Marcel Van den Eynde Memorial - Juliana Canal
I'm really looking forward to this match on the Juliana Canal. I already know that I'll be fishing the section at the Illikhoven Bridge near the scrap metal shredder.
Since I ripped my quadriceps tendon in February, I've been I bit more careful about where I fish - and clambering over large loose rocks on river and canal banks are not the best way to go about preventing further accidents. The rocks in this section are concreted together and can't move, which will give me a secure footing so I can't fall over - good theory anyway.
Anyone who has difficulties with the canal's banks can ask to be allocated this section. Luckily, I was able to get a place here where you can also park behind your peg.
The canal is a difficult one to get to grips with. It stands still, flows hard left, flows hard right, and the water level is constantly changing by up to 40 cm.
The section here is about 500 metres long and is good for about 25 decently spaced pegs.
I was unable to fish any practice sessions to try and work out how to best catch the fish, so I'm going into this match a bit blind.
The section I fished is known as the disabled stretch because of the good bank (the stones are concreted in) and your car is parked behind you.
The draw was the night before and I got peg 6 of 19 and had Sven Sittig to my left on peg 7 for company. We had a little chat, and I'm looking forward to a day's fishing with Sven in the near future.
I set up four rigs. A 2 g Drennan Carbo with a string of No. 11's below the olivette about 1.2 m from the hook. Two 2 g Drennan G-Tip 2's with the olivette 50 cm from the hook. A 4 g DH11 with a bulk 50 cm from the hook. Hook lengths were 0.10 mm on the 2 g rigs and 0.11 mm on the 4 g rig.
I made up 15 litres of very heavy groundbait and put 14 large balls in at the start, with some hemp and casters mixed in. The rest I fed regularly as small nuggets throughout the 5 hour match.
It took a while, but I started to get bites - Gobies, Gobies, Gobies! As Gobies don't count it was a little frustrating. When over my groundbait, I got a bite straight away; a Goby every time. I kept changing rigs as the water level rose and fell to I could stay in touch with the bottom - I had the rigs set at different depths. I tried maggots, casters and bits of worm on the hook, but the result was always a Goby.
As I was trying different depths I caught a Roach about 20-30 cm off the bottom. As soon as I went back to the bottom I caught a Goby.
I therefore fished a lot off the bottom and managed to put 7 Roach in the net for 882 g and sixth in the 19 peg section.
Had I fished off the bottom for the whole match I think I could have got enough fish together to win the section. And that's why you should always go for a practice before fishing a new water!
A big thanks to the organiser Dieter Liebert for the well-run match and the hard work behind the scenes. Also a big thank you to the sponsors - without them there would be no match.
Last but not least, please spare a thought for Marcel Van Den Eynde who is sadly no longer with us. A great champion of an angler whose groundbait is used all over the world by thousands of anglers - including me.