Thursday's Diary

That evening, the England squad invited us to sit in on their meeting, as we were all in the same hotel. This was a tremendous privilege and it allowed us to listen to methods and discussions regarding a venue that we hadn’t seen. But whilst it all made good sense, the angler in me wanted to see the match length, to understand how it all fitted together in practice.

Along with covering the event for, we would also be on England's support staff for the weekend, so it was important that we understood what the guys were planning and keep Mark Downes and Steve Sanders up-to-date with relevant information during the two day event.

The meeting was invaluable for us and although I would love to pass on all the discussions, it is fair to say that at this time the main points are best kept under wraps, as it has become apparent that it is the small details that set England apart from the rest of the field.

In summary, the England meeting was centred pretty much around the similar topics that my own Sensas Mark One meetings cover, basically feeding, lines and rigs. It was the details that were discussed that made the meeting a fascinating experience. We live in an angling era dominated by England and listening in, you soon realise why.

Thursday morning arrived and the small River Savinja, next to the hotel was still several feet up and absolutely 'tanking' through, so we set off wondering what the main River Sava would be like! A couple of kilometres from Radece, the two rivers met and the difference between these was plainly apparent. The smaller Savinja river was carrying significantly more colour than the main river, which was about 150m wide and flowing at a much steadier pace. Even so, it was still carrying more colour than usual, we were informed later.

From what Gido our local guide told us, England have been the best team on the bank all week, fishing in the steady water between 5 and 7m out and catching 'vimba', which are a Slovenian roach, or nobheads as Darren Cox calls them, odd small skimmers and some carassio. Other teams have been trying to combat the flow on long poles and huge flat floats, but the England lads have been concentrating closer in and catching weights of between 3 and 6kgs wherever they sat.

Practice sessions are divided into 'boxes' and each team is allocated an one each official day of practice, these boxes are divided up for six anglers, but will be adjusted for five pegs during the match. Drennan Team England were allocated box 12 today and found themselves in the middle of the match lengths main section, roughly in the middle of C section for the weekend.

As you can see just before the 'All In' for practice, there was a great deal of interest in how the England team were going to start. I believe that every team's spy in the area was watching them at the start, including the Italians, who where upstream in E section! In fact, the Serbian team had set up video cameras the day before and left them running behind England for two hours!!!

Balling in was concentrated on the chosen close in line and a few balls may be cupped long as a back up. Darren balled 8 or 10 and then cupped a further five at about 11m. Mixes were heavy and had a quite high proportion of soil to add weight

Will was the first angler into his stride, was catching well from almost his first put-in. Running a 2gr float at a slow pace over his feed, he would to go on and catch 65 fish in the first hour.

Sean Ashby, Steve Gardener and Steve Hemingray started on the bleak and were soon catching enough to make it look a viable proposition, but they were small and as the early period got underway the question was, could they be relied upon to build a big enough weight?

Darren Cox, Will Raison and Alan Scotthorne all started on full depth rigs and began to catch at impressive rates. Gido, who was an absolute 'godsend', reckoned England were much faster than the rest of the field. Having viewed this myself, I reckoned they were catching at about one and a half times the rate of the other teams. Lee and I had a guess at the relative weights and we ended up quite close at the finish, but more of that later.

What was very interesting was the way that all the teams were beginning to follow the England lead, and were fishing short and plopping in a ball every chuck. Although they were all catching, it was apparent that some technical difficulties and those small details, all added up to most teams not catching as many as the England lads. Roberto, the Swiss manager, summed it up perfectly, “they just do it perfectly every time, we cannot be this good, the fish drift away for too long” he wandered back to his teams box shaking his head.

If you ever get a chance to watch Will Raison on this type of fishing, you may be forgiven for thinking that he's a machine! Once his peg's sorted, he has a metronymic rhythm to his fishing which seems relentless. Try to get along to the River Nene for the Winter League Final and watch him because it is very educational to anyone who hasn’t seen one of the world's very best performing.

I left the England team and began to walk along the sections, all the teams were catching well, but the Serbians in particular were still attacking for the big fish on larger flat floats out in the flow at 11 to 13m.

Belgium Holland and the Hungarians were also catching, Thomas Walter fishing a quite pacey peg close in and catching in quick spells.

Back upstream, past the England lads, the river changes quite dramatically in what will be D Section. There is a large bend under the bridge in Radece which pushes all the flow into the near bank. This area is up to 9m deep at 13 metres and 5m deep at 5 sections out and the Austrians and Ukrainians were finding it hard going, having to use large flat floats close in to combat the increased flow.

The standard three hour practice session seemed to fly by and England decided to weigh in immediately, as there was a large crowd waiting expectantly, again most of the opposition were down to have a look.

All the England anglers weighed 6kg plus, with Will top weight with around 7.75kg, excellent in just three hours.

Typically, other teams were averaging around 4kg per man, with odd anglers at 5.75kg, it indicated just how dominant England had been once again.

Let’s hope tomorrow is as fascinating. We’ll know the England team by then so STAY TUNED to for another Diary tomorrow, prior to Saturday and Sunday's main event.

Rob Hewison

Here are some great catches from Thursday practice session with England and other nationals: