To the rank and file match angler back in the UK the IAM, and its venue, is as far removed from their (and mine until recently) reality, as being a member of Drennan Team England! Bolognese fishing in the UK, in general, tends to be confined within that small group of illustrious internationals, yet it's one that I feel has a valid place on several of our larger rivers. For instance, the middle and lower Thames, the Severn, Yare and numerous other Midlands' and Northern running waters, in fact, any river within UK boundaries that have a good depth, some flow and not forgetting those all important fish!


Going strong

Terminology explained

For those of our continental brothers who are unfamiliar with English humour, angling phrases and euphemisms, I include a brief explanation to help you digest this article:

End-Peg Billy      Someone lucky enough to get one!
Right-pasting     Getting well and truly beaten
Gopher              Go for this, do this, do that!
Kip                    Sleep
Sprogs               Small children
Little buggers    Little devils
Shades              Sunglasses
Yuck                 Not very nice
All-in                Everyone starts
Kink                  An indent
Jaffa's               Describes size of groundbait balls
                        used (i.e. Jaffa oranges)

Deck                 Bottom
Swim                Peg or area being fished
WOW                Expressing astonishment
Shades              Sunglasses
Mare                 Nightmare
Caddy               See 'Gopher'
Sack-up            Catching loads of fish
Shedful             Loads of fish around
Snare                Capture
Jammy              Very lucky indeed
Bugger              Oh dear, what a pity
Bollocks            See above

Plastered          Hammered, smashed, beaten badly
Dazzle              Impress with a brilliant display
Screw-up          Making a mistake
Stonking           Very big

In its fourth year and now firmly established, the IAM brings together some of Europe's most competent match anglers, but sadly none from the UK. It's a tournament founded on FIPS international rules, which is the standard for 99% of all matches held within the boundaries of continental Europe, unlike the UK which does its own thing! How we ever manage to compete with the rest of Europe in this theatre, let alone produce one of the finest teams in the world, is still quite a mystery to me. It says much for the individual talents and adaptable nature of Drennan Team England!

But I digress. This article is about my travels into the unknown and the enlightenment of fishing the Silokanal, or Silo Canal, which ever!

Guardians and benefactors
Having made a solid commitment to attend this year, I was fortunate to be offered every assistance, when it came to tackle, bait and accommodation, for which I thank all of my benefactors most humbly. My chief guardian angel was Jayson, from Champions-team (CT), who acted as translator, taxi-driver, trolly-pusher and general 'gopher'. He effectively set up most things for me, including some of my initial rigs and bolo rods. I had further assistance from German international and CT supremo Henric Plass, along with his side-kick Borchi.

Touchdown, at last!
Having arrived lunchtime at Hannover Airport after a fraught experience with my excess baggage at Southampton Airport, Jayson was there to greet me and transport me to his tackle-cave in Garbsen, just outside Hannover. Here I was introduced to his seatbox, rigs and other sundry items which would form part of my overall equipment. He had also picked up Borchi's Sensas 774 for me, with its numerous top 5 kits...TOP FIVE's. Bloody hell this canal fishing lark was going to be interesting! Back home we're lucky if we get to use a full top 3... on 99% of any UK venues!!!

Jayson, having familiarised me with his kit, loaded up his motor then waited for his 'misses', Silke, to arrive home and take his young sprogs off our hands. Having been duly and briefly introduced, we left these tiny terrors in the capable hands of Frau Greatorex and started our drive to Brandenburg, some 290 kilometres up the A2 Autobahn, a journey of around two and a half hours, or so we thought!

Autobahn... auto-block!
Having travelled a few kilometres outside Hannover we were abruptly met with a wall of cars, lorries and sundry vehicles all heading our way. It shortly transpired that the reason for them clogging up our passage was some form of obstruction far away in the distance, later to manifest itself in the form of a 'pile-up'. Three hours later we chugged into its 'clean-up zone', unsurprisingly situated just past a service centre, which was appropriate and extremely necessary convenient for both relief and sustenance, i.e. toilets and food counter, in that order!

