I never get involved in spats on Facebook, it’s what they want and you’ll never change anyone’s opinion so it’s a pointless exercise, but recently a very well known and respected angler posted something and after grabbing my popcorn and scrolling through the replies, it got me thinking it would make for an interesting post.
Basically the crux of his post was he didn’t like reading long winded match reports only to find out just a few people had fished (good job he doesn’t read this blog then!!!) and he thinks matches should be labelled as a ‘knock up’ for under 20 pegs, a match for 20-50 pegs and an open for 50 plus. Now obviously he was fishing for bites (pun intended) hence why I was going to read through the comments and finish my popcorn before moving on and forgetting all about it but judging by some of the comments it had really hit a nerve for a lot of people and opinion was divided so I thought I’d delve into it a bit further.
My initial thoughts were ‘Does it really matter?’, if it offends you, don’t read it, scroll past, move on, it’s simple, but by the same token I can sort of see where he’s coming from. Firstly, the trouble is he’s living in a bygone age and there just aren’t the number of big matches (sorry, opens!) around anymore, the days of the ‘open circuit’ where all the big names (and egos) used to travel round the country have pretty much gone. Nowadays the majority of anglers tend to stick to a handful of fairly local venues, of course there are still anglers who fish festivals and chase the big money dream of Fisho and Match This etc but I would still say that’s only a few hundred anglers.
Secondly, he’s just plain wrong on a couple of points, an open match by definition is a match that’s open to all and regardless of whether 5 or 50 anglers fish it, that doesn’t change the fact, the organiser can’t make people fish it! Similarly several venues only have limited pegs so an open match will only be as big as the venue can cater for. In my mind a ‘knock up’ is a little impromptu get together among mates, an unofficial match. Why does he want to put labels on them anyway (apart from getting likes and causing a stir), I’ve fished club matches with more than 30 anglers and opens with only a dozen, certainly in the the South West nowadays a competition with 30-40 is a decent sized match.
Just say for a minute, this new labelling system became the accepted norm, how long before 45 peg matches are reported as 51 peggers just for the kudos of being an open (much like the Matchman of the Year days where it went on to ensure points were scored).
Moving away from that subject, elitism and snobbery abounds in other ways within match angling circles too, I’ve seen it countless times where an ‘open’ angler dares to fish a club match at a venue he enjoys fishing, there are normally lots of derogatory comments and laughing emoji’s once the results are published on Facebook, of course some of it could be just ‘bants’ but you know it isn’t.
Now I enjoy doing allsorts (the key word there is enjoy!), I fish with three sometimes four clubs on a wide variety of venues, from rivers to drains, natural lakes to commercials but I also love fishing the odd open match and go down to Todber when I can. On the whole they’re a pretty friendly bunch on the open scene although it can be a little cliquey and they don’t like it if you beat them (not that it happens very often!). The other thing I’ve noticed is there seems to be more wheel spinning out of the car park with open matches whereas the club days are just more sociable and fun starting with the all important breakfast!
Obviously if you want to become a better angler, the best way of doing that is to fish against anglers more skilled than you but most people like myself only get to fish one day a week and want to enjoy it and for me the mix of venues and fishing that I do suits me. Some people concentrate on a particular venue or method and become very hard to beat which leads me on to another element of snobbery.
The ugly side of social media often raises it’s head when somebody posts something about a method and then the comments quickly descend into nastiness with anglers saying their method or style is best or more skilled, no venue, species or tactic is safe. Method, paste, waggler, whip, F1’s, mugging, you name it, someone will say it’s not as skilful as inching a stickfloat down a swim and winkling out a net of redfins when the truth is every tactic has people who have taken it the next level and are almost unbeatable at it, doesn’t make it right or wrong!
Personally I don’t often fish venues where massive weights of carp are required, I’m not very good at it and I don’t enjoy it, whip fishing doesn’t really float my boat or paste fishing and I have still never fished the method but it doesn’t mean I can’t see the skill involved and admire the experts who do it so well.
Of course snobbery and elitism isn’t confined just to match fishing though, it happens in game fishing and is also prevalent in specimen angling. Going back to the original point of this point, the advent of commercial fisheries and the internet has a lot to answer for. Back in the day, we would get all our match results from the Angling Times and Angler’s Mail where of course only the bigger matches were covered but now their results sections are pretty much redundant as people can see who won what on Facebook the same evening. Everybody is now posting blogs, vlogs and match reports and I love seeing how people have got on although if I’m honest I don’t tend to read the only sing when I’m winning ones, you know who I mean, they never post unless they’ve won and then they’ve smashed it right up! The bad results are always due to the cesspit pegs or venues!
I’ve come in for some stick over the years, from people saying it’s all about the money to others saying it’s all me, me, me, well it is a blog about my fishing after all! At the end of the day, life’s just too short so just enjoy what you do, if you don’t want to read it, don’t, it really is that simple.