Gold At The European Police Champs

Drennan Bordon’s Graeme Aggar has just won individual gold at the European Police Championship held in Belgium. Here’s his account of a very memorable two-day event.

A bonus bream from Belgium’s Roeselare-Leie Canal.

Last month saw my good friend and travelling partner Ian Jones and I packing the car and heading for the Channel Tunnel. We were travelling to Waregem in Belgium for the 27th European Police Championships to be held over 2 days in September. The venue was the Roeselare-Leie Canal, a large ship canal, 50 metres wide and up to top 5s deep at 13 metres.

The competition is slightly different to normal in that the first day is pole only and the second day, rod and line only, including feeder. The fishing was mainly for roach at 5 to 6 metres and skimmers/bream at 11 to 13 metres.

There was 22 teams of 5 anglers competing, including seven national teams from England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary and obviously the hosts Belgium. The other teams are regional. There is therefore a national, regional and one overall individual competition. There are not at present more National teams competing as in Europe most countries have more than one Police force and cannot unfortunately decide on a team to represent them!

Ian and I were representing the England National team, which I have been a part of for the past three years and Ian a lot longer.

Hot Practice
Good weather greeted Ian and I as we arrived for practice and this continued all week with temperatures in the mid to late 20s and bright sunshine, with flat-calm conditions… until a ship went past or the lock gates were opened! The canal would then go up or down by as much as a foot.

It would be stationary one minute then would flow left or right and at differing speeds. This proved hard work to get our heads around for the pole day. You had to be constantly changing the depth of your rig and the size of the float you were using.

Our research predicted that it would be a difficult venue and this proved accurate in practice, with most days all of our team struggling to catch a huge amount and the prediction of a 5kg overall winning weight for both days proved to be about right.

A reasonable plan was formed for both days, based around bloodworm and joker and if really struggling to change to chop worm and caster.

Day One
I drew Peg 7 in B Section in an area that had fished hard in practice and where a bonus fish would be worth good points.

I started on very small roach at 5 metres and it was not long before I moved out to my long line, which I had fed at 11 metres. I caught a couple of small hand-size skimmers, which from reports from the stewards was pretty good in the section.

In practice we had caught the odd larger bream if we had seen bubbles in the swim. I noticed that the angler two pegs to my right had a large amount of these bubbles, which then disappeared. I therefore decided to sit it out on my heavier rig set overdepth for 10 minutes.

After about 11 minutes the float slid away and I hooked and landed a bream! This turned out to be the only one caught until end peg 22. I managed to add a few more bits and pieces to my catch and finished 2nd in section with 2.53kg.

As a team we had a bad day and between us collected 53 points. That left us down in 4th place in the National teams. Ireland brought in a great result of 25 points.

Day Two
The second day was the rod and line match and saw me draw Peg 16 in C Section. This was a peg where the Belgian angler the previous day had caught bream.

In practice we had found a 16m line on the feeder to be the most consistent, again putting joker through the feeder and chop worm if all else failed. Other methods had worked but I thought I was in an area with some fish so was confident with the feeder approach. I set up two almost identical rods; one for fishing bunches of bloodworm and the other for larger baits.

The entire venue on the second day fished a lot harder than we expected. I caught three small skimmers early, which again from reports was good, then the section seemed to die completely.

During practice the area I was in had produced some big eels, so two and a half hours in I went to ‘plan B’ and chopped some worms up to put some out through the feeder in hope of catching some.

Almost immediately I caught an eel of over 500 grams, which I managed to net on about the 4th attempt! I then had a bream followed by a second one after swapping to a bunch of bloodworm. I again finished 2nd in section, this time with 3.63kg.

A switch to feeding chopped worm worked well on the feeder.

The team did well on Day Two, winning it with a total of 32 penalty points, including a section win and a further 2nd. Unfortunately it was not enough to pull back the first day and we ended up 4th overall on 85 points. I was lucky enough with 4 points to pick up the individual title.

Ireland, captained by the larger than life Richard Caplice who I had just managed to keep at bay in my section, won and took the National team title with an impressive 67 points. I would like to congratulate them on a great team effort and well deserved win!

Hungary, who are the hosts in 2015, were 2nd with 79 points and Germany were 3rd with 80.

Graeme Aggar fished extremely for his individual gold medal in Belgium.

I would like to thank Ian Jones for firstly coming up with a team plan that worked and, with a little bit more luck, would have put us in the medals and secondly putting up with me and my snoring all week!

Thanks to Steve Barnett and Bordon Angling Centre for supplying the groundbait and good quality bait as always.

Also thanks to Drennan and Gary Barclay for their support. I was tasked by Gary to fill up the bottom six rings of the 4m keepnet Drennan kindly supplied. I failed, but the net successfully kept in place the eel on the second day, which was the difference in me winning the individual title!