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The Brilliant Kennet & Avon!

Pole fishing on the brilliant Kennet & Avon Canal.

It’s a real treat for me to head to my favourite canal and with certain stretches of the middle reaches of the Kennet and Avon staying open during the traditional close season it’s always a trip I look forward to. It’s not just refreshing to get away from the busy commercial match scene, you rarely if ever see another angler at this time of year here, but it’s just great being able to unwind in the peaceful, unrushed countryside. 

Pole Position

The stretch I’m fishing today is close to Hungerford in West Berkshire and I’ve chosen this swim for two reasons, the first is it has a mooed boat opposite, one I hope won’t be moving, along with a lock to my left, an end peg so to speak which is always a good area at anytime of the year. My only concern is the colour of the water which has a strange brownish tinge to it, an algae bloom I suspect, but at least I can still see around eighteen inches down. 

Perch Attack

Knowing this canal has a reputation for big perch I’m going to have at least one line with these in mind and the root system extending into the water from a bank side tree to my right looks the perfect area. I’m going to prime this spot first with a big cupful of chopped worms plus a few casters which I hope will draw in any bonus fish throughout the day. The canal is quite low; it might be too shallow here, so if it fails to produce I will switch to a more central line down the middle to my right with chopped lobworm.  The rig I m using for my inside perch line is Stretch 7 No8 elastic, a 0.5g float, size 14 Sphere Beast hook with the mainline and hook length created from Cenex Classic Mono in 0.14mm and 0.12mm diameters. 

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With a boat moored on the opposite bank this was an interesting swim with plenty of options.

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Bait choice consisted on mainly larger, more positive, baits, such as maggots, casters and worms as I was hoping for a good stamp of fish.

Boat Line

My second line of attack is right over to the far bank moored boat, one I’m going to kick start hopefully with a big cupful of casters and then on a regular basis pult a few more over the top. This line really could produce anything from that bonus big perch right through to net roach and skimmers. The rig I’ve set up for this consists of 0.3g float size 18 hook, Microbore lime green elastic and Cenex Classic Mono in diameters 0.10mm and 0.08mm.

In the Deeps

My final line, and one that I’m hoping will attract mainly skimmers, is straight down the middle in the deepest water, a maggot line which I’ve kicked started with a small ball of Quick Skimmer groundbait. The rig for this is a 4×12 float, with a strung out bulk of no11 shot plus two tiny dropper shot. Once again the line consists of 0.10mm/0.08mm Classic Mono, size 20 hook and Microbore lime green elastic and the pole for all three lines is my trusted Sphere Zero-G F1+. 

On the Move

A quick look down the edge on the worm line produces just one small perch and line down the side of the boat is strangely quiet, however it seems that most of the fish are in the deeper water as bites are coming frequently from small roach, skimmers and perch. Unfortunately the boat on the far bank isn’t staying, it’s a risk we take which doesn’t always work in our favour, as after an hour it’s on the move and as expected kills sport for a while. Another look down the edge produces nothing so the lobworm line is activated for later in the session. Introducing a small ball of groundbait in the deeper water every ten minutes along with steadily pulting pinkies and big maggot over the top on a little and often basis gets the bites coming again. The fish, mostly skimmers and roach are slowly getting bigger and then as expected something bigger grabs the pinkie hookbait and see’s the elastic extend and it’s not long before a perch, probably around 1lb 8oz falls into the waiting net. 

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Microbore lime green is ideal for my lighter rigs.

"as well as catching some quality fish in beautiful surroundings it’s time to head home one happy angler"

Toothy Encounter

Strangely just when I’m putting a weight together the bites dry up leaving me scratching my head. Time to check out the lobworm line! Straight away the float buries and a big fish is hooked, let’s hope it’s a big perch but the speed of this fish has me thinking otherwise and after a tense fight a pike is somehow bundled into the net. Now I know why the swim died so suddenly! The pike is released well away from the swim and once again after feeding the bites return with some nice net perch showing along with the odd gudgeon and a surprise minnow, now I haven’t caught one of these for years. 

