Mark Downes and Match Fishing

davej1981

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I know of Mr Downes but don't know him so can't get my head around his stance in making these comments. However I do have a few friends who know him very well and have their own opinion.

Personally I have never been a matchman but from childhood have fished and enjoyed club matches, normally as an individual but also in interclub teams and no way did anyone consider any of these matches as knockup.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but when a person is in the limelight they should be more circumspect.

A bit of off on a tangent waffle but here are three great memories as to why I've enjoyed fishing matches, all of which I've done my best to win. Strangely enough Stan Smith or Dick Clegg never did beat a path to my door...

1. Aged eleven my pal and I were allowed to fish our first senior club match. The early morning start, the coach journey to a new venue, being in the company of grown ups with proper fishing tackle, the excitement of the draw, setting up, catching a few, watching how the adults fished and probably the best bit was being involved in the laughing and joking on the way home. Plus some of the guys on seeing our basic gear gave us some of their floats, line and hooks. Magic.

2. About 7 years ago I fished a winter open match with some club pals at Fennes near Braintree and had the pleasure of being drawn next to Dickie Carr. Great bloke. He saw me fannying about at the start of the match and basically me how to fish the peg. I followed his advice and won the lake, just pipping him. Two weeks later back for the next round I drew next to the great man again, plenty of chat but no advice this time and sure enough he romped home to win, I tried my best but that day witnessed a pole fishing masterclass.

3. Having turned sixty a few years ago I was invited to fish a six day Veterans festival. Brilliant fun with great guys including a couple of names. Again lots of laughs but from the draw to the weigh-in all 20 of us were out for blood.

A match is a match. End of.
Dickie carr a top bloke. Years ago i watched him from a distance at gold valley, he asked me why on earth i was sitting so far away. He invited me down onto the platform with him and talked me through everything he was doing. Had a lot of respect for him ever since
 

crackatoa

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Must really grate him knowing that he can't interest the best match anglers in the country into international competitions.
 

Ken the Pacman

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There is no shortage of good all round match anglers to join the England set up but the ability to catch 200lb of carp or F1s does not give you a chance as you need to be very good on all rod and line float and pole skills mostly on moving water to get considered because of the nature of the venues.
Not saying that all commercial anglers cant fish a slider or suss out a flat float but many of them have never encountered the methods and the use of bloodworm which means they are behind the curve with those who were brought up on these styles.
Match fishing is so fragmented now with so many small matches over most of the country several times a week I can see where MD is coming from but the golden age of 200+opens has gone forever so most are happy with a match wether its 10 pegs 20 pegs restricted to members or over 50s etc, its still a match however you look at it and somebody will win which is why they go, what you call it sweep,knock up match etc. is irrelevant.
 

Arry

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Met Dickie loads of times... my Wifes cousin is Drennan backed Chris Vandervliet, his old match buddy at Robbo's, both cracking lads who do all they can to help others.... Downes could learn a lesson or two about gentlemanly conduct from these two lads...
 
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Total

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Met Dickie loads of times... my Wifes cousin is Drennan backed Chris Vandervliet, his old match buddy at Robbo's, both cracking lads who do all they can to help others.... Downes could learn a lesson or two about gentlemanly conduct from these two lads...

Of similar experience here....Mr Carr on our old local canal circuit....Smashing company....And Mr Vandervliet at Lake John's....Total gentlemen, and boy, they can both fish a bit....(y)
 

Arry

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I was priviledged to be Chris's runner in a couple of the old Kamasan Championship rounds... I learned a helluva lot off him...
 

Arry

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I think Dickie does the Veterans Matches as he's well into his 70's... he still can't say Gamakatsu...
??
 

Simon R

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In future I shall refrain from giving accounts of our club matches since if they're only 'knock-ups' they are, according to Mr Downes, of no interest to anyone :p :p

Read a long winded report of a match win last week....very impressive I thought...only to find just 12 fished....

Does it matter?

To those taking part it may well be that to win a match with a dozen or less competitors is all they aspire to - not everyone wants to fish 100 peg opens on venues where the match may be won or lost at the drawbag and cost up to fifty quid to enter.
One of the reasons interest in the big opens waned was the cost of taking part - the outlay on bait alone to fish somewhere like the Trent where a gallon of maggots may be required meant that match organisers were pushed by the regular competitors to increase the pools so they could recoup, at least, their bait bill. As the pools went up the attendance went down as the majority of anglers couldn't afford it - the chances of ever recouping any money being very slim.

