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

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

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.

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