The Angler's Mail weekly general coarse fishing blogger, Colin Mitchell takes a closer look at the match fishing scene and explains why the taking part is just as important as winning.
A COMMON saying in sport is that form is temporary and class is permanent.
That’s something that also rings true in fishing – perhaps even more so than any other sport or pastime.
Footballers usually find their careers are over at an average age of around 35, cricketers maybe a bit longer.
But watch any former top class footballer when he turns out in one of those legends matches and you will see that he still has those deft touches and skills that have always made him stand out. He’s just a bit slower…
In angling – particularly match fishing – it’s no different.
Those who had skills as a teenager are now probably more proficient than ever: Just look at Daiwa Dorking’s Will Raison who stood out as a 15-year-old and is now one of the deadliest match anglers on the planet the other side of 40.
And even further up the scale, you wouldn’t want to take on Kevin Ashurst or Bob Nudd (pictured below, right)) every day of the week on equal pegs – despite both being over the age of 70!
So do anglers ever lose their skills? I say they don’t – although many decent match anglers can easily slip out of form if they are not competing on a regular basis.
A few anglers who were at the top of their game over the past three decades may not feature as regularly as they used to – but that’s down to a massive change in competition angling, mostly due to the advent of commercial fisheries.
Even so, some of the legends of the past 30 years are still producing the goods on a wide range of waters, including carp puddles. Like any sportsmen anglers go through periods of good and bad form – or luck – and the secret if you are a pleasure or match angler is to keep plugging away.
Backbone of the match scene
Now all this brings us round nicely to the so-called also-rans of fishing, the match anglers who never win a thing and are often laughed at by some others in the game. Well, it’s about time you left these guys alone!
These are the anglers who turn out no matter what in the hope that they might frame, might beat the stars, might get a good net of fish.
Every now and then they will score good points for a team they have sneaked into to fill a last minute gap or they might, with a bit of luck, just make the odd frame place once in a blue moon. For me these anglers are the backbone of our sport.
Rain or shine they will be there even though deep down they know their chances of a win are very, very slim. But it’s that hope of scoring, the knowledge that angling can be very unfair and throw up the odd rogue results – both pleasure and match fishing – that drives these guys on.
I saw one last week: after 50 years of fishing he had entered his first match. He’d never used a keepnet and all he wanted to do was not finish last.
He had 20 lb plus on a method feeder – no big fish – and achieved his aim of missing the rock bottom place. The smile on his face said it all: angling can be a great leveller and just the odd sprinkle of success drives us to keep on trying.
Measuring your success
I’ve had my fair share of success and failures over the years and now I only fish the occasional match I know my chances of a win are a lot lower.
Do I care? I would be lying if I said I didn’t, but to me the fishing is the first priority topped up by the social element and being by the water’s edge. But when I go pleasure fishing or looking for one big fish of a certain species my thoughts change totally.
I know my chances of achieving my aim are a lot slimmer but that also means a success is far greater in my book.
Blank in a match and I am distraught. Blank whilst pleasure fishing I question why. Blank whilst searching for a specimen and I take it as part of the learning curve.
So next time you struggle in any form of fishing remember that good times could be just one second and one bite away!