After a short break we set out once more heading east. We had discussed, during our enforced crawl, the possibilities of our team doing well. This had been heightened by the recent knowledge that Hungary's double world champion, Tamas Walter, would be joining us, as he had had a nightmare fishing the Sensas Final on the Somme as was looking forward to actually catching some fish on the IAM. The benchmark was now set and thoughts of matching any performance he might care to produce, during the two days of competition, were being somewhat over shadowed by the more realistic problems of tackling an unknown venue with unknown kit against unknown opposition. 'Get a grip on yourself lad, it's only a match, I thought to myself!'

Guess who!
Arriving on the outskirts of Brandenburg, we pulled up at a set of traffic lights, alongside a vehicle with a familiar face in the driving seat... none other than out new team mate Tamas! Coincidence or what? After a 5 hour marathon, only just eclipsed by Tamas' 9 hour journey, we both arrived at our hotel at 11pm and checked in for a well-earned nights kip. I mention rest but in reality it was more of a rest-less, courtesy of my traveling guide and interpreter Jayson, whom I found out also doubled up as the Champions-team's snoring champion!

A wake up call ****!
Wednesday's breakfast call was a little early for me on my first full day in Brandenburg– around 7am – as we had to meet our captain, a certain Mr Achim Tomasits, in the HQ car park on the first part of A section at about 7.30. The idea was that we would have a bit of a practice on one of the sections, which Achim had picked out. Being an awkward type, due to my age, I wanted to practice the most difficult part of the canal based on the previous weeks Shimano Cup results. Section A had returned some abysmal weights... 2 kilos being the best along most of the its length. Achim on the other hand was most keen to place us 'newboys' somewhere where our confidence would not be dented... but I had none of it and set off up the path, behind HQ, for about 100 metres and settled down to become a little more familiar with my 'begged' and 'borrowed' kit.

'X' marks the spot of my first peg on Wednesday'X' marks the spot of my first peg on Wednesday
I'd collected my bait from the competition supplier and German international Ralf Herdlitschke in the car park, and I must say that compared to what rubbish we are usually palmed off with in the UK, his bloodworm and joker was top notch! The caster, on the other hand, was a little less appealing. After all it's only us English which produce the finest quality caster in the world, so we are rather spoilt!

On stony ground!
Settling down was something of an experience coming from a 'commercial-venue' environment, as the Silo's banks are rock-lined! After 20 minutes of some ad-lib stone-work, my seatbox (sorry Jayson's seatbox) was firmly placed amongst the rubble. I had decided to forgo the use of the barrow as a platform for the seatbox, but rather used it on my left hand side as an over-sized bait tray.

Drilling, but not as Germans know it!
I then set about the mammoth and intriguing task of mixing up 8 kilos of groundbait with Jayson's (soon to be undependable) NEW drill! The most I've ever managed back home was around 3 kilos, and that took some effort. This was great though, just like 'knocking-up' mortar, but with a much nicer smell, as it consisted of VDE Turbo Classic and Gold, along with some of my special coriander mix! I was quite pleased with the result as I bound together a dozen 'jaffa's' containing a quarter litre of joker, a good helping of caster and a handful of sweetcorn thrown in for good measure. Surely this would turn the heads of any roach and skimmers heading my way?

I'd managed to set three top 5's with a couple of 8 and 10gr river floats and a 15gr Torpedo for 'nailing' the bait on the deck. I had decided to concentrate with just the pole, rather than overdo things by setting up a Bolo rod as well. No point trying to run before I learnt to walk!

Achim had said, before we parted company, that he would come back to me around lunchtime. But as I was to find out at lunchtime... he didn't. He was obviously catching far too well to come and view my struggles. I say struggles, but it was more of a trial and error approached. There were fish present and it was enjoyable just trying to fathom out how to get the little buggers!

Torpedo versus bolo
I had little success with the river rigs but found the Torpedo much better, although you had to wait for bites. I got the impression that fish were beginning to return to the area, as a walk upstream towards the industrial complex where some of the Danish lads were fishing the bolo, proved that roach were being picked up quite regularly. I stopped and chatted briefly to my good friend Rikard Jensen and a couple of the other guys before returning with the renewed hope that things would get better.