Heading Home Happy

The early morning cloud cover has now given way to bright blue skies, however with the minnow, hearing my first cuckoo of the year as well as catching some quality fish in beautiful surroundings it’s time to head home one happy angler.

Colin Sheppard

sphere beast hooks

Sphere Beast hooks are ideal for worm fishing when hard-fighting fish can be expected.

cenex hybrid mono

You can’t beat Cenex Hybrid Mono in demanding situations with hard-fighting fish.

sphere f1+ pole

The Sphere F1 Plus pole handles everything that I can throw at it and is incredibly well balanced and stiff.

Colin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole

No8 Stretch 7 Elastic

Xitan Micobore Lime Green 3-5 Elastic

Cenex Hybrid Power Mono 0.14mm/0.12mm

Cenex Classic Mono 0.10mm/0.08mm

Sphere Beast size 14 Hook

Sphere Feeder size 18 Ultra Lite Hook

 

Colin’s Bait

Maggot/Pinkie

Casters

Red/Lobworms

Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer Groundbait

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National Feeder Squad Qualifiers 2021

On the first weekend in November the annual qualification sessions for the feeder national team took place. This year the participants competed on the Lateral Canal in Horn, Holland. This navigable canal is between 4 and 5.5 m deep, is considered extremely fair, and offers anglers level fishing spots. Overall, teh canal has really excellent fishing conditions. Many thanks at this point, once again, to Thorsten Küsters, who liaised with the Dutch association. With the support of Frank Zocher, Peter König organised the qualifiers on the bank.

The aim of the national team qualifiers, is to spot anglers who might be eligible for participation in next year’s World Cup. In addition to the results of the anglers, emphasis is placed on their flexibility on the water, tactical knowledge, professionalism and teamwork. Social skills, in particular, are an important factor for a functioning team.

Here is a little insight into my preparation and experience in qualification rounds one to four.

Preparation

In preparation for the qualifiers, Thorsten Küsters organised a match on November 1st, in which over 40 anglers took part in the same section on the Lateral Canal.

Since I had never fished there before, I approached the competition with an open mind. I looked for the deepest point, which was at 24m, and cautiously fed some bloodworm and casters. The conditions, which were affected by the local lock activity, allowed fishing with a 30g Qpen end feeder. It quickly became apparent that there were not many fish to be caught on this line.

In the first half of the match I was able to catch six small bream and one perch on bloodworm and small worms. In the second half I was unable to catch a single fish. I wasn’t really satisfied with 850 grams in six hours. My neighbour to the right won our sector with 3.4 kg. He fished much more negatively, and further out than I did. With this experience in mind, I prepared my tackle for the four qualifying rounds accordingly.

Tackle

For fishing on the canal I needed rods for distances between 24m and 40 m, and for short range work at 10m and 15 m.

Here I decided on my specially developed Silverlite feeder rods in lengths of 3.15m and 3.50m. This range of rods is perfect for canal fishing because it has the necessary sensitivity to outsmart cautious fish with fine hooks and lines and to land them safely. The use of braid was necessary for better bite registration. So I took my Black Viper Compact reels loaded with 0.10mm Cenex Braid and 0.25mm Quantum Red Salsa as the leader line.

When it came to hooks, it was clear to me that small, lightweight hook models would be important. In addition, it is always important to use hooks that are as thin as possible when fishing bloodworm on the hook. Our Ultralite hooks from the Sphere Range in sizes 16 and 18 were ideal from my point of view, so I tied enough leaders with our 0.11mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon. 

The feed consisted of Champions Choice Feeder Mix Quick Skimmer and Black Roach in a ratio of 1 to 1.

Since I had already used a lot of my holidays for competing in the World Cup in France this year, I had no opportunity for further practice days with other anglers during the qualification week.

First round on Thursday

In the morning the sectors and fishing spots were drawn by lot. For this purpose, the 18 participants were divided into three sectors, with the anglers staying together in the respective sectors for all 4 days. Only the peg numbers were changed daily. Since I have been a member of the national team for ten years, I know very well that the first day is very important. I fished with great concentration at a distance of 32 m and tried to take into account my experience from the match on Monday. Hoping for some bonus fish, I knew a 2-3kg weight would mean a good placement. In the first two hours I was able to catch a few small bream again. From what I could see not many fish were being caught in my sector.

I was hoping for a bonus fish to really boost my weight. In the third hour I finally got a good bite and was able to catch a 600 gram skimmer on three large bloodworm. Since I didn’t get a single bite on the long line after that, I decided, just like my neighbour, to fish for small 30 grams roach amongst the stones close to the bank. Catching small fish kept me building my weight. In the end, the national coach weighed 1900 grams for me, which was enough to win the sector on day one. The perfect start!

Second round on Friday

Since I had seen the day before that the small fish close to the bank were a safe bet, I wanted to take less risk on day two. I reduced the fishing time on the 32m line and increased the fishing time close to the bank. In the first round there are many who had waited for a bonus fish and did not get one. I calculated that I could get around 3-4 kg of fish together just by concentrating on the small roach. In addition, tI could catch fish much faster close in than on the 30m lane because of the boat traffic. In total, I fished for small fish for three hours with large bloodworm. For two hours I tried to catch a bonus fish, again at 32 m, which unfortunately never came. I caught all the fish short and finished with 1980g, which was enough for second place in the sector. The first place winner beat me with 2200g including a large bonus perch. Overall, I was still satisfied!

Third round on Saturday

On day three I just wanted to fish the 6m lane and catch everything that came along. I didn’t want to waste valuable time on non-existent bonus fish like the day before. For some reason my plan didn’t work out because I hardly caught any fish in the stones. The number of bites was significantly worse than the two days before. In addition, an unexpectedly large number of bonus fish were caught in our sector. Florian Hinz caught a carp weighing 2kg and a 2kg bream. Two other anglers were also able to catch bonus fish weighing over a kilo. So I had to change my tactics and also fish the long 32m line, where all the big fish were caught. I didn’t find my way into the match and didn’t catch any bonus fish. With 1200 grams I was fourth in the sector and, of course, I wasn’t satisfied. Overall, a confusing day, it was completely different from all the days before.

The final day on Sunday

I decided to fish more courageously and to fish for bonus fish continuously on the long line. The day before gave me pause for thought and showed me that there were more bonus fish to catch than on days one and two. I fed some casters and jokers with our little Xenos Speed Feeder. In the course of the match I saw that the little roach had moved from the margins and into the deeper water. Fishing at 32m was not only suitable for the bonus fish, but also for the small fish too. All in all, this worked out very well for me. Regular recasting every two minutes ensured regular bites. With 2900 grams I won my sector again and finished the qualifiers as the winner of Sector C.

 

National team fishing is always very difficult and can get very intense. After all, it’s about being nominated for a World Cup. There is a great risk that conflicts and competitive behavior will arise, which can severely weaken a team. I therefore view the organisation of such events as rather critical. The trust placed in me by those responsible means many times more to me than the result of four days fishing, which can distort my annual performance and which take place in waters that often do not do justice to the World Cup waters. However, I accept the current regulations and have therefore always qualified for all of my six World Cup appearances.

Not only fishing for my nation, but also representing it internationally as a role model and sportsman has always been a great task and pleasure for me. It’s a mindset and isn’t just about technical and fishing skills. It’s about the team, about the flag on your chest.

The mental aspect cannot really be emulated by anyone who has not already sat on the bank for his nation. Keeping a cool head in the team structure and holding back emotions during the training week in the event of poor training results is not something everyone is born with. So far, all of the World Cup teams I have been allowed to fish in have been very professional. So it was always a pleasure. We have many good anglers in Germany and the selection of venerable sportsmen in the current national team is quite abundant. Great anglers who have already done a lot for our nation! Therefore, I am not worried that Germany will not be represented in the Ukraine in the best possible fishing and human terms in 2022.

 

Tight lines! 

Koschi