I remember an article in Angling Times many years ago where they posed the question "Are match pools at the right level?" or something similar and then asked a number of top level open match anglers for their opinion. To a man they were in favour of increasing them - the top 10% of anglers won 90% of the matches so they looked upon the weekend open as a decent supplement to their earnings. Of course such a selfish attitude had the opposite affect and attendances dropped as the entry fees went up leaving less and less in the pot.

Commercials were the final nail in the coffin for the big opens, most of big local ones (Woodlands, The Oaks, Carpvale) didn't hold matches initially but soon realised that match anglers would fill those empty winter pegs and give a steady income through spring and summer too - especially if the lake(s) were available for clubs to book their own matches on as well. As the number of commercials increased there weren't enough anglers to go around though so many of the regular venue opens would be fished by the same 15-20 anglers week in, week out and since they might fish the same lakes three or four times a week became almost impossible to beat.

The average match angler who just wants a days fishing is left with a choice - does he spend many months and a load of money trying to emulate the venue regulars and fish the opens or fish club matches which may well be on the same venue but will generally cost a lot less to enter, give a reasonable chance of winning (or at least framing) and, in my experience anyway, a better level of banter than you get amongst some of the miserable chunts who fish the same lake with the same people every week.

So, to sum up, one of the reasons the big opens failed was partly due to Mr Downes and his fellow 'full-time' match anglers pressurising the match organisers to raise the entry fees for the open matches in the knowledge that, at the end of the season, they'd be that bit richer. In the event the decline of the quality of the river fishing and the introduction of matches on commercial fisheries - with winning weights that river anglers could only dream about - fragmented the open match scene and led to smaller and smaller attendances.

It doesn't help that recruitment of junior anglers with an interest in match fishing is at an all time low, so as the older anglers pass away or become unable to fish anymore there's no new blood to make the numbers up.

Simon
 

Total

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I think Dickie does the Veterans Matches as he's well into his 70's... he still can't say Gamakatsu...
??

He get's loads of words arm about face...Bless him!....Still understood him better than 'Teethy' Arthur.:giggle:
 
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Ken the Pacman

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I dont think it was just the cost of the pools a lot of it came from the 100/200 peg opens were dominated by a handful of good pegs on the river venues so in a lot of them the very best you could manage was to win your section.
And there is little worse than walking a couple of miles across fields for a handful of bites at best.
 

JayD

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I started my 'proper' angling life, like most of my era, match fishing, winning my adult first match aged 15. It was the only way to get to fish out of the way places, as fewer people had cars back then, and early Sunday mornings saw the main roads out of Leeds lined with anglers waiting to be picked up by the coaches hired by their club. When I joined my first club, aged 17, (under the sponsorship of an adult member until I was 18), we hired a coach for every club match, usually a 40 seater, sometimes even a double decker, (I remember us having to get out and push the bloody thing on two occasions when it broke down), and we usually filled the 40 seats. On our way out of Leeds on either the Wetherby or York roads, we were often flagged down by anglers who hadn't got a place on a match, and wanted to know if we had room. We very rarely had less than around 30 fishing, unless we had booked a match length from Leeds and district, and were allotted a fixed number of pegs, and even then we would squeeze in an extra peg or two if we knew the water could stand it. We fished league matches, that had 100-150 pegs, Leeds society matches that had 200+ pegs, and opens that were up to around 600 pegs. If we went pleasure fishing, then we would have a so called 'knock up', that could be anything from 4 to a dozen anglers, (sometimes other anglers on the length would ask to join in), we called it a match, but didn't regard it as such, because it wasn't a planned, organised event, just a bit of fun with a few bob, and bragging rights at stake. I don't ever remember fishing 'proper', organised match of less than a couple of dozen anglers in all the years I fished matches, and those low numbers were pretty rare. I do realise that times have changed, and many of the ponds that have sprung up don't cater for many pegs. Even when I go on lengths of rivers that I used to match fish years ago, especially those belonging to Leeds and District, it saddens me to see the permanent pegs that show numbers in the high 100s plus. Knowing that the the L&D ASA no longer run much of the length, and they are a reminder of a thriving Association with around 20,000 members, and a match scene to suit. The membership is around 2,000 now. I don't know Mark Downes, except from his early match days, and didn't even know he had anything to do with the England set up, but I saw the reports of his words as slightly tongue in cheek, and comparing the scene now, with a time long gone, such as I have described above. Maybe he has spoken out of turn for a man in his position, but we all put the foot in our mouths sometimes. I remember the furore when Bob Nudd stupidly suggested that there should be a cull of pike on a stretch of river he'd fished, because there had been a spate of bite offs on a match. I see that many had already dismissed him as a 'dick head', p**t, t**t, etc so I'm surprised that so many have been so offended by his words, do they really matter that much?
As for what I think can be called a match? I believe that it's simply a competition that has been organised as such, regardless of size, and not a spur of the moment 'knock up' decided amongst friends on the day.

