UNSCRUPULOUS Eastern European poachers are using the annual closed season to wreak havoc on the banks of some of the nation¹s most famous rivers, Angling Times can reveal this week.
Concerned anglers up and down the country have been phoning in to report where they have spotted fisheries laws being broken, with accounts of fish and birds killed and barbecued on the bank.
Tempers are running high on the Dorset Stour, where immigrants have been frequently spotted fishing the Longham free stretch home to 8lb-plus chub and barbel of over 18lb with impunity.
Chub Study Group member Iain Nairn contacted Angling Times after repeatedly seeing anglers camped out on the banks and cooking their catches while he has been doing some closed season fish spotting.
"There are always illegal anglers camped out down there with rods lining the banks unattended. It¹s so annoying. The fish never get a rest with these people fishing while the rest of us obey the rules," claimed local carpenter Iain.
"If they catch one of the big fish, then it'll get chopped up and thrown on the barbecue it makes me livid," he added bitterly.
And after sitting by and watching stocks being plundered from the River Medway at East Peckham for the past three closed seasons, local anglers have had enough and are trying to stop the damage being done themselves in the absence of any intervention by the authorities.
"For the last three years it has been a nightmare to watch these people ruin the place that we all love. It's so upsetting having to watch fish and birds being killed in front of us. Something has to be done," said the concerned local angler who took photos of pike being removed and cooked and piles of rubbish left on the bank.
"It shouldn't be down to concerned members of the public to be approaching these people, effectively doing the jobs that others are paid to do," he insisted.
The news follows recent reports that Eastern Europeans were killing swans and electro-fishing vast stretches of the River Lea in Hertfordshire.
At a recent meeting between angling groups and the Environment Agency, fisheries bosses unveiled that their new strategy for dealing with illegal angling will involve increased attention being paid to known trouble spots.
» If you see any suspected illegal angling, then call 0800 807060 immediately.