A Hard-Earned 4th In Spain

Julie Abbott reports back from the Ladies World Championship in sunny Spain where carp and lots of tiny carassio were the main target.


This year’s event was on the Rio Guadiana in Merida, Spain. Daytime temperatures peaked at 42 degrees and fishing under the shade of an umbrella was the only option. Our homework led us to get ready for big carp and barbel on the pole at 11.5m, so carp poles and heavy elastic were the order of the day, as had been the case when the men were there several years ago.

England Ladies: Wendy Locker, Kayleigh Smith, Abbi Kendall, Sam Sim, Helen Dagnall and Julie Abbott with managers Joe Roberts, Dick Clegg and Dave Brooks.

Arriving at the venue there was little or no flow with widths approaching 300m in places. As is usual on the Continent, the bankside access was great with a main road and dirt track running the entire length. Every peg also had a 1.25m square concrete platform to fish from. We’d seen some videos from when the Nations event had been held there, so we had a good idea of what to expect.

england-ladies-2016-2Each practice day followed the same routine; Monday to Friday we were up at 6am and on the bank for 8am with a 10am all in and fishing for four hours. It was too hot to fish after this time and packing away your gear in 40 degree heat was exhausting. Our gear got so hot that you burnt yourself on exposed metal such as zip tags and landing net heads!

For the first day I was on the slider while others were short lining, on the whip or the pole at 11.5m (the ladies’ limit). Depths throughout the week ranged from 7ft to 12ft on the pole line and we tried combinations of groundbait, loose fed corn and sticky mag, lots of loose feed, very little loose feed, chopped worm, all to rule things out as well as in.

It soon became apparent that there were thousands of small carassio in the river, and small means 30-50g or about 2oz in old money. They could be caught at 5m or if you were lucky on a 2-3m whip, just past the nearside rocks. They lived underneath the vast shoals of bleak that inhabit the venue and if you could get through the bleak it was possible to catch one-a-chuck.

These carassio soon became a vital part of our plan, and for every other team on the bank, with a worm head the best bait, which evaded the bleak and meant that you could catch dozens of small carassio without having to change your hook bait. By the match weekend we had settled on groundbait at 5m and on our whip lines, with stickmag and corn at 11.5m.

Day One

england-ladies-2016-julie-abbottBoth days we were up at 5am in order to mix the groundbait, get to the draw and then get all the gear to our allocated pegs on time. I was fortunate enough to be selected and I was given peg C14 for the day.

As per the team plan, I fed corn and sticky mag at 11.5m and started at 5m feeding groundbait and fishing a worm head. I was immediately into small carassio and had 95 in the first hour – only to be told I was falling behind other anglers!

I switched to my 3m whip and it was SOLID! I never left this line and fed almost my full allocation of 20 litres of groundbait in the 4 hours. Officially I had 447 fish but I was told that it was more like 500+ as my steward had been distracted watching the Spanish angler on the peg next door!

england-ladies-2016-3At the end I was shattered. My hands were shredded even more due to the long shank hooks, which make unhooking quicker; either the shank caught your hand, the hook itself caught your hand or the spiky dorsal fin on the small carassio did. My left hand looked like a pin cushion!

My fish weighed 17.005kg (37.5lb) and I was 3rd in section, beaten by an Italian with 17.916kg and the Spaniard on the next peg who’d caught two big carp on her 5m line for 18.064kg. We finished the day in 5th place as a team on 28 points, only 8 points behind the leaders Spain and all to play for on Day Two.

Day Two 

gtip2floatzmI was on peg E4, which we thought was a good area. It was much deeper than the day before, 12ft at 11.5m. I set up Drennan G Tip 2 floats from 1g to 2.5g on 0.22mm to 0.18mm line and a size 14 hook. I also set up a 2g pencil float (with the bulk down and no droppers) for 5m to get the bait down really quickly.

I had 58 fish in the first hour at 5m which was OK but I was falling behind. I switched to the whip but 45 fish in the second hour proved the small carassio weren’t there in the numbers that I needed. The wind had switched direction today and the higher number pegs were catching far more than the lower numbers.

I went back to 5m but it was still no better, so manager Dave Brooks told me to fish long. Feeding sticky mag, corn and some groundbait using my Acolyte Carp pole I caught two carassio and a proper carp, all on corn, to finish the match with 9.168kg, which eventually placed me 8th in the section. Going after the big carp was the only choice as there were not enough of the small carassio for me to make up any places on the anglers with big fish.

The Result

We improved on our Day One score to post 24 points. The Polish, Spanish and Italian anglers had also improved on the previous day to fill the medal positions, so we finished in 4th place.

The venue was awesome, with over 30,000 fish caught over the two days, with average weights around the 10kg mark. Congratulations to Poland on their first gold medal in the women’s event.

Finally, both Dick Clegg and Wendy Locker have both retired from international competitions. Both have been a stalwart of the English international scene and will be greatly missed by all of us. Good luck both of you, and thank you for your contributions over many, many years; you’ll be sorely missed!

The winners: 1st Poland, 2nd Spain, 3rd Italy.

The Team: Julie Abbott, Helen Dagnall, Abbi Kendall, Wendy Locker, Sam Sim, Kayleigh Smith
Management: Dave Brooks, Dick Clegg, Joe Roberts
Helpers: Adam Dowd, Jason Kirk, Jeannette Halliday, Rob Wright