Having a go at the Go Fishing Show

By way of immersion, I spent the weekend of 18th and 19th of July at the Go Fishing Show at Cudmode Fisheries. It offered me the opportunity to spend time with the GHOF team providing 20 minute coaching sessions to young people, but also to meet many more people involved in angling and find out about coarse fishing (something I was completely new to).
Day one saw the culmination of the Fish-O-Mania final. At £25,000 for the winner, I was told it was the largest UK prize for a fishing competition. The contestants, having worked their way up through preceding matches, now had a gruelling five hour match on the doughnut shaped lake at Cudmore.

Sitting on the sloping banks in the periodic sunshine amongst the drift of polite applause when a big fish was landed, I had the opportunity to observe some of the competition. As the weights of fish were gathered at regular intervals it was clear that Matt Hall had gained a good lead early on. But while I could see there was skill involved in choosing the right fishing bait or method, I have to admit I still could not really understand what it meant to be a top match fisherman.

Winner Matt Hall: Pole fishing at Fish-O-ManiaWinner Matt Hall: Pole fishing at Fish-O-Mania So on the following Sunday I decided to have a go myself. As part of a charity 'fishing race' people were invited to have 20 minutes with coaches on the match pool trying the techniques that had been used for Fish-O-Mania. Dave Smith of GHOF was my designated coach. After a successful catch, a carp and a barbell on the rod and reel, it was time to try the pole, the most popular method for match fishing.

The pole is 14.5 meters, and made of carbon fibre. Rollers are used to gently feed out the pole which when out to its full length rests across the knee, being levered with one arm positions slightly behind the body and guided by the hand in front. Having emptied a bait cup attached to the end of the pole in the required place, the pole is sent out again this time with a float rig attaches to be held above the baited area. The aim is to follow the drift of the water, returning the float to the same point where the bait was dropped. Fishing in this way means that a single area can be baited up and targeted accurately, even if it is far out in the lake.

What I found was that contrary to appearance, pole fishing is extremely difficult! It requires huge amounts of concentration not to mention balance and arm strength. Keeping the tip of the pole out of the water 13 meters away from you and following the drift of the float requires skill. In addition you are waiting for the point at which the float sinks, but unlike on a rod, you don't strike, you must lever the pole tip into the air without too jerky a movement in order to set the hook- no easy feat given the weight of the pole when extended so far. Then it's a case of drawing the rod back in onto its rollers, and shortening the pole to its final section so that the fish can be played in. Unfortunately for me the few bites I had got away!

Fishing in such a style is completely absorbing; body and mind must co-ordinate and focus, and in a match this could last hours. When visiting young people I have met many pole fishing, but while I have often asked them about the experience, it was not until this practical session that I was really able to appreciate the concentration and skill required.

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