The Silo onsong!
Our thanks go to EVERYONE at 'Champions-team' for all the information and pictures used in this feature.

The newly formed IAMs' first competition took place on the Silo Canal in Brandenburg, Germany on Oct 31-Nov 1 last year, with 31 teams of 5 competing. The venue was highly rated as a top silver fish water and this inaugural match confirmed it as one of the finest in Europe, a credit to the host nation.

During the run up to the IAM, the organising committee from the German Angling Association (DAV) and actively sought support from Germanys leading angling industry and spared no effort in enticing some of Europe's top anglers to the event. The initial list was impressive with visiting teams from Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Italy, France and Holland combining with the strong home contingent. Some of the individual names attending, read like a 'Who's Who' of continental angling... Ferrucio Gabba from Italy (multiple club world champion), Tibor Ambrus and Attila Erdei from Hungary, from France came Jean Desque, Eric Lubin and Gilles Caudin, Eddy van der Hoogen and the Dutch National side with under the watchful eye of coach Jan Van Schendel. The home nations were lead by two national sides headed by European Champion Günter Horler, the ladies National squad and some very strong local sides.

The first days practice was four days prior to the main competition and allowed many of the 155 plus anglers an opportunity to sample the Silo's qualities. The organising committee were somewhat apprehensive before the start, as in angling, nothing can be taken for granted, despite previous untarnished reputations! They need not have worried, because their choice of venue got off to a cracking start. Worsening weather conditions did little to dampen sport with Dutchman Eddy van der Hoogen heading some impressive pre-match catches with over 200 fish in just 3 hours!The Italian visitors also found the canal in generous mood. The following day (Thursday) saw rain falling and temperatures dropping to 4°C, but if anyone thought that would put the fish off, they were wrong yet again and the many practising anglers were rewarded with plenty of fish.

The first official practice session was on Friday and saw a massive amount of joker being deposited along the entire match length. This posed the question of whether the canal would take this barrage? The answer was plainly yes after the session but what was key to many teams strategies was how the larger fish could be selected! It seemed the answer was large roach were available in the lower three sections, while bream held the balance in the upper two. Another problem encountered was the amount of bream lost while being played, apparently a common problem on this canal and one which seemed to point to balancing elastics and rigs to the flow and depth of venue.

The first days match would be slightly unusual by continental standards, in that it would be 4 hours duration, as opposed to the normal three. Bait limits were set at 22 litres of groundbait, and 3.5 litres of 'live' bait, with casters being the preferred bait. In sections A to C (mainly roach sections) maggots and worm topped up the limit while sections D and E saw worm taking most of it. Groundbait consisted mainly of strong binding river blends that were mixed with heavy river earth and these mixes tended to be dark in colour. In sections D and E (bream sections) plenty of tinned corn was mixed with groundbaits, offering more substantial 'freebies' to the feeding shoals. The pre-baiting session, under CIPs rules, saw most anglers ball-in approximately 8-15 orange-sized balls on 13 metres, with sections A to C feeding a 20 and 40 metre Bolognese line.


Day One
Anglers in both sections A and B got off to a flying start with hordes of roach between 60-80 grams coming to hand with the odd better quality one of around 200gram. However, after 30 minutes bites started to slow down and it became harder to keep any sort of steady catch rhythm. On the Silo it is quite normal to feed a small top up ball, containing caster, every run through, but even this didn't seem to have any impact on the size of fish being landed. It consequently prompted a switch by some, to the Bolognese with floats between 10-18 grams. Better roach and bream started to make their way to the net and it wasn't long before many more followed suit.

The early pegs in C section were looking pretty even and similar to the first two sections. However, towards the end, in the higher numbers near D section, better roach and bream were being picked up.

D and E sections where to place to be, as quality size fish seemed to be in every peg. From the start, it seemed that the lower numbers in the section were the most favourable, although the middle pegs were holding their own too. With this section being deeper and the current a little faster, the 13m pole was the clear favourite. With bream being the main target, the bait had to be 'nailed' down still, therefore lolly´s and Cralusso bubble floats, up to 30 grams were employed. The bulk shot had two droppers below with hooklengths were relatively short... around 22cm to 40cm long. Recognising the shy bream bites seemed a problem for some, therefore any abnormal movement of the float would needed striking at, which often connected... it seemed the bream were taking the bait and then dropping down with the flow of the canal.


