An angler's journal

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Do we need a river close season? (edited)


I note that Dave Harrell has penned an article in this week’s Angling Times calling for a lift on the river close season. After all, it’s the only type of UK waterway that still has an obligation to close on March 15th.

Now I’m fully aware of the pros and cons depending on which side of the fence you sit on. Those in favour of a close season claim it protects the banks and associated wildlife and spawning fish. To be fair, given that many of the country’s rivers are suffering from predation, abstraction and many other problems it could be deemed this argument is as pertinent as ever.

On the flip side, those wanting a change to the rules offer the idea that it could boost the economy, offer more choice to anglers, and that stillwaters and canals haven’t suffered so why would rivers?

Personally, I would like to leave things as they are and that comes from someone who lives a few hundred metres from the Warwickshire Avon and would benefit more than most from a rule change. You’re probably wondering why? Well, for me the 16th June is still a special date in the angling calendar. The week preceding the 16th will have me getting tackle ready, preparing bait and thinking through my approach for the big day with great anticipation. A rule change would see this lost forever. Perhaps that’s a bit old fashioned but it’s what I look forward to. Since most of my angling is carried out on the river, the close season also gives me an opportunity to fish elsewhere and have a bash at other species. My observations also show that most canals are under fished and to add so are many stillwaters, commercials excepted. Therefore, the argument that they are fine doesn’t actually paint the full picture. If commercial fisheries suffer fatalities due to angling pressure then they simply buy new stock. This of course cannot happen on a natural fishery.

As I mentioned earlier, some rivers have really suffered in recent years due to cormorants, otters and poachers for the pot. These fish haven’t been replaced and some areas are hardly worth fishing. Ask anglers on the Windrush or Bristol Avon what the Barbel fishing is like these days and you wouldn’t get much of a response.  On my local Warks Avon, I know that weirs in particular get lots of angling pressure throughout the season yet these are the main sites, due to the oxygenated water, where many fish spawn. Would anglers really be happy fishing over gravel runs used for spawning? Perhaps, with some years seeing fish spawning outside the close season a change to the dates would be more appropriate than a lift.

I’ve not managed to read the article yet on the Angling Times but I can see why match anglers may want a lift since it increases the chances of river fishing and if you’re a river expert in those circles like Dave Harrell then that equates to extra income. Now although Dave won’t remember me, I do have memories of him giving chats and advice when I was a youngster with the Birmingham based, Junior Starlets and he always seemed a decent bloke. However, it would be interesting if his main points for a change actually benefit the angler or the river. Any views would of course be welcome from anyone reading so thanks in advance.

As always, feel free to follow my site or add a link to your own site if you’re a fellow blogger. Thanks for reading. 

P.S. - it appears Mr Harrell's main argument is that the current close season should be used to compensate for poor weather during the winter months. I personally don't think it's argument enough to warrant a change, but that's my opinion. Our rivers need all the help they can get at the moment and I'm not sure lifting the close season would aid the current issues they face.

7 comments:

  1. "Personally, I would like to leave things as they are and that comes from someone who lives a few hundred metres from the Warwickshire Avon and would benefit more than most from a rule change. You’re probably wondering why? Well, for me the 16th June is still a special date in the angling calendar. The week preceding the 16th will have me getting tackle ready, preparing bait and thinking through my approach for the big day with great anticipation. A rule change would see this lost forever. Perhaps that’s a bit old fashioned but it’s what I look forward to. Since most of my angling is carried out on the river, the close season also gives me an opportunity to fish elsewhere and have a bash at other species."

    You can still practice 3 months abstinence. There's nothing to stop you from doing so.

    However, I'd quite like to fish during March, April and June while the weather's good and the countryside is beautiful. Let's get rid of this unscientific close season nonsense.

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  2. And that's fine, however there's nothing to stop you fishing through those months at the moment, just on lakes and canals which are also located in beautiful countryside. That's my opinion and I'm happy with it since I believe abolishing the close season would only benefit the anglers' desire to fish rather than think about what is best for our rivers. Each to their own.

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  3. I'm with you entirely Lee.

    I'm afraid any reason including the word 'economic' is invalid as far as I'm concerned as I don't see angling as an industry, I don't see it defined as such in any dictionaries either!

    The ecological arguments in favour of the status quo are many and, for me at least, conclusive.

    Plus, June 16th still has a ring to it. I wouldn't be at all concerned if a close season applied everywhere, as frankly I think it should, but, given the current law, I'd certainly be happy for it to stay as it is on rivers.

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  4. I would be in favour od lifting the close season, BUT for weirs for 150 yars downstream to be out of bounds all year round to protect spawning and recovering fish, and to provide year round sanctuary.

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  5. What hasn't been mentioned is spawning fish don't tend to feed so is it really worth abolishing the close season. A lot of commercials that have a spawning population of carp will tell you it's hard to catch these fish. Of course you do still catch but as river fishing is notoriously harder I for one welcome the 3 month break and also look forward to June 16th which although is highly anticipated usually disappoints due to my point above. I am coming from a barbel point of view so guess the matchmen will have a different view.

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  6. Hi Lee, yes I read it and its a thought provoking piece of course. I tend to agree with that the 16th is a very special date because in theory no one has fished a river for three months and so its had a real chance to recover. However I do feel that most rivers are so under-fished that this wouldn't really make much difference.

    I also agree with the other post that spawning fish don't really feed anyway (although I have caught carp and tench bloated with spawn and even leaking from the fish).

    At the moment I'm neither one way or the other on this issue. I certainly wouldn't be upset if the close season was abolished and if it carries on well that's just fine too. I believe they call it 'sitting on the fence'!

    Great blog by the way lee.

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  7. Thanks for that. I'm just in the 'leave it alone camp' and don't see a plausible reason to change it.

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