MATCH anglers and venues in England are celebrating after it was confirmed by the Angling Trust that events can restart. They must be run according to safety guidelines.

In a slightly unexpected twist on Tuesday, May 26, the Trust confirmed: “Robust new best practice guidelines published by the Angling Trust to bring match fishing in line with Covid-19 procedures have now been agreed by the government as a basis for competitions to resume immediately.

“These include no gathering of competitors for the draw or prize giving and special equipment and arrangements to maintain social distancing during the weigh-in.”

The Trust’s best practice guidelines were produced in consultation with leading anglers, organisers and fisheries in the match fishing community across all angling disciplines. They are outlined fully in this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine.

The Trust have warned that failure to follow these guidelines would almost certainly invalidate the insurance of clubs or fisheries and will certainly expose anglers, and therefore the wider public, to a great risk of infection.

Match fishing return welcomed

The sudden news means events at many venues will restart safely according to guidelines this week.

And bigger summer event plans can be examined and, hopefully, comply to the special guidelines.

Match ace and RiverFest creator Dave Harrell said: “I’m delighted with the news that competition fishing is back.

“The important thing now is that all match anglers respect the current situation we are in and work closely with competition organisers to ensure that we have totally safe events.

“We’ve got long daylight hours at present so we must take our time and think carefully about our actions when it comes to things like weighing in.”

Aaron Grantham of top match venue Lindholme Lakes, in South Yorkshire said: “Great to see that the hard work and commitment from the Angling Trust and all the other individuals involved paid off.

“We can now get match fishing going again in a safe manner.”

How match resumption came about

Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook had stressed how competition fishing is different to other sports in ways which make it potentially compliant with the correct safeguards in place. These include:

  • Fishing competitions involve no contact between competitors and is more or less the comparison of catch returns at the end of the day
  • Social distancing is maintained at all times during an angling competition
  • There are no spectators
  • No competitor is allowed to make contact with another competitor or their equipment

The Angling Trust best practice document was presented to Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport last week. They agreed that the guidelines were ‘sensible’ and could be issued this week as the basis for a safe resumption of match fishing in England.

In response, DCMS also stated that they were looking for sports to satisfy themselves that all guidance they are producing for their members adheres to the overarching guidance published by the government.

Angling Trust CEO Jamie Cook welcomed the response saying: “We were always committed to move through the phases of our plan for the resumption of all forms of angling as quickly as possible, bearing in mind the changes in government guidance and the need to present angling as a safe and responsible outdoor activity.

“It’s because we have acted sensibly and professionally that the government is happy to see the Angling Trust guidelines as the basis for a return to competitive fishing in all angling disciplines.

“My message to match anglers and organisers is not to take this for granted, particularly when many other sports are restricted to participation with no more than one other individual. By all means enjoy fishing matches again but please do so safely by following our guidelines to minimise the risk.”

To read the Angling Trust’s guidelines, download the PDF here. And find out more on the Trust’s website.

Tweaks to guidelines coming

Following the easing of some of the lockdown restrictions on May 13th, general guidance to anglers in the Angling Trust’s When We Fish Again report will be revised. The changes will include:

  • A resumption in match fishing in line with best practice guidance
  • The use of keepnets will be permitted for all anglers
  • Kayak and boat fishing in freshwater

Separate guidelines have been produced for game, coarse and sea angling competitions but charter boat fishing is still not compliant under the current regulations.

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