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British Pike Squad v Angling Trust - Sunday February 14th 2016

16.03.16

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Some of the competitors awoke a little bleary eyed on the morning of the match, having spent the previous evening socialising with the locals and enjoying the Cambridgeshire nightlife a little too much! Still, a great aspect of these events is meeting like minded people and sharing tales over a meal and a few drinks. Breakfast was certainly more welcome than the prospect of a mobile days angling and climbing banks in the face of a stiff breeze that would see waves on the 16ft drain and make presentation difficult for those wanting to deploy wobbling tactics.

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On arrival at the meeting location it was apparent that the Angling Trust team were a few team members short, so in the interest of fair play The British Pike Squad loaned The Angling Trust two of their more experienced and proven performers in the shape of Stuart Parker and Mark Groom, who had incidentally finished in second place at the previous years final. Would this decision come back to haunt the BPS? A few competitors left to make the short journey to the banks thinking that it certainly would.

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A breezy, chilly and clear start didn't do too much to muster enthusiasm with some, but we are a hardy bunch and after the obligatory photographs and rules discussion we all headed off in search of feeding esox, some anglers choosing to drive to their chosen locations or stretches before abandoning their vehicles (it was agreed that this could happen, as long as anglers didn't then use their cars to switch areas part way through the contest).

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Most of the AT team chose to fish static deadbaits, as this was more familiar to them and also allowed the advantage of being able to fish an extra rod. Potentially a wise choice given the conditions but its been proven before that the mobile approach can be a better method for locating the feeding predators. Tony Doolan, Martin Earl, Anthony Earl and Philip Cash didn't venture very far from the starting point at Bedlam Bridge. Mark Groom and Danny Davis disappeared to the far end of the 5 mile stretch that was allocated, along with Stuart parker, they would be the only mobile members of the AT team.

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The BPS chose a slightly different approach and split into smaller groups and fish in different areas, slowly covering the water in front of them. Chris Brookshaw and Mike Fretwell fished together a short distance up the stretch alongside Stefan Apostolov. Chris had a follow in the first few casts, surely it going to be a good day. Paul Christian and Mark Lloyd ventured a little further, the latter being rewarded with an early fish of around 7lb. Darren Knowles and Joe Scammell stopped at a stretch well known to them and on passing the first group relatively early reported a healthy weight between them with 3 early fish, Joe Scammell netting what proved to be the largest catch of the day and also the only double at 10lb-08oz.

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The phones then started to ring; and this can only ever mean one of two things. Unfortunately, it was looking like sport had temporarily dried up. Although there were rumours that the AT pairing of Mark Groom and Danny Davis were bagging up at the top end. Tactical bait switches saw Chris Brookshaw and Mike Fretwell finally get off the mark, only to both then lose further fish not long after.

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Angling Times Feature Editor, Mark Parker, made a swift visit on his bike and reported that Louise Hunns and Stuart Parker were amongst the action. Unfortunately, this was misinterpreted and there was only a single fish that had fallen to the AT captain, although Louise seemed to be able to induce plenty of follows but little in the shape of actual takes. Paul Christian and Mark Lloyd had managed a further fish each for the BPS cause, whilst Tony Doolan had tempted a small Jack to static deadbait. The final hour was upon us and it was a tight affair, no fish were being reported until Mike Fretwell managed a take and calmly slipped the net under a pike of 8lb-06oz.

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Back to the watering hole to add up the weights and present the trophies. Chris Brookshaw thanked everyone for taking part and announced that the British Pike Squad were this years victors, by the slender margin of only a few pounds, which basically amounted to an average sized Jack. Mike Fretwell's late fish making all the difference in the end.


Mark Groom showed his pedigree and took the overall individual honours with 5 pike for a total weight of 24lb-12oz, the only other competitor to come close being his fishing partner for the day and fellow Northamptonshire based rod, Danny Davis of the Angling Trust. It was great to see the pair fish together and share knowledge and tactics. Danny has promised to attend the BPS Team Selection Final next year and this what such events are all about.

Thanks to Andy Waller, Stuart Parker and Mike Fretwell of the British Pike Squad and Sandra Drew of the Angling Trust for organising the event and also the suffering wives and girlfriends that missed valentines day to help support it. We hope to continue working in partnership to promote competitive Pike Angling in 2017 and welcome any relevant feedback or comments.

Thanks to Chris Brookshaw for helping with the write up & Tight Lines!

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