I am uncertain where the decision-making lies within the competition element of the Angling Trust, because I get the feeling it may have lost track of what anglers want.
The Nationals have declined dramatically, brought about by adopting the perceived populist view. What seems to have gone is the understanding that The National isn’t about individual match fishing. It is a competition for member clubs and is team-based. Teams come from proper, established clubs that have run the course ¬ not match groups that come and go.
The competitions committee of the Trust should hold a referendum of clubs, especially those who regularly fish in Nationals, and be guided by their wishes.
Questions such as where to fish, how many anglers per team, dates and whether the National should be just that, the National, not diluted by divisions that began the downfall along with the closed season abolition. Offer the clubs regional events with a proper National final, on the old date ¬ the penultimate Saturday in September, when every angler can have it in their diary. Give them a set of venues, known in advance, years in advance. Natural venues too, alternating between canals and rivers, just like in the old days.
If, as seems the case, the Angling Trust Competitions Committee is hell-bent on a competition for commercial fisheries, then launch a new one, but if it’s for teams, make it small teams, five or fewer, because otherwise it will be difficult to find venues.
I’ve always thought it possible to run a match like the old BAA Big’Un that included most sections of BAA-run canals and rivers.
Put that idea over a range of commercials, say 80 pegs on each, with each venue a zone and four sections of 20 within the zone. Only a dozen venues would be required to make it more or less a 1,000-pegger and a £1 winner-take-all as the only overall prize would give the top weight ‘a grand in the hand’.
A £6 zone pool, paying 1-2-3 would give £240 for the winner, £160 for second and £80 for third, and a £4 section pool would pay £50 and £30 for the top two. Sounds feasible?
There is a generation of match anglers that don’t know what a real match feels like ¬ after all, it was Kevin Ashurst who said that “...any less than 200 pegs is nowt but a sweep.”