The last section on the Silo, section E, was expected to throw up the largest weighs... and it didn’t disappoint. The main weights coming from the higher numbers as fish came into the section in their thousands! Jerome Riffaut (Team France) from peg E30 won the day with an impressive 38,780kg in an section full of high weights. In fact, out of the 31 anglers fishing the section, only TEN weights fell below 20 kilos, and even then, the lowest weight was 10.200kg!!! An awesome return from the venue. What was particularly interesting about Jerome's match, was the amount of bream he didn’t lose! Most anglers seem to lose every second fish on the Silo, which is quite normal, but Jerome's catch to landing ratio was particularly high and earned him and his Team France a valuable section win.

At the end of the day, the home teams, as expected, had turned in good performances all round with teams from France, Holland, Hungary and Italy all returning respectable placings. During the evenings' banquet, members of 'Champions-team' had the opportunity to discuss with Jean Desque and Jan van Schendel, the performances of their respective teams and were the topic of joker in groundbait quickly became the main subject.

Jean´s opinion was that joker is the dominant natural feed of silver fish, especially bream, and on this basis all the French teams used it, whereas the German teams didn't! Although Jean knew before the start that the home teams would not be using joker, he was positive using it would attract bream into the swim. Unfortunately the 4 hour contest proved too short for many of Team France, with fish far too small to make any impact. By the end of the session the bream arrived and Jean was sure that a fifth hour would of produced better weights... but it was too little too late for them. Another problem for the French contingent was the canals character. Commenting, Jean said that hardly anywhere in Europe has such a richly stocked 'rare style of venue' required a specialised method of fishing. When asked by what he meant by 'rare style of venue', he replied that it was common and essential to fish caster on the Silo, something that is unheard in France, “a caster on the hook will catch no fish in France” was the Jean's adamant response.


Jean had unfortunate draws on both days, drawing pegs from the worse end of each section.
Day one saw Jean on peg C5 where roach were mostly caught, whereas at the other end of the section, bream were the main target. Also, the fact that Jean did not bring a Bolo rod with him didn't help matters, as the bigger roach were to be found further out at around 25 metres. Jean did actually manage to catch probably more fish than any other angler on this day, but they were simply too small to have any weight impact. Afterwards, Jean explained that his teams tactics of mainly bloodworm and joker proved wrong, after he realised that it was not really the method for the Silo. Jean was quite shocked to see anglers succeeding with size 10 hooks, decorated with up to 5 casters. "A caster on the hook will catch you no fish in France" said Jean!
Day two saw Jean fishing section E, where his team mate Jerrome Riffaut had won the section the previous day, but again Jean drew the low peg E8. But still using the bloodworm approach, Jean beat off both his neighbours. He actually started to catch bream towards the end of the session and another hour could have been very interesting indeed. Day one was 4 hours whereas day two was cut short to 3 hours.

Further discussion with Holland's National coach, Jan Van Schendel, followed a similar pattern to Jean's, but focussed mainly on other issues. We started with the question of how disappointed he may have been with the results of his team after day one? Jan replied, "yes a little disappointed, but not totally" and explained that he'd travelled to Brandenburg with a very young side who are in the early process of developing their international capabilities. The Silo, with it’s special style, offered these youngsters a great opportunity to further their skills by learning totally new methods, previously unknown to them. So in terms of a 'learning curve', day one had proved a great success. Of course Jan would have been happier with more positive weights on day one, but considering the quality of rest of the field, Jan was satisfied with events, especially as in Holland there is nothing remotely like the Silo Canal. Jan summed up, "it’s very difficult for an angler who is use to catching very few fish in just 3 hours, to tackle a water that produce a fish every cast!"


Day Two
The final day saw the canal shrouded in thick fog along with temperatures which fell overnight still further, making it quite an uncomfortable day for fishing. However, most anglers didn’t seem too bothered by this and were more than happy as they marched to their respective pegs. What would be interesting today would be the tactics employed after the day one lessons and how certain teams would approach the venue in order to better their previous day's results?

