What Is Fishomania: Unravelling The Excitement Behind The Event

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Fishomania is an annual angling competition that has captivated the fishing community since its inception in 1995. As one of the most prestigious fishing events in the United Kingdom, it draws coarse fishing anglers from across the nation who vie for the coveted title and grand prize. Organised by Matchroom Multi Sport, this event showcases incredible talent and promotes camaraderie among fishing enthusiasts.

Year after year, Fishomania continues to attract large audiences, both in-person and via live television broadcasts. The event’s popularity is a testament to its significance in bringing together the angling community and providing a platform for anglers to share their passion for the sport. 

As the ultimate test of skill and precision, Fishomania maintains its position as the highlight in the British match fishing calendar.

Overview of Fish’O’Mania

Background

The match fishing competition focuses on the challenge of catching the highest total weight of fish within a specified time period. Participants are allocated individual pegs along the bank of the lake. The organisers carry out a random draw to distribute the pegs to ensure fairness. Anglers then utilise their skills, techniques, and strategies in the hope of securing the top spot on the leaderboard.

The final is broadcast live on Sky Sports Action, further increasing its exposure and appeal.

Format and Rules

The competition is structured as a series of 22 qualifying rounds (usually starting in late March) in selected locations throughout the country, leading up to the grand final. Participants must demonstrate their angling skills at designated fisheries during these rounds. The top performers advance through the stages, with the ultimate goal of winning the coveted title and the sizable prize fund offered to the champion.

Some key aspects of the competition rules include:

  1. Time limit: Anglers must fish within a pre-determined timeframe, usually five hours per qualifier.
  2. Fishing methods: Participants may use different techniques, such as float fishing or feeder fishing, as long as they follow the specific rules of each venue. The predominant method used by anglers is pole fishing.
  3. Scoring: The total weight of all the fish caught determines the winner. Qualifying round winners qualify for the final. During the final, weigh-ins are held every 30 minutes, adding to the excitement as the five-hour match progresses.
  4. Fish species: Carp and other coarse fish, including tench, barbel, bream, and roach, are the primary targets at most venues. Most events are dominated by various carp varieties, making up the total weight.

The competition organisers consistently review and update the rules to maintain fairness and adapt to evolving angling practices. No floating baits, the strict use of barbless hooks, and no use of a floating pole are a few of the main rules.

Significance in Angling Community

The event has become a prominent fixture in the angling community, offering a platform for mainly amateurs (and a few professionals) to showcase their skills and compete for prestige. The winner receives the largest cash prize in UK match fishing. Its notoriety as a high-profile event attracts sponsorships, elevating the competition’s prominence and contributing to the growth of the angling sport.

Moreover, the live coverage provided by Sky Sports has broadened the event’s reach and influence, drawing in new audiences and inspiring a younger generation to take up angling as a hobby or competitive pursuit. This exposure has benefitted the angling community as a whole, driving further interest and investment in the sport.

Competing in Fish’O’Mania

Qualification Process

To compete in Fish’O’Mania, anglers must go through a qualification process. The competition begins with 22 separate qualifying matches (20 held across the UK and 2 in Europe), which participants can enter online. Only the winner from each qualifying match will move on to the final.

Three additional spots for the final are allocated to the following categories, making a total of 25 anglers in the final. 

  • The previous year’s champion
  • The ladies champion from the UK championships 
  • The individual winner of the Angling Trust Junior/Youth National

Aspiring participants must register as soon as the dates are announced (typically in early February), as the number of available tickets is limited. Visit the official website for information on upcoming qualifying matches and to purchase tickets. Anglers may enter as many of the qualifying events as they wish.

Prizes and Sponsorships

Fish’O’Mania boasts a substantial prize fund, attracting a highly competitive field of anglers. The winner of the competition takes home a trophy and a cheque of £50,000, making it an enticing event for every match angler.

Additional cash prizes are awarded to the runner-up and section winners during the competition. Qualifiers all receive a prize of £350.

Several sponsorships also play a significant role in the event, providing essential funding and support. This backing from leading companies and angling organisations, such as the Angling Trust, helps to maintain the high-profile status of Fish’O as one of the premier fishing competitions in the United Kingdom.

Historical Highlights

Notable Past Winners

In its history, the event has seen numerous anglers from various backgrounds claim victory. Notable past winners include:

  • Jamie Hughes: The only angler to have claimed the title on three separate occasions (2013, 2015, and 2019), marking him as one of the most successful competitors.
  • Andy Bennett: Held in high esteem in the angling world, Andy’s victory fortified his status as a legendary match fisherman in the United Kingdom.
  • Andy May: Achieved prominence by winning the competition in 2016, showcasing his remarkable consistency.
  • Steve Ringer: Winner in 1998, now focuses on feeder fishing for the England national team.

It should be noted that almost every angler is an amateur (other than sponsorship from tackle and bait companies), making the event a truly “open event” in the style of the FA Cup of fishing.

Champions Over The Past Five Years

  • Andy Bennett (2019)
  • Andy Bennett (2020)
  • Harry Bignell (2021)
  • Kristian Jones (2022)
  • Matty Dawes (2023)

Fisho Mania 2024

Fisho Mania 2024 is set to take place on Saturday, 6th July 2024. 

The competition will be hosted at a yet-to-be-announced venue, with past locations including renowned fisheries such as Hayfield Lakes and Cudmore Fisheries and, for the past two years, at Westwood Lakes near Boston. The chosen location will undoubtedly have top-notch facilities and beautiful surroundings, ensuring a fantastic experience for competitors and spectators alike.

In addition to the main competition, there will also be an array of activities and attractions available for families and friends to enjoy. These can include:

  1. Tackle and equipment exhibitions.
  2. Demonstrations and advice from industry professionals.
  3. Children’s activities and entertainment.
  4. Food and drink vendors.

Spectators can expect a day filled with excitement and camaraderie as anglers compete for the coveted title. Fisho Mania 2024 promises to be another unforgettable edition of this esteemed angling event.

All Out

The Fish’O’Mania event continues to grow through the years and has reached interest from all types of anglers. 

Check out my article on the match fishing circuit to understand how to join club matches, or why not enter a qualifier to experience the thrill of competition at its finest? Qualifiers are spread across the country in every region to make them easily accessible to join.  You must be an Angling Trust membership owner to apply for tickets.

Steve Fitzjohn