What an event this turned out to be for the Drennan Team England outfit consisting of Steve Hemingray, William Raison, Sean Ashby, Des Ship and Steve Gardener and my good self.
All the pre match talk about the Zeranski Canal was about how hard the fishing was going to be! Bleak were probably going to play a major part in the result with roach and skimmers difficult to amass and weights of just one kilo winning full sections. On the drive out to Poland we had all prepared ourselves for a real ‘grueller’, but we were still willing to put in the time with practice starting for us on the Tuesday two weeks before the event.
We found a few pegs in between section A and B, these two sections were a long way apart so we were not breaking any rules as you are not allowed under CIPS rules to fish within 500 meters of the match length. Settling into what was a great day’s fishing, catching lots of bleak, roach, bream and skimmers, we were pleasantly surprised at just how many fish were present, but still a little apprehensive as to how the fishing would be when two hundred anglers had fished there for seven days! We fish a lot of canals similar to this one back home in England and if the canal held up, well we really did fancy our chances here because we have a good record on this type of venue.
We spent the rest of the week practicing our bleak fishing with long whips, up to six meters, and short lining for bleak as we thought this would play a major role in the week’s practice leading up to the event. We caught weights up to ten kilos but it’s practice we needed because we have very few places to catch these fish back in England, so we feel that we are behind a lot of the European countries in this style. I don’t want to run through our full week of training as the first couple of days were really irrelevant, catching too many fish, but from Wednesday of the official practice a plan did start to materialise. In this article I want to cover how we eventually came up with a game plan to score seven points on the first day and an overall score of just twenty two points over the weekend for an emphatic win!
Formulating A Plan
I always say that the information to win an event is always easy to spot after the competition has finished and looking back there was one piece of the jigsaw you could have easily have missed. During a session pursuing bleak the week before the official week, Des Shipp was having problems keeping the bleak coming while short lining at ten metres feeding slop and joker. What he found by mistake was that the skimmers and roach were coming shallow under the bleak and scaring them away, and by fishing bloodworm at half depth he finished up catching a skimmer or a roach every cast.
On the Wednesday I experienced the same scenario when William was a peg above me and was struggling to catch on his long pole line at thirteen metres on the bottom, but for me this line was very good, catching roach and silver bream regularly. Will started to throw Sensas Surface groundbait in on this line to try to catch bleak, and after fifteen or so minutes he started to put a few together. The flow was coming down to me and all of a sudden I started to get plagued by bleak on the drop and shortly after the roach and skimmers had been sucked up in the cloud and joker.
At this point we knew we needed to change our approach because the bleak were fading fast, and throwing in slop could only be done by fishing past the thirteen metre line to stop ruining our other swims, so it was not really a viable option unless you were really in trouble. On the matches, we did rig up two bleak rigs on full top fours to try this if all else failed, but this was the end of the ‘bleak trail’ for us as a team.
Thursday – Day It All Came Together.
This knowledge was then put into practice on the penultimate day, with Steve Hemingray winning the session catching a few fish long lining past his thirteen metre line but most of his three kilo weight coming from roach off his ten and thirteen metre lines. I finished second not far behind, catching roach from three spots; an eight metre line, and two long lines at thirteen and eleven plus and a half metre again not feeding for bleak at all.
William had tried to catch bleak over his long lines and really struggled to catch on the bottom, but in desperation he had fed two balls of black soil short at six sections loaded with joker and caught roach well in the dying stages of the four hour session, once again away from where he had been throwing for bleak. That night we had a great meeting as the accumulated information was starting to show its worth. The final Friday’s training would be interesting but still we were not sure on how to feed for the roach and skimmers.
Steve Hemingray had caught the best out of all of us all through practice week and had settled on a very simple mix of two Sensas 2 kilo bags of normal Terre de Somme and one bag of Black Terre de Somme into which he added just quarter of a bag of Sensas Black Lake to this mix. He fed ten potted in balls at thirteen metres, and ten balls again potted at ten and a half metres with 250ml of joker in each line as his opening game plan. We finished up adopting this same strategy for the matches, but also utilizing William’s approach fishing short at six sections of pole with 200ml of joker fed in a black soil mix as our opening line to catch a few fish early in the match. We did also feed a line just over the weed with just a small soil ball, but this produced nothing whereas it was possible to catch a few perch from it in practice.
