooks. These fish weren’t line shy in the slightest so I wanted to make sure every fish I hooked came out.
With rods all set up it was time for a plumb about, when plumbing a swim such as this one I always like to start across and work my way back. Well I cast a 1oz bomb across and started to count it down, it was only when I got to a count of 18 that I realised either something was wrong or my peg was bottomless! A couple more casts soon revealed that the dead tree I could see actually covered my whole far bank swim making it virtually impossible to fish. Although not ideal, in my head this simplified things in that I now only had two potential swims as opposed to three. My next job was to find the edge of the sunken tree as this would then be right on the edge of the snags and in theory should hold a few fish. After a lot of casting about I eventually settled on a line which seemed relatively snag free although I wasn’t totally convinced as the bottom seemed very uneven. That then just left the middle line which was nice and clear although not as far across as I’d have liked.
At the start of the match I didn’t want to make the mistakes of the previous day and put too much bait in. With this in mind I put 3 big cages on the three quarter line and 6 down the middle. Each cage contained plenty of chopped worm, joker and a few maggots plus an odd grain of sweetcorn. With that done I decided to gamble and have one chuck tight across looking for a quick fish even though I knew I could end up snagged up. Suffice to say after five minutes I went to reel in and was snagged solid which saw me lose everything. Not the perfect start but it had been worth a cast just in case. It was now time to look on the three quarter line, I started on a 28 gram 5 hole cage feeder loaded with chopped worm and joker with 4 white maggots on the hook. First few casts yielded no indications and with the French angler on my right catching two early Carassio tight across where I couldn’t fish the nerves were jangling somewhat! On the 40 minute mark I did have a small line bite but other than that nothing at all.
With just 45 minutes gone I decided to have a drop down the middle, even though it was early I really wanted a fish in the net to settle me down a little. I was also looking for a line to sit on, before I could make my mind up though I wanted a bite! Odd fish had come out in the section already and my runner Adam Wakelin reckoned 2 kilo was probably winning it. My initial concern was catching a fish as opposed to worrying about winning the section. In this sort of situation it’s all about holding your nerve and for the next 30 minutes I kept dropping the feeder along the same line alternating hookbaits and praying for a bite. On the hour and twenty minute mark the tip tapped a couple of times before dropping back. I picked up and immediately felt the kick of a fish. I have to admit I played it like the proverbial crown jewels praying it wouldn’t come off, eventually a carassio around the 10-12oz mark was in the landing net and I was up and running. This fish settled me down massively as my worst nightmare was blanking whilst fishing for my country. Next cast on two big worms and carassio number two was in the net, and when a third came straight after my match had been transformed. No more bites followed before a quick switch to sweetcorn saw the rod tip hurtle round whilst I was tightening up and a carp was on. After a tense battle I eventually put the net under a chunky common carp of around the two and a half pound mark. All of a sudden things were getting interesting and after switching back to double worm two more carassio quickly succumbed before the swim died totally. This was what I expected though and as a result I saw no need to change and just kept dropping the feeder down the same hole waiting for the fish to return. This is what Theo had done the day before and the fish had come back again so I had every confidence the same would happen for me.
Sure enough on the two and a half hour mark I had another burst of fish including another bonus carp of around 2lb mark before again the swim just switched off. The temptation at this point was to switch lines but experience on the venue suggested this wasn’t the way to go and the best approach was just to sit tight. Adam my runner had returned at this point with the information that I was right up there as far as the section went, with it basically being between me and the Russian on end peg 16. One decent fish for several anglers though could see this all change.
The next hour and a half flew by in which time I managed just two small cat fish. On the plus side though no one else was catching either, just as on day 1 the river had switched off. During this lull I was piling the chopped worm through the feeder as this seemed to the best way to try and draw a few fish back into the swim. With just fifty minutes to go the news was that I was still ahead in the section but not by much, I needed a couple more fish. Switching hookbaits seemed to make no difference either but I felt I had to try something. With just 30 minutes to go the tip slammed over and a big carassio was soon in the net, another small carassio then followed before two more catfish kept me ticking over. Adam was now sat behind me and said it was still tight between me and the Russian and one fish for either of us could swing it. With just three minutes to go I was about to cast out with worm hookbait when Adam said stick a bit of corn on, if you’re going to get a bite you might as well make it a proper fish. What he said made sense so I baited up with a single grain of corn and cast again. After what had happened on day 1 I was very conscious of the time and with two minutes to go the tip started bouncing and I lifted into a decent fish. Adam quickly said take your time as you still have a minute and a half, I was having none of it though and literally winched the fish into the net in ten seconds flat. This time though the hooter didn’t go early and I had a nice carassio of around a pound and a quarter in the net. I quickly cast out again but I knew there was no more time even should the tip go round as all hooked fish have to be out of the water by the final hooter.
When the hooter went to signal the end I honestly felt I couldn’t have done anymore. After a shaky start waiting for that first fish I had settled into a decent match and by sticking to my guns in fishing just the one line everything after that had gone pretty much to plan. It was now all down to the scales, Adam had sent Tony Morton up to watch the Russian for the last 20 minutes and when he reported that he hadn’t had another fish it looked like I had a real chance of the section. At this point I must say a big thank you to Adam Wakelin who did a brilliant job running for me and kept me fully informed of exactly what was going on throughout the five hours. It certainly helped keep me on my toes and also allowed to me to fish the match as I wanted to.
On the team front news didn’t seem good, we had struggled in 3 of the 5 sections with Tommy looking like finishing 5th or 6th in his section being our next best result.
The scales started at peg 1 and when they arrived at my peg 4 kilo 400 grams was winning, I knew I had this and it was no surprise when after putting my fish on the scales a weight of 6 kilo 831 grams was announced. Barring somebody having more than we thought it was now all down to the Russian, it also became apparent that if he came second to me then he would beat me on weight having won his section on day 1. Until the whole section has been weighed in the anglers aren’t allowed to leave their individual zones so I had to wait for Adam to return before knowing my fate as far as the section went. I didn’t have to wait long though as I saw him walking back towards me he let out a big cheer! I had won the section but better still the Russian was 3rd! My chances of an individual medal were increasing by the second. News on the bank suggested that Ukrainian angler Oleskii Strashnyi had won his section on both days with big weights and looked a cert for individual gold. After that though it was very much up in the air as far as where silver and bronze would go.
After that everything became a bit of a blur as in people were telling me I would get a medal but in my own mind I had this feeling I’d end up 4th, it wasn’t until two hours after that my phone rang and it was Adam Rooney to say the official results were up. I waited with baited breath expecting him to say sorry mate, only for him to come out with the words you’ve got silver! To say I was made up is an understatement as for me it doesn’t get any bigger than the world championships and to get a silver in my first year really was beyond my wildest dreams. As for the team as we feared it hadn’t got much better with a total of 39 points being only two better than day 1. On the plus side though we did move up to 5th overall although this was no real consolation as we went out there for a medal.
Before I knew it though the presentation was here and stepping up to receive my silver medal is without doubt one of the proudest moments of my life. I can now understand why anglers put so much time into the world championships as it really is something extremely special. On a personal note whatever happens from here no one can take that medal away from me and it will stay with me forever. Next year the World feeder champs will be in Belgium with the squad set to be announced sometime in the New Year, here’s hoping my name is on that list!