Monday, 28 February 2011

EA probes Broads pike decline

We're working closely with the pike angling community to see whether pike are in dcline and if so, what's causing it.

That was the message from the Environment Agency today, as officials revealed they could not explain what had caused the death of several large pike at Oulton Broad, Suffolk - including a fish well over 30lbs.

Fisheries officers recovered the bodies of three pike from the northern area of the Broad earlier this month.

Steve Lane, Fisheries Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency said: “We are working closely with the Broads Angling Strategy Group (BASG) to assess the current status of the pike population and examine a range of factors that may be adversely affecting the fishery.”

“We are looking at a range of potential projects to help us gain more information on the pike population. In particular we are considering an innovative pike tagging project which will enable anglers fishing the Broads to help in the study of stock levels by directly reporting catch information to us.”

Following on from a hugely successful Broadland Pike Conference in August 2010, the BASG’s Pike Sub Group is helping to advise the Agency on pike fishery issues.

The Group’s chairman and Regional Pike Angler’s Club of Great Britain officer John Currie said: “Whilst there currently is no evidence to establish the cause of death of these fish, I would urge all anglers to help us protect pike stocks by ensuring they use the correct handling techniques and proper equipment at all times when pike fishing.

“Large pike in particular are very fragile and need to be handled very carefully. Many of the popular fishing banks around Oulton Broad are concrete or tarmac and in these situations, a good quality unhooking mat is an essential piece of equipment”.

Anglers are urged to report signs of dead fish, fish in distress, pollution or suspected illegal activities by phoning the Environment Agency 24hour hotline number 0800 80 70 60 as soon as possible.

+++more on story here.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Buckets of rain - but dig that poncho

It's a toss up which picture best sums up today's PAC bash. Here's Jabba the Skip, as he shall now henceforth be known, decked out in next season's must-have rainwear - a kind of special forces brolly you can wear.

Despite the sunny forecast and a few tentative takes and lost fish early on, it soon clouded over up in the badlands west of Peterbotough today.

Then bucketed in down, and some. And the 30 or so faithful who turned out at Bluebell Lakes managed to chalk up a resounding blank, with just a handful of lost fish to mull over.

Here's Darren "Daz" Conroy bending into a camera-shy double that fell off seconds after the snap was taken.

Nice water, on the plus side. We were well-impressed by the total lack of litter and how well looked-after the place is.

There were pegs with substantial decking for the wheelchair-bound guys who turned up to fish from - not the half-hearted "disabled swims" you sometimes see stuck in the corners no-one else wants to fish.

One of our number tried a few swims on the river and - apart from managing just one lost fish - reckoned that looked nice as well, despite the fact it was rocketing through.

All in all, a water that's definitely worth a return visit. Don't be put off by the fact it's a premier league carp water.

There are still a couple of events left before we pack up for the summer. Let's hope the weather and the fishing pick up.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

EA set to ditch rod licence checks?

ILLEGAL: Would more bailiffs on the bank help stop this..?

The Environment Agency is looking to cut back on rod licence checks, the PAC can reveal.

It comes as figures obtained under Freedom of Information laws show a sharp fall in both the number of EA bailiffs and the bankside checks they carry out.

Sources say the agency is looking to "outsource" some of the work carried out by bailiffs. It wants fisheries to check whether anglers have an EA licence before selling them day tickets, and angling clubs and tackle shops to do the same when we buy season permits.

The revelation follows an alarming increase in incidents where pike were illegally-targeted for removal from Britain's fisheries.

They include pike found dead on a stringer on a land drain near Boston, Lincs. A man was arrested after an armed response unit and police helicopter were scrambled to fish being fired at with a shotgun in the Twenty Foot River near March, Cambs.

PAC members also encountered illegal methods being employed to remove pike from waters as far afield as Devon and Humberside.

Reports which went live on the EA's website today show the agency spent £2m carrying out licence checks in 2009/10.

But the PAC has been told officials believe the checks are no longer cost effective in an age of rocketing fuel prices.

The agency is also waiting to see how government spending cuts will impact on fisheries budgets - as figures appear to show rod licence sales are on the increase, despite the recession.

Figures supplied in response to an FOI request show that 80,877 checks were carried out between April 1 and December 31 last year. More than 151,000 checks were carried out during the same period in 2005.

Prosecutions for rod licence offenses have fallen from 3,261 for April - December 2005, to 2,127 over the same period last year.

Rod licence sales have steadily increased. There were 1, 063,012 sales between April and December 2000, 1,236,194 over the same period in 2005, and 1,404,677 last year.

