WELCOME TO the Tuesday blog. Tuesdays 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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HAVE a look at some of the results this week in the press. After getting all of my phone calls and texts about who has won what and where, it really dawned on me: some of the names are very familiar.

In fact they were winning when I was a kid, and are still cutting the mustard. I’m not seeing any youngsters or under 25s ripping up any trees on good matches. And maybe the that’s the rub? Good matches, getting them to fish a variety of venues.

Occasionally you will see a run of a youngster winning 4-5 in a row on a commercial, with less than 20 or so anglers, but how many do you see on the North West circuit for instance?

Keith Hobson has been in his 50s for over 50 years, Dave Swain has remained the same age for the past 20 years or so.

The Midlands where the likes of Rob Brennan, Jon Arthur are all a lot older than they would let you believe, Richard Duke has been winning matches that long he was once paid out in groats.

Even darn sarf the same old geezers grace the back pages. Harry Billing, Stevie Gardener, and Steve Sanders should be MBE have all been paid out in milk tokens and shillings a few times, and still have gas masks just in case.

Another familiar name this week that’s been on the radar is Tony Marshall, the river wizard who has just reached his 100th birthday but is still winning matches.

The guys who do the match pages must see this pattern emerging?

Old men like top man Tony Keeling, the Angler’s Mail ace, have been around 200years … here he is bagging in 1785.


So where are they? Is it too intimidating, is it too expensive? It really doesn’t bode well, even more so if you look at other countries.

I was chatting to now a Scotland supremo, Martin Greene, on the phone the other day, who also feels the same.

After Callum Dicks and Lee Kerry…. you pick a young side, and who can walk the walk?

The Dutch have it right with the old master Jan Van Schendel.

I could pick one, no maybe two if the match tactic was pellet “shalla” or paste down the edge. But if I needed a slider team, or a squad to fish the mighty Elbe with 80 gramme flat floats, I would be very disappointed.

Our competitors overseas have seen this coming though, and at the World Club Champs the Dutch put forward a superb young squad. They have a great youth network going, and encourage the parents to get involved. The Czechs, the Serbians, all of these other nations have a really good youth match fishing initiative going …we don’t.

We try with a talent pathway that has been set up to tick the boxes at Sport England, but why would a kid and his family want to fork out thousands and thousands of pounds to attend these, only to be humiliated when the venue they turn up on requires more than a margin pole and purple hydro?

What’s happened to our Schools Nationals and Intermediate Nationals? Should these be reinstated and given the lions share of press?

I can’t conclude where it’s going, I think Xboxes and iPads have taken our lads and lasses and it now up to us to get them back. I’m trying in fact my next few weeks are taking some groups out fishing, and walking the rivers learning watercraft.

I know Helen Dagnall up T’north does some amazing unsung work taking up to 40 a week out fishing! Preston Innovations’ Sarah Phoenix, again, has so much passion in bringing the next generation through with Club Korum.

As much pleasure as we have enjoyed on the bank, it just needs us all to get involved, and next time we have a weekend, make sure we take someone who hasn’t been fishing before out. Even if ten don’t like it, one will, and that’s them hooked for the rest of their lives, they too can pass it on.




This week’s winner did everything you can to win a match. He used knowledge, and a lot of skill, to top a field of the country’s finest natural venue anglers on a river that has more moods than my missus.

I am of course talking about the Warks Avon, and the one and only Spud Murphy who used waggler and bronze maggot on peg to amass 20 lb of silvers to finish top of this 79-entry qualifier.

A great day’s fishing, topped by the Angler’s Mail performance of the week. Take a bow Andrew Murphy (Tredegar AC).





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