In his popular weekly blog for this Angler's Mail website, Colin Mitchell looks at record fishing weights and asks when is enough enough on match fishing hauls?
THE seemingly endless trend to create new world match catch records is one that doesn’t sit well with me. Record fishing weights have gone mad!
During my days as a regular match angler I always wanted to win – or at the very least do my best to help my team to victory. A 20 lb net of fish was always one of the targets at the back on my mind on any fishery where that was possible, before the days of commercial fisheries.
On the local canal a 5lb catch was more the order or the day and on some remarkable sessions even a 100lb weight might have been dreamt about, probably on a bream venue. Now it appears 200lb is nothing special in a lot of places. There have been mind boggling 500lb-plus weights in recent weeks – and even talk of 1,000lb nets in five hours. Those staggering figures actually leave me stone cold. I don’t actually want to catch that many fish!
Fishing – match or pleasure – is meant to be a skill, a pastime, a sport to be enjoyed. I can’t see the enjoyment in bagging umpteen keepnets full of fish.
Yes, it can be argued that there is a skill in landing loads of lumps in a five-hour fishing spree. Of course tackle has to be balanced, feeding and presentation carried out correctly. But in my book I would still rather land 5lb of hard to tempt silver fish from the local canal; a 20lb mixed bag from a river or fool a big net of shy biting bream.
I’d be happy with a couple of big fish or even a few dozen smaller carp that took a bit of fooling during my day out. But I just don’t see the point of dropping in a bait, hooking a fish every cast and then dragging them out with a beefed up pole rig. And I know I am not alone…Believe me, there will be a point when these bag up anglers become sick of catching. They may even become sick of going fishing.
I remember the early days of trips to Denmark when it was a bag up virtually every trip with hordes of roach and bream. It was fantastic getting nets of fish that we could then only dream about back home in England.
The problem was that when we got back to the UK there were days when it didn’t seem worth going fishing. If we couldn’t bag like we had on the likes of the Guden and the big lakes what was the point? Slowly but surely I and other anglers convinced our angling senses that it WAS worth catching 5, 10, 15 or 20lb from local venues. We got our fishing desires back working.
Commercial fisheries have been good for angling and there is no doubt about that. But now we must ensure that staggering nets of fish don’t damage our hobby, its image and even the future of some anglers in the sport.
It’s no good just limiting how many fish are kept in a net at once. We need better time limits on how long they are retained and maybe even a rethink on the time of matches – a bit like those that have been run recently with a break for lunch.
Vital checks that make a difference
Carrying out regular tackle checks is something that’s always hammered home in many instructional features. But how many anglers actually check rod rings for wear, ensure that line has not got kinked or nicked, or that hooks are as sharp as they should be?
I do the above but one thing I have got a bit slack on in recent months is checking my pole elastic, other than ensuring that it is the right tension.
Then I decided to pull out as much elastic as I could from the tip of my top two, and then again at the puller bung end. I was staggered to find that there was not just wear but that it looked like someone had taken a sharp razor blade and sliced bits of the hollow shock absorber.
It was obvious I had to replace the elastic – and when I removed it from the two sections discovered that the colour was different in a number of places.
I put that down to a mixture of wear and also perhaps stretch and various sections being exposed to strong sunlight this summer during fishing.
One thing is for sure – I have been lucky not to have that elastic snap on me. Make sure that you don’t become a victim and let worn elastic leave you with your pants down!