The final day of practice on the stunning River Sava in Slovenia has now finished and the Drennan Team England squad fishing day One has just been announced.
The team will be Alan Scotthorne, Will Raison, Des Shipp, Sean Ashby and Callum Dicks with Steve Hemingray as the reserve.
The venue is possibly one of the most picturesque World Championship waters ever chosen, with plenty of fish and lots of methods needed to catch them. That is what makes the venue so interesting but also what makes the outcome so difficult to predict.
At the top end of the match length at Sevnica, where A and B Sections are located, it is around 3m deep and the most difficult area with bleak dominating catches, although there are some bonus bream in areas, too.
A 10-minute drive takes you to the other three sections at Radece. Here it is progressively deeper all the way up to E Section where it is 8-9m on the pole line in places. There seems to be a lot more quality fish in the ‘deeps’ as the week has progressed, with lots of vimba and barbel. There are also a few carassio and chub appearing in catches along with the obligatory bleak.
The bottom is extremely snaggy in places and can vary considerably over the space of three or four pegs with some anglers having a clean run through while the next peg might find themselves repeatedly snagging up on sunken trees and large boulders. Today was the perfect example of this predicament with Alan and Will both finding the long pole very difficult with snags. Alan had barbel snag him fast while Will caught a large nase on the bolo which snagged him up on his pole line. It took a long time to get the fish in as it had actually swam into two snagged-up pole rigs from previous anglers who had fished the swim!
The flow is another consideration as the river was pulling quite strongly at the beginning of the week with floats up to 30g required. Now, however, the level has dropped and the flow has slowed up considerably. The colour has also dropped out slightly and the river is expected to be almost stationary with temperatures up to 25ºC for the weekend. As expected, the weights have dropped a bit today but there are still lots of fish to be had.
England had weights from 5.3kg to 15kg today, with Callum Dicks the top performer. The rising star even had a surprise 4kg carp late on to cement his place in the squad. What was apparent was just how different all six anglers’ catches were. Some had a net of quality barbel and vimba while others had a similar weight but much smaller fish. Exactly what you fed and what you put on the hook made a big difference as Will waited for some quality barbel plus a bonus chub and a carassio while Des had a similar weight of smaller fish next door. Alan Scotthorne also managed 405 bleak for 3.9kg in his 6kg+ total and put on a sterling display of whip fishing for the crowds.
It is certainly not a one-method water and three main tactics will be needed depending on where you draw. The whip for bleak will surely play a part in the harder areas and some of the stronger nations might fish for them for the entire match. The 13m pole line will also be crucial and will account for the bulk of many catches. Round-bodied floats from 0.7g to 4g seem to be favoured for holding a bait right over the feed or edging it through. Flat floats are looking less likely now that there is hardly any flow. The final tactic will be a rod-and-line swim. This will be tackled with a slider if the wind is bad or a sliding top-and-bottom bolo float from 10-12g if conditions are more favourable.
Today it was really interesting to watch three top-class anglers all in a row feeding their slider swims differently. Reigning World Champion Goran ‘Mr Barbel’ Radovic from Serbia could be seen catapulting large balls on his bolo swim while Des Shipp next door threw cricket-sized balls with an overhead lob and Will Raison under-armed large balls – all with impressive accuracy!
No nation has run away with it in practice and it really does appear to quite an open race. Serbia, Italy, France and the Netherlands have all looked strong. Russia, Poland and the home nation also look very comfortable. The Czech Republic and Slovakia are also in-form teams and well suited to this style of fishing. England have not had the best run of practice boxes but most nations think their versatility and strength in depth makes them dangerous.
It will take two four-hour matches to decide who got the winning tactics right. We will keep you posted!