Step too far for matchfishing?

One of Britain’s leading matchmen has defended commercial fisheries after 3,000lb of carp were banked between six competitors in a record-shattering contest.

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Adam Richards led the weights at The Oaks in North Yorkshire with a phenomenal 583lb 5oz of carp. He was followed by five anglers who each took more than 400lb to the scales.

News of the huge catches have has led to claims that such weights are ‘catching not fishing’. However, North Yorks-based Adam was quick to defend the commercials that provide such sport.  

“The main comments I’ve seen seem to be about anglers having a lack of skill for catching these weights, which is really bizarre to me,” said the Browning-backed star and regular big-match finalist. 

“I’ve fished matches where I have caught 200-plus roach on a natural reservoir, 200-plus dace on a river and 200-plus carp on a commercial. 

“When you’ve fed your peg correctly and presented your bait right, they’ve all been easy to catch. You’re fishing for a large number of fish and creating lots of competition from feeding fish within your peg to get lots of bites. 

“The actual weight at the end is just relative to the size of the individual fish. Two hundred fish is 200 fish, regardless of the species. 

“I find it strange how 200 carp is seen as easy and only caught ‘hook-a-duck’ style, but 200 roach is seen as requiring a great deal of skill to catch.”

Oaks owner Tony Kay also countered allegations that such weights are detrimental to the wellbeing of the fish. 

“Ash, Sycamore and Beech lakes are exclusively match-fished and they’re only booked twice a week,” he said.

“By not allowing pleasure anglers on them the carp are getting caught far less often and in turn, they’re in fantastic condition.

“Like many other match venues there is also a net limit employed which each angler must comply with.  

“Anglers who don’t want to fish for carp are very well catered for at The Oaks as I have other pools where you can catch big bags of silverfish or F1s, specimen carp and mixed nets. 

“It’s important as a fishery owner to try and please as many people as possible.”

The Angling Times Facebook page received hundreds of comments from anglers voicing their opinions on the subject. 

What you said

Michael Box: “It’s not fishing, it’s just catching! On my local fishery, Twynersh in Chertsey, you have to work for every fish.”

Craig Hillier: “Some places are way over-stocked. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. We want more natural fisheries with a good variety of species. Everything has gone carp mad!”

Nick Crooks: “There’s plenty of different venues to suit the style, method or weight of fish you wish to catch. If you don’t like it, just fish where it’s more to your liking. Nobody makes people go to them.”

Anthony Waters: “Commercials have secured a future for matchfishing – without them the match circuit would be pretty bleak.”

Mark Spink: “It would be good to see commercial venues have at least one lake that has no carp in it for matches.” 

What the experts said 

2019 Maver Match This winner Jamie Hughes: “The fishing isn’t as challenging as these waters are stocked with more fish than others, there’s more bait going in to feed them and they’re just lining up to be caught. It’s a question of who can bring them to the net the quickest. As long as there are measures to ensure the fish welfare is alright, then it’s okay.”

2019 Fish O’ Mania winner, Andy Bennett: “It’s not my cup of tea, but I get the appeal. Anglers can go and catch 200lb of carp and not win a penny in the match but they’ll still consider it a great days’ fishing. It must take some skill – I don’t think anyone could turn up and catch 500lb.”

Stafford Moor Match record holder, Steve Ford: “Venues that need 150lb to 200lb nets to win are just right, then every now and then you’ll get a 300lb or even 400lb net and have a red letter day. Regular 400lb-500lb nets are just hard work and lining up more than four keepnets is a joke really.”