January is a bad enough month for the fly fisherman. The generally miserable weather and likelihood that your local venue will be frozen up is depressing enough but at sometime in the month it will probably get worse. This is the month when the stillwaters who partake in the prestigious ‘Troutmasters’ competition, organised by Trout Fisherman magazine, announce the dates for their annual ‘fish off’s’. This is therefore the month when your friends who were fortunate enough to receive a coveted ‘Troutmasters’ badge last year are invited to try and reach the UK final. To do this they must win a ‘Fish off’ at the fly fishing venue where they won their Troutmasters Badge.
If, like me, you have never won such award you will no doubt go green with envy. Thinking back to a days fly fishing in the last year when your friend ‘got lucky’ and landed one of the three biggest Rainbow Trout in that particular month at that particular venue you will probably put it all down to chance. As the negative thoughts subside you will be filled with a renewed confidence, knowing the fly fishing season is just around the corner and with it the chance to earn what you deserve – A Troutmasters badge.
Hundreds of fly fishing venues across the UK give anglers the chance to win a badge.Â If you land a particularly large fish and there is even the slightest chance that it is one of the three biggest at that venue in that month then throwing your hat in to the ring could not be simpler:
- First, weigh your fish straight away. Rainbow Trout have been known to loose body weight relatively quickly when taken from the water so it is always worth the trek or row back to the weighing scales.
- Secondly, track down your fishery owner or someone working at the venue. they will probably advise you if your catch is up to the mark and whether it is worth submitting an entry in to the Troutmasters competition.
- If you are within a fighting chance the proprietor will give you a form. You may well find a Troutmaster entry form on display. Complete the form and get the fishery to validate your catch and counter sign your entry to prove the fish in question really was the weight you said it was.
- Finally, send the Troutmasters form off to Trout Fisherman magazine.
Each month, Trout Fisherman magazine publishes the winners of the Troutmasters competition. Each venue has three monthly winners, all of whom receive the coveted Troutmaster badge and the gift of a fishing fly. Trout Fisherman magazine also publishes the top three winners in the UK, all of whom stand the chance to win excellent prizes consisting of fly fishing tackle from Hardy, Sage and other renowned manufacturers.
Once your friends start to win badges the pressure really is on. Our group of fly fishermen consists of four regular anglers, two of whom now proudly display their Troutmasters Badge on their fishing waistcoat. 2007 could be the year I join them in and succeed in my quest for fly fishing recognition!