AT TEFF: Statement Surrounding Issues Raised Prior to the 2019 Loch-style Final

Role of volunteers / organisers

Angling Trust Team England Fly Fishing (AT-TEFF) is empowered by Angling Trust in association with volunteers drawn from the competitive game fishing community, to administer the Team England Loch Style Qualification process. All volunteer roles were advertised and the persons appointed following an interview process. Vacancies are advertised on the AT website – there are currently several available. If you feel you can make a contribution to helping run our events please get in touch with the ATTEFF Secretary.

Venues

Venues for the final have rotated around the major fisheries that have the boat capacity. This rotation has varied based on the International venue for the following year. In 2019 Chew was the chosen venue for the final in order to support Bristol Water after their recent issues. Other venues have been Rutland, Grafham and Bewl. ATTEFF, in an effort to keep angler cost to a minimum, have been proactive in negotiating the best rates for its competitors at these venues. With this in mind ATTEFF will be using Draycote Water for its final in 2020 (with the international being held there in 2021). This venue offers a ‘no kill’ possibility with some fish being measured and recorded prior to release. This alternative has been trialled over the last 2 years and has proven to be popular and a success. Bewl Water has, for now, been discounted, simply because of its move to methods, other than fly fishing. This is under constant review. 

Entry fees

ATTEFF uses all its entry fees to support all its teams. There is no sponsorship and for 2020 the Competition budget is based solely on the revenue accrued from those fees. From this budget AT-TEFF have calculated how much each individual angler can receive in support of him / her representing England. Entry fees for loch style have remained at £30 per heat for several years. From 2020 this will have to rise to £35. Entry to the repechage will increase to £20.

Traditionally there has never been an entry fee for the final. This cost has been calculated based on fishing and boat costs plus an element to cover a meal on day 2 and any other overheads including covering for the attendance by the officials and any extra help required from fishery staff. This has for many years been a fixed fee of £99. In an effort to increase revenue to help our teams, ATTEFF negotiates with fisheries to obtain the best deal possible. This may result in part of the final fee going to the general fund to help our teams. For 2020 a fixed entry fee for the final of £35 plus Fishing/Admin/Subsistence costs is being considered. However, this will, depending on the negotiations with the fisheries, result in a total fishing fee above £99. Every penny raised from entry fees goes to support all the teams.

Catch and release and catch limits

ATTEFF is aware that images of large numbers of dead fish following some matches are no longer acceptable. There is a strong move away from totally kill in all matches to some sort of catch and release or total release. Fisheries are more inclined to offer better price ‘deals’ if less fish are killed. For the 2019 final at Chew negotiation on the catch rules was undertaken commencing around April. The fishery were in agreement that this could be an eight fish kill or C&R of some type. The price agreed for these two options was stated. This was discussed between the Qualifier and National Co-ordinator and the match organiser. He was of the opinion that an 8 fish kill would be better, in that it would be more difficult, though not impossible, for two like-minded anglers to collude and falsify their catch return cards (one of them having possibly caught 8 fish).

Survey

The final decision on catch limits was taken back to Angling Trust and they suggested angler involvement and issued a short survey. It was also felt that this would give a good indication, through the numbers making a reply, how many wished to make their input known. As it turned out around 77% replied which was a good result. AT undertook analysis of the results and declared that, by a majority, the favoured catch / kill was to be 3 fish killed then C&R all day. This opened up discussions, on social media only, around the possibility of some anglers colluding to falsify their catch cards.

Cheating

In reality it is thought the likelihood of any anglers cheating in this manner is very low, however, it is accepted that it is a possibility. The fact that the final is held over 2 days means that any anglers contemplating cheating will more than likely only be able to do this on one of the days anyway. Many options to make cheating impossible have been discussed but it is felt that the only method open to ATTEFF is to have boatmen in every boat. (Though other options will be investigated including the use of technology in future). The use of boatmen in future would add additional costs to the entry fees unless volunteers could be found from amongst unsuccessful anglers from earlier heats. Currently Boatmen in the Internationals are offered £25 per day so entry fees would probably have to rise significantly to cover this.

At this year’s final all efforts will / were made to make constant checks on anglers and their bags throughout the two days.

Hooks

With a move to C&R it is even more important to use de barbed or barbless flies. Anglers were concerned that they would not have enough time to buy or tie a selection of flies on barbless hooks. It is accepted that this is not an option so the organiser will accept flies that have been de barbed or had their barbs flattened. In future it may be worth building up a stock of flies that are tied on barbless hooks. However, we are surprised by the response on this as there are other Competitions that are fished to C&R rules and require barbless or de-barred hooks!

Social Media

ATTEFF are aware that some anglers engage with social media on a regular basis, however these anglers are in the minority but do hold huge influence in the community. ATTEFF as an organisation does not normally reply to social media posts. This does not mean it is not aware of these posts and does take on board what is being said. If anglers have specific concerns, ATTEFF would like to hear from you through normal channels ie email direct to the ATTEFF secretary. Through this channel you will receive a formal reply.

Ideas for 2020

Many suggestions as to how ATTEFF can run heats / nationals in future have been put forward through social media. These range from anglers taking images of fish caught using their mobile phones to the use of boatmen. There are difficulties with both these ideas. The use of boatmen would have to be funded unless 50 volunteers can be found for the final. It would also mean a one day final as it would be totally out of the question to expect boatmen to be around for 2 days. If ATTEFF pay the boatmen then that charge would have to be added to the entry costs and shared by all entrants. Another option would be to make it a condition of entry that those not getting to the final have to become boatmen (a draw being undertaken with a threat that if they do not turn up then they would be prevented from entering the following year). Not something that ATTEFF would wish to do. The use of technology is one option that may be worth pursuing. However, looking at the practicalities – for example it is a wet windy day and the angler has to get his phone out, take a picture of a fish with time stamp using wet slimy hands and then put fish back and phone away. ATTEFF does not see this being a favoured option and not everyone will have a phone with a camera. The images then have to be seen by the officials and analysed  at the weigh-in before the results are made know. This will take more time and delay the results being announced.

If you feel you wish to contribute to any discussions around the points above please email or write to the ATTEFF Secretary – details on the TEFF website.

Sept 2019    

Document: Statement – National final issues

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