After an incredible week of drama and excitement at Lake Bolsena in Italy Lee Jackson and Rob Tough produced a world class performance to take the runners up spot in this year’s World Carp Classic.

After drawing a peg in the heart of Marta I think it was fair to say both anglers were happy that they had a chance to catch some fish; where that would leave them at the end would certainly be interesting. Indeed when I eventually had a chance to scan over the final draw I did say on the nightly TV show that my money was on them, and it seemed I wasn’t too far off. 

The hugely experienced pair have an enviable list of accolades already to their names individually, Rob has won the World Carp Classic before at Madine as well as coming 3rd, 2nd and 1st in the BCAC, Lee has held the British Carp record and won the World championship event in the States to name a few, so my thoughts were simple, if the stars aligned for them then there was no better pair to take advantage. Unfortunately though for us English we didn’t count on the Dutch pairing of Lizette Beunders and Bianca Venema putting in such an epic performance in the highly fancied peg 62 and romping home to an impressive victory. 

The fact though that Jackson and Tough were able to place at the head of a field that included Frank Warwick, Sandro Di Cesrea, Hans Sissing, Martin Locke, Max Nollert, Riccardo Battisti, and many more was a huge achievement and paid testament to their skill, dedication and tactics. Although their peg was fancied as a fish producing area it soon transpired that the local anglers actually fished it at over 400m range to get past the weed, unfortunately for the English pairing the World Carp Classic has a 250m maximum rule, so a new spot and approach would be needed in order to get the Bolsena Carp browsing closer to shore. Indeed that was exactly what they did, after a long 1st day in the boat scouring every inch of their vast area they eventually found what they were looking for, out by the max marker at 240m the guys found the end of a sand bar, not a huge feature, but pronounced enough that it was a few feet shallower than the water around it and most importantly clear of the horrendously thick weed that was so prevalent in their swim.

The World Carp Classic allows 4 rods per pair and due to the spot being no wider than 10yards the boys decided Lee would concentrate both his rods on this small spot with Rob battling away in the weed to the right. The pair had brought a selection of Mainline Baits with them but had decided to feed a combination of the Cell and Maple 8 boilies which were complimented by the very effective Response pellets. The sand bar was baited fairly heavily but accurately with both baits positioned tight together on the area, no mean feat at 240 meters I can tell you, and a skill that required fantastic communication between them both on the walkie talkies.

It was great to see that after all that work and precision that they had found a great spot that produced all of the pairs fish bar 2 including a stunning 40+ Bolsena Common to ‘Jacko’ on the last afternoon. I was lucky enough to be on hand to witness a number of those runs on the last afternoon and the swim was buzzing, the sheer skill and team work it required to fish this spot effectively was mind blowing and a joy to watch. As I left the peg at 6pm and rushed back to the live TV studio Jacko said “forget 3rd, were going for 2nd now!”

(You can actually see how the action unfolded here.

The match itself finished at 8am on Saturday October 5th. As the alarm signalled it was time to get up and head to Lizette and Bianca’s swim for the official closing firework I was quietly wondering how the boys were doing and if they had held onto 3rd place or even moved into 2rd.

After sharing in the moment with Lizette and Bianca and snapping away on the camera I shuffled quietly to the back of the swim and gave head marshal Andy Chambers a call, I hadn’t had a chance to say anything before he said “the boys had a great night landing 4 more fish, they are 2nd!” I was chuffed, to see the girls win was incredible, I had seen a bit of Carp angling history made, but to have such a well-liked and experienced pair as ‘Jacko and Toughy’ finish 2nd representing England was the icing on the cake and for me personally was the perfect end. 

The girls had fished brilliantly and they deserve all the accolades and adulation they get over the coming year, for sure their Carp fishing lives, maybe their whole lives have been changed by this huge success, the 1st ever all female team to win an International Carp match, and to win by the margin they did against the calibre of angler that competes in the World Carp Classic is no fluke. Often the achievements though of the runner up can be forgotten but our boys did us proud this week, they were faced with a very demanding swim and they used their huge knowledge and skill to produce a brilliant performance and a second placed finish.

Reporting from the World Carp Classic at Lake Bolsena, Italy.
Nic Brown for Impact Angling Media