Iain Barr’s monthly match col­umn

For­mer world cham­pion Iain Barr dis­cusses the late-sea­son match fi­fi­nals and some of the rules in need of re­view to keep com­pe­ti­tions fair

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

SEPTEM­BER and Oc­to­ber are the busiest two months of the com­pe­ti­tion cal­en­dar. Na­tional Qual­i­fiers are held across the home nations where the top few an­glers, usu­ally 20-28, make the grade for next year’s Home In­ter­na­tional teams who com­pete in the spring and au­tumn. Then there’s the Au­tumn In­ter­na­tional where all of last year’s qual­i­fiers se­lected for the au­tumn team meet to fight it out for the brag­ging rights of UK glory. Rut­land hosted this year’s English Na­tional final where 120 an­glers fished for the top 28 places, mak­ing the two teams of 14 for next spring and au­tumn. Go­ing into Oc­to­ber there is the in­fa­mous Air­flo Anglian Wa­ter In­ter­na­tional where teams of six an­glers com­pete for the team ‘FA Cup’ of fly­fish­ing by com­pet­ing over two days at Rut­land Wa­ter. Com­bined weights over two days will de­ter­mine the champions of 2017.

“This year also sees Dray­cote host the Trout­mas­ters Final, Trout Fish­er­man magazine's very own com­pe­ti­tion.”

This year also sees Dray­cote Wa­ter host the Trout­mas­ters Final, Trout Fish­er­man magazine’s very own com­pe­ti­tion, where an­glers fish boat and bank ses­sions and fin­ish­ing po­si­tions are com­bined to de­ter­mine the win­ner. Al­though many of these are in­di­vid­ual events you find that friends and teams work as a unit to help all to qual­ify or win the event. My team are no ex­cep­tion to this as we pool in­for­ma­tion for the English Na­tional Final de­spite in be­ing a solely in­di­vid­ual com­pe­ti­tion to gain an Eng­land cap. We work hard as a unit and pre­pare for weeks – this year is no ex­cep­tion. I find it amus­ing at the sud­den friend­ships that ap­pear and the num­ber of phone calls my team mates re­ceive re­quest­ing in­for­ma­tion hav­ing seen us fish well in prac­tice. I am the very first to help any an­gler out there but where we spend a lot of money and time to get to the pin­na­cle of an Eng­land cap my lips re­main sealed.

Time bonuses

The whole de­bate of time bonus and the al­lot­ted 1lb an hour rises again. Most com­pe­ti­tions were giv­ing 2lb an hour to the an­gler who caught his limit early to award his skills. This was dropped to 1lb an hour and has caused grum­bles. It was to en­cour­age an­glers to tar­get bet­ter fish but they are not there to tar­get in num­bers. Re­cent and fresh stocked fish be­come very tricky af­ter an­glers – for some un­known rea­son – in­sist on ham­mer­ing them through prac­tice and brag of great scores in the car parks. Stocked fish vary in size with some as small as 1lb 4oz and some as big as 4lb-plus. This means an an­gler who catches eight for 13lb by 1pm would weigh 18lb with his 1lb an hour time bonus, as­sum­ing the com­pe­ti­tion fin­ishes at 6pm. A fel­low an­gler who catches eight by 4pm with a cou­ple of big­ger stocked fish and weighs 17lb some three-hours later, would beat you by 1lb. It’s great for this an­gler but the un­lucky an­gler who skil­fully caught his limit some three-hours ear­lier of­ten goes home dis­grun­tled. A great way for­ward would be for the time bonus to be the av­er­age weight of fish caught in weeks lead­ing to the com­pe­ti­tion and I know this has been done be­fore and you can’t get any fairer than that. If some­one tar­gets big­ger fish at this time of year to get their Eng­land place, brown trout of­ten fig­ure in their bags of fish as browns start chas­ing fry. Rules state just one brown trout per bag, which I know meant a good friend missed out on a cap last time it was held at Rut­land as he had seven fish but re­turned an ad­di­tional good brown trout. Had that been a rain­bow he’d have been in the Eng­land team. By al­low­ing one brown trout per man, tech­ni­cally, they’re al­low­ing 120 browns to be killed. On an im­pres­sive day at this time of year, 120 an­glers may weigh in only 10-12 browns so – at this grand stage – to miss out on a cap as you were tar­get­ing bet­ter fish and hap­pen to catch two browns doesn’t sit right with me and many oth­ers.

The de-barbed de­bate

The Au­tumn In­ter­na­tional on the Lake of Men­teith has it right. Despatch the first three and you’re awarded 2lb for each fish re­turned on barbed hooks. This al­lows the an­gler to fish the full al­lot­ted time to show their skill by catch­ing fish. I fish my 13th Home In­ter­na­tional this year and my first on the stun­ning Lake of Men­teith. It prom­ises to be a cracker! Many com­pe­ti­tions go bar­b­less af­ter your limit has been reached and this is great if every­one abides by the rules. I have fished with an­glers who sim­ply refuse to do it. I’ve had an­glers checked and are told to squash it down a lit­tle more. One an­gler was fish­ing a double hook and refused to take it off. I just smiled as he wasn’t in the frame, but it be­wil­ders me. How can you de­fine a prop­erly-de­barbed hook if no one is check­ing. En­forc­ing man­u­fac­tured bar­b­less hooks in my opin­ion would be wrong so should it be barbed all the way? That de­bate could rum­ble for years. In next month’s is­sue, see who will be crowned Na­tional Cham­pion in their re­spec­tive coun­try and which coun­try lifts the brag­ging rights of the top UK Fly Fish­ing Team. Full re­ports from the English Na­tional Final and Au­tumn Home In­ter­na­tional on Lake of Men­teith.

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