Persevering with the Torpedo, I found the odd fish willing to take double bloodworm tipped with a maggot, but things were still difficult, but not as much as the previous weeks Shimano event it seemed. A couple of decent skimmers (small bream of around 600-750gr) found their way into my landing net and after five hours I began to pack away the kit as my 'minder' (Jason) final came back to see how I'd got on... having been sent off to do CT work. I owned up to around 2.5 kilos, not too bad I felt, as I discussed the days session with him, in fact I was rather pleased with my initial venture into the unknown. Tomorrows official training day would be interesting though, as our 5-man team were set to draw a box in C section, apparently a good area!

Even the birds were still asleep!
An even earlier start to Thursdays official training day... a 6 o'clock alarm call... yuck! At least I didn't have the problem of any rumblings during the night as my 'minder' had moved to another room (voluntarily) and I was then paired with another new arrival and team member, Daniel Noch from Poland, and he was as quiet as a church mouse!

After breakfast (the hotel excelled in this department) we made our way to the HQ's car park once more, some 5 minutes down the road, and found our allotted captain Achim. He was a very nice man and apparently something of a venue expert...but aren't they all!

End peg 'Billy'
Achim said we had drawn the end box on the section and it promised to be a good day as there were fish in the area. After a short journey through various housing estates, we arrived at our destination and were keen to view our days fortunate draw. Achim decided that I should have the upstream end peg, perhaps as a consolation for not joining them on a good section the day before? He was quick to assure me that we WOULD have a good days fishing, so we unloaded the kit and waited for the signal to enter our box at 8.30am... just like the 'big boys' do on international tournaments!

Another 20 minutes of stonework and my seatbox and platform stand were in position. Jayson, in the meantime, was setting up his bolo rods for me and, I must say, that I was quite looking forward to playing with them! The obligatory bait check was got out of the way and our team of five finalised our fishing stations, ready for the 'all-in' at 10.30am. But first we would have the 10 minute pre-baiting period signal at 10.20am. We lined up as follows: myself on the upstream end peg, then Achim, Tamas, Andreas Otto and finally Daniel.

The canals pace was relatively constant, although a slight kink in the bank, just upstream, allowed for a slacker pace out to around 13m, ideal I thought for a couple of river rigs of 4 and 6gr. I also set-up a Cralusso Torpedo, again the same 15gr rig as the previous day. I'd set the hook to be about 20cm on the bottom with three No.6 shot acting as droppers from the main bulk. Hook size was a 16 Preston PR355, quite a wide gape pattern, but strong enough to hold skimmers, bream and big roach that abound in the canal. The river rigs followed a similar set-up, but with only about 2cm on the bottom, which seemed quite level and clear of boulders.

The two bolo's each had size 14 PR355 and Drennan Silverfish hooks to Preston 0.11mm Powerline as a starting point but expected to upgrade as the fish came onto the feed. With the canal's pace being a little bit quicker 35-40 metres out, we'd set up the bolo's with 12 and 15gr carbon-stemmed river floats.

This type of float seemed to be greatly favoured by those 'locals' in-the-know!This type of float seemed to be greatly favoured by those 'locals' in-the-know!
I checked the bolo's depth by simply running through the rig until it dragged under, then shallowed up accordingly. It was nearly 5 metres! About a metre less than the pole line. The bulk shot was around 40cm, or 20 inches from the hook, with two sets of doubled-up No.6 shot, spaced out in two groups in-between. I was in anticipation of my first cast!

Now the fun begins
Having already started to prepare my 7 kilo's of Turbo Classic and Gold, plus a kilo of soil and coriander with two wettings, all that now remained was a final dash of water to complete what had been a strenuous, yet most enjoyable exercise. After all, where can I or, in fact, the majority of anglers in the UK get the opportunity to play with that much feed? All that now remained was to add hook samples of sweetcorn, caster plus a half a litre of joker, then mould a dozen or so 'jaffa's' for the 13m line and around the same quantity, but tangerine-sized, for the bolo line and we were ready, on-time, for the signal.