Figures supplied to the PAC also show that numbers of bailiffs and fishery officers have fallen over the last 10 years.

In 2000, the EA employed 50 full-time fishery officers and 70 part-time bailiffs. By 2005, there were 25 full-time fishery officers and 41 part-time bailiffs.

Last year, the agency says it employed 30 full-time enforcement officers and two part-time enforcement officers.

+++How they spent your money last year - click here to see where the EA spent the £24m it received from rod licence sales.

Dear angler, here's where we spent your £24m

Anglers contributed £24m to the Environment Agency last year. Today we can see what they spent it on.

For the first time, the agency is publishing a detailed breakdown of fishery expenditure online. It makes interesting reading for any angler.

"We are frequently asked how we spend your money to improve fisheries," says an online report entitled Where Your Money Goes.

"This report shows how, in 2009/10, we use our funds to improve and protect the environment for fish and those who enjoy fishing. It explains how our fisheries work is funded and shows how we invest your money."

The document, which went online today, says the EA fisheries department wants to see more fish, more people fishing and more satsified customers.
As well as £24m from rod licence sales, the EA also received a £9.4m government grant and £800,000 in "miscellaneous income" last year.

It spent £7m of rod licence revenue on improving fisheries, with so-called partnership funding from other sources boosting the amount to £13m.

Anglers have long believed the EA spends more money on maintaining salmon stocks than projects aimed at improving coarse fish populations.

The report reveals the agency spent £6.4m on coarse fish, £2.1m on salmon and sea trout, £600,000 on eels and £3.8m on projects designed to benefit "multiple species".

Regionally, the amounts spent range from £2,7m in the north-east, to £900,000 in the Midlands and £700,000 in Wales.

The EA spent £6m on projects aimed at getting more people fishing last year, such as coaching schemes. The north-east (£1.7m) and Wales (£1m) accounted for almost half this money.

+++Read more. For a summary report, click here. For the full report, click here - NB large file, may take time to load.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Big enough to land a whale, with *ahem*

"That's big enough to land a whale with a stiffy on," the chap in the tackle shop said, with an all too-knowing look that told me he probably spent his time looking at pictures of whales on the internet when he wasn't selling landing nets to the likes of me...

Each to his own, in these enlightened times. But not so long ago, the old 50-inch North Western landing net was a favourite with pike anglers.

Its popularity owed as much to the fact you could buy spares like arms and mesh if you trod on one, or encountered a whale with the proverbial stalk on.

While the arms lasted almost forever - as long as you didn't stand on them, the mesh was as prone as any to the odd flying treble, not to mention the attentions of mice and the inevitable rot.

Where can I get replacement 50-inch mesh, is a question you sometimes see on pike fishing forums (including ours...).

Now added to the Friends in the Trade section of our links (scroll down the right, keep going for ages, you'll get there eventually...) is replacement 50-inch mesh from the Tackle Shop, Gainsborough.

On the plus-side it's not only cheaper than a new 50-inch net, you get some free string with it.

On the downside, the replacement mesh is all micromesh - meaning hooks will catch in it and in a season or two, you'd have been asking where to get replacement mesh from if we hadn't posted yet another helpful link.

Micky Jones will be the talk of the Toon

Micky Jones - who we've signed up to speak at Piking2011 - will soon be the talk of the Toon. He'll be on the oche at the Northumbrian Piper in Fawdon, Newcastle, on Friday, February 25, with a presentation on Highland Piking, called Setting the Heather Alight. Wild fish, even wilder men in kilts. Admission £2 for PAC members/non members.

++++Apologies for any confusion over the date.

Pike angler nails sink and draw salmon

Great post and pics on pike angler Stu Maddox's blog about a session on the River Dee, where a deadbait fished sink and draw was snapped up by a salmon.

"Just as I was about to bend down and grab my landing net , a large silver torpedo launched itself from the water," he writes. "Not once, not twice , but three times in quick leaping succession."

"I knew immediately what I had hooked , I peered into the water and could clearly see the that this was the unmistakable shape of a fantastic Dee salmon."

Great story about a passing encounter with the king of fish. Click here to read it.

Kelly Kettle now available in steel

Pike anglers who use Kelly Kettles tend to swear by them when it comes to knocking up a bankside brew, the odd Pot Noodle or even a fry-up if you don't mind smoked sausages, scorch marks on your forceps or the odd burnt finger.

