Angler's Mail match fishing expert Dave Coster of top tackle brand Hardy Greys reveals his expert advice for becoming a winner. After being trounced in his first ever big Open, Dave is never daunted these days. He caught this massive bream (below) during a big tackle show in Germany, pegged next to the German Feeder Champion!
THROUGH our weekly All The Answers feature in Angler’s Mail magazine I get lots of enquiries from would be match anglers, enquiring about the best way to get started and be successful.
It’s a bit trickier these days because the club scene isn’t anywhere as big as it used to be when I first began competitive match fishing. Way back then most anglers belonged to a club first and then progressed into fishing Opens, or joining a fully fledged match team.
However, if you search around it’s still possible in many areas to find an active club, which has regular outings. And I think it’s best to start this way, rather than blowing lots of cash on the Open circuit, where most competitors are pretty clued up these days.
Club matches are more relaxed affairs, although there will still be anglers who take them more seriously than the rest. It’s these people you can learn from and normally, because the stakes are not very high, most anglers will share information with you. Also by competing at this level you have a bit more time to iron out any mistakes you make, because club matches tend to be a bit longer.
The other good thing that comes out of fishing at this level is you normally meet other anglers with the same idea as you, who want to give the odd Open match a try. It’s far better if you team up with someone and pool your knowledge, rather than trying to go it alone.
When you do get to start fishing at a more competitive level, my advice is to target smaller sweepstakes to begin with, rather than big prize money events. Also to try and keep to a couple of venues that have regular fixtures, so you can really get to grips with the waters in question and develop several methods.
When I started match fishing proper on the River Lea many years ago, I had become pretty efficient at catching lots of fish when pleasure fishing, but I soon came down to earth when I entered my first big match. I drew next to one of the top anglers at the time and he won by a mile, leaving me in pieces!
But in retrospect this was one of the best things that could have happened. I asked the winner if he would stay on and give me some tips and he duly obliged. He showed me what to do and then told me to practise as much as I could. Most importantly telling me not to waste any more money as pools fodder until I could catch the way I’d been shown.
I spent another year trying to master the Lea, along the way realising that pleasure fishing results are never the same as when you put a match on a water.
The penny had dropped and when I finally thought I was good enough I enjoyed a brilliant run of success on the river. I ended up not just winning sweepstakes but also some pretty big matches to boot, including the River Lea Championships and also breaking the match record on the Lower Navigation. I can never thank the angler who helped me enough!
Anyway, once I had become the one to beat I soon got noticed and was invited to join the mighty Essex County outfit. That led onto even greater things, fishing with (and against) many top name anglers all over the country. I soon gained a cabinet full of trophies including some very prestigious ones. That led to sponsorship and paid consultancy work with several major tackle companies. I even got a trial for England!
All these years later I’m a bit more relaxed about my match fishing. I don’t have time to go chasing all over the country like I used to, but I still enjoy every minute, whether I go on a local sweep or a big event. I still get the same buzz, particularly if I win or frame.
So there will always be chances for those breaking into match fishing. My advice is to just do it, but remember slowly slowly catches the pot of gold!