Nevertheless, just under half had been returned to HQ by 2pm and the early front-runners could be identified. Soon after 5pm, exhausted and bedraggled, the anglers and controllers started to arrive back with various tales of success & failure. The results could now be calculated and wet clothing replaced by dry in readiness for the Final Dinner.
85 attended the dinner at the Two Bridges, which was presided over by Baz Reece, CEFF Chairman (and competitor). Baz thanked the Duchy Deputy Land Steward, Chris Gregory for allowing the competition to be held on Duchy waters and Brian Easterbrook for his services as Head Controller.
Stuart Wardle (England Rivers Team Manager) then thanked Russell Weston, MD Snowbee (UK) Ltd for his generous sponsorship of the event and his continuing support of the Rivers Team. Russell, in his reply, was delighted that the Final had returned to the South West and that Snowbee had played such a major role. The controllers were thanked for their superb contribution, as were all those who had helped make the whole event such a success.
John Tyzack, a fly fishing guide from Stockport became National Rivers Champion for the second year running. This was the fifth time that John has lifted this trophy and confirms him as one of the best river anglers on the competition circuit.
Local angler, Alex Bobba from Uffculme will gain his first England Cap after finishing Runner Up. Perikles Karageorgopoulos, a former England Rivers Team member from Kent was third. Mike Tinnion from Keswick in Cumbria, a regular World Team member was fourth. Local angler Andrew Gooding from Newton Abbot, who also qualified last year, came fifth. Successful methods included a combination of dry fly & small copper or gold-headed nymphs with a catch ratio of about 50/50, although John reports that for him, it changed to 85/15 in the afternoon. Richard Cobbledick from Launceston, a former Loch-Style International came close in sixth position and will travel with Snowbee Team England as Reserve, when they compete in Scotland in 2008. A total of 351 fish were caught, the best being 30.6cm by Tony Fox from London. CEFF trophies presented by Baz and a range of Snowbee tackle & clothing presented by Russell, were awarded to all the above.
The beauty of Dartmoor, the warm welcome of the locals and the challenges of fishing the Dart will ensure that many of the anglers, including those that struggled on competition day, will return during the coming months and years to continue their pursuit of the wonderful wild brown trout that it holds. However, if they fish a Final on the Dart in future years they might have to compete with a few more local anglers who, after controlling, have expressed an interest in joining the local Federation and entering the Qualifying Heats.
England has an enviable record in competitive fly-fishing. Four Team and five Individual Gold medals in the World Championships is a tally that many other sports can only dream of. In recent years, however, success in International Competitions has been made far more difficult due to a lack of proper funding. Team members have to contribute most of the costs involved and as a consequence, practice at the competition venues has had to be reduced to the bare minimum. If the (wholly volunteer and unpaid CEFF) is to give its teams the chance of competing on equal terms, substantial cash sponsorship needs to be obtained. If anyone reading this can assist in any way they are asked to contact the CEFF Treasurer, John Ball on 01202 482441.