Team England’s Masters took their third-place podium honours at the FIPSed World Championships fished on the Vaal River, Vereeniging, South Africa from 14th/15th February 2019 with 9 nations taking part.

Team England Masters were;
Mark Downes
Harry Billing
Matt Hall
Mark Harper
Mick Wilkinson
Dicki Carr (Assistant Manager)
Joe Roberts (Manager)

The Championship was always going to be of a challenging nature due to the different fish species on the Vaal River, but for Team England it went as well as could be expected to say they didn’t have the correct equipment. Prior to the World Championship the team sought a lot of information from locals who said teams don’t use waggler rods anymore so these will not be needed. To the disappointment of Team England other teams like the French and Italians both took more comprehensive equipment with England only taking 1 x waggler rod, 1 x reel and 1 x float with their other equipment.

Team England had 3 ½ days practice which all took place in the rain. England fished for catfish up to 12 kg and carp up to 10kg, for moguls and yellow tail and muddies. They did very well at targeting the smaller fish at 6 metres and later went on to target catfish at 11 ½ metres. The only bait teams were allowed to use were worms and sweetcorn, so it was an out and out worm attack and in practice alone they used 2 litres of worm per angler. Unfortunately, the organisers had to cut down in the week as they couldn’t supply enough worms for all the teams.

Day 1 – saw the Italians catching one or two fish on waggler and luckily Mark Downes caught two catfish to get the team out of trouble on the only waggler they had. Team England ended up in 6th place which was disappointing on the day, but very close on points, so they knew they had it all to do on day 2.

Day 2 – the team wasn’t happy with the draw so treaded heavily on the long line as they knew the bigger fish were more important. Luckily it fished totally different than the first day and smaller fish came into play. Matt Hall had a fantastic day getting 5 kg plus of smaller fish on the 6-metre line, with the Dutch angler on his left having 900 grams and the South African angler on this right blanking. Mark Downes had a catfish on the waggler in the last half hour of the match which was brilliant results for the team, pushing Mark up to 4th in his section. Harry Billing had a couple of catfish off the peg that came last the day before and the team drew three pegs that were last in their section on the first day, but with the change in weight required, England backed their small fish abilities and edged out Finland into fourth.

Joe Roberts, England Masters Coarse Manager stated “I can honestly say this is the best World Angling Games I have ever been to and the organisation was the best I have seen at International level from South Africa, so we are really grateful. They all went out of their way and were very kind looking after us all and we all had a fantastic time. We have a good association with the South African team from our taking part last year in Croatia and now our two teams are inseparable and we have made some long-term friends.”

“I actually feel quite emotional and wasn’t expecting to feel like this as a manager, but seeing two of our coarse teams on the podium the Masters and the Ladies this year is fantastic and the teams have worked so hard this year so really deserve it. We worked things out with the Ladies team, and it was a combined effort, so any information was shared between us throughout the Championship, but all in all we are all really proud of what we have achieved at the World Championships this year.”

Top 4 team results;
1st France – 25 penalties
2nd Italy – 25 penalties
3rd England – 34 penalties
4th Finland – 36 penalties

Top 4 individual results;
1st Seppo Ponni (Finland)
2nd Francois Bergault (France)
3rd Gino Bacci (Italy)
4th Daniele Barbieri (Italy)

England placings;
9th Matt Hall
11th Mark Downes
12th Harry Billing
25th Mark Harper

The Angling Trust and all the England supporters would like to offer their congratulations to the England Masters Coarse Team on such a fantastic achievement this year in bringing home team bronze.