“Angling is a poor man’s sport... so I’m try­ing to raise its pro­file fur­ther”

We talk to fish­ery owner and match or­gan­iser Phil Briscoe as he re­veals de­tails of another big event

Angling Times (UK) - - INTERVIEW -

SINCE his de­par­ture from the UK tackle in­dus­try last year, Phil Briscoe has been run­ning his Lar­ford Lakes com­plex and cre­ated two mas­sive na­tional match events – Golden Reel and the feederonly Golden Rod, as an­nounced this week’s in Angling Times.

Phil knows what peo­ple want, as seen from his de­vel­op­ment of Maver into a lead­ing brand in the UK and Lar­ford, which is now one of the coun­try’s premier fish­eries.

But what drives him to take a punt on brand new big-money na­tional events in an al­ready sat­u­rated match cal­en­dar and where will it all end?

Q: Why cre­ate big events such as Golden Reel in the first place? A: I have al­ways said that angling is a poor man’s sport when placed up against oth­ers, so I’m try­ing to raise the pro­file fur­ther with more TV cov­er­age and rais­ing the aware­ness of the skill that match fish­ing re­quires, and I’m en­joy­ing do­ing it! Golden Reel and Golden Rod are both giv­ing an­glers big money events that grab the at­ten­tion and get them talk­ing and trav­el­ling.

Q: How much of a gam­ble are they fi­nan­cially? A: A huge gam­ble! In the first year, a com­pe­ti­tion of­ten needs sub­si­dis­ing but once the an­glers see that it works and we do what we said we’d do, life be­comes so much eas­ier fi­nan­cially. Within a few years, the event should be­gin to pay for it­self. You have to hold on tight and ride out those first few years, be­liev­ing that the event will be­come self-suf­fi­cient. Q: How would you rate the suc­cess of Golden Reel? A: I’ve been very, very pleased al­though the theft of Toby Pep­per’s gear from his car at the gala evening the night be­fore the fi­nal re­ally up­set me – what should have been a great week­end of cel­e­bra­tion was tainted so badly. Mov­ing on, though, I know there are ar­eas of the event that need to be pol­ished but I’ve al­ready booked the fish­eries for 2018 and Golden Reel will be back bet­ter than be­fore!

Q: What de­cides the venues that you pick for qual­i­fiers? A: First, the venue needs to have enough com­fort­able pegs so when a wa­ter says they have 120 pegs, th­ese need to of­fer an­glers enough space to fish the tac­tics they want with­out get­ting in the way of those around them. Se­cond, I want pro­fes­sional venues and third, the fish­ing must be good so you never know where the win­ner is go­ing to come from and more im­por­tantly, every­one catches a few fish and can feel like they can com­pete.

Q: With the launch of Golden Rod, is there room in the match cal­en­dar for any­thing else? A: Watch this space! I al­ways be­lieve that another big event is pos­si­ble and I’m try­ing to corner the mar­ket. Golden Rod of­fers some­thing that cur­rently isn’t there in the UK cal­en­dar, namely a big win­ter event. Pro­vided there is a gap in the mar­ket and the de­mand, there’s no rea­son why a new com­pe­ti­tion shouldn’t work.

Q: What is the ap­peal of th­ese events to an­glers? A: I sup­pose it’s the fact that any­one can get through to the fi­nal and win mas­sive money. This year’s Golden Reel win­ner Stu Fother­ing­ham isn’t a bloke who is a house­hold name so it just goes to show. Golden Rod will be bet­ter be­cause three zone win­ners from each match go through to the fi­nal, so you only need to win your 20-peg sec­tion. The thirst for big money matches among an­glers is at a level never be­fore seen in the UK.

Q: You own Lar­ford Lakes – was tak­ing on a fish­ery al­ways a dream that you had? A: I’ve been in charge for 22 years and yes, ev­ery an­gler would love their own lake to fish – but de­cid­ing to open your venue com­mer­cially brings with it a lot of chal­lenges, a lot of heartache and a lot of has­sle! Much goes on be­hind the scenes, from stock­ing, grounds main­te­nance, mon­i­tor­ing wa­ter qual­ity, en­sur­ing har­mony be­tween match and plea­sure an­glers, run­ning ac­com­mo­da­tion and so on. At Lar­ford we pro­vide as much as we pos­si­bly can, but run­ning a fish­ery isn’t easy.

Q: Match or plea­sure an­glers – which are eas­ier to deal with? A: Lar­ford val­ues the sup­port of all an­glers – as a busi­ness we

have to! Plea­sure an­glers are no trou­ble at all but club an­glers, I would say, can be trou­ble be­cause they don’t al­ways take on board ad­vice that they’re given. An open match an­gler will draw a peg, ask for ad­vice and take it on board whereas a club an­gler doesn’t al­ways and then comes off the bank slag­ging the lakes off, rant­ing that they need stock­ing with more fish. You can only smile, and by and large, they’re good as gold.

Q: You fa­mously moved away from stock­ing F1s in Lar­ford a decade ago – any re­grets? A: Well, there are still plenty in the Match Lake but it is re­ally a carp wa­ter. The rea­son I stopped stock­ing F1s was be­cause of the prob­lems I had with them get­ting dropsy, but I am start­ing to bow to a bit of pres­sure now and am se­ri­ously think­ing about stock­ing some this win­ter, sim­ply be­cause in the colder months they en­sure bites when the carp might not be feed­ing. I’m not say­ing that the lake will be like it was 12 years ago, when you could catch 100lb on your top kit, but there will be more F1s at Lar­ford in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

Q: What next in the var­ied ca­reer of Phil Briscoe? A: Colmic wants me to run its UK op­er­a­tion, and hav­ing the com­pany back Golden Reel and Golden Rod were the first steps to­wards this. The Colmic brand is enor­mous in Europe and it has a mas­sive port­fo­lio of prod­ucts but in the UK, an­glers are largely un­aware of this. My job will be to pro­mote this and get the Colmic word out there and get the tackle into the shops. Over the years Colmic hasn’t had the in­fra­struc­ture to do this prop­erly, but I have the back­ground in the tackle in­dus­try to make it work.

Lar­ford shows how a fish­ery should be run.

MORE IN­FOR­MA­TION FOR de­tails of Phil’s new Golden Rod com­pe­ti­tion, turn to pages 62&63.

Golden Reel win­ner Stu Fother­ing­ham.

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