Saturday 8th April: After a pleasant evenings sail we left the ferry and travelled by coach to the River Spui. Everything about this venue is big: the ships the rocks and the size of feeder you need to hold bottom. Andy Jennings from Wakefield Match Anglers, and first winner of Fishamania, was pegged next to me and was comfortably throwing 5oz groundbait 25 yards and still not holding bottom. Though only 7 caught out of 30 the biggest and best part of the day was Jim Baxter's 3lb 5oz Roach. Sadly none of Jim's photos came out (he now knows to remove the lense cap) but coupled with a nice Ide Jim won the day with 5lb 13oz. Second on the day was Dave (Bulldog) Russell. Dave had a bream and an Ide for 5lb 8oz. Third was young Irish superstar Keith Royal with 3lb of Ide. It was a very hard day for all the competitors and credit to all those who caught. Jim used Irish Bag-Up on the day, Bulldog used a new mix that we developed for the trip (more later) and Keith used Mega breamz brown… Red mixes and coloured Maggots are taboo in Holland.

Sunday 9th April: After a proper feed and fluid in the beautiful town of Brielle we left our Hotel for a 20 minute journey to the Voorne Canal. This superb fishery runs in a straight line for 10 km and has over 500 pegs. On road parking and the best wooden platforms I have ever fished from meant that everyone was impressed before we even wet a line. The quarry for today was Bream with a 35 yard chuck to the reed lined far bank with a 1.5oz feeder packed with crumb and casters. My mix today was similar to the spui mix 50/50 Whizzo Corn Feed and soya meal with a bit of crushed hemp to loosen up the particles quickly when it hits the deck. After I called the all-in, I looked down the canal to see feeders fly in and out depositing beds of feed and loose offering in a never ending barrage. I put in 20 big cage feeders full before I even put a hook length on, so as not to get in any tangles, I then seetled down to watch my tip motionless for a whole hour.

A small car pulled up behind my peg and a small gent with a big smile greeted me and introduced himself as Andre Hans 1979 Dutch National Champion and float maker to the masses. He proceeded to tell me how he once played for Sparta Rotterdam and how his wife had left him for another man after 35 years of marriage. The conversation then took a serious twist. 'You are doing this wrong Kevin my friend, let me show you how to catch the bream'. Andre instructed me to lengthen the hook tail from my feeder to 48 inches, he looked at my hook and said 'yes a good strong bream hook, now the important thing, put on a caster and then a maggot and then another caster'. He then told me to cut the tip of the maggot off with my scissors thus spilling the guts out over the casters 'this will catch you bream' said Andre who stepped back as I let fly a perfect cast to my baited area.

We both watched the tip in eager anticipation and then, as if by an act of will, it arced round and I was into my first fish, a perfect slab of 1kg. 'Not bad ' exclaimed Andre 'but now we try for a bigger fish, have you any liquid flavour with you' he asked. I produced an old bottle of Banana flavour I keep for winter fishing. 'Dip your baited hook in the banana this time and I will pray for a bigger fish for you this time Kevin'. He raised his hands together and put them to his chin laughing as I cast across to the killing zone once more. Just as before the tip flew round and my heavy feeder rod bent into a bigger fish, 'are you some kind of Angel sent to help me today Andre?' I asked. Andre just smiled and watched as I put my net under a better fish of about 1.5kg. 'You see Kevin, it worked again' said Andre who had just spotted my old Mitchell Match reel. 'Good reel but old' he said. I told him that it had always been a favourite of mine and that I often bought any second hand ones I saw on my travels. He told me that he still owned an Aluminium roach pole so I just sat and listened as this friendly character talked about how my peg would produce 200lb pleasure nets in 6 weeks time and how the big bream move in and can top 8lb. Andre stayed while I put 2 more bream in the net and left after leaving me some strange float/bombs that he casts to the far bank and touch legers in summer. I made sure he didn't leave empty handed and pilled him high with some of my 50/50 mix. We shook hands and I thanked him for his help, he walked back to his little car and sped off with a farewell toot on his horn.

Chance meeting or fate? Fishing is a great sport full of characters and I shall remember that day with all it's strangeness for ever. What's more, I didn't have another touch after Andre had left….Weird ! One thing that he did tell me that I must look into further is that Aspic is a big bream bait in Holland and proves deadly for bigger specimens. Overall the match was a great success with a top weight of 51 lb 14 oz caught on the Polaris float by Stuart Siddall from peg one. Stuart used Mega breamz in the feeder and interestingly caught all his fish half way across the canal. Had he had a visit too ??