The 1993 World Championships in Portugal was probably my favourite event, naturally when you do well and come 5th overall individually and the Scotland team did well too. I wrote an article for the S.F.C.A. magazine which I’ve reproduced below for nostalgia purposes!
SO FAR FOR SO NEAR
– by George Glen
It’s a long way to Portugal but wouldn’t we all love to be fishing every day in a beautiful foreign country in the sun? Seems a long way removed from scratching away in the Scottish Leagues but George Glen learned some relevant lessons at the 1993 World Championships and tells the story of his match …….
Lesson number one is that you should prepare the best you can for anything that is important to you. I was having a very hard time at work during the lead up to the 1993 World Championships on the River Sorraia near Lisbon in Portugal. This meant I did not put in the time I wanted to practising waggler fishing before travelling for our official practice so I was feeling less than sharp on the method. I was also hardly in the right frame of mind, stressed up about work of all things!
The River Sorraia looked like match fishing paradise. Comfortable sandy beach like banks, warm and sunny and the promise of carp and barbel. Initial practise session were far from paradise while we suffered from hundreds of missed bites on the waggler whatever we did. We soon caught on after we watched other teams ignore bites on the float and wait for the rod tip to pull round – we called them runners! We set-up our rods in rests at a 45 degree angle just like quiver tipping. The trick was to ignore the float going under until the rod tip went round and grab the rod before the reel handle started battering round against your knee!
Our practise digs were fine (i.e. cheap and cheerful) the main problem for me being Ronnie MacLeods socks which I just had to throw out of our third floor window to save my sense of smell! I did very badly in early practise sessions by my standards. Ian Donaldson was showing us up and Steve McCaveny was also doing very well. I was trying to use a Reddicat for my Stickymag which was hopeless, only when I changed to a Superking did I get any accuracy, then I managed to get some confidence back by the final days practice. My Stickymag was also never mixed quite right until I got used to it.
We ran out of bait to practise with near the end – you needed at least a gallon per 3 hr session, preferably 2 galls! Sticky maggot at 40 yds + range was the main method to work, we could rarely catch well inside where the fish seemed too smart. We developed a theory that there was a ‘checkpoint’ barrier down the middle of the river, fish crossing from the near side to the far side had to leave their brains behind at customs!
Ready for the match
During the rest days on Thursday and Friday I felt really happy about the match, the main methods seemed pretty straightforward – big waggler with sticky maggot at range, and loose feed with a light waggler set shallow. I was happy with my tackle set-up, the Daiwa Amorphous Heavy rod was perfect for the barbel and carp coupled with the Browning 8010 reel.
I felt I had it worked out in my mind as a simple uncomplicated job.
The opening ceremony was on Thursday, and afterwards Alasdair Keir named the team and I was relieved to be in! I felt sorry for Chris Robinson he had worked very hard and wasn’t far away. I spent literally all day Friday tying hooks, cutting back pole tips, fitting monster elastic and making up 5 rods pre-assembled.
The big picture!
On the first day I was drawn on peg D7, I didn’t know much about the area but I thought it was the better end of the section. Mickey Thill of the USA was on right and a Spaniard on my left, Sorti of Italy was my main challenge on peg 4. It still takes me a long time to get set-up for a World Champs, 5 rods take some checking out but a lot of time is needed to mix up correctly 16 pints of sticky maggots all into one Sensas pail.
I don’t know quite what made me go for it so much in the 5 minute pre-baiting, I saw the guys around put in some groundbait, some loose feed and some sticky but not enough I thought, so I just kept on piling in great lumps of sticky at 40-50 yds probably 3-4 pints straight away. First put-in on a 7g rig I got a runner from an 8oz barbel and for the next hour I had regular bites and runs and put small barbel in the net quite steadily.
Then a very fast run saw me play a good 2 lb barbel in for a few minutes only for the hook to pull out right in front of my waiting landing net. Quite a crowd was in the area, probably because of the Italian. ‘Ahhhhhh’ sighed the crowd. ‘Oh bother’ I muttered quietly! I heard an Irish voice behind me speak into a walkie-talkie ‘George Glen just lost a big barbel in D section, would have put him first, probably still second to the Italian’. Better keep going then, I thought, I’m doing OK.
It definitely got harder from then on. Mickey Thill went on the pole and bloodworm and started to get me worried with a string of small 2-4 oz barbel, but the odd fish I did get were much bigger so I plugged away, though I did have a couple of small fish come off as well.
