Are matches reaching saturation point?

The news that organisers of the Fish for 3K competition are to unveil their event nationwide next year looks set to add yet another big money event to an already jam-packed British match calendar.

Sitting alongside the likes of Fish O’Mania, White Acres festivals and the Maver Pairs is a host of smaller but equally cash-rich competitions, all proving a temptation to the match angler looking to fill his summer diary. Saturation point is looming.

But how does he decide? With dozens of events crammed in between April and October, clashes are inevitable and disappointment is guaranteed, especially when you throw family holidays and work commitments into the equation. At present, it seems there are enough anglers to go around, but that might not always be the case.

Just as happened on commercial fisheries as their frequency increased, so numbers attending matches fell as the sheer choice fragmented the picture and these big-money events run the risk of doing the same.

And you might think that it’s just the rank and file match angler who’s affected by this, but think again. The team angler at the top of the tree has a diary that would melt even the most intelligent of brains and even then he has to sacrifice individual gains to meet his commitments. Add sponsorship and international appearances, and it gets even worse.

“There seems to be a new big match popping up every week these days,” said England star Des Shipp, who works full time. “How do you pick what to fish? For me, it has to be worth my time travelling and putting in the preparation. I get so little spare time that I have to make it worthwhile and that means White Acres festivals and the Maver Pairs. There’s not a lot of miles to put in and I’ve got a good record in those type of events.”

Bristol-based Des also has England and Daiwa Dorking commitments to juggle, England taking up the best part of a month right in the middle of summer while practising for a big final with Dorking eats up valuable days. His fortnight away with England is taken as unpaid leave!

“I’d really love to give Fish O’Mania a proper go,” he admitted. “Hit the road, travel around and have a serious crack but I can’t, not with everything else going on. Any spare weekends I get I spend with the wife and kids because I’m away fishing enough as it is. That also means opens are few and far between ¬ not that there are many worth fishing anyway.”

On top of all this Des has to fish the ‘right sort of matches’ as he calls them to keep his sponsor, Preston Innovations, happy. Being high-profile, it’s better if his name appears in the results pages of Angling Times under a White Acres Festival than a 20-peg open on the canal.

Such is the life of the all-round team and individual angler in employment. Curiously for the full-time angler, there’s time
on their hands but nothing to fish as Angling Times columnist Steve Ringer explains.

“Almost every big summer event is on a Saturday,” Steve revealed. “I was looking through a diary the other day and on Sundays I was twiddling my thumbs while Saturdays had so many clashes that I had to make tough decisions. I’ve even made a vow this year to fish more on Sundays.”

Like Des, Steve struggles to get motivated for small matches but, with more time on his hands, can pick and choose his matches. Although the diary would appear full, only a handful of summer events appeal to Steve, including Fish O’ and the Maver Pairs.

“They’re big, big events and I think that if you’re sponsored and at the top of the game, then you should be fishing them,” he added. “The clashes can be horrific and as much as I’d like to, I can’t fish them all. Perhaps the solution is to have more events on Sundays?”