Observing the rules
With the signal to proceed pre-baiting, the inevitable barrage began, first at 13m then with the catapult, launching feed some 35-40 metres onto the bolo line. It's worth mentioning that my GB mix was quite sticky and moulded well in the hands, it had to be and important for two essential reasons. First, due to the extreme depth and flow, groundbait needed to sink directly to the deck without breaking up, secondly, once the 'all-in' is given, groundbait MUST be moulded with ONE HAND only, international rules state that you cannot use both hands to form groundbait balls once the start signal is given. Bearing in mind that bolo feed, in particular, had to be catapulted some distance, it was imperative that the balls you formed did not disintegrate during flight and remained complete as they fell to the bottom! You were not even suppose to use the side of the bucket to help compression during the forming process... but something obviously told me that this was a little difficult to enforce!!!

Just one of the many skimmers that were to follow.Just one of the many skimmers that were to follow.The 'all-in' was given and I then shipped out the Torpedo and within a couple of minutes saw it disappear... a roach of about 8ozs, or 200gr, was hooked and landed. It's worth pointing out that all of my fish the previous day on A section came to the Torpedo and it crossed my mind at the time that perhaps the fish were looking for a more stable bait, rather than having to chase it around the swim! More fish followed...roach to 350gr (12ozs) and skimmers to 450gr (1lb)... we were indeed on fish!

Looking forward
After an hour it was time to try running through the river rigs and these also kept up a steady stream, this was turning into an excellent sessions already. Balls of feed were being constantly deposited at 13m because it was important to keep topping-up, especially as boat traffic here was on a scale never witnessed back home. Ninety minutes passed and it was time to run out the bolo, something which I'd been looking forward too for some time.

Wrapped up against the cold morning conditions, I was soon into some red hot action on the bolo!Wrapped up against the cold morning conditions, I was soon into some red hot action on the bolo!I'd kept catapulting the odd ball out, even while on the pole, as the boats tended to move the feed around a bit, but having deposited those initial balls at the start, the groundwork had already been laid. Even so, there was one particular scenario which could spoil it all... that of having two of the enormous working boats pass each other directly in front of you! That would usually prove a killer, so constant top-ups were the key to making this line work... mind you, having loads of fish in the area also helped a little!

On a 'Shedful'
Now that's what I call a roach!!!Now that's what I call a roach!!!The first run through with the 15 gram'er produced a fish, a roach of around a 450gr. WOW, this was shaping up to be something of a special day! Skimmers, or small bream of around 450gr to 700gr, and even more roach to 500 grams followed at a regular rate. The day was turning into AWESOME! As we couldn't use keepnets, due to the weird German laws on fishing, all fish were returned immediately. We rarely seldom appreciate how fortunate we are in the UK where we are not cursed with the 'nutty-fringe' in government, i.e. The Greens! God help us all if they ever gain power in Westminster!!!!

A rough estimate of my days haul would be somewhere in the region of 15-20 kilos... and that is very very rough, it could even have been more as I'd continue to catch for the full 4 hours of practice!

On our return to the hotel we were told of our sections for the following first day of competition... but would it be like today, I wondered? Section B had not been doing too much during the week, some roach and the odd bream, but I wasn't in any of the supposed fish-filled sections! Perhaps my peg number would put me on a few fish?

A new day dawns...
After yet another earlier wake up call (5.40am) Daniel and I went down to a packed breakfast hall full of expectant anglers and after I had downed a few coffee's, we set off for the HQ to see what fate had in store for us.

I'd drew peg 11, partly opposite the industrial factory. OK, I thought, the Danish lads had been catching roach on the bolo there two days previous, so there was hope. The 'powers' above were not doing me any favours though as it still looked a hard draw.

My caddy Jayson, loaded up our trolley while I started to mix up my 8 kilo's of groundbait. Bollocks, the drill's packed up and the spare battery, which had been charging all night, was not working. Disaster loomed. But Jayson found me a saviour in the form of Rene Bredereck, who let me use his monster whisk to finish up.

