Last weekend I was invited to fish the Maver Day match on the Ostellato Canal in northern Italy. This is the same venue that was used for the 2011 World Championships, that match was dominated by the Italians, who were very secretive about how they fed there pegs, they prepared there bait behind umbrellas so nobody could see what they were doing. So when I had an invite from Maver Italy to fish the venue I jumped at the chance and hopefully I would catch a lot of fish and learn more about the best way to feed it.
The 2011 World Champs was brilliant fishing, with weights in excess of 20kgs, but lots of questions were asked about how the Italians had fed their bloodworm and joker. Long after the event I learnt that they had fed it in 'pongo', this is damp leam made to break down very slowly, something that the canals skimmers loved.
This Maver Day was in a format that I have never fished before, it is called 'Americano' style. Basically 2 anglers fish as a pair in one peg, their weights are added together and the prizes are paid out as tackle. Bloodworm and joker was banned, worms could only be used on the hook and not fed, and each pair of anglers had a 2 litre limit of caster and maggots. Now this may not be everyones idea of a fishing match, I can't see it catching on in the UK, but I was really looking forward to fishing the venue, trying out the new format, and meeting the Italian Maver team.
My partner for the match was young Bradley Gibbons, he's just joined Dorking and is a member of the England under 18 squad. The journey to Ostellato is 1000 miles and took us a full day to drive, we left early on Wednesday morning and arrived at Ostellato late that evening.
Thursday was our first days practice, the weather was 18 degrees and hardly a breath of wind, a bit different to back home, the fishing was excellent we fished for about 6 hours trying out different rigs and groundbaits, we used fishmeal and non fishmeal groundbaits, and I caught over 40lb of skimmers.
Friday, we started fishing and the weather was fine, then after an hour and a half the wind got up so bad we had to pack up, but I caught 20lb in that short time. This really is an awesome venue, I wish we had something like it in the UK.
Saturday was the day of the match, 150 pairs of anglers lined the banks, the match was split into 15 sections of 10 pairs. During the 10 minute prebaiting period we balled our groundbait and cupped our 'pongo'. If you watch the 'youtube' clip of the match you can see how close everyone is fishing together, my bait tray was touching Bradleys bait tray. The problem with fishing so close to one another is that only one angler really catches any fish on a venue that flows, the downstream angler.
We weighed in 10kgs+, in our section of 10, we had the end peg in the match, this peg won the match with 18kg+, our 10kgs was good enough for third overall, but with a continental payout only the section winners got a prize.
It was a great experience to fish the match, the venue has to be one of the best in the world, and it was great to meet the Maver Italian team.
Maver Day part 1