Fantastic Fishing On The River Váh

Alan Scotthorne looks back on the 2015 World Club Championship in Slovakia where he and his Drennan Barnsley Blacks team competed on the River Váh. 


Slovakia’s River Váh was always going to be a tough nut to crack with its fast flow and flat floats up to 50g required, plus targeting fish that do not reside here in England. I think that puts the team winning a bronze medal into perspective!

WCC-slovakia-2015-alan3The two form teams, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, put in brilliant displays to finish first and second. My Drennan Barnsley Blacks outfit of Lee Kerry, Matt Godfrey, James Dent, Simon Fields, Frankie Gianoncelli and myself, captained by Glenn Lawrence, were over the moon with our bronze medal performance.

The start of the week’s practice was not good, with us drawing two more difficult areas. By the Friday, however, we had some sort of plan put together. With other teams seemingly catching more fish, though, we were not over confident that we were on the right track.

The Plan

WCC-slovakia-2015-alan4Our tactics were quite simple, introducing a heavy mix of Van den Eynde Black Turbo, Secret and brown crumb, made heavy by adding Sensas Terre de River at the top of the swim at 13 metres.

We then cupped in stickymag up to two metres upstream, depending on the flow, so it fell where our groundbait was on the bottom. We used 4 litres of gravel to 1.25 litres of live maggots to be introduced during the four-hour match. We also had 0.75 litres of dead maggots and 0.25 litres of joker; the latter for a close-in bleak swim and the dead maggots for introducing via the groundbait.

We intended only to fish for bleak if all was going wrong on the long pole line. For this swim we fed with VDE Ablette (bleak) red groundbait with joker, fishing whips with floats around 4×16 (0.5g) and baited with orange maggots, which seemed best for the bleak on this river.

Fishing the main long-pole swim at 13 metres we ran Cralusso Ray flat floats between 20g and 50g over just the top part of the swim with a short metre length of line between pole tip and float. It was hard graft but you needed to be right over the groundbaited area as much as possible.

WCC-slovakia-2015-alan2We would start off with the pole float lowered in at a 10 o’clock angle upstream and, once the float had gone a metre below the feed area, you then needed to lift the entire rig out out and start the process again. This seemed the best tactic with the float in the water for just 6 to 8 seconds each run through.

All the bites came right over the groundbait. Running the rig further down the peg resulted in wasted time. It was busy fishing as the more runs through you had resulted in more fish in the net.

Vimba, nase and barbel were the main species. They were not hook shy so I used size 10 Kamasan B511 hooks to 0.17mm Supplex Fluorocarbon hooklengths baited with up to four maggots. Even with strong tackle you still lost odd fish in the fast flow.

For me, I settled on Drennan pink Carp Bungee elastic. That was strong enough to land the barbel but also forgiving enough to land the vimba. Coupled with my faithful Drennan Acolyte Carp pole I could strike hard to set the hook without any fear of busting the pole.

Day One

The first day match was a real tester for all of the competitors as the match was abandoned after two and a quarter hours due to thunder and lightning and torrential rain! By this time I had put together 7.108kg for 2nd in B Section. Matt won A Section with 8kg, Lee Kerry was 3rd with 7.443kg and James and Simon both ended up 8th in section.

We finished 4th on the day behind Slovakia, Czech Republic and Belarus with a 22-point total. We knew we were in with a chance of a medal, but still needed to be positive. With the top 10 teams all with 32 points or less there was no room for error on the second day match.

Day Two

WCC-slovakia-2015-alan5The river was up a metre due to the heavy rain but opinions were that it could still fish well as we were now fishing in bright sunshine and better conditions. Frankie had stepped in for Simon and we were all up for the day’s battle, knowing we had to score well to get on the podium.

The tactics remained the same but with the river carrying extra colour we were aware that the resident bleak might figure stronger in these conditions.

We had a slow start to the match but were all catching reasonably well apart from Lee, who was soon bleak fishing on a difficult peg in A Section. Matt was again flying, I was top three, James and Frankie a little off the pace but starting to catch. We were in the hunt but the pressure was on!

Personally, I had a great match finishing 1st in the section with 11.883kg. That consisted of two barbel and 34 vimba and nase. They were all caught at 13 metres using a 40g Ray flat float.

The Result

It seemed an age before the results started coming in but it looked like we had not done well enough as we heard Lee had struggled in A Section. What we didn’t know, however, was that he had bagged in the last hour! After catching 200-plus bleak he then caught on the long pole to pull himself back up to 4th in section. Matt had lost a little ground, finishing 5th with 12kg, James chipped in with a 4th and Frankie was 9th.

WCC-slovakia-2015-barnsleyThe result is now history, with Slovakia winning convincingly with an awesome 21-point total. Their  Czech neighbours finished 2nd on 37 points and our 45-point total lifted us up to bronze.

To say we were pleased would be an understatement. It almost felt like we had won gold after the disappointment of finishing 4th the year before in Slovenia!

This was a really memorable weeks fishing on a brilliant river. Now we need to try to qualify for next year’s World Club Championship. In 2016 it is on the Ostellato Canal in Italy. Again that should be a fantastic match, but with bream and skimmers the target – fish we now a little more about!