collettperchTuesdays 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. He also appears regularly in Angler’s Mail magazine.

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Commercial pools...where potential winning can be £50,000+. As my mate Les (right) proved.

Commercial pools…where potential winning can be £50,000+. As my mate Les (right) proved.


Natural venues or commercial pool? Which is best?


I HAVE been having a good old natter with my match fishing scene mucker Les Thompson lately, and rather than sing 80s tracks to each other down the phone (a very regular occurrence!) we have been debating the current trend towards river anglers belittling commercial anglers and vice versa.

And although I have ventured towards the natural venue side these days I must say I have to totally agree with what Les says on this matter – commercial anglers have more skill and finesse than you think. And last week the following scenario led me to agree with him…

This week's peg had natural features.

This week’s peg had natural features.

So if you can imagine this scene, you are sat on a winter league on a rising river or gin clear canal – both  typical of winter league fishing – and complete with all the joys of long walks, no facilities, muddy tackle and having to sit in the same place for five hours you are next to a freshly laid “dog egg” without any chance of a bite. Or if you do manage a bite, it’s from a fish so small it would barely register on the scales.

Then as you are packing up, your fellow angler says to you “Yeah, I’d rather be doing this than sat on some P#@S easy commercial catching pets”.

I don’t see them as pets. You see this is my take on it, I am a failed commercial angler, I tried the scene, couldn’t cut it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my fair share of envelopes but I didn’t feel I had the passion to compete, and went back to places where the draw is more important and I might get the chance of seeing a peregrine, an egret or chatting with normal folks!

And I also enjoy the excitement of seeing my stick float go under, or my tip go round and having no clue whatsoever what’s going to be on the end. This is just my personal choice, and in these times of litigation and sponsor-forced censorship I think I am still allowed one! Not because I think river fishing or canal fishing contains a more elite band of fisherman.

Flyers are flyers - it's a lottery.

Flyers are flyers – it’s a lottery.

On the other hand, I also turned up on a commercial that I had never seen before this year, drew a half decent peg and shipped 103 F1s for 158 lb and a match win and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went home clean enough to head straight to Chicago’s grab-a-granny night, and not a hint of bronze maggot fingers or my face looking as if I am going paintballing with chopped worm dirt covering my skin! So, for all of 20 minutes, commie fishing became appealing.

Was the fishing easy on a commercial, well I would have to say yes. I drew a peg, banded a pellet and shipped 16 metres to an island all day with a dibber style rig and a tosspot (not me). But I think the guys are very skilled at what they do, and I drew a flyer – a rare occurrence but I did. And probably the same would happen on a river, if a commercial angler drew one.

I personally don’t think one is better than the other, and I wouldn’t like to take Les Thompson on at any venue, the same as Steve Ringer, and other guys who trade blows on this circuit. These guys have one thing in common, they can fish a bit whatever the venue, and just because they chose to do it on one venue rather than another is nothing to do with skill.

It’s a choice and a very wise one. Why? Because you can become the very best river or canal angler in the world, and finish the year up with a very expensive bait bill or at the very most break even if you win Riverfest and break even with a few grand. Or you can hone your skills on a commercial venue, get in touch with F1 fishing and potentially rake in £150,000 in prize money. Who is the silly billy with no skill now?

There is no skill in commercial fishing – It’s a phrase I hear a lot, and I expect you have, either fishing on a river battering a “commercial angler” or sat on a commercial “battering a river angler”. But I have to admit, I don’t think this commercial bashing is as easy as us “natural venue” guys think.  I also tend to see it as a great breeding ground for newcomers.

It is very much here to stay, and when they have had enough they will stray on to our dog poo ridden, otter infested, mountain bike circuit, Olympic canoeist playground…. and catch nothing. And they may get thought of as a “better angler”



collett match awards

AM performance of the week goes to Joe Carass.

AM performance of the week goes to Joe Carass.

Broken carbon, maggots escaping and smelly goretex can only mean one thing, it’s here: “the clocks go back, the fishing’s cack” is my saying.But a few phone calls have been pleasantly surprising with a lot of great results up and down the country. Don’t forget you can get many of them first by going to

This week’s winner and his team recorded a phenomenal winter league score, and have a whole round to spare in the process. Young Joe Carass led his match fishing drawbags side to victory with a 112 lb 6 oz net of F1s shipped at 14m from peg 23 on the club pool to take the section and match win on this 76 pegger containing the “who’s who” of commercial fishing.

A great team result and a great individual one, well done Joe Carass this week’s Angler’s Mail performance of the week.


Related posts – great advice at these Angler’s Mail tips links!

How to choose  the best swim on commercial pools

How to choose the best swim on a river



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Be sure to get this week's brilliant new issue of Angler's Mail magazine! It's in shops from Tuesday, October 22.

Be sure to get this week’s brilliant new issue of Angler’s Mail magazine! It’s in shops from Tuesday, October 22.

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