HOT on the heels of the Angling Trust’s announcement of the Riverfest Final switching to the River Severn at Shrewsbury, dates and venues for the big money event’s 2018 qualifying rounds have been unveiled.

Riverfest has moved its mega money final after five years on the River Wye at Hereford.

The Angling Trust Riverfest final will switch to the River Severn at Shrewsbury in 2018.

The brainchild of former England International Dave Harrell, Riverfest was launched in 2001.

It rapidly achieved status as the pinnacle of running water match fishing, with a £13,000 champion’s jackpot plus a total prize pot approaching £40,000.

The final was won this year by Shakespeare Superteam’s Mike Bedding with 50 lb 7 oz. He is pictured above with Dave Harrell.

In 2018, Riverfest will still be concluded by a two-day event decided on total weight, fished by 72 anglers who top their 20-peg zone in 24 qualifiers spread across the country.

Riverfest changes explained

Angler’s Mail quizzed Dave Harrell about the reasons behind the venue change, and his hopes for future Riverfest years.

“The Wye at Hereford was never intended to host the final forever. We review the competition after the final every year, and this time we felt it was time for a change

“Much as I love the Wye, my personal belief is the river is in a slow decline – in large part due to predation from cormorants and goosanders which have drastically reduced numbers of roach in particular.

“Big weights from pegs where fish are tightly shoaled can mask a decline, as can matches on a flooded river where everyone fishes ‘big fish or bust’ tactics,” continued Dave.

“But in this year’s final, with Day 1 fished in as close to perfect conditions as you’d get at the time of year, the poor results from the upstream section were a telling yardstick.

“I cringed on day two when the 250 quid top prizes in two six peg sections had to be drawn from a hat, with the next section as won with a single fry,” he admitted.

“As founder and organiser of Riverfest, its success is personal to me. I want to provide a final where everyone still stands a chance of winning at the halfway stage. Overall weight format allows that, a switch to points wouldn’t.”

Although Dave acknowledges that a summer final would open up a wider choice of venues with prospects of better and fairer sport, the downside would be splitting the event between different calendar years in order to fit in all the qualifying rounds.

The Wye won’t host the 2018 Riverfest final… but has a qualifier scheduled not long before all eyes turn to the Severn.

Meanwhile, before dates and venues for 2018 Riverfest qualifiers are released in March 2018, all thoughts surround the Severn at Shrewsbury – where the final is scheduled.

It’s due to be fished over the weekend November 3-4, but the following three weekends are also reserve dates in case of adverse conditions.

Dave said: “Shrewsbury has recovered from a slump over recent seasons.

“The host club have been busy, and all 104 pegs on the Quarry and County Ground match stretch will be in fishable condition for the first time since the 1990s by the time of next year’s final so we can select those for the best sport.

“As with the Wye, much will depend on river conditions. In low water, dace could be shoaled up on the shallows with 30 lb bags possible. Roach have made a good comeback, plus there’s barbel and chub.

“ After a very positive meeting with the council who appreciate the economic benefits Riverfest will bring their town, we’ve secured car parking behind almost every peg too,” concluded Dave.

2016 Riverfest champ Paul Bick commented: “Although I’m disappointed to see the final leave the Wye which has been very kind to me over the years, I respect the organisers’ decision which will bring a new fresh challenge to the competition.”

Dave Harrell and the Angling Trust thanked Hereford DAA for all their help during the five years of hosting the final.

Riverfest 2018 qualifiers

Riverfest 2018 will see four previously unused venues are included in the 24-strong roster.

Up to 1,440 anglers will compete for a shot at the £13,000 champ’s cheque, from a prize pot of almost £40,000.

Like Fish’O’Mania tickets, RiverFest tickets will be released in two stages via the Angling Trust website’s online events booking system, which ensures that every applicant can secure at least one ticket for a qualifier. Stage one starts on Monday, March 26.

The full dates and venues list is as follows:
Sat, June 16 – River Calder, Mirfield.
Sat, June 23 – River Swale, Morton.
Sat, June 30 – River Weaver, Northwich.
Sun, July 1 – River Nene, North Bank (new venue).
Sat, July 14 – River Medway, Barming.
Sun, July 15 – River Tyne, Corbridge to Wylam.
Sun, July 29 – Bristol Avon, Newbridge to Saltford.
Sat, Aug 4 – River Thames, Clanfield.
Sun, Aug 5 – River Soar, Loughborough.
Sun, Aug 12 – River Yare, Langley.
Sat, Aug 25 – River Don, Sprotbrough.
Sat, Sep 1 – River Severn, Bewdley.
Sun, Sep 2 – River Trent, Burton Joyce (new venue).
Sun, Sep 9 – Tidal Trent, Laughterton to Dunham.
Sat, Sep 15 – River Thames, Abingdon to Appleford.
Sat, Sep 22 – River Severn, Bridgnorth.
Sun, Sep 23 – River Dee, Holt and Farndon (new venue).
Sat, Sep 29 – River Thames, Reading (new venue).
Sun, Sep 30 – Warwickshire Avon, Stratford.
Sat, Oct 6 – River Tees, Yarm.
Sun, Oct 7 – Warwickshire Avon, Warwick.
Sat, Oct 13 – River Trent, Burton.
Sun, Oct 14 – River Wye, Hereford.
Sat, Oct 27 – Yorks Ouse, Hunters lodge to Linton.
RIVERFEST 2018 FINAL: Sat, Nov 3 and Sun, Nov 4 – River Severn at Shrewsbury.
Reserve final dates: 10/11, 17/18 and 24/25 Nov.

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