Fish O'Mania is set to receive a major overhaul after tournament bosses revealed plans to boost the prize pot and increase the amount of places available in the qualifiers.
Each year thousands of anglers clamber for a spot in one of the 16 heats of the big money match fishing competition and officials have now decided to remove the ‘winner takes all’ element by signing a deal that will see the second and third placed anglers in the final receive a financial reward.
The winner will still walk away with a cheque for £30,000, with the pay-out for those who just missed out on the top spot still under negotiation.
From next year anglers will have a greater chance than ever to compete in the qualifiers, with places increased to almost 2,500. Five of the rounds will host 150 anglers, two will accommodate 180 fishermen and Lindholme Lakes will host a 300-peg match.
There have also been changes in the venues being used, with Yorkshire’s Hayfield Lakes and Nottinghamshire’s Hallcroft Fishery replacing Aston Park and Messingham Sands.
Matchroom Sport Media Director Luke Riches believes the changes will make the 21st anniversary pf the event even more spectacular and he told Angling Times: “This competition is hugely oversubscribed and this is our way of accommodating even more anglers.
“We have decided to create a prize for those that come second and third to keep the match alive if someone dominates from the start like last year’s winner Jamie Hughes did.
“It will make it a nail-biting affair right until the last minute and I’m confident this will be the best Fish O’Mania ever,” he added.
Former winner Warren Martin is hoping to regain his crown next year and is looking forward to taking part in the refreshed event. “I think the idea of adding extra pegs is excellent as it gives more people a chance,” he said. “It might make the fishing a bit harder but if you are turning up purely for a good day’s sport then Fish O’Mania isn’t for you anyway.
“Creating prizes for second and third will definitely add to the excitement and I think this is the right way forward.”
**Online entry will open to Angling Trust members on January 14 and close on February 4, with each ticket priced at £25.**
**Fish O’Mania Facts**
- Last year 5,254 separate bids were made for the qualifiers with less than half of those successful, with 2,250 spaces on offer.
- Garbolino’s Neil Machin took the biggest Fish O’Mania final weight ever when he hauled out 217lb 8oz from Hayfield Lakes in 1996. Angling journalist Jon Arthur took the biggest net in a qualifier with 252lb 11oz from Viaduct Fishery in 2011.
- The final has been held at four different venues. Leicestershire’s Mallory Park hosted the inaugural contest in 1994 before it switched to Hallcroft Fishery in Nottinghamshire for 1995 and 1996. Yorkshire’s Hayfield Lakes staged it between 1997 and 2007 before it was handed to Cudmore Fishery in 2008.
- Only one man has bagged the title twice, with Matt Hall securing his name in the record books with victories in 2003 and 2009.
- Did you know that qualifiers weren’t always held solely on commercial fisheries? Up until 2005, natural waters were used, with the likes of River Soar and Weaver hosting heats.