WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays mean Steve Collett, the boss of leading online tackle retailers Harris Sportsmail.

He’s also the cover star of this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine (right), with a terrific big fish feature inside!

Steve’s blogs focus mainly on match fishing but also delve into his styles of pleasure fishing and specialist angling.

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WHO IS BETTER: NORTH OR SOUTH?

I REMEMBER a few years ago, when the West Midlands was the mecca of commercial fishing in the UK.  Attendances would be huge at places like Moorlands Farm, and Woodland View.

It was a real who’s who of modern match angling that saw some of today’s best learning their trade as modern fishing took a very important turn and carp started to dominate. 100lb bags were the holy grail and I remember T-shirts and jumpers being produced for 50lb plus weights, a weight that wouldn’t see you in the top 10 in modern times.

Anglers such as Kieron Rich and Simon Christian dominated, whilst river stalwarts dipped their toes into modern carp match fishing. The likes of Dave Harrell, Ken Giles, Colin Bennett, all decided that this was the way it was going to be. The sheer weight of an ASI box was enough to kill any man on a River Severn match, the park behind your peg and catch a ton became very appealing.

With these 50 lb bags, 100 lb mega catches becoming more commonplace, anglers started to flock to the Worcestershire Meccas. We witnessed the siege of the “northerners” and southerners” try and get in on the act, in what seemed at time like the Wembley of fishing.

The locals were getting restless, as new methods were coming into play, meat and corn were no longer the key, the likes of Barry Gannon, and Vinnie Smith used to arrive laden with half a ton of worms each, enough to scare the bejeepers out of anyone within 10 miles of Moorlands.

These mysterious white sacks were behind every northerner’s peg , in reality there was nothing special in the bags, it was just worm, kilos of it, and it was a ground-breaking method at the time. So it seemed the Northerners were the ones to be fearedon the match circuit, with their fine lines and affection towards bagging 30lb of silvers in between, they were the bees knees.

Meanwhile, when the Queen Vic was closed , a new breed of angler had emerged from the old smoke. The canal towpaths had been breeding the likes of Dave Vincent, Sir Bob Nudd, the Stevie Gardeners, Steve Sanders, and the unstoppable Mr Raison, all taking their fair allocation in the international squads. To this day the sheer dominance of a Southern side such as Dorking, is enough to see nerves go at the drawbag.

But it still beggars the question, who is the best? Or in fact is there a best?

You see nowadays I feel there has never been a better time for anglers and teams to glean information. It is so freely available, in ye olden times, if we had a match on the Trent we couldn’t log on and Google “what’s the great Jan Porter doing today.”

If we didn’t have the phone number of someone who was in the river at the time we were stuffed, now I can pretty much find out what colour maggots they have on their side trays on the Bristol Avon, via a few keystrokes. I am not sure whether or not it has made us better anglers.

It’s certainly closed down a north/south divide, as I am pretty sure a Dorking side could go to Barnsley and finish in the frame, and vice versa.

What it does mean, that in the modern match world you have to be either at the very top of your game and immerse yourself completely in one discipline or the other, or have a lot of time on your hands and become a venue expert. Sadly neither of those are options we are all lucky enough to have or do.

 

The sun has definitely had its hat on this weekend, and I can imagine a lot of anglers’ tans will be on show, looking like we have gone to work wearing red socks on our arms.

Most fisheries around the country would have been dominated by shallow tactics as the fish start to move around a bit more.  The fish definitely moved around for this week’s winner, who managed to top a field of 130 quality Fish O’Mani hopefuls  to put himself in line for a 30k prize at Larford lakes.

That man of course is Gary Hick of Oswestry, who made the relatively short journey down to Stourport and probably went back with a big smile on his face as 136 lb later from peg 43 he has reserved a seat on the big money final.

A great result and well worthy of this week’s Angler’s Mail performance of the week. Mr Gary Hick take a bow.

 

STEVE COLLETT RETURNS NEXT TUESDAY (MAY 14).

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