The victorious Shakespeare squad that won the day on the Kennet and Avon.Pic Steve Martin

THERE were mixed results for West Midlands based teams in the two big winter league semi finals at the weekend, both held at venues in the south of England.

Shakespeare field two outfits in this competition, something that skipper Jeff Perrin may be addressing next season. He believes that if he combined the talents of the two squads into just one team, they would have a good chance of winning the event outright.

In some ways his thoughts were justified as his Shakespeare Superteam could only finish seventh on Gold Valley Lakes and crashed out, while on the Kennet and Avon Canal Shakespeare’s other team won the day quite easily. They will now go into the final on the River Nene as one of the favourites, but they can’t field some of the squad’s natural river anglers from the Superteam.

Taking the fourth qualifying slot in the canal semi were Kamasan Starlets, who fished a silver fish approach on a day when quite a lot of big fish fed. They are good on the Nene, and will fancy their chances of at least a top three place. Daiwa Gordon League finished sixth and don’t make the final.

On the day the canal was carrying more colour than many expected, making big fish more likely to feed, but like Starlets, Shakespeare fished a simple bloodworm and joker approach, honed from their winter fishing on the canals around Birmingham.

“We fed several lines which we milked for a few fish at a time to ensure no part of the peg became over-pressured,” explained Shakespeare skipper Mick Hatchard.

“It was a fish-catching match on a venue we had practiced a lot on and we were comfortable with. We knew that with colour going into the canal because of some rain, breadpunch wouldn’t play the part many had believed it would, as it’s a method for clear water. A few in our team did catch on punch but it was mainly a joker job, fishing up to six lines all over the peg and snatching a few fish before going onto the next swim.”

Given the added colour the team fished quite positively, feeding their full allowance of half a kilo of joker. They had no outstanding individual performances, a sure sign that they got the team plan spot-on.

“The canal is very much like those we fish in our winter leagues so we all know the fundamentals,” added Mick. “We knew a few bream would be caught but the team plan was to snatch a roach or perch here and there before moving on, as this ensured you could expect bites to keep coming.”

Shakespeare finished the day on 38 points, nine clear of VDE Essex on 47 with Preston’s Thatchers and Kamasan Starlets both scoring 60. Daiwa Gordon League were ten points off a qualification for the final.

At Gold Valley it was fancied Daiwa Dorking who won the day and Shakespeare Superteam were seven points off qualifying in joint seventh. Browning Central finished ninth.

However, the Superteam did have something to cheer them up on the way home as Neil McKinnon took the individual honours with 65-2-0 from Middle Lake.

“I was having a proper tussle with the lad to my right,” said Neil, who was the last man to weigh in. “He finished with 20 fish to my 16, but it turned out mine were bigger. I was just thinking about winning the section. I fished a small bomb either to the rope running down the middle of the lake or a rod length away from it and it took me all of three minutes to get my first bite.”
Neil fished double corn or a small piece of Polony sausage using a size 18 PR27 hook to 0.15mm hooklength.