Thursday, 22 September 2011

British Pike Squad team selection 2011

Mark Groom, with one of the fish that helped earn him a place in the British Pike Squad

They throw wobblers every year, when they do battle with their old rivals, the Irish. But before the gloves come off and the deadbaits and the banter fly in earnest, there's the small matter of deciding who's going to represent their country in a unique pike fishing show-down, when the two nations meet in Ireland in October 2012.

Welcome to the world of the British Pike Squad - a die-hard band who have perfected a uniquely mobile way of targeting predators. Two weeks ago, they held a a two-day Team Selection Final, as hopefuls slug it out in deepest Lincolnshire.

With 30 miles of drains to choose from, how can you show your skill in locating pike and your watercraft when it comes to catching them..? That was the question facing the band of hopefuls scanning the Sibsey Trader, near Boston, and the West Fen drain on day one. Squad PR man Peter Timmis takes up the story.

The Sibsey Trader was clear with plenty of weed and lily’s to hide the elusive pike, the West Fen was by far a much bigger water and far deeper, writes Peter. Below the sluice the water was clear with lots of weed cover but above the sluice the water looked much deeper and far more coloured with not so much weed.

An early start saw us all move off at 10.00am; we would then fish until 16.00, plenty of time to find where the pike were. Mark Groom (Northamptonshire) and Paul Higginson (Cumbria) went up the Sibsey Trader to areas that are rarely fished.

Jon Harcourt (Worcestershire), Rob Cook (Worcestershire), Peter Timmis (Stoke on Trent), Stuart Parker and Louise Hunns (Wisbech), and Jakub Potrykus (Cheltenham) stayed around the Golf club area, had they some knowledge that they were not sharing?

Up the main West Fen, some-one was landing a fish, looked decent from afar, Derek Lowe (Cumbria) had one fairly quickly and things were looking good.

Glenn Neave (Norwich), Roy Rushbrook (Norwich), Andy Waller (Worcestershire), Adam Holmes (St Neots) and Wayne Leese (Oxfordshire) were busy around the sluice gates, Wayne latched into a fish of around 5lb – 6lb only to see it roll and shed the hooks, fuur baits quickly hit the water around where he had lost it, but this fish was not stupid and was not to be caught.

Glenn Neave and Paul Danby (Derbyshire) had found an area of pike that seemed to be queuing up to be caught, one after another in such a short stretch of water, lady luck was smiling.

Meanwhile Adam Holmes and Andy Waller decided that they would see if it was possible to walk the 30 miles, how they expected to catch any pike only god knows, truth be told they only did to Boston and back and then up another 3 mile up the trader and another 3 mile to a tiny drain that ran off the Trader.

First cast and Andy Waller was into a small jack of 2lb, Adam Holmes very soon after was also into a fish only to strike into nothing. Andy’s 4th cast was into another fish, this drain was full of tiny Pike 7oz upwards and up but to his surprise latched into a fish just under 5lb, this drain looked good, bank side evidence showed someone had been here earlier but did they go all the way down?

Gary Edwards (Derbyshire), John Currie (Norwich), Steve Roberts (Norwich), Pete Watson (Cumbria) and Ian Johnson (Cumbria) all seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth but such was the extent of the water we were fishing it was hard to try and keep track of everyone.

News was filtering back that Mike Brookshaw (Cumbria) and Mike Fretwell (Cumbria) was catching on the Trader, Louise and Stuart had walked up to the first bridge and crossed over to fish the other side, Louise had 2 fish to 10lb with over 2 hours left, Stuart was adamant he had only two small jacks (complete fabrication of the truth of course). The end of the first day came too soon.

Day two saw proceedings adjourn to the South Forty Foot drain, a big water which looked very daunting.
Static dead baits could be the order of the day but this is not what we do, its sink and draw or the odd lure.

We had three miles down the drain and approximately the same upstream, Adam Holmes had googled the maps and found a small fen running off the main drain, a long way up and risky but could be worth it.

