Catch competition Big prizes Harassed by online trolls
THIS year’s King of the Catch competition continues to be mired in controversy, as one competitor almost pulled out after being subject to abusive messages on social media.
This follows on from earlier allegations of vote rigging using remote bots, along with someone being accused of cheating, which led to the organisers issuing a statement assuring entrants that all votes were checked for their validity.
The Queen category of Angling Direct’s contest is where online problems have arisen.
Kelly Crush, who has promised to donate any prize she wins to charity, received a torrent of abuse. The experienced carp angler submitted a catch of a fine 53 lb carp that she landed on a trip to France, and she is currently in third place, behind the catfish of Chelsie Aldridge and fellow carper Bex Nelson.
Kelly, a clothing store manager from Tenterden,
Kent, said: “It was always my intention to give any prize to charity, although I decided not to announce that at first, but when I started to receive abusive messages, I thought that by revealing I was doing it for charity would silence the doubters.
“I couldn’t have been more wrong, as the abuse got worse, although I have also received loads of support. The names I have been called are shocking, and even my mum received abuse for backing me.
“I felt very harassed, and wished I had never entered the competition in the first place. I was very upset and wanted to withdraw, but my husband convinced me that to do so would be a win for the haters and, as I had done nothing wrong, I should continue.
“People seemed to think that I was somehow using the charity idea as an unfair way of gaining support, but that was certainly not my intention. I am 100 per cent genuine.
“Contestants often enter activities such as running or cycling races, requesting donations for their charity of choice, so to me this was no different.
“I chose Make-A-Wish UK, a cause dear to my heart, as it matches a sick child with the prize on offer, in this case a wonderful fishing holiday.
“There is a funny story attached to the French carp. I was fishing with my husband and he was using an expensive drone that I had bought him for Christmas, but it got stuck up a tree on the far side of the lake.
“While he was trying to retrieve it, my rod went off and I hooked into the fish. I kept shouting for him to come back, but by the time he heard me and returned, I had landed the fish. Luckily, it was on my rod, not one of his.
“I’m sure Chelsie is a fine catfish angler, and she has submitted an unusual fish, but her vote is, no doubt, helped by the fact that her dad runs a catfish group on social media with over 5,000 members.
“I’ve suggested that if people don’t want to support me, they vote for Bex, who is currently in second place, as she is a great carp angler,” added 36-year-old Kelly.
The annual, free-to-enter competition is divided into four categories, and the winner is selected by public vote on the website. Voting finishes on September 30, after which the organisers scrutinise all votes, rejecting any that they think are not legitimate, before announcing the winner. Prizes are overseas trips valued at £5,000, with this year’s Queen and her partner winning a salmon and sturgeon trip to Canada. Tackle vouchers worth £1,000 are awarded to the runners-up.
Fed up with abuse – Kelly Crush, seen here with the 53 lb carp that she entered into the Queen category of King of the Catch.