CHAMPAGNE was waiting for Helen Dagnall when she returned to work after becoming ladies world angling champion.

Helen, 45, who is employed at Newton Tackle and Baits in Earlestown, secured the individual title in Serbia 12 days ago after 22 years of trying.

She returned to her home that had been decorated in congratulatory banners, balloons and flowers thanks to her nephew, and there was a champagne reception for her at work and a constant stream of phone calls from well-wishers.

Helen, who had previously won four world team titles with England, is delighted with the acclaim and the spotlight it has put on the shop, while feeling humble about the achievement.

“I have put the time and effort in over the years and I’m over the moon for winning, but I would have liked the team gold,” said Helen, who competes in national leagues with Yorkshire team Browning Offett.

“You go out there as a team and you want to win a team medal – and then the individual comes as a bonus when you’ve done the job for the team.

“We all work together, get a plan together and we’re all one really.”

St Helens Star: Helen Dagnall with her world championship trophy and medalHelen Dagnall with her world championship trophy and medal (Image: Contributed)

But this is her time in the spotlight, having wiped the floor with her rivals over two days in the 29th Coarse Angling Ladies World Championship on Canal Dunavac, an arm of the River Danube, in Apatin.

Although she drew on three points with Poland’s Kamila Kowalska Justa, a tally worked out from first and second-place finishes in their sections, Helen’s overall catch weight of 17.480kg far exceeded her rival’s 12.430kg.

Helen mainly focused on ‘long-line’ tactics, using a 11.5 metre pole with feed and bait presentation following a method the England team had rehearsed.

This resulted in her catching a variety of little skimmers (bream), carassio (crucian carp), pommies (bitterling), roach and bleak plus two little catfish, the latter a surprise because they had not shown themselves in the week’s practice.

Her second day of the match was particularly productive, weighing in 10.930kg to win her section of the canal which had dropped its level by three feet in the time they were there.

“That day was probably the best one I’ve ever fished – nothing went wrong, I never hooked my net, I never had to change a hook whereas the day before I changed about 20 hooks,” she said.

“It was a lovely day’s fishing that only started to die in the last half hour.”

St Helens Star: Helen Dagnall with her two days of catchesHelen Dagnall with her two days of catches (Image: Contributed)

St Helens Star:

Safe to say, fishing is her life.

“I work fishing and my pleasure is fishing,” said Helen.

“I feel lost if I don’t go fishing. When I have a Sunday off, I think it’s boring.”

She used to own a tackle shop in Warrington but now her expertise in bait preparation and tackle dealership is being utilised at the Suez Street store where her world title success has gone down a storm.

"A lot of people have been coming in or ringing up to offer their congratulations. When the phone's been ringing it's just been handed to me," said Helen.

"Everyone’s pleased for me, and I can’t thank people enough for helping us to raise the money to get there because the team’s not sponsored so we have to fundraise.

"We do that by running matches all over the country, and the shop have helped by running football cards.

"The shop have let me have the time off to compete, too, which I'm grateful for."

She became hooked in fishing as a nipper.

“I started sea fishing when I was four years old,” said Helen, whose parents John and Dot were keen on the sport and helped her to run the Cheshire Angling shop in Latchford until they passed away four and seven years ago, respectively.

“We used to have a caravan in Anglesey and then Nefyn, and I sea-fished all the way up until I was about 13.

“I used to go carping and piking, and pleasure fishing with my dad and my brother, and sea fishing with my mum when we were at the caravan.

“Then when I was at high school there was a school team. My dad was plastering my French teacher’s house and she told him to tell me to put my name down.

“I did, but I didn’t get picked that year because the lad’s dad who ran it thought ‘Oh, a girl!’

“I put my name down again the year after because Mrs Ormond, the French teacher, was going on about it.

“I got picked, and that’s how I started fishing for Warrington Anglers’ Association Juniors. Back then it was massive, we had matches every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and we had two or three teams going.

“That was the start of my match fishing and I’ve never looked back.

“Funnily enough, when Mrs Ormond had her son, I got him into fishing as well. I think he still does a bit and I think he lives in Nantwich now. I think she still lives in Antrobus with her husband Garth.”

St Helens Star: Helen Dagnall with her partner and England team manager, Dave BrooksHelen Dagnall with her partner and England team manager, Dave Brooks (Image: Contributed)

Next year’s world championships will take place in Portugal and Helen hopes to defend her title.

“We’ll have England team trials again, so if I get picked I will defend my title,” she said.

“It might be another 23 years before winning comes around again. Hopefully not, because I don’t think I’ll be in the team then.”