Cheating In Match Fishing

You always hear about people cheating in matches, but how many of you have actually seen it happen? Personally, I think some of these could never actually happen. That being said, I have scoured the internet and put together a list of some of the things that people have supposedly done to cheat when they fish matches.

Personally, I think some of these are a bit far-fetched and can’t see them happening whereas others are definitely more believable.


Eels Hidden In Pole Sections

Apparently, this has happened back in the day of big canal matches. An Eel can live outside of the water for a long time and I could easily see them surviving in a pole section for a few hours. These could be easily slipped out and into a keepnet. Fishing matches on canals sometimes only need low weights to win and an eel or 2 could easily be enough for a section win to win some money.

You do have to wonder though – where would they get the eel from? They are rarely caught and surely it’s more effort than it’s worth.

My verdict: Maybe someone joked that they did it, but I can’t see it happening.

Dipping Keepnets In Scopex

Scopex is well known for being a great ingredient for attracting fish.

If you are using 3 keepnets in a match then you do have to wonder if someone wanted to cheat would they have dipped one in scopex and would it attract some fish over to your peg.

Then on the other side, you have to wonder how much it would cost and how hard it would be to dip the net in scopex.

I could maybe see someone spraying a bit of scopex to try it, but I really can’t see it working that well.

My verdict: I don’t think it would work.

Bait Bans

Now, this is one I can believe people do and can get away with. If you are well spread out and other anglers can’t see what’s going on then I can definitely see people sneaking some banned baits into their pole pots or even as hook bait.

Luncheon meat is banned on a lot of venues but if this is in your bait bag and you are just putting it on the hook then I don’t see how other anglers would see it happening. I really hope it doesn’t happen, but it probably happens on lakes somewhere.

Bloodworm And Joker

These are banned on most match venues that I can think of. I heard that the main reason for this is the cost. They are very expensive and only letting the anglers that can afford this puts the others at a disadvantage.

I am not sure I agree with this but that’s why it’s on a lot of banned bait lists. It definitely can’t be banned for causing issues with the water as it’s probably the most natural fishing bait available.


This one is very venue specific. Some venues will allow gardening above the waterline – cutting back reeds, etc so you can see your float better down the edges. Others will allow you to garden under the water so that you can clear some reeds and get your float closer to the edge of the bank.

Your best bet is to double-check what you are allowed to do at each venue.

Fish Are Hidden In Flasks

I just can’t see this one working at commercial fisheries as the weights that win match fishing even in the winter can be enormous. Maybe back on canal matches in the winter when a very small weight was needed to get a section win is the only situation I could see someone getting away with this cheating. The fish in the flasks would have to be tiny fish.

People Passing You Fish In Canal Matches

Again, like many of the others, I believe it may be worked when they had these 300 peg matches back in the canal day matches. Rumours are that a mate would come along with a plastic bag that had live fish in and come chatting to you and then accidentally leave the bag at the side of you with fish in to put in your landing net. It’s then left in the bag until you catch a real fish (hopefully) and then it’s placed into the keepnet at the same time to avoid suspicion.

Paving Slabs Dropped In At The Edge

An angler’s dream is presenting their bait down the edge on a perfectly flat bottom but do I really think an angler is going to carry a paving slab in their already heavy bag just to fish down the edge? I just can’t see it happening. Logistically this would be a nightmare and placing it down the edge would be very tricky to do on your own.

Cleaning Out Your Ground Bait Bowl In The Water

This is one I can imagine happening and maybe even some people new to match fishing could do this without realising it’s breaking the fishery rules. No one should be allowed to put any kind of tub that’s got scraps of old bait into the water. I always make sure I have one clean bait tub to put down into the water in case I need to soak some micros or ground bait.

A Line At The Bottom Of The Way In Bucket

Not sure I can see this one happening myself as there are always plenty of people standing around a weigh-in bucket.

Here’s how it works. The person doing the weigh-in has a piece of line attached to the bottom of the weigh bucket that goes onto the floor. When their “mate” weighs in they stand on the bottom of the line to increase the weight in the bucket.

I think its impossible as people would see the line and it would be awkward for them to stand about and get everything perfect to up the weight. Apparently, the trick they do (if it ever happened) is to adjust the weight just a tiny bit to win the section but not obvious enough to win the match.

Double Hooks On The Line

This isn’t one I’ve heard of before writing this article, but I could see it working when fishing shallow in the summer with maggots. However, commercial fisheries are that busy that there’s no way you could get away with it as it would be easily spotted when you are landing 2 fish at the same time.

Netting Fish That Are Not Hooked

Compared to some of the far-fetched ideas above, this is one I believe could happen.

In the summer, fish cruise along just under your feet and they are less spooked in the summer. I bet some match anglers have sneakily tried to put their landing net in front of them to catch some unsuspecting fish.

I actually remember being in a match and there was a massive carp in front of me about 10lb in weight. It was just happily basking in the sun and when shipping back my pole fell into the water right near it and it never even moved. That was definitely one of those fish that could have been netted without realising!

Using The Landing Net In The Margin

This is one that might work when the fish are spawning and are in those moods when they are not really paying attention to what’s going on in the outside world.

Bait Limits

Who checks these? Does a bailiff or match organiser come round and double-check what people have? Please let me know in the comments below.

Feeding The Margins Before The Match Starts

This is one I could see people getting away with. Some fisheries now have what is called “rolling” draws where you can draw anytime from 830 in the morning and head to your peg. I bet some people sneak a bit of ground bait in the margin when no one is around.

Adding Weights Inside The Fish

Again, this was likely one that one person did years ago when only a few pounds won a match back in the canal match days. It’s very unethical and horrible for the fish just to win a bit of money on a match.


So there you have it. A full list of all the silly things I found that people do, or MAY have done when match fishing to try and win.

While I could see people may be getting away with a few of these on club matches as people are sometimes not quite as strict, I can’t see it happening on open matches where there are a lot of top anglers and their reputation is at stake.

My advice would be don’t try and of these, it will only upset your fellow anglers and its not the right thing to do. Most of the matches are not for big money.

Should there be a set of “model match rules” that most fisheries should have at their core? I do believe some anglers could easily break the rules without realising.

Is there any I have missed off?