The Hensies Canal looking north along section A to the weedy basin.The Hensies Canal looking north along section A to the weedy basin.
The Hensies Canal in Pommeroeul, Belgium is a venue well known to, for it was here in 2006 that we organised our 'Euromeet' contest, where some 60 hardened match anglers from Belgium, France and the UK braved atrocious weather conditions to record some miserable weights. Indeed, when people such as Guido Nullens and Eric de Venti blanked, you knew things were bad!

But Euromeet was at beginning of May, and this years Championship was in late June, surely lightening would not strike twice? Fear not! Although early indications where that this would not be a ‘fishfest’, there would be better fish to go around the 24 teams competing. In fact, the Belgian Federation, organisers and local club had joined forces to stock the venue in the preceding weeks with over 11,000 kilos of bream, skimmers, roach and perch. However, when you look at the canal, it was difficult to imagine where these fish may end up, considering the vast amount of water they were occupying. The stocking had been carried out efficiently by placing batches of fish in selected areas along the 4 km length and, I was informed by Belgian supremo Roland Marcq, that this was only the first of a stocking policy that officials had planned for the venue. This was to make it more than acceptable venue for future internationals, as access and fishability were also one of the canal’s strong points.

Back to the Championships… The practice week had offered some encouragement to many of the teams, including Russia, with the slider proving to be the only acceptable path to a podium position. There were, however, still some teams that believed team points through small fish would help their overall standings. Personally speaking, the final results pointed to a positive, if not more uncertain, approach that would see better rewards.

England's management take a relaxed approach to the final days practice session.England's management take a relaxed approach to the final days practice session.


Many teams had had a mixed practice week. England had occupied some poor boxes, ranging from just several kilos overall, to nearly the 120 kilos seen on Tuesday from Box 1. This area was proving the best of all, as it was directly below a massive basin covered with weed. It was here that many fish seemed to seek refuge from the crystal clear water of the main canal. This basin was also the apparent breeding ground where many fish, including the massive shoals of roach, had spawned and their reluctance to venture out became understandable, bearing in mind this was prime cormorant territory! It seemed that nearly everyone’s opinion pointed to this early sector, but other areas also came on strong during the first day, indicating that the distribution of stocks had had some effect.

Russia had also experienced similar situations to England. Having struggled for fish on the first day, they quickly realised that accuracy of feed and feed content were keys in unlocking what was proving to be an erratic match length. Like the French on day one, their particle packed feed was set more to break up on contact, than the solid balls England had used. But, more importantly, the accuracy by which they fed their initial feed and top-ups was also crucial at between 40-45 metres. This was something England had excelled at. In fact I watched Will Raison feed at the start of day one and was amazed just how close he got to his marker float, including one direct hit!

Day One
Bright conditions with a slight breeze greeted all the competitors as they arrived at their respective pegs. The word from the English management was that the teams had not done too badly in the draw. Will Raison had taken an end peg in Sector A, Alan Scotthorne had drawn near where he’d fished in Friday’s practice box, Callum Dicks was part way into C sector, Sean Ashby in one of E sectors early pegs and Lee Kerry was halfway in E sector. But it was still uncertain just how each sector would perform and where you needed to be. Other teams had similar situations to contend with.

At the end of sector A, Italy's Gianluigi Sorti plays another small fish, while England's Will Raison strikes into his first bonus bream.At the end of sector A, Italy's Gianluigi Sorti plays another small fish, while England's Will Raison strikes into his first bonus bream.
There were some differences in certain team’s approach, which, while being only slight, would make some difference to the first days result. From a feed perspective, England had used the tried method of 30-35 hard balls at the pre-baiting, with numerous top-ups throughout the four hours. The Russians fed 40 balls at the start, laced with bloodworms, caster, and chopped worm similar to England. Both teams had used a dark mix to blend in with the canal’s black silty bottom. England’s mix consisted of Black Lake 20%, Terre de Somme Noir 70% and 10% Terre de Riviere Noir. From what sources I have, Russia’s mix followed a very similar line to this.

Rig set-ups for many teams also followed a similar pattern with sliders between 12-18gr, dependant on breeze, with size 16-14 hooks baited with combinations of bloodworm and small redworms. I was informed later that the Czech’s had used larger worms and sat it out for big fish. Whether this was accurate or not, I cannot verify.

There was one notable change that occurred for England during the match when it was clearly noticed that France were catching more fish as the day progressed, while they struggled as their catch rate slowed up. This was something the England runners had spotted, so they established that the French were using much softer balls with lots of bloodworm/joker to top-up. This could be clearly seen as the top-up balls hit the water. England quickly passed this information to it’s anglers and the catch rate did pick up.

With the final signal England thought they had not done too badly. Will Raison had secured a second in section, while Alan Scotthorne, Callum Dicks and Sean Ashby had all returned with reasonable top ten positions. Unfortunately E sector saw one of England’s bright stars suffering the proverbial ‘mare’, by registering only 1.214kgs, but worse still was that he had been totally hammered off the next peg by Russian debutant Sergey Komarov. To say Lee was gutted would be an understatement. However, this was in no way a fault of Lee’s, but would prove endemic of the whole weekend, as many class anglers would fall foul of this scenario! More on this later.

Holland's Arjan Klop and Frances' Didier Delannoy were separated by just 40 grams in section E.Holland's Arjan Klop and Frances' Didier Delannoy were separated by just 40 grams in section E.As the weigh finished and the scores reached the masses, the surprise on the leaderboard showed the Czech Republic in front, with France just 2pts behind. Considering the Gallic tendency to perform best with the pole, they had done extremely well, including two section wins. They would only be one of two teams to accomplish this feat over the two days of competition. Close behind lay a group of dangerous and capable challengers, Italy, Netherlands, England, Russia and hosts Belgium. It looked unlikely, even with the erratic distribution of fish, that the podium would not be divided between any of these teams. But who would take the medals?

We’ll take a look at day two in Part 2 of a Tale of Two Teams.