Before we go on, lets look at some of the facts and figures, the catch consisted of 143 carp which averaged 8lb apiece meaning the angler was landing a fish roughly every two minutes. I find those figures nothing short of incredible, the next time you hook an eight pounder, try and land it in two minutes, then repeat that every couple of minutes, for five hours! I’m knackered just thinking about it. The angling press reported it and then of course it was posted on social media where there was a troll frenzy and as very often happens, a lot of it quickly got nasty with personal insults being thrown around. Of course everybody is entitled to their opinion but lots of the people who were commenting were doing so without being in possession of the full facts.
The venue (which again I’m not going to name) only holds a handful of matches each year and like most big weight venues, insists on net limits so you’re not cramming too many fish into each net and I believe (but don’t quote me on this) that it’s 65lb which means the winner of that match needed 17 or 18 keepnets. Well actually, no he didn’t because the fishery in question holds a half time weigh in. So after all that, there were actually only around 8 fish retained per net for up to two and a half hours, not quite the outrage the trolls would have you believe. Although to be honest they probably don’t care and just like jumping straight on that band wagon and all the while this is being played out on Facebook in full view of thousands of people and not particularly portraying angling in a very good light when most of the keyboard warriors are omitting some of the key information.
As I said earlier, I have no wish to catch those sort of weights but just because it’s not my cup of tea I’m not going to slag anglers off who enjoy it. There are plenty of fisheries around where 200-300lb winning weights are commonplace and I tend not to frequent these either. At the end of the day why wasn’t there this level of outrage when Pete Burrell had 259lb of roach in two keepnets, that’s a lot of fish and they were retained for the full five hours, similarly I remember everybody raving about how brilliant it was when Tommy Pickering broke that record with 323lb of bream. It could be that both these fantastic catches were made before the internet which meant all the trolls couldn’t register their disgust immediately and if they did feel strongly about it, they’d actually have to put pen to paper, buy a stamp and walk to the post box, so I’m guessing because that never happened, they didn’t feel that strongly about it after all!
|That’s a lot of roach!|
Although I think it’s good for fish welfare to have a mid match weigh in (or even one every half an hour like Fish ‘O’ Mania), for me it does raise a couple of (unanswerable) questions, I do wonder, in the case of the new five hour match record, how many carp caught in the first half of the match were repeat captures (not necessarily by the same angler) in the second half? Of course it is the same for all the competitors and the angler did actually catch 1140lb of fish but how many of those carp were caught more than once? As long as it’s the same for everybody, does it really matter? Well in the case of Fish ‘O’, maybe it does, if fish hadn’t been weighed and returned, would the outcomes in any of the close finals been any different? I actually think the format works and wouldn’t change a thing but as I’ve never actually watched it, I would be interested to know if the fish are put back in the same peg or moved off the match length or to another lake after weighing, maybe somebody could let me know please? Update – apparently the fish are weighed in Fisho and retained, in case of complaints or appeals, in a keepnet alongside the angler’s peg.
On the subject of big money finals there was also the instance recently of an angler winning his place in the final but then being disqualified for wading after another angler complained. On the face of it, it’s pretty cut and dried, the angler broke the rules and paid the price, after all, it is the responsibility of the competing angler to check the rules before fishing. Well like most things in life, it doesn’t appear to have been quite as simple as that, the angler concerned said he checked the fisheries website where there was no mention of the no wading rule but apparently there was a board at the fishery clearly stating ‘No Wading’. Now I have no issue with his disqualification particularly, he broke the rules (albeit unintentionally but that’s not really an excuse), but what does leave a bad taste is that whoever complained, waited until this lad had been announced the winner before lodging a complaint and that’s just plain nasty.
If you were going to complain surely the decent thing would have been to have said it at the start, not let the lad fish the full five hours and think he’s won only to have it taken from him after the presentation, but then again maybe the complainer wasn’t too worried about this heinous crime as long as the wader didn’t win! Of course there maybe other reasons why the objection wasn’t registered until afterwards but whatever it was a pretty unpleasant situation, although I bet the angler concerned never makes the same mistake again!
I’m all for rules, especially if they are put in place to safeguard the fish stocks but some of them just don’t make sense, it doesn’t help that there are so many commercial fisheries nowadays and they can implement as many restrictions as they like to look after their investment, fair enough you may think but when they say you have to use the fisheries own pellets which are exactly the same as the ones in your bait bag but with a different label on and twice the price, that rule isn’t about protecting the fish, it’s all about lining the fishery owners pockets! A lot of venues now have bait bans or restrictions in place and many of them are very sensible. Meat is banned at several fisheries for the sake of the water quality, meat is a great bait if used in moderation but that’s the key word, moderation, limits are a great idea but if not policed they are next to useless. The trouble with match angling (and anglers) is that because money is involved, and in some cases rather large sums of it, although the vast majority of anglers abide by the rules and limits, there will always be a minority that will try and get an edge, bend the rules or just out and out cheat to win that money. It’s like I said at the beginning of this post, we don’t do ourselves any favours.
Bait restrictions are nothing new and over the years I’ve seen or read about things like hemp (the fish get addicted to it) and bloodworm (once it’s used at a venue you can’t catch on anything else) being banned but now we know more about them, sense has prevailed. Other reasons for banning bloodworm were that it was prohibitively expensive and hard to get, both may have been valid reasons at one time but apparently it’s now reasonably priced and readily available (although I must admit I’ve never used it). I’ve seen pellets banned on stocked carp waters when that’s what they’ve been reared on and groundbait prohibited on some smaller ponds which is probably fair enough, although one I know of bans the use of groundbait but you can still use micro pellets which essentially break down into the same thing, work that one out!
