How We Won Gold - Steve Ringer

After a weekend that saw the England team roar to World Feeder Championship gold at Inniscarra Lake in Ireland, we were keen to get the full story from our very own new World Champion Steve Ringer!

He started by explaining the two key tactical decisions that put England in such a dominant position. “As a team you have a plan, and we’d done two trips to the venue, so we had a precise idea of what to expect. The crucial tactical discovery came when we identified a key depth to catch at. The lake is much deeper than most we fish in England, and we’d found that to catch small roach and hybrids as well as the bigger, bonus skimmers, a count of 12 on a 1oz bomb was the correct depth. The difficulty was that the 12-second drop might be 18m out in one swim, or 30m out in another, which meant that many of the other teams never quite got it. The second key tactical choice was to use a heavy groundbait, so it stayed on the bottom. We’d already established that a cloudy mix attracted small, 1oz, roach, whereas our heavier mix seemed to pull in bigger roach, around the 3-4oz stamp.

“We’ve had plans in championships before, but you can’t simply discount the other 24 countries; they sometimes have strategies that turn out to be better than yours! We thought we had it sorted but you can never be sure until the competition gets underway. After an hour on Saturday though, it was apparent that we’d got the tactics spot-on. I had a really good start, catching hybrids and roach from section A in the first thirty minutes, which acted as a really good nerve-settler. Most teams had a good first two hours, but the third and fourth hours were slow for most. Our runners kept us all in the loop and it was clear that we were streets ahead, with two firsts, a second, a third and a fourth. The team runs on confidence and as the good news crackled in across the walkie talkies from across the field, we were all buzzing.

“Bait management was crucial to a great final hour for me. We were allowed 2.5 litres of bait each per day, with no more than 0.5 litres of joker among it. Joker had proven brilliant for skimmers, but if you put it all in straight away, and the skimmers weren’t about, then you’d have blown it. We had to sense when the skimmers had turned up and use the joker then. That meant that I still had joker to put in during the last hour, which resulted in a run of fish that culminated in a roach every cast for the last fifteen minutes. Many teams had just targeted the skimmers, which meant that they endured long periods of inactivity when the skimmers weren’t there, whereas we’d decided to fill in those periods targeting smaller fish. When the smaller fish were in the swim, you’d be getting all manner of taps and knocks, whereas, when the skimmers reappeared, we’d get much slower pulls on the tip and could switch to targeting them again with bloodworm or small dendrobaenas on the hook. Often, we’d take a run of skimmers, perhaps two or three, before heading back in search of roach when the bites dried up. By agreeing to give the skimmer tactics just ten minutes to work, we knew that we were making best use of our time.

In the end, it was between a Dutch guy and I for the section. I felt that it was close but in fact I weighed 11.130kg, compared to his 8.6kg, and was delighted to have secured the vital section win. There was good news from around the team too, as Mick Vials won his section, Phil Ringer secured a second, Adam Wakelin was third and Dean Barlow scrapped for fourth; our tactics had paid off spectacularly.

I drew in C Section on day two and was immediately met with a challenge. I couldn’t find the 12-second drop, and we hadn’t plumbed the peg that I was in. After a bit of casting around I found an 11-second drop in 32m or water, which wasn’t perfect in the hot, calm, clear-water conditions, but it was the best I could find. As it happened, the peg was solid with roach and hybrids and I opted to fish finely chopped worms and single red maggot to catch them. I was catching well and by hour-four, team gold was in the bag! At that point our manager, Tommy Pickering, said, “Let Steve and Mick fight for individual gold.”

I knew that I wasn’t in a great area for skimmers, but my brother had fished nearby on the first day and the guy next to him had skimmers late on. So, with 90 minutes to go, I piled the joker in, the roach disappeared and I started to get signs that skimmers were in the area. In the last 80 minutes I took 12 skimmers, all of which were nice 10-12oz fish; good weight builders. I’m sure that the key to my success was that I was the only person feeding joker, as I’d managed to conserve it. 108 fish were good enough for a section win, giving me a perfect two section wins. With team gold in the bag already, the Sky cameras descended on me as the hunt for the individual gold intensified. Mick would have beaten me with a section win as he had more weight, but he couldn’t manage it. There was a German angler in E section who’d also bagged a section win on the first day. If he could manage another, he could conceivably have deprived me of individual gold and with one guy left to weigh in his section, he was in pole position. Adam Rooney, who was our runner down there kept us in touch with proceedings as the last guy weighed in. “He’s not got enough… maybe he has… he’s got it!” Adam’s commentary came down the walkie-talkie. The German was second and I was individual World Champion!

The feeling was simply unbelievable; I’d always wanted a gold medal. I’d won individual silver before, and two team bronzes, but because we were team champions too, and everyone had a medal; the atmosphere was amazing. Mick took bronze too, which capped off an incredible event for us.

I was a bit emotional when the match finished, it hit me hard, and I found myself welling up. I guess that it still hasn’t properly sunk in. Perhaps the biggest thing is that nobody can ever take it away from me, I’m a world champion and not many can say that. I feel very privileged, because lots of good anglers fish and don’t get one. Our results were a record for the event, to compete against 25 teams and secure 26 points… I doubt that we’ll ever see a result like that again. All the practice came together, and to win gold was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, apart from the birth of my son.”

Congratulations to all the England Feeder Team, who were as follows:

Steve Ringer
Mick Vials
Dean Barlow
Phil Ringer
Adam Wakelin
Rob Wootton
Adam Rooney
Manager, Tommy Pickering and assistant Glenn Lawrence.