Last weekend I ran the bank for Drennan Team England on the river Moravia in the Czech Republic at Uherske Hradiste, I havent got a clue how you say it, but it was a nice place. The weather was variable and the fishing was difficult, on the Wednesday it was glorious sunshine and 37 degrees, the next day it was only 6 degrees and driving rain, Ive never experienced a drop of 31 degrees in 24 hours, but this happens regularly in this part of the world and the fishing is equally unpredictable.
Sean Ashby in the groove
On the Thursday when we were having the awful weather only 6 teams, out of 37, braved the elements to fish and they caught very little. As you would expect the river started to rise and continued to rise all day Friday, which was the final day of practice. On the Friday I spent all day walking up and down the 222 anglers fishing and all I saw were bleak caught and one bream, not very encouraging but the river was expected to drop as we had not had any more rain.
On the Saturday match the river had fined down a lot and some big fish could be seen rising before the start, so things were looking better. I was given C section to run along with Mark Addy, Stevie Gardner had drawn this section. The basic plan for the England team was to catch bleak early and try for some bigger fish later in the match, my job as a bank runner was to keep Steve informed of how many, and what size big fish were being caught so that he could time when to leave the bleak and fish the flat float for a bream, carp or catfish.
The set up for the bleak was 3 and 3.5m whips with light floats set at about 2.5ft deep and a couple of short line rigs for when the wind got up. The bleak were 80-90 per kilo and with each angler having his own steward who was counting the fish each hour, it was possible to estimate fairly accurately what weight each angler had, my job was spot every bonus fish caught and estimate its weight and work out how Steve was doing in his section.
When the match started everybody in the section started fishing for bleak, so my job was easy, after an hour the numbers of fish were put up on a board behind each angler, I went along the section recording the numbers and passing on the info, after an hour Steve had 163 bleak and was leading the section. Every team had a bank runner doing the same and some of the teams who were loosing pace on the bleak started to pick up the long pole and try for a bonus fish, now I had to really be on my toes, covering the 19 pegs and estimating the size of each 'bonus' caught. During the second hour only a couple of bonus bream were caught, so Steve stuck to his plan and carried on catching the bleak, but by now the bleak were starting to slow up and Steve only caught 45 in the second hour, but it was slowing for everybody, so going into the third hour more and more anglers were picking up the long pole and flat floats, most anglers were using flat floats of 50g in the strong flow.
Steve Gardner preparing his bait
The third hour was similar to the second except a few more bream were starting to get caught, the 5 anglers upstream of Steve had all caught one or more and it was looking like Steve would need to catch a bonus or two for good team points, so every now and again he would have a quick look on the flat float, but without any response, at the end of the third hour Steve was only half way in his section and things werent looking good, meanwhile the Slovakian angler 2 pegs upstream had caught a 4.6kg carp then 10 minutes later he had a 6kg carp, which took him 30 minutes to land, he went on to win the section and the largest fish of the weekend. Steve now had to forget about the bleak and concentrate on his long line, the flat float never produced a bite but a 3g round bodied float run at half pace across the same bait produced an odd bite and during the last hour Steve caught 3 skimmers, each about 600g, the last one was hooked 3 mins from the final hooter.
Everybody knew it was going to be a tight section, apart from the carp, and it was a tense time walking up with the scalesman. By the time they got to Steve 4kg 500 was top and Steve thought that he had been beaten, but when he put his fish on the scales he had 4kg 700g and this put him second in the section, beaten by the Slovakian angler who had 12kg 700g. This was a fine performance by Steve and we went back to the draw to find out how the rest of the team had done.
Nice to Peter Drennan and his team at the match
The team had 29 points and this put them 9th, with Italy 14th, a real shock. England were only 5 points off a bronze medal but with so many teams in between things were not looking good.
The Sunday match I ran the same section again and Steve Gardner had drawn one peg away from where he was the day before, the team plan was much the same as he day before, but if we were to win a medal we really would need to be lucky with those bonus fish. When the hooter started the match most anglers picked up their whips and bleaked it and it became clear early on that the bleak were not going to feed like they had the day before and lots of anglers were picking up their long poles early on.
Six pegs below Steve the Luxembourg angler was starting to catch a few roach at 6m, at the bottom of the stones, this is a line that the England anglers had fed at the start but it was normally a last resort to fish it and only produced the odd bite in practice, a little later Didier Delonney, from France, also started to catch a variety of fish on this line, this info was passed on to Steve and he tried it early on, first run down he missed a bite, second run down he hooked a fish which snapped his hooklength in a snag, he then changed to a 0.12 bottom and ran the float down the peg and then hooked the snag. The snag was probably a tree branch that had been washed down in the recent rain, the snag made his 6m line impossible to fish and he had to scrap that line and concentrate on the long pole line. This was a huge disapointment as the 6m line was the place to fish on the day, all the top section points were caught on this line.
Didier Delonney won the section with 4kg 700g and Steve could only manage 1kg+ for 14th in the section, it was a very frustrating day for Steve with that snag, there was very few big fish caught and a lot of teams had up and down points score.
Well done to Poland for winning, I watched one of their anglers bleak fishing and he was awesome, and a massive congratulations to Sean Ashby for winning individual gold, he produced 2 fantastic diplays of bleak fishing to beat the best bleak anglers in the world, I only wish we had more bleak venues and bleak matches that we could practice on, because just fishing the odd bleak match now and again we are never going to beat the Eastern European teams.
Italian Sorti bleaking
Bait checks before the match
Steve nets a precious skimmer