Andy Waller and Adam Holmes went on their hike and walked for nearly an hour before they found the small fen, Adam fished the outlet and almost instantly struck into a fish of about 6lb only for it to spit the hooks, Andy meanwhile had 3 takes on the small fen and had a small jack of 2lb 6oz.

The water downstream was the local course match water and a number of the competitors headed that way, several anglers or more thought, “course fish = pike” only time would tell.

Paul Higginson was way up stream looking for some of the big fish that would see him into the team, they would surely be in this water, a fish of 38lb was known to have been caught right at the end of the match water.

Peter Timmis, Steve Roberts, Mark Groom and John Currie soon caught Andy Waller and Adam Holmes up, Andy was rooted to a corner of the small drain which met up with two smaller ones, it turned out he had lost a 9lb fish in that swim.

Adam was soon into fish, not big at 7oz but they all count. News was that only two pike had been caught on the main drain, without doubt this was going to be a crueller, or so we thought.

But Paul Danby, Louise Hunns and Gary Edwards were picking up a decent stamp of fish on the main drain.

Jakub Potrykus had a small jack of 2lb and followed up with a pike of 3oz and 1 of 1oz, a record surely and this would also turn out to be very important at the end of the match.

Peter Timmis (pictured right) tagged along with Paul Danby, Louise Hunns and Gary Edwards, a smart move as he hooked into a pike which would, if landed, cement his place in next year’s team, giving the fish time to turn the bait he struck into the fish only for it to hit the surface and spit the bait, what else could go wrong, so close yet so far. He cast out again and the fish hit the bait like an express train, no need to give this one any time he thought, it’s well and truly hooked, a short fight ensured and the fish was safely netted, weighed and returned.

Mark Groom was doing his best to pinch first place from Paul Danby but for all of his efforts could only manage 5 small pike, 3 under a pound.

Steve Roberts, who was still on the small fen wobbled a smelt under a footbridge and was rewarded with a jack of 2lb; this would certainly guarantee his place in next year’s team.

Paul Higginsion, still on the main drain, had found a few fish which had bumped up his weight, but would it be enough?

Stuart Parker was in panic mode, Paul, Gary, Louise were all catching fish on both sides of him and slowly but surely he was dropping down the list, was this to be another year he missed out?

As the match finished at 4pm, news came in that those that had walked had all caught reasonable fish (Adam Holmes and Andy Waller excluded). No one knew who had done what, all was soon revealed and this turned out to be one of the closest selection finals for many years.

Total fish caught day 1 = 116

Total fish caught day 2 = 35

The overall results and the team to face the Irish in Ireland next year are as follows:

1st Paul Danby (Derbyshire) 54lbs 3oz;

2nd Mark Groom (Northamptonshire) 34lbs 6oz;

3rd Gary Edwards (Derbyshire) 30lbs 3oz

4th Louise Hunns (Wisbech) 25lbs 8oz

5th Steve Roberts (Norwich) 21lbs 5oz

6th Glenn Neave (Norwich) 21lbs 4oz

7th Peter Timmis (Stoke on Trent) 20lbs 10oz

8th Stuart Parker (Wisbech) 19lbs 2oz

9th Mike Fretwell (Cumbria) 18lbs 15oz

10th Jakub Potrykus (Cheltenham) 18lbs 4oz

1st Reserve John Currie (Norwich) 18lbs 1oz

2nd Reserve Andy Waller (Worcestershire) 15lbs 3oz.

"Many thanks to Boston Angling Association for allowing us to use their water and in particular to Barry Mallet without whose help this close competition would not have been so rewarding for all," added Peter.
"Thank you to everyone that turned up, its just a shame that day two did not fish as well as day 1 and thanks to all the BPS committee for all their hard work in staging this event - roll on next year and this years International in Peterborough when we will be winning GOLD."

For more on the British Pike Squad, click here for their website. And click here for a piece on their unique method of fishing for pike.

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