Angling: High-profile venue plans for a ‘more level playing field’

Rob Crabtree of Barnbrugh at the Hayfields Lakes Fish-O-Mania venue.  PIC: Malcolm Billingham
Rob Crabtree of Barnbrugh at the Hayfields Lakes Fish-O-Mania venue. PIC: Malcolm Billingham
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THE Arena Pool at Staffordshire’s Cudmore Fishery has been the home of Fish O’Mania final since 2008.

Although the lake is stuffed with fish of all species, mainly carp, a certain area of the lake has dominated in recent finals and on the 16 peg event the first eight have been the best whilst nine to 16 have struggled.

This year, one competitor, Steve Cook, who is a previous winner, failed to catch a single fish!

In previous years various venues have hosted the final and prior to Cudmore, Hayfield Lakes near Doncaster staged the event for several years, and even though the match was fished on different lakes, certain areas always dominated.

For instance, on the Island Lake the top five pegs facing the island were always the favourites, and when the match was switched to one of the other lakes then the pattern continued with the same corner peg winning successive finals.

So then came the move to Cudmore.

And I think that someone on their management team has now seen the light as in an attempt to make things more even for all future finalists it was announced last week that the lake is to be drained in October with all of the current stock removed and then transformed to other lakes on the site.

The Arena will then be restocked with fish from their own on-site fish farm with more mixed species instead of the dominant carp. Initial plans show that 3,000 chub, 1,000 barbel and the same number of ide plus thousands of roach, bream, tench and smaller carp will be placed in the lake in a bid to make the next event much more even. Results in the past show that the bigger fish, mainly carp, prefer certain areas of the lake and rarely move, whereas the other species tend to circulate and spread out more. So the 2015 final should prove much more interesting and competitive.

I do know that behind the scenes there have been suggestions that another venue could be found, but it would be difficult to replicate Cudmore as it was specially constructed years ago just for televised events.

For those who have not seen it, it is just like a giant Polo mint, circular with a central island which is ideal for the television cameras. I would hate to see the event moved and I think that the new restocking ideas will prove to be a great success.

I spotted a good one recently when a club in Sheffield decided to run a series of contests on a local lake with some unusual rules.

The matches will be of different durations of one, two or three hours but the unusual twist is that the competitors will have a bait limit of just 30 maggots.

The series has been launched in a bid to increase angling participation and could possibly go nationwide if there is enough interest. Trial matches have been held and the record so far is 78 fish on just 18 maggots with points given for every fish caught and for any maggots not used.

Each match does have a pre-baiting period where any amount can be introduced and after that just the 30 maggots.

It sounds like fun and the 30 maggots limit should appeal to my old mate Jackie Bryan, who, in his day, was renowned for being very frugal with his bait!

Top rod Darren Starkey with a 3-02 perch from the bungalows section on the River Ouse. PIC: Steve Fearnley

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