Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Returning zander does "nil" damage

Zander anglers can sleep easy in their bivvies. Because e-mails between officials at Natural England reveal why you won't be prosecuted for returning them - despite recent claims to the contrary.

More here.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

BAA ban upheld but PAC vows to fight on

Predator anglers have vowed to keep on fighting to defend their sport after Birmingham Anglers Association upheld its controversial ban on livebaiting.

Its executive committee has ignored pleas for unity from the Pike Anglers Club, which said the ban was "damaging and divisive".

In a brief e-mail, BAA secretary John Williams said: "The committee briefly discussed the issue again and re-confirmed their approval of the Changes to our bye-laws. “

Mr Williams said the committee registered its disapproval of adverse press coverage of the issue.

But in a statement, the PAC said: "From the outset, we have tried to negotiate with the BAA committee but were allowed only to put our concerns to Mr Williams, who has passed them on.

"If press coverage of the BAA's actions has been less than sympathetic they need to ask themselves why.

"They ban boat fishing on navigable rivers. They ban livebaiting despite the Environment Agency coming down in support of the method. They charge different membership fees for men and women. The BAA is no longer an inclusive club for all anglers.

"This is a sad day for our sport, but angling can rest assured we have no intention of giving up."

The Midlands club broke ranks and announced its decision weeks before new national by-laws came into force giving the green light to the method.

The EA drew up the by-laws after a lengthy consultation process anyone could take part in. They increased the protection of mature coarse fish, amid concerns at the numbers being taken for the table, but also allowed predator anglers to take up to 15 fish a day for use as bait.

"We must also recognise that the taking of small fish for bait is an important part of predator fishing," the EA said. "There is no evidence that this is damaging stocks and therefore should be allowed to continue."

The BAA committee disregarded the EA's findings when it voted unanimously to outlaw the removal of any fish - apart from zander - from their waters.

Midlands LO Steve Bown put predator angling's case to the BAA, after Angling Times asked: What's next - a ban on keepnets.

When Steve Bown met its secretary John Williams, he said predator anglers were the only branch of angling to be adversely affected by the club's new by-laws.

He said the ban would not prevent illegal fish removals, while justifying it on welfare grounds was a dangerous step for angling.

"Predator anglers fishing under restrictions will be tempted to flout rules on waters which rarely see a bailiff," he added. "We would rather work within the limits of acctpable club rules.

"Working with local prdator anglers to achieve a mutually-acceptable by-law would be excellent publicity for the BAA.

"A demonstration of different branches of angling working together would no doubt encourage more people to join."

Mr Williams said the PAC's concerns would be passed on to the BAA's executive at its next meeting. The BAA committee has the power to revisit the issue, though it remains to be seen whether it will choose to do so.

A BAA ban on livebaiting was famously over-turned by the club in what was seen as a landmark victory in the 1980s. The PAC is now considering the next step.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Club's new badge remembers Barrie

A limited-edition badge will be launched at the PAC Convention in memory of one of the club's founding fathers Barrie Rickards.

Tributes flooded in when Barrie passed away last November, after battling cancer. His loss rocked the angling world.

As well as raising funds for the PAC, a portion of the profits from the £5 cost of each badge will be donated to two of Barrie's favourite good causes - Cancer Research UK and the St John's Ambulance.

The new badge will go on sale at the PAC convention, at Kettering Conference Centre, on Saturday, September 25.

Click here for more on the convention, ticket prices and this year's line-up of speakers.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Happy ending for Cornish killer pike saga

When stories about killer pike in a Cornish duck pond began hitting the papers, we wondered who'd started all the media hysteria.

We launched a complaint when we found out the source was the Environment Agency.

"The once tranquil waters of Par Duck Pond near St Blazey have been disturbed by hungry pike that are chomping their way through the local fish population," began an EA press release the BBC, local media and even a national newspaper happily copied and pasted, without any effort to check the facts about pike.

Our complaint to the EA said: "Common sense, not to mention accuracy appear to have been taking a day off when it was issued.

"We expect better from the EA. We certainly don't expect the custodian of our nation's fisheries to recycle such groundless hysteria."

We enclosed a copy of Pike in Your Waters - which you can download for free from our website.

Now the EA says it will review future communications and take our complaint into account.

"We do accept your point that the press release "sensationalises" negative aspects of pike behaviour and will ensure that future press releases take your concerns into account," Simon Toms, the agency's fisheries, recreation and biodiversity team leader for Cornwall said in his response.

Mr Toms's letter also revealed a happy outcome to the saga: "We were keen to conserve and relocate any pike caught at Par duck pond as we are fully aware of their value as a predatory species anglers enjoy catching.

"A health check was carried out and proved that the opike were free of any damaging fish parasites, so enabling the subsequent movement of pike uop to 10lbs to Trenchford Reservoir."

Time to put an end to zandercide..?

Today's Eastern Daily Press features a lengthy opinion piece, setting out a compelling case for why zander should be protected just like any other coarse fish.

"More lies have been told about pike than any other fish, Queen Victoria's inspector of fisheries Frank Buckland once famously observed. If zander had been swimming in our rivers when the phrase was first coined, he might just as easily have said it about them."

Zander have been excluded from new national fishery by-laws, which forbid anglers from removing any fish apart from a limited number for bait. And Natural England wants anglers to kill all the zander they catch.

"But those who target them in Fenland's sprawling maze of rivers and drains, and pike anglers who catch them from time to time, have more respect for their quarry than they do for officialdom," the piece observes.

"Most will do what they've always done, return the fish unharmed after a picture or two regardless of what anyone says to the contrary."

