This Angler's Mail match fishing blog comes from Preston Innovations man Scott Geens - who talks about the rise of river fishing.
LOOKING through my diary recently it occurred to me that other than a few visits to the Gloucester Canal, since June the 16th I have been match fishing exclusively on rivers and loving every minute of it!
I grew up fishing the Severn in the 80’s with my Dad and reading about golden age of river match fishing on the Trent, Severn and Avon but as I got actively involved in match fishing I gradually saw the river scene slide into decline with the arrival of commercial fisheries.
But now it seems everything has gone full circle and there is definitely resurgence in river match fishing, I am aware that localised matches have always been well attended but now running water competitions have been revitalised on a national scale.
Most of my summer has been spent on the Warwickshire Avon at Evesham as well as the Trent, both tidal and non-tidal for the Division 1 National and in particular the upper reaches at Burton which is one of the most reinvigorated match stretches in the country with waiting lists for the recent matches.
River legend Wayne Swinscoe and Tony Vandome have done wonders to restore this great venue back to its former glory including improvements to access and a great HQ. The roach fishing has been sensational this year, in a recent match I weighed just under 12lb of prime ‘redfins’ which was only good enough for a section win!
Evesham is a fascinating venue, not always prolific but interesting none the less and the lure of qualifying for a big money final ensures that it sells out every week. Coupled with forward thinking organisation from Diana Raphael which now means fishing sensible times, 12pm – 5pm, parking behind every single peg and no chance of ‘drawing the scales’, it has all the allure of a commercial with the added bonus that pegs fees are minimal resulting in a sensible pay-out and healthy prize pot.
Personally this year’s campaign was reasonably successful, culminating in fourth place overall in Prestigious Wychavon Final worth a cool £500 but more importantly the £1 next peg side bet with fellow Preston Innovations backed angler, Michael Buchwalder!
It just goes to show that with a little thought and regard to the needs of the competitor the demand is there and that anglers still want to fish natural venues. If anglers recognise that time and effort has gone into the organisation and the facilities are there they will turn out in their droves, sold out midweek festivals up and down the country, from the Tidal Trent to the Thames are testimony to this.
Biggest of all the competitions is now of course, Riverfest, the brainchild of river legend Dave Harrell. The competition is going from strength to strength with every qualifier this year sold out, clearly indicating the desire to compete for the title of Riverfest Champion and the £12,000.00 winner’s purse.
Personally, I have three chances remaining to make the prestigious final again and after coming agonisingly close to victory last year I will be giving it my best shot. Last year’s show piece finale on the mighty River Wye was really magical to be part of and my Day 2 victory with over 30lb of roach on the stick float was a day’s fishing to be savoured even if it did leave my two-day total just 4lb short of the biggest prize in river fishing.
The sense of occasion was special and saw Andrew ‘Spud’ Murphy crowned champion, a deserved win for a fantastic angler and a true gentleman.
What’s more the matches just keep on coming and my running water campaign looks set to continue well into the winter months with my Kamasan Starlets team joining a buoyant Soar Valley Winter League and my place already booked on the Wye League at Hereford, having the honour of being asked by the mighty Shakespeare Superteam to ‘guest’ for them this term.
So if you haven’t already done so I would urge everyone to dust off those stick floats and for those of you who have never fished a river match give it a go as future of river match fishing has never looked brighter.
Good luck on running water yourself or wherever you’re fishing,