Making The Grade

Matt Barnett and Alex Clements have recently been selected to fish for the Drennan Team England Under 23s squad set to compete in Serbia later this year.

Here’s a combined account of what it took the two Drennan Bordon team mates to earn their selection during rigorous trials held on the Gloucester Canal and Makins Fishery:

Matt Barnett (left) and Alex Clements successfully made it through the England trials.
Matt Barnett (left) and Alex Clements successfully made it through the England trials.

Matt Barnett: This has been a big year for me as it’s a massive step to go from the England Under 18s team to the Under 23s. I knew it would be very hard to break in. I’m lucky enough to be fishing for Drennan Bordon, as the team has fished the Gloucester Canal in the past and were able to give me some help. I also have had some great help from anglers such as Callum Dicks, Tommy Hiller, Cam Hughes, Matt Godfrey and Simon Wilsmore. I was also up against a good team mate in Alex Clements, who having fished for the Under 18s and now two years with the England Under 23 team.

Alex Clements: Manager Mark Downes had selected Pegs 23 to 39 on the Gloucester Canal and wanted to see us all fish a short line in roughly 8ft of water and a long 13m pole line for skimmers where it was around 12ft. Matt and I managed to get a few practice sessions in and the first one was a great success with both of us catching between 20lb and 30lb of bream. The next two sessions started to get a lot harder and this was a good insight into how the trial was going to fish.

MB: I had four rigs set up. For short I fished a 4×16 (0.5g) and a 4×18 (0.7g) Perfect float. For the long swim I fished a 1.5g and a 2g Perfect. These were spot on for the conditions.

Alex Clements in action on the Gloucester Canal.

AC: We put our heads together and came up with a very similar plan, which was to cup in four balls short with only 100ml of joker in. This line was to mainly target small perch and roach and simply a place to go when the 13m pole line needed resting.

The 13m line was fed a lot more positive. We found the ratio of leam to groundbait was very important and concluded 85% damp leam to 15% Sensas Lake groundbait was about right. Ten balls of this mix was balled in at the start with only 100ml of joker in, just short of the pole tip due to the depth. A whole bag of damp leam was also balled in to create a cloud. Finally, we would then accurately cup in four positive balls containing 150ml of joker and 50ml of casters and dead maggots.

MB: On the day of the trial I was actually placed beside my team mate Alex, which wasn’t ideal as we had exactly the same tactics in mind! Luckily it didn’t affect us too much as I weighed in 1.8kg and Alex 1.9kg, which were respectable weights on the day. The trial was won from an end peg who caught bream all day!

Matt with a Makins bream.

AC: Mark Downes talked to all of us at the end and decided he’d like to have a second trial with nine of us selected. This was scheduled at Makins Fishery on Phase One, Lake Two, which is a deep lake with predominantly carp, bream and roach. I had never seen the lake before so I managed to squeeze in a practise session with the others. It proved quite hard due to the undesirable weather, but we all managed to catch a few.

MB: On the day of the trial I drew peg 15, yet again beside Alex, so the pressure was on! I fished two lines, long and short. I chucked two balls short and then cupped a further two with 50/50 Roach and leam with 200ml of joker. For the long pole swim I threw in nine balls making sure none went past my pole tip. My mix was 50/50 Lake and leam with 50ml of joker and a pinch of maggots/casters followed by another four balls potted in over the top containing 150ml of joker and 50ml of maggots/casters.

Matt’s top catch from the final trial.

AC: I was once again placed next to Matty, but this time he wasn’t going to let me beat him, putting 7.6kg on the scales To my 6.6kg made up of roach and bream. This put Matty 1st on the day and myself 2nd, so we were both chuffed with our performances.

MB: I am so happy that Alex and I have been selected to represent our country for this year’s World Champs in Serbia, alongside Sam Hughes, Rory Jones and Tom Hobbs!

AC: I think we have a great young team this year with a great chance, so I am confident we can bring back the goods!

Good luck to Alex, Matt and all the England juniors competing in Serbia!