European Professional Boilie Cup Winners!

Last year myself, Tom Maker and Mark Bartlett travelled to Hungary to compete in a 115 hour endurance match (five days and five nights fishing). The match is the European Professional Boilie Cup, and not only our first-time seeing the venue but our first-time fishing in Hungary. The team fished very well, as always, and led the match from the very start. Finishing on a total weight of 1067kg, we were the fifth team to ever catch over a tonne in weight of carp during a match on lake Maconka.

The stunning lake enables every team to have plenty of water to fish from your peg, the swim is marked out with yellow tape on the floor, this indicates how big the swim is and gives you your boundary lines. The water itself has two marker poles that follow the same line, the left one being a red pole and the right one being green. These are placed at 100 meters and light up during the dark so they can be easily identified. A perfect method to ensure teams do not cast into other team’s water, a very ingenious idea for a match.
The draw for pegs works the same as any other match…’out the hat’ but with a slight twist. Swims are numbered and the ball picked determines the swim, if you don’t like your first random choice then you can throw it back and choose another. Once you decide to pick again the second choice is your final swim so it can be a gamble.

Last year we pulled out swim C1 and, not knowing the lake at all, we went with our gut instinct and choose to keep that swim as it looked a decent area. We ended up winning the overall event by over 200 kilos from this area so was it luck or just good angling? 
The only way to tell would be to re-enter again next year and have another go.

With this mind, I re-entered us using the same name as last year 'Duster Champs' to have another go at the intense match against another 31 teams from all around the world. There was a change in team this year as Mark Bartlett was replaced with my match fishing partner Jamie Londors. Mark couldn't make it due to family commitments so the final team was made up of Tom, Jamie and I. We had pre-warned Jamie about the match and that it was very hard work across the full five days. As usual with Jamie the more we were telling him about it, the more he was getting excited to get there and start fishing.

As we had fished it last year we had a good idea on how much bait we would need so we organised all the bait from all sponsors. I must say a very big thank you to them because without these bits it would make it a lot more cost effective for us to enter these prestigious events. All the bait was packed in England and evenly distributed into 30 kilo boxes prior to being sent out to Hungary.
Knowing that the boxes of bait arrived safely it was now a case of getting our cases packed with our terminal tackle and reels, all our rods were loaded into the rod tube and we were soon on our way to Hungary…very excited. 
After a short one hour drive from Budapest it was Jamie’s first sighting of the lake, and he was very impressed on how clean and well-kept it was. Immediately he said, “this is going to be a good match” just from looking at the lake, Tom and I were buzzing as well as the lake brought back some very good memories. That afternoon we prepared some bait and tackle in our hotel room so that we were ready to fish from the off. The evening before we had a nice dinner and a bit of a social to catch up with a good few teams. We have made friends with lots of anglers over the years as we travel to and from different countries to fish events. Not wanting to be too tired for the start of the match we got our heads down early to try and get a good night’s sleep before the impending carnage of the following day.

The morning of the match we were all up bright and early buzzing to get to the lake, we had another walk around and between the three of us discussed a few areas that we really fancied. We made a note of other areas that we thought were okay and there were also three or four swims that we didn't like at all. Knowing this meant this would affect how our draw for swims panned out. The mechanic of the draw is that you get to pull a swim out of the hat, and then you have one minute between you to either keep it or put back. As mentioned before, if you put the first pick back then your second pick is final and you must stick to that swim, it's a gamble but it can play into people's hands sometimes.
Knowing this we decided that if we picked a swim that we weren’t too keen on then we would gamble…. a risky strategy. We were due to draw 10th out of 32 teams, Tom pulled the first peg and, if needed, I would pull the final peg. Tom went up and pulled swim C3 and after a lot of deliberating we took the gamble and put it back. I then re-picked and pulled out swim B7. Before the match, we fancied a middle of B section so we were happy with our choice until after the draw. Suddenly 80% of anglers approached us in complete shock asking why we put back C3? Apparently, it's known to be one of the favourite swims on Lake Mackona and it's had a lot of podium positions in the past!
This wasn't what we wanted to hear but it was done and ultimately our decision as a team. We would just have to crack on with what we had now and that was B7. 

