Merida is a city once more under invasion, after the untimely switch from Ciudad Real, due to water level problems on Lake Vicario. Sitting on the banks of the Guadiana River, Merida has seen invaders from both the muslim and western worlds over the centuries, but now faces a global invasion of the more welcoming kind, as over 35 countries from around the world descend on it to prepare for the 57th World Coarse Fishing Championships. It's also a city with perhaps the most ancient and richest heritage in Spain, having been founded in 25BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus. It contains and preserves more ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain.

The river itself is one of the major arteries of Spain and Portugal, which is where it empties out into the Gulf of Cadiz, on the Atlantic side of Gibraltar. Some 460 miles long and accommodating over 30 dams in it's lower reaches, the Guadiana is a massive by UK standards (the River's Thames and Severn are each, just over 200 miles long!). As is typical of many Spanish rivers, it holds some massive stocks of many species, which may not always show when you expect them to! For instance, bleak can be present in great numbers, but recently they seem to have done a 'runner'!!! Whether they return or not remains to be seen, but if they do start showing during the preceding weeks of unofficial and official practice sessions then you can bet many teams will target them as a source of good team points.

But what of the other species present? The general opinion is that carp and carrasins (a type of crucian) will form the backbone of weights to those team who work out the best strategies of catching them. Catfish are also present in numbers, but I know they're something that the UK anglers are not very fond of! Barbel are known to frequent the lower reaches of the Guadiana in great numbers (Stevie Gardener landed over 35kg of them on the feeder several years ago lower down), but locals say they are present in only small numbers around Merida, so it's accepted that they will not play too great a part in overall weights, however, stranger things have happened during these Championships! No doubt my good friend from Serbia, Goran Radovic (Mr Barbel), will find a way to scratch out a few and give me some good photographs, as usual!

The river is pretty much an even pace with depths varying across all five section between 2 to 4 metres, section D just being the deepest at around 4.5m. Pole and slider are the two acknowledged methods and some continentals will no doubt use 6-8m bolognese rods with fixed river floats. Maggots, corn and bloodworm will feature as the main baits, but  stickymag may be the difference in getting those bigger fish!

The Roman invasion started several weeks before the Championships, as Italy arrived in force on the banks of the Guadiana.The Roman invasion started several weeks before the Championships, as Italy arrived in force on the banks of the Guadiana.So which teams are likely to hold a strong hand? Italy look remarkably like favourites, having paid several visits to the stretch already, as have the Belgians, who must also fancy a shot at the podium. The home side will be full of confidence on this venue and could push the top teams all the way to the finishing post. Next door neighbours Portugal could end up with a top five placing, but may their best option will no doubt be in September when they host the Euros at Coruche!

As always, England will be a threat, despite there territorial unfamiliarity! I spoke to joint team boss Mark Addy shortly before he flew out to Spain and found him remarkably optimistic, commenting that England have an incredible record for sorting out tricky venues and coming up with a solid and winning game plan. Let's hope they can keep that record up!
We will be bringing you all the details and facts from this years event, direct from the bank, assuming we do not encounter the poor internet connections that spoilt our Dutch coverage last year!!! 

Our new 2010 WC Plan is now in operation and we hope we can welcome many more new visitors to the site, as it's a very, very cheap way to get all the lowdown, accurately and quickly!

Here's a link to our Spainish web partner ClubpescaButarque's impressive Merida site, where there are loads of great videos to view.