So Close In Slovenia

Alan Scotthorne looks back at the recent World Club Championship in Slovenia.

The Drennan Barnsley Blacks team in sunny Slovenia. Picture courtesy of Pole Fishing magazine.
The Drennan Barnsley Blacks team in sunny Slovenia. Picture courtesy of Pole Fishing magazine.

My Drennan Barnsley Blacks team of Lee Kerry, Sam Wildsmith, Dave Brooks, Matt Godfrey, James Dent, captain Glen Lawrence and myself really did fancy winning this competition.

The River Sava runs through some stunning scenery.

It was on a venue that the Angling Trust Ladies team had triumphed on just 12 months previously. I had also fished the River Sava three years ago with Drennan Team England in the European Championship, finishing third with the team and Steve Hemingray winning the Individual. Matt and James had also been there with the Under 23s team but struggled on this occasion. Dave Brooks had also captained the Ladies when they won, so we already had a fair idea what we were facing and were all looking forward to sorting out a winning plan.

Three days spent off the match length prior to the official week’s practice was good and I managed to record the best weight with the aid of a near-5lb carp and a total of 24lb. That was made up of mainly vimba, that look like a big dace-type character but with a bump on the front of their nose.

Alan Scotthorne with a typical catch of mostly vimba.

Bloodworm and joker in a mix of VDE groundbait and Sensas Terre de River seemed to be a good combination, fished at the maximum allowed length of 13 metres. Things can be very different when you move onto the actual match length so I wasn’t getting too carried away until we started the official practice week.

Once we moved onto the other bank we could appreciate how fantastic this venue is and with the tree-covered hills in the backdrop it can only be described as breathtaking! The first 60 pegs have concrete platforms but the rest of the pegs are on natural bank.

Not dwelling too much on our tactics, we were faced with water depths ranging from four metres right up to 11 metres, so round-bodied floats were employed from just 1.5g up to 12g and flat floats up to 15g to cover all eventualities. Soft elastics ranging from Drennan Green Bungee down to a single No6 were best as we were fishing small hooks in sizes 18 and 16, with Kamasan B560s seeming spot on.

Spare top kits of up to 11 metres long were required!

The bigger Vimba seemed to prefer static baits and the smaller two to four ounce fish a moving bait, so there was plenty to think about. We dismissed bleak fishing as an option but did rig up for them just in case all was going wrong in the match. Bolo rods were also tried in practice, but again we all felt the pole was a better bet as it was very deep on the Bolo line. With at least 20ft of depth on each peg, it was not the normal type of river we are used to seeing back in England!

Our last practice on the Friday was in A Section and we had weights ranging from 3kg up to 6kg; mainly vimba of all sizes, so we felt very confident going into the first match on Saturday. Dave Brooks was to be the reserve but would replace the lowest score from Saturday’s match as we had all done well in practice.

Matt Godfrey posted two consistent performances.

It’s a fact that you cannot win the match on the first day, so a good score is so important to give you the chance of winning on Sunday. We were more than pleased to finish 4th on the day with 23 points. Importantly, that was just 3.5 points off the lead team, Slovakia, on 19.5 points. It was all to play for on Day Two!

At the draw for Sunday’s match we avoided some of the more difficult pegs. On paper, my peg looked the worst with Peg 24 in E Section with the end pegs dominating. If I could scrape a result from this section we had a chance to win.

What we hadn’t accounted for was the fish starting to go through spawning. From nowhere, a big shoal of bream that we had not seen all week had suddenly appeared in B Section but also spread onto the top of A Section! This was to change things dramatically although once again we put in a good score with 21 points (a 1st for Matt, Lee 2nd, me 5th and James and Dave both 8th) in a difficult area on the day. This was to fall 6.5 points short of winning and worst of all, put us 4th overall, so no medal at all.

James Dent had a section win on Day One.

Slovakia had put in a great performance to win with favourites Hungary scoring a fantastic 11 points on Day Two to pinch 2nd and Russia the bronze, just three points in front of us with a 41-point total.

Slovakia had fished for bleak in two sections in the latter stages of the match but had also got it spot on for the vimba and barbel. These Eastern European countries get stronger every year and this venue was always going to suit them, being on their doorstep. Well done Slovakia.

Looking Back we made one mistake. That was not looking to catch a bonus barbel with maggots and stickymag in some sections. All in all we were still very close to getting it spot on, so can still be proud of our achievement but we all felt we had missed a chance to take gold.

On the 19-hour drive back to England we analysed the results and could see just how close we had been to winning, with odd bigger fish swinging the result. I have always said the dividing line is so fine on a points match like this.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors Drennan, Van den Eynde and the Angling Trust for running the qualifiers. We have now had two 2nds ,two 3rds a 4th and a 5th in this event in the six matches we’ve fished. I hope we get another chance in the future to finally win, as I believe a winning English team in this event is well overdue!

For a more in-depth report from this event, check out the September issue of Pole Fishing.