Fish O’ Mania: Join the Angling Trust or stay away

Anglers entering this year’s Fish O’Mania competition will have to pay a further £20, after new plans by the competition’s administrators were unveiled.

In a move that has left match anglers divided, anyone wanting to fish one of the 16 qualifiers will have to join the Angling Trust first. And that could see the overall cost for a ticket rise to more than £40– something many argue is too expensive.

“What are the benefits for me, the angler?” asked 2000 Fish O’Mania winner Rob Hitchens. “Is Fish O’Mania improved as a competition, or is it just another expense for the angler? If there are no direct advantages, it just seems a bit harsh and it will hit entrants who only get one qualifier more than those who get multiple ones.”

However, former event champion Steve Ringer is a staunch supporter of the Angling Trust and he believes a forceful approach could be the best solution.

“Anglers are generally apathetic, and maybe this is the only way the Trust can raise the necessary funds. My only issue is that it is just match anglers who are being penalised. There needs to be a method of making all anglers pay up, and I would personally place a levy on the rod licence to help raise funds.”

But it isn’t just the anglers who will be obliged to sign up, with the bosses hosting qualifiers expected to pay up to £400 from 2011.

Viaduct Fishery’s Paul Greenwood said: “Joining the Angling Trust to host that event would take at least 50 per cent of our profits for that day. We support the governing body, but people feel conned.

“If anglers and fisheries were properly educated about the benefits, they would sign up in a flash without being forced into it.”

Angling Trust chairman Mike Heylin justified the new move by arguing the extra venue would help fund further matchfishing events.

“Fish O’Mania is an Angling Trust competition and we believe people who want to take part in it should be a member of the club.

“The Trust needs to deliver more for match anglers and there are plans to introduce bigger and better events for them. But these plans can only be developed successfully if anglers join up and support what we are trying to do.”