I was busy on Wednesday and couldn’t make the White Acres mid week match, by Sunday I was chomping at
World Championships 2008…What a Week!
Eyup everybody, sorry for the lack of blogs I’ve put on lately, but the last three weeks have been really busy with fishing the Angling Times Winter League Final on the Nene, and then preparations for the World Championships which took place last week in Gent, Belgium.
This year was different to usual as it saw all of the team travel over to Belgium by the tunnel. It’s the first time I have ever been on it, and on the way home we timed it from the venue in Belgium to my doorstep in Sheffield, and it took only 6 and a half hours!!! That’s brilliant!!! We had all had some good background info on the venue, and knew the depths (5-8 foot) and target species (roach perch and skimmers), as well as the gear we would be likely to use. I had spent several week ensuring a had plenty of hooks tied up, various patterns to different lines, lots of rigs were made and floats bought, as well as threading up top kits and changing all real lines. I even cleaned my pole! We travelled down to the tunnel the evening before with fellow team mate Danny Huxley from Doncaster, and had a massive meal at the place we stayed, a proper rack of ribs….little did we know at that point that it was going to be the best meal we would be having for the next 8 days!
At the tunnel, we met up with all the other team members and managers…Steve Saunders, Mark Downes and Joe Roberts. Will Raison also came out with us as a secondary manager again this year. After another hour or so drive through France, we arrived at the hotel, dumped the bags and shot straight down to the venue. It’s always really exciting seeing the venue for the first time. To be honest, it didn’t look very inviting at all; it was blowing a hoooooler, and looked like a brown smelly strip of the North Sea, grey and overcast with big waves. However, better weather was forecast for the week and we were unfortunate as our practice days had been cut down to only 4, instead of the usual 5,s o we would really have our work cut out. The World Championships week is absolute non stop, wall to wall fishing. You’re up a 6am, breakfast for 6.45, sorting gear out, on bank for 8.00, and fish two sessions per day, each 3 hours, 10.30am to 1.30pm, and then 3pm to 6pm, then its back to the hotel, dinner time, a team meeting to discuss what has happened, back in rooms for 9pm, and sorting gear, rigs, tying hooks, doing elastics and trying to find the mucky Belgian channels on TV until well after 10.30pm. It’s a really tiring week, no way a holiday, and making sure you get as much kip as possible is really important, as well as being well fed and watered…without this your fishing will suffer. The next morning was totally different, flat calm, fish topping, blue skies and sun, it looked gorgeous!!!
Tuesday…Practice day 1
Each team draws a box to practice in each day, in which all 5 of the anglers are placed. This first practice saw me and Matt Derry placed on either end of the box next to the other teams, Croatia and Czech. The pole limit is 11.5m for the under 18’s, with all fishing arrived out to very strict international rules. For the first session, Will and Steve let most of us fish on our own avail to find out some basic bits about the venue. The first session went really well for me, and I managed the best weight out of the team with 5lb 14oz, catching some small fish short over a 50/50 mix of leam and groundbait, and some skimmers long using mainly leam. We found out a bit about appropriate rigs and also that topping up caused fish to back off, this was a really important point.
The afternoon session also went well for me. Will got me to loosefeed short at 6 sections with casters, as he had seen a Belgian doing this, as well as feeding my long line with a really heavy leam mix. I managed to again sneak the best weight of the session with 6lb 15oz, just pipping Connor Barlow of the next peg who had 6lb 12oz. I really ought to mention that I had a massive ide in my net, which took a single bloodworm short on a 22 hook and 0.07 bottoms. I had some decent roach too and a skimmer. The rest of the lads had done well too, all catching a few fish, learning bits about the venue already. It was a pork chop in some really weird Belgian sauce for dinner that night, not too bad really I suppose. We discussed rigs and feeding etc at the meeting before getting some gear sorted for the following day.
Wednesday…Practice day 2
I had another two really good practice sessions on the Wednesday, catching 6lb 12 in the morning, mainly small roach with the odd skimmer long, and 6lb in the afternoon. I managed to again just pip Conner off the next peg for the top weight! The team as a whole looked to be getting somewhere, we learned that very little, if any groundbait needed to be fed long for the skimmers, with just leam needed to carry bait and create a cloud. Short however, at 6m, groundbait was needed to catch the roach. We also found a 4×20 KC Carpa Prototype float was brilliant and just the right float for laying on with bigger baits long, whilst lowering a really light 0.4g rig in short was the way to catch the dumpy roach.
Thursday…Practice day 3
Thursday was probably the biggest step forward for all of us in practice. We all fed 100% leam on the long line for skimmers, throwing in 8 litres of Tierre de Somme brown with a little joker, and then cupping in 1 litre of really heavy double leam Tierre de river leam full of gear. I weighed 8lb 12oz next to the Latvians taking top weight, and had the best weight of the week second session, 21lb of skimmers on bloodworm long. Danny Huxley also had a good weight, 16lb, with the team also recording a 12lb and 10lb weight.
Friday…Last practice session…only one session today!
We only got one practice in the last day, as we have to attend the opening ceremony and also have an afternoon to get our gear sorted for the big weekend. Unfortunately, the managers take 5 people and have to drop 1 as a reserve. This year, Jake Marshall had a really unlucky week and things just didn’t seem to go right for him, its always horrible, but he took it well, hard lines mate, but he had to be as prepared as everyone in case of an emergency. I managed only 6lb 15oz this practice, but was really pleased to be in the team, and we really felt that we had the method sorted. It was crucial to place a bank stick down the edge as a marker as the water level would regularly rise and fall in a session.
There were two lines we would be fishing. The first line, very important, was at 6 sections, where a 50/50 mix of groundbait and leam was fed at the start, 4 litres, which was equivalent to around 7 proper balls. This would contain 50ml of joker. Then a rich ball of double leam would be cupped over this line to concentrate the fish and allow you to create a catching zone. Rigs for his line saw a 0.4g pencil float set 3 inc off deck, and a 0.6g Jean Francois for on the deck. The long line was an out and put skimmer and bream line. This was fed with a cloudy leam and some rock hard double river leam balls were cupped over the top with 250ml of joker, 50ml of bloodworm, and 200ml of chopped worm and caster. This would be the killing zone where we could plunder the skimmers, whilst still creating an area for them to graze over. Rigs were a range from 0.4g to 1.5g, laid on 20cm with double and triple bloodworm being the best baits. A gentleman’s rest (Spray Bar) was crucial to hold the bait dead still. I honestly feel this was my most valuable item of tackle I had with me for the matches. Topping up was done as little as possible, maybe once or twice in the match, and if there was any instinct of a fish there, it was best to wait, if you topped up on top of fish, they would spook, they really didn’t like bait going in on their heads. Elastics were another key point, with 4’s and 5’s being used set soft through three sections.
Day 1….Its a Bream Fest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was a little nervous on the morning about the draw which saw you in an 18 peg section, which placed me in B section, peg 18, right at one end, away from the better pegs near A section! I was a bit worried about how things may go. I still had anglers both sides, a German to my left on B17, and Dutch on peg C1 to my right. The nerves wore of and the excitement kicked in. it’s a really good feeling when you’ve got 25 alls on your tray to throw in at the off. When the hooter sounds, all you hear is the ‘SPLADOOOOOSHHHH’ as everyone fills it in, I always get a real kick out of that first bit, it’s awesome.
Some small fish short early on gave me a bit more confidence, and I went long after 50 minutes. First drop on my 4×20 rig, I bumped a skimmer, and second chuck I lost one on the way back in!!! GOD….HELP!!! I was really reluctant to top up as I was getting indications, but I was rewarded at the half way stage with a run of small skimmers, the odd roach and 2 hybrids. Going into the third and final hour, I was still picking up fish, working between long and short. I had around 2kilo 500. I was estimated at around 5th in section according to Steve Saunders who was running the bank for me. He reported that the Italians were catching on light floats long, so with 15 minutes left hurried out with my 0.4g rig, still 20cm over depth in the still conditions. I had a really hectic last few minutes, catching a 2lbbream and a 10oz skimmer in the last 5 minutes!!! In the world champs your fish has to be clear of he water on the hooter or is doesn’t count, so it’s a real hit and pull their blooming heads off job!!!
I estimated I had around 3kilo 500g. I didn’t think I had done badly, and both Will and Steve said I was up in the top half. I was last to weigh in the section, with the Belgian being best with 4kilo 840grams when the scales came. I thought I had no-way beat that, until I lifter my net out and realised how close it was. I have never been as nervous as waiting for them to call my weight out…….”4kilo…….800, and….70 grams……….WOOOOOOOOOOOP!!!!!! I had won the section by 30 grams!!! The guys either side of me both had 1kilo odd, which made it even better! The Team were lying in Second place too with Matt Derry finishing 7th in his section, Connor Barlow a brilliant 2nd, and the Hux-myster 6th- great result for first day. I couldn’t believe it. It was all focus for the next day that afternoon and evening, everything had to be precise.
Day 2…………..lets have ‘em!!!
Day 2 saw me in D section, peg 11. I was a little disappointed as the end peg was in my section, and had won the section the day before. The same tactics were used as the previous day, although I had only one small roach short in the first 20 minutes. I went long early, which was also really slow, before I had a lovely lift bite and my first skimmer of around 10oz to settle me. Conditions were flat calm and red hot, so I had set up 0.2 and 0.4g rigs. These were crucial, as I caught really steady, landing 18 fish throughput the match trying all sorts of different things. I found that I would get a bite by flicking the rig out past my feed a slowly dragging it across the area, almost creating a false sense of flow. I can’t really remember much of the match; I really tried to make every fish count, and fed differently, a tiny diamond of leam after every fish. This was a key point, and although we hadn’t practiced this was successfully, it worked well!!!
At the end of the match, everybody was coming up to me saying how close it was. I felt sick until the whole section was weighed in. I couldn’t pack up, and just chucked everything in. I weighed in 5 kilo 140 grams, with second place having a high 4 kilo……Phew. Thank god. Two section wins, two points, I honestly felt that that second day was the best match I have ever fished. I didn’t loose or bump a fish, if only all matches would go like that!!! I knew at that point I couldn’t do anymore. We thought that the team had just missed out, but no, it was a Bronze medal and third place on the podium for the team!!!
There were roomers flying around that I had drew on points with an Italian, and he had beat me on weight, it was a really nerve racking drive to the presentation. I ran straight over to the results board, and there it was, Final results, Individuals 1) Matt Godfrey…England!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cor’ blimey, it still doesn’t seem real now. It was awesome…that’s the only word. It turned out the Italian had three points. The Team Medal was fantastic, that’s what we go for, but to win a third individual gold medal is honestly just a dream come true.
The whole experience of fishing internationally for the under 18’s has been fantastic over the past 4 years. I really couldn’t name all the people that have had helped me and had some influence, even only the tinniest thing they may have done or said that made a difference to me or my fishing in some way ever since I started years ago, but I’d just like to say thank you to them all. My family especially, I couldn’t have done it without them. To have the opportunity to fish for my country was an absolute honour, and I have learned so much and enjoyed every single second. Standing on that podium with a third gold medal and the national anthem playing was amazing, the team medal was what we went for, but the rest topped it off.
Below are some pictures my dad and grandad took off the week….