John.
 

Arry

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I dont think it was just the cost of the pools a lot of it came from the 100/200 peg opens were dominated by a handful of good pegs on the river venues so in a lot of them the very best you could manage was to win your section.
And there is little worse than walking a couple of miles across fields for a handful of bites at best.
Been there done that... fished the Div 3 National for Chelmsford back in the 90's.... walked miles, weighed in 2 pairs of eyes for 40 grams... (I don't consider meself a shabby angler either)....
 

G0zzer2

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Here is his original post:
Might be a bit controversial but how about labelling all matches under 20 pegs as a "knock up" 20 to 50 as a "match" and all over 50 as an "open".
I seem to be reading loads of reports only to find a just a handfull of entrants.
Read a long winded report of a match win last week....very impressive I thought...only to find just 12 fished.
Sorry but most are glorified pleasure sessions


And I partly agree with that last comment - when matches are pegged on commercials with spaces deliberately left between competitors (one, two or even three swims) it is, indeed, just a glorified pleasure session in my opinion. Matches should be fished peg-to-peg. That's a match. But you must realise that when Mark was in his prime (as I was), a match of less than 100 was not regarded as being particularly important. HOWEVER he does not appear to be able to step back and accept that things have altered. And I don't think he realises how good a lot of 'club' anglers are now.
 

Arry

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The man's a Dinosaur... he has no concept of real world match fishing these days, his work in the England set up is man management and organisation... ( summat he does well) the team themselves work out methods and tactics during practice... if he had to fish a modern match on a commy he'd be pools fodder against some of the young lads on the circuit
 

DontKillZander

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He’s probably right but shouldn’t be throwing stones in a glass house

...sponsored or not, matching fishing still only sits 1 notch above garden pond fishing, and only 2 above fairground hook-a-duck.

He’s hardly casting full mackies 100 meters into a Scottish loch in the middle of winter.
 

smiffy

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I think people are taking this too personally.
I agree that too many anglers a bigging themselves up for beating a handful of others in these small “opens”
Look at it this way. What’s the bigger achievement? Winning fisho or qualifying for the final? Many will say it’s harder to qualify than win it. Why is that?
 

crackatoa

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There is no shortage of good all round match anglers to join the England set up but the ability to catch 200lb of carp or F1s does not give you a chance as you need to be very good on all rod and line float and pole skills mostly on moving water to get considered because of the nature of the venues.
Not saying that all commercial anglers cant fish a slider or suss out a flat float but many of them have never encountered the methods and the use of bloodworm which means they are behind the curve with those who were brought up on these styles.
Match fishing is so fragmented now with so many small matches over most of the country several times a week I can see where MD is coming from but the golden age of 200+opens has gone forever so most are happy with a match wether its 10 pegs 20 pegs restricted to members or over 50s etc, its still a match however you look at it and somebody will win which is why they go, what you call it sweep,knock up match etc. is irrelevant.
Difference being that the likes of Bennet, Hughes, Power etc can and do catch silvers and would comfortably and quickly adapt to International fishing. Don't knock them because they fish commercials. It's because of these lads that a lot of 'B' listers have gone over to feeder and international match fishing.
 

Ken the Pacman

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I never suggested that anglers who fish commercials cant catch fish elsewhere as many have turned to commercials to get on a match like John Allerton who is a brilliant river angler and does just as well on commercials, a good angler is a good angler wherever they fish or Tommy Pickering a former international who is happy on commercials or feeder fishing natural waters and there are lots more like this but ask any of them who have fished internationals at any level and they will tell you the International scene is a different ball game altogether.
 
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