...but when you looked more closely at one particular section, you began to understand the thinking and skill which the Serbs employed. However, it wasn’t just them that drew attention to the requirements of putting these little fish into the net, far from it. Let me try to explain further.

Tactically, bleak where always going to figure in any teams serious game-plan. England had found this out during Thursday’s practice when Will Raison amassed 13kgs of them. What was then unclear, was how many other teams would go down this route, indeed, how many other teams would be capable of going there? Of those capable, several others quickly spring to mind… Italy, France, Belgium and maybe a couple of others. What we didn’t realise, until after the first day, was that Serbia were more than competent, and the equal of these at this select technique and appraoch.

That section I previously mentioned was B, and it contained Will Raison, Italy’s Guiliano Prandi and Belgium’s Claude de Clerck, all accomplished in the art of ‘bleaking’. Also there was Serbia’s Nikola Markovic, an accomplished ‘bleaker’ in his own territory, who had set the benchmark early on with an incredible 129 fish in the first hour, to the Italian and English 100. We have produced two interesting video clips for comparison below, between these three excellent bleak anglers... one each from Italy, England and Serbia. Both clips were shot over a 5 minute period in B section and shows some interesting points arising from each anglers particular technique.

We have made a list below of these to make it easier for you to spot, you may also find some other comparisons to note:

  • Fish count over the five minutes of clips: Italy 8, England 11, Serbia 7.
  • Italy and England did not stand when feeding.
  • England and Serbia fished shorter than Italy
  • England and Italy changed rigs during the 5 minutes clip
  • England were much quicker at shipping out than Italy or Serbia
  • England do not look back when shipping in. Both Italy and Serbia do. (note the difference in pole rollers)
  • England ‘slap-in’ the rig slightly quicker than Italy. Serbia lay the rig in.
  • Serbia had much more bleak groundbait in their allocation than England or Italy.

Note: This 5 minute period was only a representation of the overall time spent bleaking. There were other periods when these figures were turned around. The final fish count is the true and final representation of each anglers ability on bleak and show that the Serb finished well ahead after four hours.

Not widely known
Now it may be not widely known that many countries east of the Adriatic are pretty smart when it comes to going after bleak. Their rivers tend to be alive with the species, so are not short on practice. This became apparent as the match wore on and the fish count of the team overall rocketed.

The ‘Plan’
Having spoken to one of the teams most experienced members, Predrag Vesligaj, I can confirm the main plan of attack. This was to go for bleak in the first hour in A section, and for a minimum of three hours in the remaining sections, then wait to be further advised how the length was fishing by their bank runners.

This worked perfectly on the first day. Their ploy of using dry groundbait to force the bleak deep proved inspired, as it had the bonus effect of producing bigger fish. They had found during practice that when they fished shallow, they had lots of missed bites and the average weight of each fish was between 23 and 24 grams. By going deeper, the fishes weight increased to between 27 and 29 grams… with minimal missed bites. Rigs of 4x14 to 4x18 were set to 0.7m, 4x16 set to 1m and 4x18 to 1.5m. This strategy had previously recorded weights during practice sessions of 9.5 to 14kgs.

Unfortunately, Sunday’s match proved somewhat different. Following the same plan, the team found themselves struggling, as the bleak seemed to have moved out further and deeper, which was no good for building a good weight and something England’s joint manager Mark Downes had mentioned in our interview with him on Sunday morning, after A section had ‘balled-in’.

The team were losing ground after the first two hours, so decided to go for the carp and carrassio’s on the pole line. This allowed them to keep pace with many of the other teams and ultimately saw them gain their first international medal at this level. Saturday’s 1,382 count was testament to the teams plan and the overall count of 1,845 put them well in front of Belgium’s 1,255 fish.

Individual satisfaction
Another interesting fact from the results, show that the team had THREE anglers in the top twenty, one less than Italy and one more than England, Belgium, Spain and Germany… a commendable achievement by anyone’s standard! Perhaps we will be seeing more of Serbia on the podium from now on? Especially as they shall be hosting the 2013 Euros!

Could 2010 have had some bearing?
You have to go back to the 2010 World Championships here to fully appreciate how Serbia may probably have formulated their 2012 strategy. Back then, the team had only posted a miserable 47pts on the first day, good enough for only a 22nd placing. Their fish count was 128 and their highest section score was 7pts. With little to lose, I suspect the team opted to build their second day approach on bleak, otherwise it would most certainly have involved sitting out the final day for big fish… which Serbia are more than capable of.

After that first days miserable return of 128 fish, it was noticeable from the second days count of 445 that Serbia had got their heads down and rattled up a greater amount of bleak. This had the effect of helping them push further up the rankings, to a final 11th place. This didn’t look solely like bleak catches, but more a combination of some big carp and carrassio added, however, the bleak were the building blocks for them.

All that remains to be said is WELL DONE SERBIA.