Crash bang wallop!
That sorted, we set off down the path to find peg 11, some 100m further down than where I'd practiced on Wednesday... and directly opposite the main unloading crane! At least I wouldn't fall asleep with that noise banging threw my ears all day! We started to unpacked the kit and put it at the top of my allocated box while we waited for the signal to enter it at 8.30am, about 15 minutes later.

Having got the go ahead I started to set up the seatbox and platform while Jayson sorted out the two bolo rods before he shot off to start his CT work... no fishing for him! With two bolo rods, three top 5's, made up with two river rigs and one Torpedo now at the ready it was almost time for the bait check. Groundbait and feed were laid out at the top of my box for inspection which I passed with flying colours. Well it must have been with flying colours as I didn't get a yellow warning card!

The regulation bait check over, I could now work with my bait legally!The regulation bait check over, I could now work with my bait legally!
Now you see it... now you don't!
After plumbing-up, I prepared my feed for pre-baiting, but it was becoming slightly worrying as I looked at where I was going to feed. My bank was positioned facing the sun, which was beginning to break through the early morning fog. There was also a ripple on the canal which, combined with the sun and shadow from the now moving crane as it unloaded a barge full of metal, was proving somewhat difficult to see across. A dozen balls at 13m and the same at 30 metres went in at 10.20 and I settled down to wait for the OFF a few minutes later.

First in was the river rig, but as I ran it through the swim it became clear that I was having some difficulty seeing the fine tip on the rig I'd chosen. Persevering for what seemed an age I eventually decided to look through Henric's rig draws, which he'd kindly lent me for the competition, to see whether there was any suitable replacement. I found some Sensas floats with a thicker red tip and hastily swapped them over with the two thinner rigs... time lost here! Once set up I went back to running through, first with a 6gr then with the 4gr, but could I get a bite...NO!

'Shades' needed!
Perhaps the bolo would produce... but only if I could see it.. and I couldn't! The light was terrible for me, maybe compounded by the fact that I wear ordinary glasses? I found out later that some anglers here, actually had different shades of sunglasses to cope with the light differentials, it made sense! Anyway I was losing ground both on the left and right of me as my neighbours kept picking up fish. I must still be screwing up somehow.

As the match progressed it was clear to me that I'd need divine intervention to get anywhere near the top of my section, and that was as likely as winning the German Lottery!

Having switched between both pole and bolo for the last half of the 4 hours, I managed to pick up a few fish, but not nearly enough to overtake my near neighbours. I would have to leave my fate in the hands of others.

The all-out sounded at two thirty and I started to pack up at a leisurely pace... I've learnt that these international weigh-in's take time, especially as the scales and fish truck where at the start of A(b) section.

It must have been one of the few times that I've actually had to wait for the scales to arrive, having been fully packed up! The moment of truth was approaching down the pathway slowly, god, there must be some weights being recorded I thought to myself.

The moment of truth
My turn came and I knew the first of my neighbours had beaten me well and truly as he'd had 5kgs. I carried my net up to the scales-men, trying to imagine what the locals would make of my meagre offering! One kilo, nine hundred and eighty grams, came the response in German ...vot der hell iz dat? I wondered in a broken German thought. I looked at the board-mans sheet, whom I'd known from several other internationals previously, and it was clear that I'd had the first 'mare' of my visit.

The teams' star performer (of course) Tamas, waits patiently as the scales settle on 17,415kgs, but it was only good enough for a section13th place!The teams' star performer (of course) Tamas, waits patiently as the scales settle on 17,415kgs, but it was only good enough for a section13th place!
Back at HQ I endeavoured to put some gloss on my performance, but there was very little available to me. The only consolation was that I was not the worse points scorer in the team, remarkably, that was reserved for our captain, and I must say that I was slightly relieved to hear it. After all, he was our local and venue expert, so if he could 'bomb-out' then I, a mere novice on the water, hadn't done too badly really...had I?

Not again!
A few beers in the hotel bar and it was onwards and upwards, or so I thought. Guess what, I'd drawn the same bloody section again! Thanks a lot God! Maybe I would get a better peg this time?

