Is matchfishing finally starting to feel the financial pinch? That’s the question being asked this week following reports from within the industry of reduced festival numbers, increased car-sharing and dropping open match attendances.
A decade ago places for the big White Acres festivals were like gold dust, but Kirsty Byrne, who organises festivals at the Cornish complex, has seen anglers reduce the number of festivals they fish over the past few years, many only attending the one as opposed to three or four.
“Some anglers are cutting down on the number of festivals they fish, competing in just two festivals a year rather than three, or one instead of two,” explained Kirsty.
“Anglers are still travelling from far afield to fish the festival, but more anglers are car-sharing to cut down on costs. I can’t see anglers reducing the number of festivals they fish any further and, fingers crossed, when the job and money situation improves for some they will start to fish more again.”
On the open scene, boss of Garbolino Lindholme Lakes Neil Grantham has seen the number of open anglers reduce, but his club bookings have remained steady through rocky times.
“Our festivals in May and July are becoming increasingly popular, but fewer anglers are fishing opens. We’ve made the festivals more attractive by letting anglers have a caravan for £100 a week and providing all anglers with a free meal after the matches,” said Neil.
“Fisheries need to be more competitive and provide more incentives for anglers to fish their matches rather than another nearby. Club matches are very popular at Lindholme as we give each club that books two matches in the same year a free Garbolino rod worth £35 to fish for.”
Even at the highest level the squeeze is also on. The Angling Times Team Championships has already seen one team pull out of their semi-final as they feel that they can’t afford to practise and compete on the venue.
“It is unusual for a team to pull out of the event because of costs, but it has happened before, and to be fair, the team that pulled out fishes mostly commercials and felt they would not be able to compete on a canal, which I do find very disappointing,” said event organiser Ken Wade.
“Most sports aren’t cheap and we can go through the whole spectrum of sporting activities, and those that are dedicated to their particular sport will all tell you it costs to participate. Match fishing is no different I’m afraid.”