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