Tuesday’s blog is from Steve Collett, the boss of leading online tackle retailers Harris SportsmailCollett

Steve’s blogs focus mainly on match fishing but also delve into his styles of pleasure fishing and specialist angling. He also appears regularly in Angler’s Mail magazine.

Please share this blog with your friends on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the icons above.



Bad handling?

I don’t like to categorise myself as an angler, and I don’t really like to join single species groups, as somehow they tend to (jokingly or not) lay into other branches of the sport.

For instance, a pike angler hates carp anglers – or “crap” anglers as they like to call them! – and big carp anglers rip into match anglers, and match anglers rip into “bivvy boys” and so it goes on.

I prefer to, well, simply go fishing. It might be perch I am after, but it’s fishing to me – I might go drop shotting, but again it’s just fishing to me.

A big net of winter carp caught for the cameras and retained in a keep net. All were returned safely and without any harm or damage.

A big net of winter carp caught for the cameras and retained in a keep net. All were returned safely and without any harm or damage.

With all of these types of fishing I do, one thing is beginning to stand out, and that’s the amount of stick I and other “matchmen” get about fish welfare.Remember that word ‘welfare’.

I can remember Steve Ringer, an angler of the highest standard, who by the way is a very competent carp, fly and anything-else angler, getting a huge amount of stick over a fantastic net of carp by the social media hate mob. I myself have been the victim of such a lynching, and I think it’s time someone stood up to this namby pamby stance on fish welfare, because one thing I can guarantee you, is that NO match angler wants to harm a fish, whether it’s the last minute of a £30,000 final or a pleasure session with his mates. It may look rough and ready but do you really think we want to cause harm to a sport in which we make a living?

I go back a few years to a feature I did on the River Wye – a gorgeous day, sun shining, but unfortunately the river was very low and clear, but with the Mail photographer in tow we managed to sneak out a few fish by free-lining boilies, and letting them trundle under a overhanging bush. To myself and the photographer, this is what it was all about – real back to basics fishing, and so after a few hours a catch shot was made with three stunning barbel to just short of 10 lb.

A pair of big chub caught for a Mail feature.

A pair of big chub caught for a Mail feature.

Now there was the problem – three barbel, how did he do that? ‘He must have put them in a net, the scoundrel…’, ‘How dare he treat a barbel in this way’ were the cries, and on the internet headlines such as “Disgusting feature in the Mail” and “barbel killing matchman”. What a load of cobblers, but it hurt me if I am honest, and to this day I do not have anything to do with the Barbel police, despite barbel fishing more than once a week.

Without blowing a trumpet, I can almost guarantee I have caught and released more barbel than any member of these forums and lynch mobs. So now I have decided to stay away from such hate groups, I try and shy away from doing barbel features just in case the righteous manage to bang their keyboards again, but I am amazed how their stance has changed on matchfishing and barbel in nets with the championing of Dave Harrel, who has even done alks for them. Now if one bloke can fill a net with barbel it’s him. So is it right for a media man to put them in nets? But not right for a everyday angler, who wants to enjoy his sport and be rewarded with a keepsake catch shot? What’s the difference?

hemp roach

A big net of hemp-caught roach. If this is acceptable, then why do some people think a barbel in a keepnet isn’t?

I’ll finish off with how I see it with my matchman head on: If I am on the river and a few hundred small roach are caught, a few of them do usually have a turn for the worst, hands up, but instead of feeling sad, and going home and hitting myself with a stick, I delight in seeing a 15 lb pike come up and take advantage of man’s evolution helping him out.

Yet If I am on a commercial, I and like many other matchmen will do our utmost best to ensure no harm comes to these fish, as I am going to fork out £15 next week to fish it again, so why would I?

Then with my specimen hat on, I make sure I have the very best in unhooking mats, a bucket of water, check the fins, apply a little medication to the hook wounds, photograph my prize sometimes and then see her swim away.

But, and this is the thing that stands out, they are ALL fish. The little roach you have just mounted on a treble – is he not a fish? Why do we not moan about a net of chub or a big net of bream? Are they not more delicate than our hardy carp and barbel?

We can all jump on the lynching bandwagon too fast sometimes, maybe we should all join forces and try and educate not castigate?




collett match awards

It’s been unusually mild this weekend, and I am not sure whether the fish know what’s happening – some venues had massive Andy-Findlayweights all-round and some had patchy areas. But one man has showed his class yet again, in fact he has been doing it for years. This week saw the man in question come up with a quality performance at Dynamite Makins fishery and finish almost 40 lb ahead of the field with a super net of 76-14-0 on the long pole and straight lead. I am off course talking about the master Andy Findlay, who nowadays is a real family man, and has his work cut out with a little ‘un, but he showed why he still remains a dangerous angler on any venue with this week’s Anglers Mail Performance of the week.




The new issue of Angler's Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!

The new issue of Angler’s Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!