For Friday’s practice, we mixed our groundbait at the hotel so as not to give our hand away as we have in the past, and we were very keen not to let other teams know just how much joker we were feeding at the start as most teams had gone down a negative route, I am sure most would be shocked at us feeding 700ml of joker on what was portrayed as a difficult canal match! Our only concern was what effect the ‘balling in’ anglers around us would have if we cupped in on all our lines, but this appeared to be no problem as we easily beat the surrounding teams in Friday’s practice session. We also only used the more active Polish joker rather than the Russian joker, only taking quarter of a litre to section A where there were more skimmers, we found this better as the bottom was quite silt covered and the more active joker appeared better for the roach.
How I Prepared For The Match
My first day draw was in D section, next peg to where I had practiced the day before, so I knew that I would be in an area with a few fish and the bottom was also relatively flat plus nice, calm, overcast conditions would also help with good bait presentation.
I set up my first line at thirteen metres, setting up two identical rigs with Rive pattern floats with fibre bristles and carbon stems in size 0.6 g, both on 0.104mm Supplex main line with a Drennan Polemaster 0.07mm Fluorocarbon hook length, to a size 22 Kamasan B590 hook on one rig and a size 20 Drennan Ultra Fine Pole hook on the more aggressive rig. I use Fluorocarbon a lot for bloodworm as it doesn’t spin up like normal hi-tech line when shipping out, as it is a little stiffer and it’s also more difficult to spot in water, a big advantage on clear canals.
For the 11m and 8m lines, I set up the same two rigs for each line as the depth varied on all three spots getting very slightly shallower as you moved in. On all six rigs using a soft size four elastic through the top two of my Drennan Acolyte pole completed the set ups. I did set up a 0.4g rig in the same float for the line just over the weed fringe for the first ten minutes of the match, just to let my lines settle before I went onto them. Plumbing up was most important, and I set all the rigs at absolute dead depth using a 20g plummet, but then removed the plummet and nipped a swan shot on the hook to trim the float so that it was dead depth without the plummet sinking in the silt.
You still need to cover your oppositions, so I made up three long line bleak rigs on top fours just in case the whole venue switched off, something which I have seen in the past when big matches and crowds are involved. I took five litres of over-wetted Sensas Surface in my groundbait limit but luckily never had to use it in either match.
Feeding three lines over thirteen metres is normal for us in our UK canal matches, but not so normal for the continental anglers and it must have been rather confusing seeing us changing lines so often even when catching fish, but we know that to keep all the lines active it’s important to leave a few feeding fish in each spot. Topping up was only done if you felt a swim was fading, and I only topped up two or three times on each line during the match using the Black soil mix rather than the leam, which I knew would release the joker quickly each time I fed it to keep the fish in each swim.
Once I had fed all the lines in the ten minutes pre baiting period with a 250ml Drennan cup, it was a case of settling down on the first swim at 8 metres to try to put a few early fish in the net. After twelve minutes, I had my first roach on just a small single bloodworm at dead depth but quickly changed to double joker on the hook and that produced quicker bites. It’s a slow affair putting jokers on the hook as they must be moving to attract bites, but it’s well worth it for difficult roach fishing as this was. I progressed slowly to twenty fish in the first hour, before toping up this line with a golf ball size of black soil and joker and moving out to my 11metre line where bites were really slow. A move out to thirteen seemed better and I ticked over for the entire match swapping around all three lines to keep the roach coming to the end of the match, topping up each line as bites slowed.
Putting the rig in correctly is something I always take care with, allowing the rig to be held directly below the pole tip with the float just above the canal surface and then lowering the bait gives great bait presentation as the bloodworm falls directly to the bottom attracting more bites on the drop. If this didn’t work a lift and drop often brought a bite. I had amassed ninety-four fish when the whistle blew for the end of the match for a weight of three 3 kilos 225g, an easy section win and a great start for the team.
The Second Day
I fished a very similar match the next day drawing peg one in D section but did nick a 350g skimmer on the long line using a bunch of Joker on the hook to add to my 125 fish total for another section win with 4kilo 50g. This was to leave me in Bronze medal position losing out on weight, but a team gold that will sit proudly in my trophy cabinet from what I felt was a great match to be involved in. The Polish Federation ran a brilliant match and now I am looking forward to defending our title in Croatia next year if I am selected.
Just to add that my team “Ultimate Barnsley Blacks” also qualified for the World club champs in Slovenia in 2014 to cap off a great year!