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

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

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FISHING CHEATS AND VAGABONDS

EVER had the feeling you have been outdone or beat by some unscrupulous method, some kind of witchcraft or dark art from the fella pegged three down?

It goes on, and I managed to witness a bit of it first hand on one of my own lakes recently. It got me thinking about all of the stunts and tricks pulled in match fishing, and what’s “accepted” and what’s not.

This particular bender of rules was happily fishing and cheating in the knowledge that no one was watching, except I was. Three weeks earlier I had placed a wildlife cam to determine whether or not I was visited by Harry Otter or one of his friends.

You may have seen this type of camera before on TV, it’s a small green box that’s triggered by an infrared beam and will record a few seconds of footage, or a couple of stills. And the day before placing the camera, I had forgotten that a match would be taking place, so I didn’t want the camera to be full of ugly mugshots of a matchman going about his wares.

What I didn’t expect when I retrieved the memory card to erase the data was a bit of, let’s say skulduggery, as a very sheepish matchman looked around the venue like a cat burglar scanning for the cops. He then proceeded to feed a few pints down the edge whilst “washing out” his bait tubs?

Now, being as I was not fishing the match myself, I found the footage hilarious, not only because I confronted him about it, but the fact that he was last anyway and has since resigned from the club.

But again it got me thinking about past experiences, and how many times have these perpetrators got away with it? And how do they do it?

Putting in too much bait – beyond a set limit – is just one common example of rule breaking.

Bait limits must be the favourite “cheat” and is somehow not really enforced.

A few years ago whilst fishing a small match in Shropshire that had a “pint” limit on pellets, the guy next to me on the all-in went about his business feeding his lines.

I observed, as I was not up to speed on the venue, and thought I would watch the experts.

So his 13m line was fed with a whole pot, so was his, 5 metre line, and then the inside lines left and right, all fed with a 250ml pot, and by no stretch of the imagination am I any Carol Vorderman, but by my reckoning a “pint” of pellet is just over two pots full, if they were 250ml.

He was now on his fourth pot, and was not done, a 16m throwaway line was also fed, and enough was enough, so I got off my box and had a look on his side tray, where he still had at least two pints left!!

When I asked him, very politely of course, how he had managed to make this pint last, he replied that “everyone does it”.

So do they? Do we all cheat? I know that day, I didn’t – but it somehow seemed acceptable by this angler and all of his pals.

Again it got the old grey matter ticking…

 

Another venue that I used to fish actually caught a perpetrator with a pole section down the edge, as it became too regular. Fish managed to somehow always swim off with his top three, week after week.

And after a few whispers, and a lot of tackle shop talk, someone actually caught him red handed. He never really appeared on the match scene again.

 

There was talk of a famous matchman who always managed to catch an eel or two no matter what section he drew.

Nobody else would even get a sniff of a slimy snig, but he always managed to snare one. Maybe he was just a good eel angler, or maybe he dabbled in the dark art of eel charming?

Whatever it was, in my mind he was a cheat, and I would have loved to have caught him.

I think whatever level of fishing we are at, there will always be a slight bending of the rules, and It happens everywhere – whether it be bait limits, bait bans or blatant cheating.

Is it the money, the high stakes of getting a sponsorship deal at any cost, or is it just that there are too many daft rules in fishing? What do you reckon?

 

Is it spring yet, summer? I don’t know and I am not sure the fish do, as some places have fished awesome, some have been utter pants.

So after a few phone calls I was pretty much undecided as to who would receive this most coveted of awards that is the Angler’s Mail performance of the week. Well a little whisper of a superb result came my way, and although this week’s winner probably doesn’t own a telly yet alone Facebook, I decided to give it to him anyway.

This week’s winner, and my favourite so far is Mr Bert Simmill who at the ripe old age of 349, and the only man ever to have beaten Izaak Walton of the next peg in 1689, managed to net over a 172 squatt fish and take the honours on the Staffs-Worcester at Wombourne.

A truly remarkable feat, and deserved of this weeks Anglers Mail performance of the week, Mr Bert Simmill a real legend.

 

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