Environment Agency officials have already gone on record stating they will not prosecute anyone who does so, because zander were lawfully stocked by one of its predecessors two decades before the Wildlife and Countyside Act classified them an unwelcome alien species.

"Activists see zander as a watershed for angling, because officialdom is widely feared to have bigger fish to fry when it comes to what species do and do not belong in our rivers."

Zander aren't the only so-called alien fish swimming in some of our rivers, the article concludes. But no-ones advocating killing barbel and carp, yet.

It advocates a simple solution: "A ground zero approach, which draws a line under waters where
zander existed prior to the Wildlife and Countryside Act and where they should be allowed to remain because they have become naturalised.

"That doesn't mean anyone's calling for them to b stocked anywhere else - including the Broads.

"It just means where they're already present and valued as a sporting fish, with a role to play in our rivers, they should be returned."

Friday, 16 April 2010

Petition launched to save fishing at Chasewater

Repairs to a Midlands reservoir will see fish removed to other waters.

But anglers have been told the venue they have enjoyed for more than a century will not be re-stocked once the work has been carried out.

Chasewater Dam was built in the late 18th Century to supply water for the growing network of canals. But 200 years later British Waterways and council officials say the 300ha water must be drained to stabilise its earth banks.

Now anglers have been told Lichfield council does not plan to replenish stocks after the £2.5m project is completed.

"The private contractors were willing to carry out the works for a considerable charge, but would sell the fish as part of the process," the council says.

"British Waterways on the other hand are happy to rehome the fish in local waterways, but once rehomed, the fish will be owned by British Waterways and will not be returned to Chasewater.

"Once the water levels and the ecology of the reservoir are back to acceptable levels, we could theoretically consider restocking the pools with new fish, but as we only make less than £500 from angling licenses a year, we won’t have available monies to do this. The lake’s SSSI status would also restrict how we could restock the reservoir, and no alien species or trout would be allowed back."

Fish including pike and bream are are already dying as water levels fall, according to newspaper reports.

A council blog details progress of the work here.

A petition has been launched, calling for re-stocking once work is complete. Click here to sign it.

+++More on this on Monday...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Pikers fined more than £1000 for having rods too far apart

Two pike anglers have been ordered to pay fines and costs of more than £1,000 for ignoring a No Fishing sign and having their rods spread up to 50m apart.

Matthew Collins from Hertford was fined £400 for attempting to take fish and £500 for using rods and lines in such a way as to cause damage to fish, when he appeared before King's Lynn magistrates.

Thomas Coombes, also from Hertford, was fined a total of £250 at the same court hearing. Both men admitted the offences on the Cut Off Channel at Stoke Ferry, Norfolk, last December. Both were also ordered to pay £127 costs.

The area they were fishing was clearly signposted ‘no fishing’ in several places, including on the road which gives access to the area and on the river bank itself, the court was told.

Once popular with pike anglers, the Environment Agency now considers the stretch around Stoke Ferry Waterworks, where a sluice connects the Cut-Off to the River Wissey, as being too dangerous to fish.

Although both men produced valid rod licences, under Environment Agency byelaws they should not have been fishing in the area, and the way in which they were using their rods was also prohibited.

The EA said where multiple rods are used, the butt ends of the outside rods must not be more than 3m apart. In this case, the butt ends were up to 45m apart. The rule is in place to protect the welfare of fish, as rods placed too far apart cannot be checked fast enough to prevent fish being harmed by being hooked on them.

Environment Agency bailiff Mick Robinson said: "These people were fishing in an area where it is clearly sign-posted that no fishing is allowed.

"To add to this, they were using rods and lines in a way that could have left fish struggling on a hook for some time. I am very pleased with this result and hope it will make all anglers check that they are fishing in the right area and that they do so in a responsible manner."

On the same day at the King's Lynn court Ramunas Katkevicius, from London, was fined £175 and ordered to pay £75 costs for fishing without a rod licence in November 2009.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

It's election time - so what will they do for angling

OK, David Cameron hasn't joined the PAC (yet). But as campaigning starts in earnest for the May 6 general election, we're wondering what any of the parties are going to do for the nation's anglers and our fisheries.

Predator anglers are having a bumpy ride at the moment, with the BAA bait ban, so-called conservationists telling us we've got to kill zander and proposals to ban bivvying up in parts of Scotland.

Gordon Brown's hosting a special people's PMQs (Prime Ministers Questions) tomorrow.

If you click here, you can submit your own question. So why not ask him what he's going to do to get zander taken off the alien list - or about any other angling issue that gets your goat.

If enough of us do it, you never know...

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Times reports on new fishery by-laws

New rules are set to come into force giving coarse fish added protection, but allowing predator anglers to take limited numbers for bait, The Times reports.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Nine twenties in 36hrs

Dave West nailed more twenties in an arm-aching 36hrs on the Shannon system than most of us manage in a good season. Check out the gallery for pics ====>

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PAC events update

It might seem miles away, with summer coming. But PAC events organiser Mick Crisp is already organising next season's club fish-ins.

So here are a few dates for your diary.

We're kicking off on Rutland Water, Leics, on Friday, September 17. This is a lure-only event, with 20 boats at £30 an angler, plus a boat fitted out for disabled anglers.

Monday, September 27 sees another lure-only bash at Esthwaite Water, in Cumbria. There are 15 boats available for this - plus a disabled boat - cost again is £30 per angler.

Next on the agenda is Ardingly Reservoir, Sussex, on Sunday, October 10. This is a deadbait-only bank fioshing event, limited to 20 places at £10 each.

Application slips for all the above will be in the next Pikelines, due out to members shortly.

We've also got two lure-only events at Menteith on Monday, November 1 and Saturday, November 6. Application forms for these will be in August's Pikelines.