Top commercial venue sees match attendances boom during winter period.
While some fisheries around the UK are struggle to fill pegs during the winter doldrums, one of the most popular fisheries in the south has seen its match attendances soar over the colder months.
Hampshire’s Gold Valley Lakes has seen such a demand for places in its open events that it has had to reintroduce a Wednesday competition - taking its open matches held per week to four in total - with the venue’s Sunday events regularly seeing 60 anglers battling it out every week.
So why is Gold Valley proving so popular? Fishery owner John Raison puts it down to one simple thing – peg fees.
“Over the past year we’ve seen a rise in the number of anglers wanting to fish our open matches and they’ve taken off over winter to the point where about a month before Christmas we started up the Wednesday opens because so many anglers kept asking for more competitions in the week,” John told Match Fishing.
“The key to our success is that we only charge £5 peg fees. This brings down the cost for the anglers who all have and also means we also have a lot more money to pay out.
“A lot of fisheries charge £10 for their peg fees which to me is just criminal. It means more expense for the anglers, who also have to pay out for bait and petrol, which soon adds up, and less in prize money at the end of it, so their matches are less popular. It’s basic economics.”
Offering two types of match – cost cutter on a Monday and Friday at £10 all in, and opens on a Wednesday and Sunday at £20 all in – Gold Valley matches offer a number of payouts, including a silver fish pot. But according to top match angler and Gold Valley regular, Paul Holland there's more to the fishery's success than that.
“The money is probably the most important thing as you’d expect,” said Paul who recently pocketed £440 after wining a 60peg event at the venue. “If these events were 20 peggers I wouldn’t bother at winning probably wouldn’t pay for cost of fishing and the fact that you can fish them for as little as £20 makes them very attractive. But the quality of the fishing at Gold Valley also helps because even if you don’t drop on one the hot swims you can still compete.
“The fishery runs a silver fish pot, so if you’re not on the carp you can put together a good back of roach and skimmers with a chance of winning your section and taking the silver fish money for a nice sum at the end of the day.
“Personally I think these matches will just get bigger and bigger as the more anglers there are, the more prize money there will be and so the more popular they will be. And when it comes to matches, for me, bigger is better.”
For more details on fishing Gold Valley opens, click here.