Heronbrook fishing festival rocked by match-fixing row

Controversy reigned at a high-profile mathfishing festival last week following claims that one of the competitors attempted to ‘fix’ the outcome.

The four-day event at leading commercial venue Heronbrook Fishery was marred by cries of foul play after Wrexham rod Mark Pleavin returned part of his potential section-winning catch in a bid to influence the result in favour of a fellow angler, it is claimed. After a barrage of criticism from other competitors and also Heronbrook boss Neil Dale, Pleavin has this week offered a public apology for his actions, which he insists he regrets.

Incidents unfolded on the Island Lake at the Slindon, Staffordshire venue, during the final match of the annual Four-Day Festival contested by 100 anglers. Pleavin had no chance of figuring in the overall festival results, but fellow Wrexham angler Ian Leech, on the next peg, was sitting in second place.

Leech weighed in first and recorded 65lb 4oz, before Pleavin put 35lb of F1s on the scales in his first net, with his second net of bigger fish still to be weighed by venue owner Neil. He placed half of these in a weigh net which was taken to the scales by Neil, before he was seen to put the rest of them back into the lake.

Pleavin’s reduced catch was recorded at 53lb 10oz, giving Leech a precious section win. “I’d like to apologise to all concerned. It was the last day of the third festival I’d fished in as many weeks and I was battered and a bit fed up, but that’s no excuse. I don’t even know how much I tipped back and whether it would have won me any money or not, but I did not intend to affect any results,” said Pleavin.

But fishery owner Neil refused to let the result stand as it was, having witnessed the antics first-hand.

“I gave Ian our points for a section second, rather than five for a win, because that is here I know he finished in reality. Mark obviously had something in the region of 80lb. As a consequence Ian finished sixth overall, rather than second. You cannot pull stunts like this with so much money at stake, it’s wrong and I took over 20 calls from anglers the following day supporting my actions.

“I heard Mark say to Ian ‘I think I’ve done you’ during his weigh-in, but if he had weighed in all his catch he would probably have won £140, so why did he do it?” asked Neil.

Pleavin insisted that he ha no financial gain for the return of part of his catch as he “was not haring winnings with Ian Leech or any other angler”.