Tuesday’s blog is from 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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Is it all about the money?
I DON’T know whether or not you have noticed, but there is more and more big money competitions popping up all over the place at the moment in coarse fishing and specimen fishing, and personally I’m not sure if it is a good thing.
First of all these big money matches are not going to bring any new blood into our sport, as the mere thought of spending between £50-250 to enter can shake the bones of even the most hardened match angler, so I doubt youngsters or newcomers will factor in this part of our sport, and the big names it does attract may well frighten them off altogether with them thinking they simply can’t compete. As there is no handicapping system in place for fishing, a pro can compete against a complete amateur.
So if that’s not enough, do you think it is taking away the fun from our sport? And what about ‘the beautiful outdoors’? Because if you have ever been to one of these matches, it’s usually far from beautiful – it’s more akin to a Christmas shopping car park rush and then a five-hour queue! It’s definitely not about enjoying the countryside, as everyone is focused on getting their mits on crispy currency. Stuff the friggin kingfishers!
Then we have the greedy money men that this current trend is bringing in, as it is a money- making exercise – simple as that. They have no interest in grassroots angling, or boosting fish stocks – it’s about entry forms and money making. Unfortunately, there is no effort being made to seek outside sponsorship for these events, so the money has to come from within. You are basically gambling £25 to £200 against the odds of mother nature and 100-plus other competitors – they are not good odds!
And with big money comes the “C” word – cheating. No matter what sport, this big money temptation breeds wrong doings, and the cheats will come out to play. There have already been some high-profile cases, such as the bass from a tank story, and whispers are rife about a certain carp competition, whatever we do to try and combat it, the temptation of the riches will always be too much for a few to handle and let’s just say rules will be stretched.
I can remember being invited to a very large fishing match in Italy in 1998 and I was flabbergasted by the attendance, I’m not 100% but I think it was over 1100 and the atmosphere was amazing – a welcoming by the host town, a banquet, and lots of high spirits. It was a real celebration of our sport, and I can remember being helped by one of the greats in our sport fill in the entry form and hand over my Lira, about 10 pounds then, and off we went.
To cut a long story short, I somehow managed to fluke the match and won it by a very small margin, and I was buzzing, I just could not believe it. If Facebook had have been around, it would have been plastered with my boasting statements. So after I packed up and headed to the prize giving, I couldn’t help but do the sums: 1000 anglers, 20 Lira each, minus peg fee, I should walk away with a massive £5000 at least. I could have ran to the HQ.
When my name was called in broken English, I puffed out my chest and was very very proud. A few photos were taken, and I was presented with an absolutely massive trophy, a huge leg of what looked like ham, and a small box with an envelope – that’s what I was after.
So after a few congratulatory pats on the back, I slowly sneaked to a quiet part of the room to open my envelope, I did and felt panic strike, it was a letter from the mayor or equivalent. Where is my money? I ran to the organiser who explained that there was none, the honour of winning this should be enough, and do you know what, I remember that match as if it was yesterday.
I can’t recall any other match that I have picked up on being that memorable, I can’t say that I wasn’t a little disappointed about the lack of money, but that would have been squandered a long time ago – the memory and trophy are still with me.
I decided to have a week off myself and relax by a few rods after a big ‘un, but I had my usual amount of texts and calls with some great results up and down the country. My award this week had to go to a running water specialist who used the tools of his trade to his advantage and put together a superb net of chub to win round three of the Hereford DAA winter league. Drawing room 101 on the tennis courts, Mr Dave Harrell finished in style with 46-4-0 ahead of Rory Jones on 43 lb, Mr H take a bow, this weeks deserved winner of the Anglers Mail Performance of the week.
STEVE COLLETT RETURNS NEXT TUESDAY (DECEMBER 17). FOR LOTS OF MATCH RESULTS AND REPORTS, CHECK OUT THE NEW ISSUE, ON SALE THIS WEEK >>>