The current format for the Angling Trust Individual National will be scrapped by 2011 as angling’s bosses seek to revamp the flagging fishing competition.
Currently open to the two highest-scoring anglers from each team that took part in the year’s Divisional Nationals, numbers have been disappointing in recent times, failing to muster more than 150 anglers.
However, the hope is that the new competition, effectively a one-off open match, could herald the return of the 500-plus peg open last seen in the 1970s and early 1980s.
“It’s been decided by the group that the current format of the Individual National is a dead duck,” said competitions group member David Kent.
“The change will happen certainly by 2011 and ideally for next year to inject new life into the competition.
“We feel that now is the right time to make changes as, to be honest, it’s been getting a bit of a farce in recent years. It was hard work ringing round the teams trying to get confirmation if their anglers would be fishing or not. With the new format, the onus is on the individual.”
As part of the AT’s review of competition fishing in the UK, the showpiece individual event will be opened up to ANY Angling Trust member, regardless of whether they’ve fished a National or not for that year. The only stipulation will be valid membership of the Trust for that year.
England co-manager and Drennan NW chief Mark Addy has voiced his concerns, though.
He thinks the change will only attract open anglers, as team men are already signed up to the AT in order to fish its national. He also questions as to how many would travel.
“We know that anglers don’t like travelling,” Mark said. “The move is obviously designed to boost membership levels and, God knows, we need that, so good luck to them, but I’d ask how many anglers would put the miles in to fish what is, in effect, an open match? Then where do you put it?
“People want to fish commercials, but they aren’t big enough and you can’t split an individual competition across two separate fisheries - it wouldn’t be fair.”