Far Bank No longer Poles apart...
Are fishermen from Poland really so different from Brits these days? With the younger generation the gap is closing, reports Dom Garnett
WITH the fallout of Brexit there has seldom been a more tense time for relations between us Brits and our Polish counterparts.
But behind the headlines, could things have actually got better in the fishing world? I have to say that with the current company I keep, there are huge reasons to be more optimistic.
Arek Kubale is a man who could almost be my Polish alter ego. He writes stories and articles in his home country, enjoys a varied fishing diet and even has the beard to match.
He also represents a new breed of Polish angler, environmentally switched on and committed to catch-and-release angling.
I’ve spent several entertaining sessions with him in Poland, targeting chub, trout and pike. Barbless hooks and a ‘live and let live’ attitude replace the bag and blunt implement in his fishing. Nor is he alone.
Contrary to popular myths, Poland is undergoing a steady change at the moment. The current battle in Arek’s home patch is over the local river. While
the old guard still demand catch and kill, the younger generation are fighting to create sustainable, catch-and-release fisheries.
Old habits may die hard, but they are slowly making inroads and there are already numerous carp-style waters and rivers run on a sport fishing basis, as opposed to being food factories.
How does this affect your fishing in Britain? For one thing, young Poles are now predominantly conscientious fishermen who release their fish, not dodgy poachers who would delight Daily Mail headline writers.
How do I know? Because those I fish with are wired much like you and I – and some of my closest fishing friends are serving as bailiffs, volunteering and, perhaps most importantly of all, spreading the word to others.
On another level, there have also been gains to make from the Poles. They are superb anglers, for one thing, introducing new lures and their own special expertise to the table. In many of the competitions, you will see Polish surnames in the top rankings.
These are not our foes but friendly, knowledgeable anglers who are an asset to the sport.
Does this mean there are no more issues around migrant anglers? Of course not – and I will always maintain that while we should show infinite patience to those willing to listen, we must also show zero tolerance to those who ruin sport for the rest of us. The same goes for British anglers.
The full answer therefore lies as much in education and dialogue as in enforcing the rules – and in this respect I salute initiatives such as the Angling Trust’s ‘Building Bridges’ scheme. Because while problems won’t be solved overnight, there is great reason to be optimistic about today’s crop of young Polish anglers, who are very much part of the solution.
Arek Kubale is one of Poland’s growing number of conscientious, catch-and-release anglers.
Polish angler Marcin Kwasniewski is a club bailiff and a staunch supporter of catch-and-release.