This was the first time Daiwa Dorking have ever qualified for this event and I was really looking forward to it, I was looking forward to fishing with the sun on my back after our lovely british weather.I checked the forecast before we left 38 degrees, awesome.
I fished this venue about 6 years ago in the under 22s, so I had a good idea of what to expect although what I managed to find out was the venue had changed for the better. When I was there 6 years ago we were fishing for that years fry to avoid a blank, to win a silver medal, so it was good to here the venue was solid with bleak and there was a lot more carp than when I fished it last.
The long drive to Portugal started for me at 9am on monday morning and we arrived in the Hotel in Portugal 4am on wednesday morning, this was the part of the trip I was not looking forward too, still next time its someone else's turn.
Wednesday, I caught up on as much sleep as I could and only spent about an hour fishing, I caught about 5lb bleak and felt that we were in for a good time. Thursday was my first full days practice and I was really looking forward to it, Will showed me how to catch these bleak, which can be very tricky on certain days, and I had a great time catching 15lb of them, they are about 30 to the pound.
The next 2 days were spent catching bleak for a couple of hours then working out how to catch the carp and avoid the bleak, my best day I had 14 carp on the pole, the last time I was there all the carp were caught on a big waggler, up to 98 turns in certain places, but things had changed.
Sunday was a rest day, before the official practice starts on the match length, earlier we had fished off the match length to get a feel of what to expect. There was plenty of preparation needed for the bleak fishing, whip rigs to be made up to 5m, in several different sizes of floats, plenty of beak hooks to be tied, not forgetting all the short line rigs that also required. All of Sunday was taken up with prep, and there still wasn't enough time.
Monday, we were on the match length and things started to get a bit more serious, we were there to do a job and a place to fish for in the team, 6 anglers travelled, but only 5 can fish. Every day we fished the match hours and weighed in at the end. I caught 8lb odd of bleak, second a few ounces behind Will, so I was well pleased, we were not in a very good section and nobody caught any carp, but in the better sections quite a few carp were being caught on the pole.
Tuesdays practice session was in a better section and we all caught bleak and a few carp, gradually a pattern was starting to emerge, where we caught bleak early and then fished for the carp in the last hour or so. To catch the carp on the pole you had to feed and fish corn, as the masses of bleak made short work of the maggots.
The rest of the week were spent fine tuning the bleak tactics and perfecting the 'rhythm' whilst sorting the feeding plan and presentation for the carp. By the time the practice week had ended we felt we had it well sorted and were feeling really confident.
Little did we know what was in store for the match day, this length of river has a massive dammed lake upstream at Montargile, and water can be run out of the dam at any time. On the friday night water was released from the lake into the match length, in the past any increase in flow has always been welcome on this river and the fish responded, but not this time.
We knew nothing about this, I dont know if other teams did, or if this was something the match organisers had arranged, but on the morning the river looked OK, but the cold water had changed everything.
The team plan was to fish for bleak at the start and spend the last hour or so after the carp. My match started well enough and I was catching bleak better than anyone around me, I was happy, as the match progressed a shadow from a tree I was fishing under, the only tree for miles, was gradually being cast across my peg, when the shadow reached where I was catching my bleak, they disappeared, I tried following them out but the shadow was too big, the anglers around me never had a shadow and they carried on catching, never mind, I thought 'I will go on the pole earlier than planned'. So I picked up the pole and tried to catch a carp, no response, then I realised I was in trouble and possibly the team plan was wrong on the day.
Sure enough the cold water that had been run through the venue had stopped all the better fish feeding and the teams who went with a plan to bleak fish for the whole match finished top 3, we were fourth, the teams who just fished for the carp really blew out. I finished 12th in my section of 20, a result that I was very disappointed with and got dropped for the second day, Whoever had the lowest points on the first day always gets dropped and the person who didnt make the team gets to fish for the second day, a very fair system that we have always used, although it didnt make me feel better as I desperately didnt want to let the team down.
Sundays match we had a real problem with the tactics to sort out and decided that we were so far behind the Italians and French the only way we could win it was to stick to our plan and hope that more carp fed, we couldnt catch up just fishing for bleak.
Sundays match went pretty much the same as the Saturday match, although a few more carp were caught and we finished third on the day, this gave us a slightly disappointing Bronze medal, if we had finished fourth we would have felt really gutted. Lets hope we can qualify again next year and have another crack at it.
Ifyou have enjoyed reading this please share it or google+ it