One of the nation’s most popular commercial fishing complexes has this week taken drastic steps to safeguard its fish stocks by controversially banning the use of keepnets.
Staffordshire’s Cudmore Fisheries has always given pleasure anglers the chance to admire their catch at the end of the day by allowing nets, but now the irresponsible actions of a minority of fishermen have put an end to the luxury.
“We used to charge an extra £1 for the use of a keepnet, but we found that at times three people were sharing one net. When this happens, you can end up with over 180lb of fish in one keepnet, which is clearly not acceptable,” said Cudmore boss Cyril Brewster.
Members of staff at the 16-lake complex have been shocked at the actions of some pleasure rods, and Cyril added: “Fish of over 20lb have been put in nets for over 12 hours a day. Until we can find a suitable way of policing the way anglers use keepnets, they will only be allowed on the match waters.” Cudmore joins a growing list of high-profile fisheries that have moved to outlaw the use of keepnets in recent years, a list which includes Holgan Farm Fishery, in Pembrokeshire, west Wales, which is run by 1976 world champion Ian Heaps.
“I want to know for certain that my fish aren’t getting stressed, and by releasing them instantly I know they will be fine. Also, I think if nets are used they can have an adverse effect on the quality of sport. If lots of fish are tipped back at the end of the day, I would say the performance of the venue the day after will be 25 per cent down,” said Ian.
One fishery that has found what appears to be a happy medium is Yorkshire’s Loxley Fisheries. The scenic complex operates a ‘keepnet Saturdays’ system which allows pleasure rods to hold their catch for the duration of the session for one day a week.
“We have had a fantastic response to the initiative. Fishermen who don’t enter competitions like the opportunity to view their catch at the end of the day and this allows them to do just that.
Everybody uses common sense and the fish must be released back into the lake by 4pm,” said fishery boss Steve Aldam.
The debate over whether keepnets benefit the recovery process of fish has rumbled on for several years. Sparsholt College fisheries expert Simon Scott said: “The best thing to do is release the fish straight away. If they are kept in keepnets they get stressed and can also suffer from a lack of oxygen if they are crammed in with lots of other specimens.”