In the first section, where roach had been most prominent, many anglers started again with the pole at 13m to see if any bream had moved overnight, onto Saturdays feed. But it quickly became apparent that this was not the case and saw them follow the pattern of fishing Bolognese for the bigger roach at around the 30 metres.

Section B had Marco Beck of the second Champions-team on peg B30 (only a few pegs away from his draw on day one). Marco set up two Bolognese rods and didn't even take the pole out of the holdall. This had nothing to do with laziness or lack of motivation, but rather Marco’s knowledge of the Silo. As far as he was concerned, every minute with the pole was a minute lost, so he fished the Bolo for 3 hours, resulting in an outstanding 12kg section win.

Section C proved no different from the previous day. The lower numbers saw, amongst others, Champions-team angler Ralf Herdlitschke working hard for every fish, while fish on the higher pegs were plentiful, meaning a section winner would be most likely come from here again. A good spirited exciting contest developed amongst the young Dutchman Luc de Verd, Ramon Willig from Team Brandenburg and the Italian Marco Coraza. The youngster from Holland sat between the two experienced anglers and managed to land an high percentage of the bream. Local angler Ramon also had a high catch rate, whereas Marco had the problem of losing many of his bream, which didn’t distract him too much as he was enjoying his fishing to the full. How did we know this? Well, every so often you would hear him cry out “fantastico river” and “fantastico breama”... just before losing another one!

Section D was significantly more balanced, just like day one, and saw a great dual develop between current European champion Günter Horler on peg D16 and Italy’s top star Ferrucio Gabba on D13. The section was fished exclusively with the pole. Both anglers in fact, fed their lines very accurately, which drew the bream exactly over the feed and resulted in a bite every run through. Unfortunately, in common with most other competitors in the section, we saw Ferrucio struggling to land bream, but he still managed over 18kg, a good weight due mainly to the amount of fish in his swim and the small intervals between bites. Günter Horler once again demonstrated his top form this year and finished the session with a near 6kg advantage.

On section E once more produced high and consistent bream weights and we were treated to a lesson on 'Old School' bream fishing by Berliner Uli Lehmann (Team Brandenburg), who showed his opponents that you don’t need high tech seat modules and the latest floats to catch bream. Uli fished with good old style 'pear-shaped' river floats from his wooden seat box and managed a section win... and that was from the middle of the section! Despite the high percentage of bream lost during 'playing' (about 60%), you still needed over 20kg to be in the sections top 20!


Over the two days, it wasn’t quite clear which teams had secured the coveted top three places. Although Champions-team and the local Team Brandenburg had clear advantage after day one, day two resulted in a couple of bad weight for them, so the final results would have to wait until the official announcement. Hungary had dominated day two with a total points of 24pts, their disastrous day one score of 110pts did them no favours in the final table... watch out for them next time!

Germany's DAV Herren I (Champions-team) clinched a 69 point team win with a good consistent performance over the two days, led by their Euro champ Günter Horler. Special mention must go to team stalwart Ralf Herdlitschke, who produced a superb damage limitation result from a bad draw in C section on the final day. Runners up were local legends Team Brandenburg, led by Raemon Willig and Uli Lehmann, on 80 points, while third spot fell to the works team from Germanys angling giant, Mosella with 96 points.

Mosella did however supply the top individual, Nico Matschulat, who won his section both days with a strong performance on the Bolognese, proving that he knows the Silo Canal as well as anyone. Runner up went to Raemon Willig from Team Brandenburg with a total of 3 points. Raemon produced a staggering 53kg of fish over the two days. Team mate Uli Lehmann also managed a total of 3 points, but with the lesser weight of just over 40kg giving him third place.

This newly formed IAM invitation event certainly raised the level of future expectancy for all concerned and will take place again this year on the same venue. Both participants and organisers can now look forward to a positive future for this event, which could well become one of Europe's major international open team championships.

Click to download full Team Results          Click to download full Individual Results

Note: Although the event is by invitation only, any accredited team wishing to represent their country/body etc., should contact Champions-team with a view to obtaining a possible invite!