THE latest figures released by the Angling Trust show two of the richest competitions in the country are on the way to a sell-out for the 2015 series.
They are, of course, the Fish O’Mania which will be in its 21st year and is organised by both the Trust and snooker and darts impresario Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sports, and the popular Riverfest which is only in its third year.
Tickets for the Fish O’Mania went on sale earlier this year and in the first week there were over 3,000 applications. Qualifiers will be fished at 16 different venues all over the country and the total pegs available comes to almost 2,500. The largest is at the final qualifier at Lincolnshire’s Lindholme Lakes, which can hold 300 anglers.
In order to give the competitors the best of sport, the venues are reviewed each year and this year there are a couple of changes. Retford’s Hallcroft Lakes and Stourport’s Larford Lakes are both omitted, and losing their place are Messingham Sands and Moorlands Farm. The series kicks off on April 4 at Hayfield Lakes and concludes at Lindholme on June 24, with the Grand Final at Staffordshire’s Cudmore Fisheries on July 18.
In the past there has been some controversy about people who have been allotted a place in a qualifier not turning up and there is usually a queue of people wanting to take their place. At one venue last year there were 20 people who did not turn up, although it was discovered afterwards that there had been a traffic pile up on the motorway and a lot of people had just turned around.
This year there has been a rule change: if competitors fail to turn up then they could face expulsion from future events.
The pay-out for the final will be £30,000 with £5,000 going to the runner-up and a further cash prize for the biggest fish taken on the day. If any local anglers fancy their chances then the convenient venues for them are Hayfield Lakes, near Doncaster on April 4, Messingham Sands near Scunthorpe (April 18), Oaks at Sessay (May 9), Woodlands (June 13) and Lindholme (June 24).
The second big contest is for river enthusiasts and is still in its infancy. It is the brainchild of Midlands river expert and England international Dave Harrell.
The Riverfest series is now in its third year and is growing in popularity for those who prefer the more conventional style of fishing.
Unfortunately this event has not yet attracted a sponsor but with one Harrell hopes the final pay-out will exceed the present £12,000 and rise to £20,000.
The current rules are similar to the Fish O’Mania with a series of eliminating contests which will all host 60 anglers.
Entry forms are available from the Angling Trust from March 23 and local qualifiers are on June 20 on the Calder at Brighouse, June 27 on the Swale at Morton, August 29 on the Don at Sprotbrough, and October 24 at Hunters Lodge with the final on the River Wye in Herefordshire.