Rob Ed­munds has se­ri­ous fears over the fu­ture of Anglian Wa­ter reser­voirs

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Rob Ed­munds’ plea to save our reser­voirs

IDON'T want an ar­gu­ment be­tween an­gling dis­ci­plines. But, hav­ing been a sea­son ticket holder for 25 years with Anglian Wa­ter, I care about the reser­voirs, more so it seems than AW. I fish at least twice weekly at Rut­land, Grafham and Pits­ford. First, I love all t y pes of f ish­ing. But I do feel ver y strongly about this is­sue and recog­nise the dam­age that’s be­ing done to my home wa­ters. Twenty years ago, pike fish­ing was orig­i­nally al­lowed for a week per sea­son on Rut­land and Graf ham, with large spoons and spin­ners only (over six-inch lures and bar­b­less hooks only). This gen­er­ated rev­enue and ver y few fish, with lit­tle ef­fect on the f ly f ish­ing. Preda­tor fish­ing re­ally took off when we “f ly an­glers” de­cided we’d tar­get the big pike, perch and zan­der on these reser voirs (around 12 years ago). A fter all, we the “f ly an­glers” knew the hold­ing ar­eas. We soon had a lot of re­ally big fish on f ly and it raised the prof ile and po­ten­tial of the wa­ters. The fish we caught were of­ten “f ish of a life­time” for preda­tor an­glers. I re­mem­ber the days when I had four dou­ble-fig­ure zan­der in one ses­sion and four perch over 4lb, all on f ly – now, that 's im­pos­si­ble for any­one to achieve. The prob­lem was, the ma­jor­ity of preda­tor an­glers couldn’t cast a f ly, let alone a large pike f ly, so they strug­gled and caught ver y lit­tle yet while spend­ing a lot of money! They com­plained about not be­ing al­lowed to use jerk baits and such. Spec­i­men groups saw the po­ten­tial in our wa­ters and put pres­sure on AW to open the reser voirs for “preda­tor an­glers”, and a rela xa­tion of the rules. From AW’s per­spec­tive, it’s now a huge rev­enue stream. They sell a lot of boats and day tick­ets, and now I feel they care more about the preda­tor an­glers than the f ly fish­er­man. Just look at all the preda­tor tackle for sale in the AW lodges!

The cur­rent po­si­tion

From Septem­ber on­wards, preda­tor an­glers ac­count for 10 -30% of all AW boats. On some week­ends all boats are booked just for a preda­tor event. Small “plas­tics” of any size are now al­lowed - sup­pos­edly to tar­get the perch drop shot­ting (yet the trout love them). Small spin­ners are used by the ma­jor­ity of an­glers - this is not po­liced by AW staff. Dead­baits of any size are used - of­ten small sprats in the 3-7in size for zan­der – but they’re taken by trout. Preda­tor an­glers use tre­bles, f ly an­glers can­not! AW pro­motes a match on Pits­ford in which preda­tor an­glers must achieve the “Grand Slam” of a pike, perch and trout. In July, you can legally spin or use plugs for trout at Pits­ford. A ny lure is f ine! AW pro­moted a “sur vey” for eel fish­ing this year with biv vies from the Sail­ing Club at Graf ham to the Dam for three nights - they were sup­pos­edly eel f ish­ing. An­glers paid £45 a night and caught a va­riet y of species, in­clud­ing trout!

What should be done

I’ve wit­nessed all kinds of rule-break­ing by preda­tor an­glers, many of which were listed in last month’s Let­ters pages. I’ve no prob­lem with pike, perch or zan­der in our reser voirs, nor with an­glers fish­ing for them. But fish­ing should only be done on the f ly for most of the sea­son. How­ever, one week could be set aside each sea­son at each reser voir specif­i­cally for preda­tor fish­ing, but only with lures over 6in and with bar­b­less sin­gle hooks at­tached. This would run con­sec­u­tively over each reser voir to give preda­tor an­glers a month of fish­ing at AW wa­ters. I also sug­gest no dead­baits, small plas­tics or drop shot­ting. This will protect all our fish – zan­der, pike, perch and trout – as only the true spec­i­men an­glers will fish for them. Cur­rently, any­one can throw out a small spin­ner or a dead­bait with a tre­ble and catch some­thing – usu­ally a trout. AW are rapidly de­stroy­ing their wa­ters. The preda­tor fish­ing is a shadow of what it was. The f ly f ish­ing is in sharp de­cline and AW can­not dis­pute the fact that sea­son ticket an­glers are not at all happy. I fear we’ll be­come like Han­ning­field or Bewl, where once-great f ly fish­ing reser voirs are now all but de­stroyed.

“I feel we’ll be­come like Han­ning­field or Bewl where once great fly fish­ing reser­voirs are now all but de­stroyed.”

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