STEVE WILLIAMS fishes for Shakespeare Superteam and has a great record fishing in Division 1 Nationals. He’s recorded three team Golds, one Silver, and one Bronze medal over a successful match career in the elite event for team fishing. We join him on one of his practise sessions ahead of the big teams’ event in August, which he would love to win again! “You can’t beat the thrill of winning a team, or individual, Gold medal on National day, as it’s the biggest match angling accolade in the land as far as I am concerned,” said Steve. “We have a lot of experience in the squad, but we try to practise a lot, both in matches and on our own prior to the event. We don’t formulate a very strict plan for the match, but it’s important to become familiar with moods of a water during match hours, and this is today’s aim,” Steve comments as he arrives at an appealing-looking swim on the wide Gloucester Canal at Purton.
PURTON POTENTIAL 10:30 “I haven’t fished this length before, so this is likely to prove an interesting day. It used to be a very significant match venue in years gone by, but it has fallen foul of the popularity of the commercial carp scene, like many rivers and canals. However, the lack of angling pressure over the past decade could make for a very good National, in as much as the fish should have thrived on neglect to a large extent,” comments Steve. “What you have to be mindful of when fishing alone is that the presence of lots of other anglers on the bank come match day will lead to diminished returns by comparison. So, even if I catch well today, I doubt that it would be matched come the day of the big event!” Nonetheless, Purton is tipped to be a good section in the National, with a great chance of an angler drawing a winning peg here containing a hungry shoal of bream. “Let’s see how I get on,” Steve enthuses.
DREAMING OF BREAM 10:45 “Everyone knows bream respond well to groundbait, and it’s likely that the individual event will be won with a bag of them. On the team front, however, other options will have to come into play to gather points. I’ve got my teammate James Robbins with me today and he’s using a pole. The aim is to discover what the potential is for roach and perch close-in, too. “I’m going to try to tempt some bream on the tried-and-tested open-end feeder tactic, over on the far shelf. You might think that bream would be down the middle, but boats tend to push them across to the quieter spots on the far side, and that’s where I’ll concentrate my efforts on this session,” Steve explains.
BALANCED OUTFIT 10:50 Being quite a wide canal means that an appropriate rod is required to reach the far side, around 25 to 30 metres away depending on where you draw. “I’ve opted to use the 12 ft Superteam quivertip rod, and on my reel I have 4 lb Fireline main line, with a 0.24 mm Mach XT shockleader. Typical hook links are made from 0.12 or 0.14 mm Mach XT line, and typical hooks are size 15 Kamasan B711. “I’m using my rod bag as a rod rest because I am fishing on caged stones today, so it would be hard to drive bank stick into the rocks. It’s likely that bream will come early on in the match, so you need to be ready for immediate action,” Steve points out.
BED OF BAIT 11:10 Steve’s made five quick casts via a larger feeder to lay down a bed of bait to which the bream will be attracted. “My groundbait is a mix of Sensas Canal Black and Match Blend (50/50). The bait is riddled after mixing to produce a nice ‘fluffy’ consistency, which disperses out of the feeder evenly and swiftly. Into the mix go casters and some chopped worms. “Once that initial feed has been introduced, my intention is to recast every five to ten minutes until I gain a response,” Steve recommends.
CASTING ACCURACY 11:15 In a match, it’s important to keep fish in your swim. Casting the feeder to the same spot repeatedly is key. “I am dropping the feeder about five metres short of the far bank, where the water is about 8 ft deep. It’s not too far from the far bank cover of lilies, where I believe the bream will be taking cover, especially on a bright day, as the water is clear in this area. “To maintain a level of accuracy, I place the line in the line clip on the spool of the reel after establishing the correct
distance. I doubt that I will hook a carp, although they are present in the canal, so a line clip is the ideal solution when pursuing bream,” Steve advises, as he unerringly lands his feeder in the same spot time and again.
BRAID IS BETTER 11:25 Steve likes braid on his reel, as it’s direct and shows bites up instantly. “After casting, I allow the line to settle, which is a quicker process with braid, I find. I then establish a slight bend in the quivertip. This allows me to spot standard bites, but also drop-backs, as a result of the fish dislodging the feeder and the tip falling slack. I hit these bites immediately, but would typically ignore small plucks and wait for a bream to pull the tip right round as it swims off with the bait,” Steve indicates, as he focuses intently on his tip, waiting for a bite.
BREAM FIGHT HARD 11:40 They might not have the fighting qualities and power of carp, but if Steve’s first bream is anything to judge by then it will pay not to fish too light in the National! “It’s not coming in without a fight, this one!” he says with a broad grin, as he carefully but forcefully steers it over the weedbeds located on the near shelf. “What a lovely bream!” Steve exclaims, as he finally slides the landing net under a ‘slab’ closer to 5 lb than to 4 lb!
SIMPLE SET-UP 12:20 The action is hotting up, just like the day, which started with a few heavy showers. Now, with the sun out, Steve is starting to tempt further larger bream and skimmers. “Bites are pretty positive, as I am using a form of bolt rig on the feeder. The feeder runs on the main line and is attached via a snap swivel, so that I can change it at will to a bomb or to a different size of feeder. “A few inches above the feeder is a rubber line stop, and below is a small shot. When the fish pick up the bait the feeder will stop, creating a bolt effect, resulting in a strong bite,” Steve adds, as he lands another impressive Gloucester Canal bream, tempted on worm and casters.
RING THE CHANGES 14:30 Steve finds that adding extra chopped worms to the mix seems to be attracting bigger bream. “When we fish a National, the lads will approach their swim in their own way, and we all know the best baits for bream. Simple and effective are things like two pieces of worm, double caster, and double maggot, or a small worm and casters. There are no hard and fast rules, and I will take a selection on the day.” So far today, worm and casters is proving the best. “I won’t turn my nose up at any fish in a match, but a succession of tiny perch are often a sign to refeed, or that the bream have gone off. A few larger perch are always welcome, though,” he adds, as one is slipped into the net.
STEADY ACTION 16:00 Steve has kept further bream, skimmers and a few decent perch coming right to the end of the session. “I think that bream will play a big part in determining both the individual and the team results. I believe that they’re widespread, and I reckon that they will be early feeders and must be sought immediately, giving time for the pole line to be developed for additional roach and perch. Any angler catching bream for the duration is likely to win it,” he explains.