Superb team result
In the end I came 4th in the section with 2.310 Kg and I was very pleased as the team had fished superbly to come 3rd. We enjoyed ourselves back at the hotel in Lisbon, the lads were really buzzing and that swimming pool felt fantastic especially since I had worn shorts and had burned my knees to a crisp! It still took me until 1:30am to re-make all my rods, only 4 this time I was totally confused with 5! Also I decided to set up much bigger floats, 10 and 12g. I had trouble keeping the float on line properly against the wind with 7g and I was convinced that even heavier feeding along with a bigger float to help sink the line would be a real improvement. The whole approach reminded me of the recent World Club Championships on the Ostellato Canal and I decided to put the lessons learned the hard way there (I was hammered into 19th place in my section both days!) to good use.
The second day
I got on the bus in the morning with the bib for peg C1. I had no time to think about that peg when I was told I had to give it back again! 15 mins later I was back in the bus with the bib for C26 in my hand, a re-draw changed everything around. I was glad, 6 pegs above the bridge, not close enough to win I thought but a lot better than 1!
With the U.S.A. on one side again and Channel Islands the other I thought my ploy of feeding heavily in the pre-baiting could catch them out and draw the fish up from the bridge area. An easy lob out with the 12g rig to 45yds was followed by pouch after pouch of the biggest lumps of Stickymag I could handle! I was going like a windmill, getting some funny looks and they got worse when the reel handle started banging against my knee. A decent fish had hooked itself on my bare hook! I tried to reel it in fast while trying to explain to my steward but it smashed me with no trouble. I just left the float out and kept feeding.
On the whistle I put on a new hook (Katsuichi size 18 to 0.14 Milo Krepton) set 7ft deep in 5 ft of water with 5 no. 8s down, armed it with two red maggots and launched the float well past my feed, the intention being to sink the line and still be able to twitch the float back into the fish. Rod on the rests, ball of sticky, rod goes round, fish on, magic! Decent barbel, 8-10 oz, came steadily and my main problem was that I was so busy playing fish I could hardly keep enough feed going in!
Spot the float
Or I thought that was the main problem. After 30 mins I stopped being able to see my float – cast out, can’t see my float, run, fish! Oh well – cast out , can’t see my float, run, fish, same again? I looked at my float, the peacock was all broken. Oh Dear! I put a bigger, 14g float on and carried on catching. Can’t see my float again, run, fish!
Cast out, same again, run, fish. What’s going on – float smashed up again, I’d been semi legering for the last 20 minutes! All my biggest floats that I had to hand were now broken. I picked up another Amorphous Heavy rod with a 10g float and got stuck in again.
After an hour I heard I was doing well and things seemed so smooth and easy I just knew I was going to keep bagging. So it turned out and a fair crowd gathered since I was spending very little time without a decent barbel on the hook. Half-way through I was twitching the float back when the rod tip stayed round. Hmm, put some more feed in, tip still round – a snag?
On lifting the rod up it felt dead until I pulled, it pulled back! More than just pulling this thing ran like a train straight for the far bank. No problem, just let it run – uh-oh no line left, all 90 yds out! I had to stop it so I let it get to the last turn of line on the spool then leaned in to it, gulp! It stopped and the handle corks creaked. In practice Chris Robinson played a 7 1/2 lb carp for 90 minutes until he bored it into the net. I didn’t have 90 minutes left so I decided to show it who was boss and if it was going to come off it was better after 5 minutes than 50.
Playing these fish needs a special technique if they are not to be disqualified for going outside your narrow little zone. Letting them go with no resistance on the first run allows them to charge straight away from you and not to kite left or right. Then you bury the rod tip under the surface to hide the direction of the line, then slowly reel them in gradually turning the rod over from left to right and back so that they zig-zig their way towards you.
Well that’s how this one came in, but very, very slowly! After 10 minutes my arm was aching but it was in front of me and after a couple of looks at me at the surface, the crowd went Oooohhhh, and I managed to fit the landing net around it. Only when I unhooked the fish did I realise that half the photographers in Portugal were gathered around wanting me to wave a near 4lb barbel at them, so I did!
The rest of the match was a bit harder but I was still catching the fastest and the fish I was getting were all sizeable. I was really enjoying playing to the crowd – it’s easy to show off when you’ve got the match sewn up.
At the end I knew my 6.430 Kg would easily be top weight but at the same time I was upset to hear that the rest of the team had struggled. At the results presentation the team was feeling a bit down having dropped to 8th place. I found out I was 5th Individual and was quite happy but a bit disappointed. As it turned out I was only 1oz behind 3rd in section on day 1. The lost big barbel or any of the small fish lost would have got me 2nd overall individual and the silver medal.
The lesson here is that there is a very fine line between success and failure at every level of this sport. I feel that one more day of practise or even a bit more preparation at home would have assured me of a medal and who knows, even to be World Champion! Such chances don’t come along every year and I won’t miss out again through lack of preparation.
Anyway we all enjoyed the whole experience, especially me though I will always think back to what might have been but, like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter!