A Brilliant Result!

Alan Scotthorne looks back on how Drennan Team England won gold in the 2014 European Championship.


The Hensies-Pommeroeul Canal in Belgium turned out to be a good venue for Drennan Team England, as we took gold in a very tight finish with Russia – winning by the narrowest of margins!

World Champs 2013 and now Euro Champs 2014!

To win it came down to targeting large bream on the slider at distance, as there was a lack of smaller fish to catch to get any points in all five sections. Helped by light winds over the weekend all our lads managed this feat, with Sean Ashby catching just one on each day from the most difficult D Section for mega points. For me, he was the man of the match!

All this looked impossible after the first day of practice on the Monday. We had just a handful of bullheads to show in our four-hour practice session! However, the venue had not seen any bait for weeks and the fish just didn’t respond.

A dark soil-based mix was favoured.

On the Tuesday we sat at the top end of the match length in A Section and it was like we had turned up on a different length! William Raison took a fantastic 30kg with 14 bream, Lee Kerry had 23kg, myself 20kg and the lowest weight was 14kg. We were buzzing that evening with lots to talk about!

We had also caught up to 4kg of smaller silver bream in our catches, so maybe these might show down the other sections later in the week, but of course this never happened.

Moving down the match length to B Section we adopted a more positive feeding strategy, feeding up to 4 litres of a mix consisting of Sensas Terre de River, black Terre de Somme and Sensas Black Lake with 400ml of joker, 100ml of feed bloodworm and a good helping of casters and dead maggots fed at the start. Again, we had a good day. We all caught between four and seven bream with William again recording top weight with 12kg.

Bream like this were absolutely crucial to success.

Our confidence was starting to grow with a simple distance slider match on the cards it became apparent the more accurate you were with the feeding the more it was possible to catch. Topping up after the initial groundbaiting was now what we were focusing on and this was proving difficult to get right but we were sure that not feeding at all for the first hour was the way forward.

Wednesday was again reasonably good and we found that adding chopped worms later in the match created a few bites. Hook baits of an inch piece of redworm and multiple bloodworm mounted on a size 16 Kamasan B560 hook was the best hook bait. I cannot recall us losing a single fish in practice and these hooks have almost become our main choice for catching the bigger-sized bream.

Large 6SSG Sliders were needed.

Hooklengths did vary with personal choice but I have great confidence in Drennan Supplex and use this for most of my fishing. I used a 0.129mm hooklength on all my slider rigs.

I set up to six rods up every day; all with 6SSG sliders. Three had thinner plastic tops for when the conditions were good and three with just normal Peacock tops if I needed to put more line on the bottom to combat the tow.

Perch and bullheads were all anglers could expect on the pole.

On Thursday and Friday the fishing was a little more difficult but we still felt confident of getting a good result as all of the match length was now suffering from the pressure of five days of intensive fishing. We had got a plan together for the slider line but all we could muster on the pole was just some very small 4-6g perch that we targeted at around seven metres. We fed just joker in leam for these fish but they would only be fished for if we needed a few points to keep us in the race on the first day or if the bream shut up shop.

The Event
It is imperative to keep in the race on Day One on the Saturday and our 36-point total was only good enough for fifth on the day, but with Czech Republic winning on 27 points we were not far behind.

One bream would easily wipe out a weight of perch and bullheads!

William Raison was 2nd in A Section, myself 5th in B Section, Callum Dicks 6th in C Section, Sean Ashby 8th in D Section and Lee Kerry having a difficult day finishing 15th in E Section.

The main problem for Lee was that the Russian angler bellow him had fed soft balls of a 50/50 mix of groundbait and leam regularly after the first hour and sucked all the fish in the area into his peg and cutting Lee off, as the bream were mainly near the end of E Section.

Alan’s Day One catch.

The only thing we changed tactics wise for Sunday’s match on Day Two was that we topped up with much smaller balls on the slider line as we felt crashing in bigger balls was possibly scaring the fish rather than attracting them due to the pressure on the venue with the pegging still very tight. Mark Downes and Mark Addy had also noticed the French had been topping up with smaller, almost-neat balls of joker to good effect, as there 29-point total was proof of that.

Sean Ashby was Alan's man of the match.
Sean Ashby was Alan’s man of the match.

The second day is always a tense affair but it was important to give the anglers a chance and not panic. Four hours is a long time and patience was the key to catching those all-important bream.

I was in C Section again on a middle-order draw, Peg 9. I had caught four bream on the first day but knew this was going to be a much tougher nut to crack.

Two hard-earned bream on Day Two.

After two hours I was still blanking and with odd bream being caught in the early numbers in my section it was looking decidedly dodgy. I had only refed once but another four small hard balls of the mix crammed with joker thankfully provoked a response and a bream was finally in the net to give me some breathing space.

At this stage, however, all was not looking good with both William and Sean sitting breamless. Nerves were jangling!

Yet another gold medal to add to the trophy cabinet!

With one hour left we had a downpour of rain but just as it started I hooked my second bream. With rain now bouncing down I was relieved to get it in the net! Soon after, both Sean and William also caught a bream. Things had suddenly changed and it was now looking like a photo finish, as the Russian team had all done well too!

History shows that we managed to win by one point to be crowned European Champions and achieve another milestone. Angling Trust Drennan Team England now hold both the World Champs trophy from our win in Poland last year and the European Champs trophy.

It’s always a great feeling to win and with anglers like Callum Dicks, Lee Kerry and Simon Willsmore now in the team pushing us forward the future does look good!