It is the ultimate one that got away - but was the result a bit fishy?
England’s elite team of freshwater rodmen have lodged formal protests after losing the 14th World Carp Angling Championships - accusing the hosts of using dirty tricks to take the title.
Winners Romania had spent the five months preceding the tournament feeding the fish of Lake Corbu with a secret bait recipe.
Unfortunately for the 10-man England side, who finished 18th, they turned up at last month’s tournament with £10,000 worth of traditional “boilies”.
The mash-up of flour, egg and flavourer such as blended dried dog food is popular with British fish but failed to spark a flicker of interest in the Romanian carp which were happy to gorge on the feed offered on the hooks of their hosts which they had grown obligingly fat on throughout the summer.
The debacle has prompted fury in the highly-competitive world of carp fishing, a discipline where technical know-how and secret techniques can make the team tactics of cycle road racing appear as complex and cut throat as a round of tiddlywinks.
Ian Huntington, team manager of the Korda England Carp Team, said defeat was a bitter blow and that while the baiting might not be strictly against the rules it was contrary to the spirit of fair play.
“Hard lessons have been learnt and it has been a very difficult experience to pick the team and ourselves up after this event,” he said.
“It is obvious that any team fishing with the particular type of bait would do well and the rest would really struggle to get a bite. Within two hours of the match starting we were asking ourselves questions about the bait,” he added.
The fish had been fed daily on the Romanian bait from boats tethered to the banks since the water was first stocked in May in preparation for the championships.
Other countries, such as Serbia, Bulgaria and Portugal that had practised at the venue had learnt their lesson and taken the precaution of sourcing a supply of local bait in advance or creating their own version.
But the teams out of the loop - including South Africa and France as well as England, floundered. In the end Romania dominated the event, comfortably winning two out of the three sections to take team gold after amassing more than 1.7tonnes of fish. The team also took individual gold. Bulgaria won silver, Romania bronze and Portugal came fourth.
Dick Clegg international events manager for the Angling Trust said the England team were capable of winning gold. He said he would be raising the issue at a meeting of the international technical committee in November. “I will certainly require an explanation about a number of problems arising from this championship,” he said.
No one was available at the Romanian headquarters of the tournament organisers to comment.
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