One drawback is much like pike anglers, they tend to get a bit dribbly with age and the odd knock they get rattling around in the back of your motor.

Well the Kelly people in Ireland are now doing a stainless steel kettle, which is more durable than the original aluminium version for another tenner (£49.95).

Next season's must-have accessory..?

Pike in Your Waters - still free to download

It's almost 10 years since the Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain published a booklet called Pike in Your Waters. It's still essential reading for anyone who cares about pike conservation - or anyone who runs a fishery, who wants to find out more about the role that pike play in the upkeep of a vibrant, balanced water.

Checking our webstats - like you sometimes do - we find a lot iof our visitors find this blog after looking for more information about pike conservation on search engines like google.

If you click this link, you can download Pike in Your Waters for free. You might also be interested in some of the factsheets and other stuff in the Information Library section of our main website.

Broads boat hire firm added to links

Blanking..? Who cares - we've saved nearly enough for a Ruby Murray

These guys are the latest addition to Friends in the Trade, in our links bar. No, not the two chaps in the boat, but the place they hired it from - George Smith's Boatyard, on the Bure at Wroxham.

Fishing in Norfolk might have had more ups and downs than Fakenham Races this season. But Geo Smith are offering a 10pc discount to PAC members, which means hire a boat before March 14 and you'll have nearly enough change to buy a chicken vindaloo in the slightly surreal curry house round the corner from the boatyard, with the sloping floor.

Nuisance pike and a few Fens zander

Barry "Zandavan" McConnell gets in amongst 'em in the Fens near King's Lynn.

Chew Valley bookings slammed, shock

Chew Valley's booking system has been well and truly "slammed", according to Angling Times, which reports there are anglers unhappy at not securing a date for what it describes as the "UK's best big pike water".

This sort of slamming has been going on for years in pike fishing. Rewind to when Menteith was fishing its nuts off. Or - going back a bit - Llandegfedd.

What is worth noting is the sheer volume of people applying for places at Chew. Bristol Water, which runs the 1,200-acre reservoir, reckons it received 850 applications for this year's dates. That's right, 850.

Does this reflect the quality of the fishing at Chew - or how bad the fishing's been everywhere else this winter...?

Been there, caught pike - got the T-shirt

When it comes to fishing clobber, pike anglers have never had it so good on the thermal front, with all kinds of threads to keep your unmentionables warm through the worst of the winter. But what to wear when the weather warms, asks our fashion editor..?

Having a google, like you do, we found some T and sweat-shirts featuring various pikey designs - including the rather striking print on the left, from a company called Walker Angling Wear. They also do a T-shirt featuring a David Miller print.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Stoke Ferry Cut-Off opens up for fishing

Pike anglers will be able to fish the Cut-Off Channel at Stoke Ferry next season, it emerged today.

The previously closed stretch - where anglers have been fined for fishing in recent seasons - will be included on a King's Lynn AA permit for the first time, but no day tickets will be sold.

Lynn AA has controlled fishing on the Cut-Off between Wereham and Denver for decades.

The extra stretch will open from June 16, amid of a shake-up in membership fees which will see anglers who fish the Norfolk club's drains and rivers paying £4 less for a season ticket, with basic permit prices falling from £40 to £36.

Stillwater prices are being increased, but most club lakes do not contain pike.

Friday, 4 February 2011

The picture that will shock every pike angler

Pike matches are in the spotlight tonight over claims a cheating angler in Ireland stuffed a lead bar down a fish's throat in a bid to win a contest.

Anger erupted on internet forums after photographs of the fish were published online.

It was claimed a bankside autopsy revealed the lead bar after the fish was found dead the day after a competition.

"On handling the pike something hard was felt in its stomach," one poster said. "The pike was opened up and a lead bar was found. What sort of idiot would go so far to try to win a prize."

Mainstream media and the angling press are now chasing a story. The facts remain unclear, amid a storm of hearsay and allegations.

We are unable to comment on specifics of this incident, but are in touch with people who are trying to get to the bottom of it.

They are asking the same question as the rest of the pike angling world tonight.

If this is how far a so-called pike angler is prepared to go to win a prize, what is our sport coming to..?

+++UPDATE: British Pike Squad blog reveals a "pike action group" which has come to the fore since the incident is not all it seems - more here.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Angling Trust regional meeting in the Fens

The Angling Trust's East of England Freshwater Forum is meeting at Littleport Leisure Centre on Saturday (10.30am).

All anglers welcome - non members of the Trust as non-voting guests. The agenda includes "angling and environmental issues in the region".