It’s well known that fishermen will go to extreme lengths to protect their quarry, but one keen angler took things to another level by courageously jumping into a lake to free fish stocks that council workers were trying to remove.
Romford-based carper Ben Patten bravely launched himself into his local Raphael Park Lake after local authorities attempted to net the water in an effort to stop fishing at the venue.
Havering Council had initially decided to outlaw fishing at the lake after allegedly receiving complaints from local residents about the anti-social behaviour by a minority of anglers.
However, after a number of fishermen opted to ignore the ban, the council decided that the lake’s stocks would have to be moved elsewhere. This prompted an angry response from the anglers, many of whom turned out in force to stop the action taking place.
But it was 21-year old Ben who really made the difference. “There had been rumours that the council intended to remove the fish and that they were down at the lake, so I paid them a visit. Others were talking about jumping in and stopping them netting the place, so I spontaneously just went for it! It took a bit of a tussle, but I eventually managed to free all the fish from the net,” explained Ben.
Moments after succeeding in releasing hefty numbers of 20lb-plus carp, reality kicked in and Ben expected to be arrested, but the police officer’s reaction came as a surprise.
“I climbed out of the water fully expecting to be nicked, but the policeman took my details and then quietly congratulated me!” added Ben.
Many of the anglers who observed the incident believe the council overreacted, and that Ben was justified in his actions. Terry Ross, who has been visiting the water for over 50 years, told Angling Times: “As usual, the majority of lawabiding anglers have been let down by the irresponsible one per cent. It’s not fair to penalise everyone else because of them. I was fully up for Ben jumping in as it was all a big con.”
Council officials claim the ban was originally put in place because of comments from residents, but one citizen who lives nearby said: “To say that complaints were made against anglers is false. It is kids that cause most of the problems, not fishermen. I’m all for getting more youngsters around the lake with their rods.”
Ben Patten’s heroic efforts appear to have made officials rethink their stance, with a Havering Council spokesperson telling Angling Times: “There are now no plans to move the fish. The Parks Service is seeking to create an appropriate body to improve the control of fishing at the venue.”