A record-breaking year for the sport’s biggest matches continues this week after Riverfest reached a historic landmark by gaining over 2,000 ticket applications for the first time ever.
The big money competition has been a revelation since its creation in 2013 and now event organisers at the Angling Trust have been forced to run a ballot for places this year for the first time as a result of its immense popularity.
Officials have now staged the draw to decide who will compete in the 24 qualifiers, with almost 70 per cent of the heats oversubscribed.
The news comes just weeks after Fish O’Mania once again posted record application numbers.
Angling Times columnist Dave Harrell was the brains behind RiverFest and he said: “It is fantastic news for river fishing and I am overwhelmed at how well supported this tournament has become in such a short space of time.”
“A lot of people said there wasn’t a demand for big money river fishing events but this has blown that theory out of the water. There will be a £35,000 prize pot available to those in the final on the River Wye in November and it’s great that thousands want a shot at the title.”
Venues including the Severn and Warwickshire Avon were amongst those in demand, although the three qualifiers on the Trent proved the most popular.
With a large number of people left disappointed at the prospect of being left on the reserves list, discussions have already opened up to potentially revamp the system next year and Dave added: “There is no reason why we can’t hold bigger qualifiers to cater for more people. We wouldn’t do that at the detriment of the fishing but if an organiser thinks it is feasible, we would open up more pegs for next year.”
TOP FIVE MOST POPULAR QUALIFIERS
60 anglers take part in each heat, with three qualifying for the final
1. River Trent, Holme Marsh – 156 (ticket applications)
2. River Trent, Burton on Trent – 155
3. River Trent, Newark Dyke – 152
4. River Severn, Bewdley – 148
5. River Severn,Worecester to Upton - 145