Road to Wembley: Round 2
● Top marks for Barston ● Wye rated A+
HE second set of votes are in for the Angler’s Mail survey to discover which venue deserves the modern era’s accolade of ‘The Wembley of Match Fishing’.
After major format and rule changes for the 2018 August Bank Holiday Weekend festival on the Warwickshire Avon at Evesham, Angler’s Mail canvassed opinion from over 50 leading match scene figures.
Evesham was dubbed the sport’s Wembley in the 1980s, and it’s a tag that is still heard today, but many top figures feel the title now belongs elsewhere.
Last week the first batch of 15 respondents delivered their verdict. Here are the views from Week Two, from anglers who nominated commercial and natural venues…
Jamie Hughes, twice Fish’O’Mania champion: “Barston Lake. I love how it’s such a versatile venue, where winning weights can be of large carp on running line or skimmers on a pole.”
Andy Oldham, Frenzeebacked South Yorkshire ace: “To qualify as match fishing’s version of Wembley, I think a venue needs to hold most species and to offer all types of waggler, feeder and pole fishing. Larford Lakes fits the bill. An even depth on 99 per cent of the pegs gives a level playing field.”
Robbie Taylor, Daiwa Dorking teamster: “Barston for me. It can host a full match on just the one lake, and lots of different methods come into play, depending on where you draw and the conditions, which tests your skill set all the time.”
Steve Openshaw, Wirralbased fishery owner and commercials specialist: “Partridge Lakes, because like Wembley is for Tottenham Hotspur, it’s my home venue.”
Connor Barlow, 2015
British Open champ from Manchester: “Older anglers who grew up fishing natural venues will favour those, but for me Partridge Lakes is the best venue, with great sport, facilities and scenery. It also has enough pegs to hold big matches every day.”
Gareth Lambert, feeder ace from Manchester: “Barston. A stunning venue with stunning fish, where feeder and pole for carp and silver fish both work.”
Les Thompson, West Midsbased former Maver Match
This champ: “Several venues could lay claim to match fishing’s Wembley. Cudmore, Hayfield and White Acres spring to mind, but for me Larford Lakes takes it. The venue that gave us Match This and now Golden ■ Andy Oldham Reel, also hosting summer and silver fish festivals, pairs champs, and a sell-out winter league. Great for spectators and a very central location.”
Dean Barlow, England Feeder international: “I’d have to say the Trent, because the Who’s Who of Angling has fished it.” Hadrian Whittle, Hereford match ace: “For me it has to be Belmont on the River Wye, which offers exceptional and unique sport through autumn and winter. It’s the ultimate test, with big bags of many species, and lots of different conditions, from low and clear, to a raging flood with 12 ft of extra water. Whip, pole, Bolo’, stick, waggler and feeder all come into play. Simply a stunning venue.”
Paul Turner, Wolverhampton match ace: “The StaffsWorcester Canal at Wombourne. Just full of fish!”
Lee Harrison, Drennan Barnsley Blacks teamster: “The River Wye takes some beating as a modern era Wembley from a natural venue perspective. Several commercial fisheries host ■ Connor Barlow big prestigious Finals, but I prefer events where carp are not involved.”
Danny Martin, Wigan MG: “Most would say the Trent, but for me my local Leigh Canal was always Wembley, watching the legends that lined its banks.”
Scott Geens, Sensas Starlets: “The Nene at Peterborough hosted the Winter League Final, which was always the hardest team match to win, coming through a hard regional league, then a semi-final against some of the best teams in the country. To fish and win a Final on the Nene was always the most satisfying, and that’s why it’s my Wembley.”
Colin Oakman, Browning Hotrods: “The Trent or Nene Winter League and Matchman of the Year Finals were the pinnacle as I was growing up.”
Nick Moss, Drennan Leicester skipper: “There are several Wembleys nowadays. As a team angler I’d most like to fish the AT WL Final on Decoy and the Fen Drains around March.
For carp anglers I think it’s The Glebe, with Tunnel Barn Farm a close second. Then there’s the Trent and Bough Beech for natural venue feeder fans. And Ireland’s Erne system is like an overseas Wembley!” ■ Lee Harrison
■ Spectators enjoying the action at Barston Lakes. Could it be match fishing’s Wembley?