Carp Team England came within a whisker of winning the Carp Fishing World Championship following a close-fought contest on Lake Sava, Serbia.
The six-man team led for much of the three-day contest at the tricky venue, near Belgrade, but were pipped at the post by the Ukrainian and Croatian teams and eventually had to settle for third place on the podium.
As well as the team bronze, the pairing of Harry Charrington and Karl Pitchers also came third overall.
Blue skies and high daytime temperatures, combined with chilly nights and crystal-clear water conditions, meant that bites were hard to come by for all 27 teams taking part, with 17 nations failing to catch a single fish – including pre-tournament fancies Romania and Russia.
The competitors were split into three sections across the lake, with every nation having a pair fishing in each.
England took an early lead after Wayne Mansford and Ryan Need landed three quick fish from Section B using ‘scratching tactics’ of PVA bags and single hookbaits, before the Ukrainian team then took over after landing a huge fish of around 33lb.
After adding a couple more fish to their tally, England had regained top spot going into the final day, but the scoring system adopted for the contest meant that the capture of a fish by the Portuguese team at 3.15am on the final day added half a point to the England team’s overall points score, pushing them down into the bronze position.
Despite the disappointment of coming so close, team manager Rob Hughes was immensely proud of his charges.
He told Carpfeed: “Conditions were really tough and there simply weren’t enough fish to make heavy baiting a viable approach. It really was ‘scratching time’, with PVA bags and ‘singles’ tactics dominating.
“We were spodding out liquids to encourage the fish to feed, but without risking filling them up.
“We came so close, but the way the competition works it’s decided by a combined total over three sections, in a bid to reward team consistency.
“It was immensely fair and we have no complaints, but it’s agonising to come so close. “There were only four teams who caught more in than one section, including ourselves.”
Despite his pride, Rob felt that it could have been a different story had the England team had the chance to visit the venue to practice, like some of the other nations.
He said: “We went over ‘blind’, with nobody having even seen the venue, never mind practise on it.
“It all comes down to funding, and the lack of it. It cost us around £8,000 to do the trip, and the limited coffers we have simply wouldn’t stretch to a recce trip beforehand, which is a shame.
“Without the funding shortfall, it might have been a different story.”
1st place – Ukraine
2nd place – Croatia
3rd place – England
England team: Billie Flowers and Jamie Londors, Harry Charrington and Karl Pitchers, and Wayne Mansford and Ryan Need. Neil Rivers was the reserve.
Carp Team England are next in action over the first weekend of November, when they will be taking on Scotland and Wales in at the ICFA Home Nations contest at Celtic Lakes, Wales. Watch this space for the results!