Another rise before dawn broke and a breakfast of coffee and yawns. I decided to make up a couple of rolls to munch throughout the day as I unfortunately cannot stomach breakfast that early! Arriving at HQ, I waited to hear what pegs had been drawn for the team from Achim, but while we waited I had the important task of finding another drill to beat my groundbait with. Jayson came back and said another German guy had sorted one for us... a certain Mr Nico Matshulat, one of the canal's best rods!

Close enough?
As I finished mixing, Achim came across to let me know that I'd drawn peg 39, not too bad it seemed, as I would be nearer the bridge and away from that bloody crane noise. What I didn't know at the time that 39 wasn't close enough to the bridge and that a few of the pegs in my area had only produced around a 3-4kg average the day previous.

My 'caddy' Jayson, quickly loaded up the barrow, as he had quite a look walk up the track to my peg. He was after all younger and stronger than myself! I followed(slowly) behind carrying the groundbait bucket, quite a weight in itself. We unloaded and, again, I waited for the signal to enter the box. Having set up everything (I was getting quite good at it by now!), all that remained was to wait for the signal to feed... a carbon copy of previous days.

I need a sun screen!
Being in the same section meant that the sun was once more directly in front of us all, but with no adverse ripple on the water, conditions were an improvement on day one. There was, nevertheless, a distinct variation in shadow on the bolo line, as I was just clear of the large factory opposite, which created a dark shadow some two metres to the right of where my bolo rig landed. There was still difficulties reading the float tip, as it went from light to dark, but I managed to, at least, make more of an effort with the peg than on day one.

A picture of concentration, but I still couldn't beat my neighbours!A picture of concentration, but I still couldn't beat my neighbours!
Jammy beggar!
The pole line was surprisingly quiet so the bolo tended to become the principle line of attack, which seemed the same for many others up and down the line. I felt I was keeping pace with my upstream neighbour but losing ground rapidly to my downstream one! The final whistle brought some sort of relief, although my left hand neighbour managed to 'snare' a jammy roach just before the final whistle on his pole line... the first time he'd gone out on it!

Bolos ruled...OK!Bolos ruled...OK!
With what looked to be another poor day I waited for the scales to arrive, somewhat resigned to my fate. Peg 38 weighed in just under 6 kilos... no surprise there. Then it was my turn. The scales went past my first day's total, but not far enough past for my liking. The call came out.. 2.549 kilos. Bugger! My 'lucky' neighbour then tipped his onto the scales and it looked close between us...2.802 kilos rang in my ears...bugger... second 'mare'! Ah well, at least I was only 'plastered' on one side and apart from that 'jammy' roach, I might have even taken a 'scalp'!

The final analysis
Back at HQ I waited to hear how the rest of the team had faired. Our star performer, unsurprisingly, was Tamas, who managed to turn round a mediocre day one, with a superb return of 13.715kgs from peg 41 in C section for 4pts. That gave him an overall score of 17pts for the two days. Even so, he was not entirely happy it seems, as he'd been narrowly beaten by a lady for a section third, a certain Astrid Beck. I would have been quite happy to have taken a beating from her (figuratively speaking!)... if I'd had 13 kilos of fish! next best team performance was my room mate Daniel, who recorded a commendable 10 and 14pts for the two days. Propping up the team's rear was Achim with 40 points (23 & 17), myself with 41 (20 & 21) then Andreas on 44pts (19 & 25).

Worthy team winners, DAV Herren.Worthy team winners, DAV Herren.
Looking back

I suppose looking back that any thoughts of producing a memorable performance to dazzle the locals was simply wishful thinking. You cannot simply turn up to a venue cold, then expect to set the world alight, unless of course you are an England international, which I most certainly am not!

Results apart, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip, especially fishing with techniques that I would never get the chance to use in England. My official practice day 'sack-up' will constantly remind me of the quality and potential that this particular venue offered and I would recommend that any UK match angler serious about competing on an international stage, should set themselves up for a visit here in the future... so long as the 'greens' don't screw-up a dream venue!

We have a special video interview, that my 'gopher' Jayson did, with our *Star* team member Tamas Walter, where he discusses his first-time impressions of the venue/event, and then runs through some of the rigs he used. We suggest using the 480p screen resolution setting to get the most consistent running of this excellent video.
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