This year is the 21st birthday of the popular Fish’O’Mania angling event – and there have been a few major changes to the rules.
Last year the prize money was boosted from £25,000 to £30,000 with the format the same – winner takes all.
More money has been added to the prize fund and so this year, for the first time, second and third places will also collect some cash. But as yet it has not been decided just how much. My guess would be £5,000 and £3,000.
There has also been an addition to the number of contestants who will try to qualify for the Grand Final which will once more be held at the Cudmore Fishery in Staffordshire.
Traditionally the 16 qualifying contests have always been held at 120-peg matches but a couple of years ago the final one at Lindholme was increased to 300.
This year, with some of the bigger venues able to accommodate more anglers, their entries have been increased with five of them taking 150 and a couple 180.
That is an extra 200 pegs, so that is possibly how the extra prize money will be raised.
Qualifiers in our region are Saturday, April 19 at Hayfield Lakes (130 pegs), Saturday, May 10 at Oaks Lakes (150 pegs), Saturday, June 14 at Woodlands (150 pegs), Wednesday June 25 at Lindholme (300) with the final again on the Arena Lake of Cudmore on the weekend of July 12 and 13.
On the Sunday the International Pairs Match will take place and that was a great success last year with the England duo Alan Scotthorne and Will Raison (both former world champions) winning an exciting and nail-biting contest.
Apparently the whole two-day event was screened live on TV in Belgium and some other European countries. It seems it was very well-received and created great interest.
This year, there are even more countries wanting to take part.
The Arena lake holds 32 well-spaced pegs so there would be ample room for 16 teams instead of last year’s 12. Apparently the Americans are also showing an interest.
And the organisers – Matchroom Sports, who are owned by snooker and darts impressario Barry Hearn – are in negotiations with them. Hearn already holds the rights the Fox TV company’s bass fishing tournaments which are screened regularly on Sky TV and which are worth thousands of dollars to the eventual winners.
The European score could be very interesting as this year pairs from Italy and Belgium will be taking part.
And there are talks of European eliminating contests taking place in the form of a series.
This year’s event looks like it could be more popular than ever. The Angling Trust have revealed that applications for tickets for the opening qualifiers have already reached the 2,000 mark with the first one to be held at Somerset’s Viaduct Fishery on April 5.
Ticket applications should be made to the Angling Trust costing £25 each and all contestants must be members of the Trust.