Day-ticket fishing joins digital revolution

As many venues switch to advance booking systems, we look at what the change could mean for our sport’s future…


by Angling Times |

TWO of the UK’s largest and most popular day-ticket venues have gone digital in the past month and signed up to a ticket booking service, highlighting a growing trend that could well spell the end of traditional ‘pay-on-the-bank’ fishing.

Britain’s biggest day-ticket carp fishing complex Linear Fisheries, and the 18-lake Midlands complex Makins – which was the UK’s very first commercial, have both now adopted the ‘Catch’ booking platform, requiring visitors to download an app and book available pegs before they can fish.

With more than 120 lakes under contract with Catch, it’s a trend that looks to be well on the up, but what are the possible benefits for fisheries and anglers? Linear Fishery Manager Chris Blunt explained why it made the switch on some of its waters.

“Fishing has changed,” he said. “With Covid and Brexit, we had a surge in demand across the complex, which often meant we had people turning up and waiting three of four hours just to get in a swim. By switching a couple of our lakes and new waters to booking-only, we’ve given anglers a bit of certainty that they can reserve a spot and come and fish. It’s particularly useful for those who may be travelling a long way.

“It’s not necessarily something we’ll do across all the lakes, but it’s turned out to be very popular and has killed the trend of people trying to reserve swims with buckets, or worse still, erecting bivvies behind people when they’re still fishing. It makes the experience much more peaceful, which is what all anglers ultimately want.”

THE END OF WATERCRAFT?

Despite the obvious benefits for fisheries, there are concerns among some anglers that the trend will make the actual fishing on the venues worse, with the art of selecting a swim based on watercraft taken out of the equation almost entirely.

“The booking-only format is another step down the slippery slope of younger and inexperienced anglers being moved away from their own free thinking,” said big-carp angler Mark Holmes. “Etiquette, respect, hard work and angling skill development are learned, not acquired - what next, the carp laid on the mat for the correct fee?”

Others disagree, however. Former double-Drennan Cup winner Dai Gribble believes that – a bit like in match fishing – anglers turning up to a pre-booked peg and being required to make the best of what’s in front of them could make them better fishermen.

“On waters like Linear, watercraft in the sense of picking the best swim died a long time ago. You often have to just take your chances with what’s left,” he said.

“I’d hate for every venue to switch to this format, but for fisheries that are as busy as Linear, it makes perfect sense. It could help people too, because if you have a bit of experience on the lake, you can plan to target certain areas at the right time of year and know you’re going to get in there.

“When you’re in a swim and know you can’t really move, you fish harder to try and make the best of the situation. That might be baiting more regularly or spending more time plumbing up for the best spot.”

Echoing the sentiments of Linear’s Chris Blunt, Dai also agrees that fishing and the demands of anglers has changed.

“Fishing has a massive social element,” he added. “It’s not just about catching fish anymore. Some anglers want the togetherness and interaction, so some certainty that they can get four of five swims together will make their trip memorable.

“You may even find this changes the fishing on the waters themselves too, as unpopular swims that aren’t getting booked or seeing pressure could end up becoming very good indeed.”

Regardless of the ongoing debate, one thing is certain – the days of slipping an envelope into an honesty box in a shed appear to be a thing of the past. In 2022 fisheries are operating as more efficient businesses and the booking platforms are just a part of the process. But as long as we still have those quiet hidden gems dotted around the country, surely giving more anglers certainty of good fishing can only be a good thing?

Let us know what you think…

THE APP IN NUMBERS

CATCH is the latest and fastest growing ticket booking app to hit fisheries, with the likes of Linear and Makins already signed up.

8,000

Tickets sold in the last three months

6,000

Anglers who’ve created an account

618,000

Views of the platform

120

Lakes signed up

1558

Pegs available to book

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