When fishmeal groundbaits first came out (particularly Sillybait in the South West), anglers using it were dominating match results on carp waters and it almost got to a point where if you weren’t using it, you couldn’t compete. I don’t really remember any calls for it to be banned though, mainly because it was available for anybody to buy, even if it was quite a bit more expensive than your regular groundbait of choice. It was that effective at the time, people thought there had to be some other secret ingredient in it as well, it’s hard to imagine another groundbait having such an impact now but you never know!
|Sillybait, there was nothing silly about its fish catching properties!|
The ‘thod (as some people call it) and other methods can get people hot under the collar especially when they (or anglers using them) start to dominate results at a venue and in some cases it isn’t too long before there are mutterings to ban a method or in extreme cases I have heard instances of anglers being banned from a venue for winning all the time! Now that may seem incredibly unfair with more than a hint of sour grapes thrown in, along with the sound of toys very noisily being thrown out of a pram and although I don’t necessarily agree, I do sort of understand. The trouble comes when match anglers start voting with their feet and match attendances fall and in the case of commercial fisheries, that’s their livelihood we’re talking about so the owner has no choice but to ban a method or an angler, fair? of course not, but life very rarely is.
Our sport is one of the few where this kind of thing happens (if I think of another I’ll update this later), really an angler who perfects a method or masters a venue should be applauded and not vilified just because they are very good at what they do. It doesn’t happen in football, ‘oh look Messi is playing, I’m off….’ or snooker, ‘Ronnie looks good tonight, lets all go somewhere else’, surely anglers would get more satisfaction from beating the local venue expert than banning him! You either get up to speed at a particular method and then maybe add you own little twist to give you that edge to beat them or you come up with your own method and become the new venue expert. You will very rarely come out on top by just trying to copy them.
|Messi, he’s a bit good!|
Dobbing bread for carp in the winter isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and similarly mugging or slapping in the summer isn’t popular with some anglers but at the end of the day they’re just methods to catch fish. It’s very well documented in this blog that I’m not a great fan of fishing the whip at Dillington, it’s won a lot of matches over the years and although it’s a style of fishing I don’t really enjoy, would I like to see it banned, no of course not! The pond is evolving all the time and it really is an intriguing venue, since I’ve been fishing it lots of different methods, baits and species have won matches, currently bream on the feeder is the boss tactic but the whip, waggler and pole have won more than their fair share too.
Now given that I’ve been advocating that we shouldn’t ban methods or baits unless they’re detrimental to fishes health there are a few exceptions that I think make sense, banning floating baits in competitions is a good example as an angler at one end of a lake could end up ruining all the anglers swims downwind of him, which hardly seems fair! The floating pole is another one as it comes down to how many extensions you can afford and to me it doesn’t seem right that success is down to how much money you have. I suppose the trouble with that argument is that you’re then into pole length limits territory as not everybody can afford three grand or more for a pole that is useable at 16 metres but conversely should anglers be penalised for being able to afford a nice, top of the range pole? I don’t know the answer, you only have to look at F1 racing or the Premiership where a few teams with all the money dominate and both are massively popular, so maybe it’s not an issue.
Most commercials these days insist on the use of barbless hooks which is fine but are they really that much kinder? You only have to look at the amount of carp with ‘parrot’ mouths to perhaps suggest otherwise or maybe it’s to do with heavy lines, braid or perhaps being caught multiple times. Personally I don’t have an issue with micro or whisker barbs which are a far cry from the big ugly barbed hooks that were around when I started fishing. The majority of angling clubs, on the other hand, don’t have a barbless only rule, apart from on their carp venues. Again I can understand that, although one club I know of has a barbless rule on it’s stillwater venues which hold very few carp yet not on their river! I’m not sure why the roach in the ponds are seemingly more important than their running water cousins!
I’m all for rules that look after our fishy friends but the trouble is that every club and commercial venue has it’s own ‘experts’ that know how a water should be looked after despite the only fishery management skills they possess being that they have fished the water for however many years or they have read about it in a magazine or on the net. Many of these experts are well meaning and some are just trying to ensure they can have a good days fishing but ultimately they are just ‘jumping on the banned wagon’.
Linked to that, if a venue isn’t fishing very well, the knee jerk reaction seems to be the stocking of more fish when in many cases that will just make the situation worse, the other standard reasons (particularly for rivers) are pollution, otters, cormorants and fish being taken for the pot. Recently in the angling press a very high profile angler was calling for investigations and surveys into why a river hadn’t fished very well during a festival and suggesting it was down to a lack of fish. It always makes me chuckle a little bit as just because the anglers can’t catch them, there are no fish there! Now I don’t profess to be an expert but there could be a multitude of reasons, angling pressure (the river in question hosts three matches a week), the conditions weren’t right (how many times do roach seemingly appear from nowhere when there is some colour in a river?) or maybe thousands of spectators walking up and down the bank had something to do with it! Leading up to the event, there had been some fantastic weights but you do hear the same old arguments all the time when a venue hasn’t fished very well.
Enough for now, I think that would make a interesting subject for a future post.