21st Century Fly Fishing

Twenty years ago, Westcountry Angling Passport, or Angling 2000 as it was known then, created a more spontaneous, ad-hoc way get on waters across Devon and Cornwall. Pre-buying tokens in bulk and using them without notice increased the availability of fishing across our two counties. Farms and holiday cottages with river frontage suddenly became viable beats. As a visitor to Westcountryangling.com you are probably well aware of this.

The passport has served us well and will continue to do so for some time but it is time to bring the scheme into the 21st century. So we have spent the last six months developing a mobile app for Android and Iphones. This app will do all the same things you are used to with tokens and brochures, and a few more things as well.

Fish Pass, as we have dubbed it, will allow you to buy tokens, find a beat, redeem fishing and file a catch return all from your smart phone.

Future iterations of the app will combine elements like social media sharing, live ratings and catch returns so beats can be chosen by recent pressure and then the resulting successes published to friends, family and perhaps the next hopeful fly fisher. The design has been led by clarity, legibility and ease of use for the less app-literate among us, so hopefully it is something that everyone can use. With a little luck this could be a helping hand to introducing young people to our sport and keeping clubs alive.

All the available beats are sorted by ‘nearest first’ so the beat closest to you will appear at the top. You can also view them on a map and filter either based on your favourites. All beats are up to date with information and restrictions and a map of the exact beat boundaries, you can also navigate to the beat with your phone’s GPS.

To go fishing, as per usually, you will need tokens. You can top up your balance using either a Paypal account or a valid debit or credit card. Once done your account balance will be topped up and be available to use for fishing immediately. Unlike Angling Passport tokens, Fish Pass tokens have no expiry date, so no need to try and use them up before the year end. There is also a third option to scan a paper token, this converts a Passport token to Fish Pass, perfect if you have a few left over at the end of the season.

Once you have some tokens in your account, it’s as simple as getting to the river of your choice, finding the token box where you will see a Fish Pass sign, and using this button to bring up the scanner. Scanning the Fish Pass label at the beat will take the appropriate number of tokens from your account and bring up a ‘boarding pass’ which is you proof of permission to fish. When you have finished fishing, you just submit your catch return and you will be ready to fish another wild beat.

This all forms part one of the app and will get the project off the ground and people on Cornish rivers (Fish Pass will be Cornwall only as we trial the app). Next step is to add some bells and whistles to try and make something more valuable and useful than is currently possible. We have a list of clever additions but are more interested in what people who actually use it want. So please have a go, even if you just want to have a browse but not buy any tokens, and let me know what you think. The only limitation to what is possible is our collective imaginations and development money. Fish Pass is available on Itunes or Google Play stores and costs nothing to download.