Julie Abbott reflects on last weekend’s World Championship where the England Ladies were faced with a temperamental and very challenging Belgian canal.
This year’s Ladies event was held on the Charleroi Canal in Ronquières, Belgium. With depths ranging form 15ft to 9ft and water that could be stationary, flow either way with pace (or not) and change in depth by up to 12 inches during the match, you had to have your wits about you!
We had travelled over three weeks before the event for a practice session, as we were told that the large boats that use the venue were limited at the weekend and that during the week they would mean that fishing would be poor. We were happy with the venue and the fish that needed to be targeted; roach from an ounce up to a pound along with skimmers, perch and the very odd bream, tench and carassio. For the main event we travelled a day early and fished off the match length to gain as much practice without the boats as possible.
The main event started on the Monday, and during the week our weights ranging for 1.1kg to 4.8kg of roach. As the week progressed we would ball in anything between 10 and 36 balls of groundbait containing joker, casters, dead maggots, dead pinkies and hemp until we could settle on a team plan ready for the weekend.
During these sessions we tried small 2g flat floats when it really ran fast and also came to realise that light floats could be key, even as light as 0.4g in 14ft of water. On the final practice day I had 3.3kg of roach on a 0.6g float on pinkie in 10ft of water – a lovely day in temperatures that were approaching 30 degrees!
Come the weekend I was relieved to be selected and was drawn in C Section, sandwiched between the Dutch and the Italians. There were more boats than expected as a lock had broken further along the canal and they were being diverted along the match length. This affected the fishing and I was disappointed with my 7th in section, one place behind the Dutch angler, Ingeborg Audenaerd, who had spent 10 consecutive weekends practicing on the canal! As a team we had a bad draw with two of our anglers at totally the wrong end of their sections to gain good enough points and our team total was an extremely disappointing 49 points.
Day 2 we tweaked a few things, including reducing the amount of joker and groundbait that we fed at the start. I was handed peg A1, much to everyone’s amusement, and although we couldn’t win a medal and were fishing for pride, I was still on an end peg and had a job to do! Anyway, on Day 2 we showed our true colours from a half decent draw and tied on points for 2nd on the day, with my peg gaining me a 2nd in section. This pulled us up to 6th place overall.
Congratulations to the winners France and Anja Groot of the Netherlands for winning the individual title. Thanks to all the management, helpers on the bank and Sensas for our groundbait. We’ll bounce back next year in Spain!