Considering we led from the start last year, the match seemed to start off slow for us. The first scoresheet on the 13th hour showed we had only landed 2 fish, a total weight 18 kilos and enough to put us in 14th place.
The leader at this point, Swim B3, had got off to a flyer and was on 18 fish for a total weight of 146.13kg. Our rejected swim C3 was on 81kilo which added insult to injury. It was still early stages and anything could happen so we didn't let it get to us, we carried on fishing the same methods and tactics as last year and we began to chip away at a few more fish. Before we knew it the second scoresheet came around in the 25th hour and we had now gone from 14th into 2nd place. Our team had caught 19 fish for a total weight of 168 kilos! It was very close between the five teams that made up second through to sixth place. First place began making a very good lead as were now on a chunky 284 kilos. We knew we would have to have a good night and some very good days to ensure we started gaining on them.
Disappointingly the night was completely unsuccessful for us and we didn't catch anything at all whilst others around us did, so much so that by the 37th hour we had dropped to 8th position. We sat and looked at the scores and realised that if we wanted to get onto the podium we needed to change our tactics. It was essential we worked on a new approach to the nights as well as do better during the day. The re-think worked and we managed to land 32 carp in a day and go from 8th place right up to 1st with 51 carp for a total weight of 414.57 kilo by the 49th hour.

It was a great feeling when the famous blue and white chequered flag moved from the previous leaders into our swim, this indicates what team is winning at the time. There is also a flag for the biggest fish landed during the match as well and at that time it was 20.900 kg. Even though we were now sitting at the top of the table there was only 50 kilos separating the top 4 places, it was now time for us to dig deep and try and keep our lead. 
The next scoresheet was the 61st hour, which indicated, just over half way through the match and we were still in 1st place by 30 kilos. Then the scoresheet after that was the 85th hour and we had now caught over 100 fish for a total weight of 909.93kg. A 109-kilo lead was a nice buffer but there was still lots of time left and anything could happen, encouragingly we were looking good for over a tonne of carp again.
That's exactly what we achieved by the 97th hour scoresheet we were now on 1070,32 kg, and to top it off the fish that took us over the magical 1 tonne mark happened to be the biggest carp that we had caught so far. A massive 21,700 kg (47lb) beast that was officially weighed and photographed in order to verify the largest fish claim. We were now looking at both flags in our swim, we couldn’t believe we had the leaders flag and the biggest fish flag!

Even though we entered the match for a podium finish, a biggest fish trophy wouldn't have gone a miss for the trophy cabinet, unfortunately for us we only had the biggest fish flag for a day as a team went and landed a 21,900 (beating us by only 200 grams!). As long as we kept our lead and stayed in 1st place we would be buzzing, as we looked around it was obvious lots of people were looking tired and worn out.
The team stuck at it and chipped away with a few more fish and by the 109th hour before the final results we were on 123 fish for 1088,32kg, we knew there were two other teams getting close to us so we needed to maintain the lead for the last 6 hours.
During the last 6 hours we managed to land another 7 fish but nobody knew the final results until we had all packed up and gone to the presentation. A little bit of nerves crept in leading up to the final results being posted up on the board. We could clearly see our team name Duster Champs at the very top and it was amazing. We had managed to land a total of 130 carp for a total weight of 1148,28kg of fish!
This meant that Tom and I had now entered this match twice and managed to be back to back champions. It was cool that Jamie had entered for the first time and we were all taking home a massive trophy for a cabinet plus another huge bottle of Champagne!

Even though by this point all three of us just wanted to have some food, relax and catch up on our sleep we were all absolutely buzzing to win it from B7, a different area to where we fished the previous year. It seems, in hindsight, that it was the right decision to put back C3 during the draw. We are already looking forward to next year’s event in June, we will be giving it our best shot to achieve the treble. 

Finally, I would like to say on behalf of ‘Duster Champs’ a massive thank you to all of our sponsors for providing our bait and tackle for this event.  Another thank you to Peter and Radu who organised our transportation and accommodation before and after the match, without your help we wouldn’t have been able to take part.