Angling: How to tackle the mystery of the Fish O’Mania no-shows

Fish O'Mania qualifier hopeful Emma Pickering
Fish O'Mania qualifier hopeful Emma Pickering
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THAT IS it then, Fish O’Mania is over for another year and it culminated in an exciting final at Staffordshire’s Cudmore Fishery where Leeds brickie Andy Geldart picked up the winner’s £30,000 cheque.

This he promptly handed over to his bride of a few weeks – who has probably made a big hole in it by now!

That cheque was just reward for the time, effort and expense that Andy has taken to even reach the final, but it also raises a question that intrigues me and I do not know if anyone knows the answer.

Every year, the Fish O’Mania, 2014 included, has always been a sell-out at the 16 venues where the eliminators are fished. It isn’t cheap to enter for the tickets – if you manage to get one – as they are £25 each.

I understand that Andy bought eight this year, that is £200 on entry tickets alone, plus the cost of travelling and bait. Add up that little lot and it comes to a tidy sum, around £1,500 is my guess.

So my query is, after paying out so much cash why do we have, at least in every qualifier, a number of non-starters missing and failing to turn up?

On one of the matches, at Woodlands View in Worcestershire there were no fewer than 33 no-shows.

There was a traffic incident on the nearby motorway which entailed a huge traffic tailback and this probably made some people decide to return home instead of spending hours on the motorway.

Some 20 people had turned up at the venue in the hope of a spare ticket and they were quickly accommodated, but this still left 13 spare places. Now, any match angler will tell you that to have space at your side on these tightly-pressed venues will give you a huge advantage. And, indeed, the actual winner on the day at Woodlands View did have a blank peg at the side of him, so he took advantage of this and went on to fill his boots and qualify for the final.

I am told that in only two of the 16 qualifiers there was a full turn-out so when there are spare spare pegs they are quickly snapped up by hopefuls who have missed out on the draw in the first place.

I do realise that there could be many reasons for these missing ticket holders such as illness and work but surely there should be some sort of system in place whereby anyone who has got a ticket and, for whatever reason, cannot compete on the day could contact the people who run Fish O’Mania.

They could then assign the tickets to someone who is genuinely on the waiting list, not to someone who has turned up at a venue just in hope.

If it was up to me, unless the non-starters had a genuine reason for not turning up, I would ban them from applying for tickets for at least two years – red carded in other words.

The first of the National Fishing Month training sessions at the Leeds Kippax Park fishery saw over 40 people, of all ages, turn up for a few hours coaching.

Unfortunately Ladies World Champion Emma Pickering was unable to attend due to a family bereavement.

The sessions will continue every Wednesday up to the end of August.

Podium placers, first and third overall, Team Don's Steve Lowther and Mirfield's Tony Earnshaw. PIC: Steve Fearnley

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