Security on the nation’s rivers is being stepped up this week as clubs battle to protect vulnerable waterways from poachers during the closed season.
One of the sport’s most famous running water venues has taken the unprecedented step of staying open during the shutdown for the first time in over 40 years, not only to allow day-ticket rods the chance to catch salmon and trout, but also to safeguard the venue from fish thieves.
Like countless other river fisheries across the country, the threat of illegal fish removal is more real than ever at Throop on the Dorset Stour, and bosses are adamant that allowing anglers to fish through the closed season is ‘essential’.
And with many miles of riverbank set to be devoid of law-abiding anglers until June 16, other clubs across the land have already put measures in place to protect prized stocks.
“It’s got to the stage where it’s vital to have anglers on the bank, otherwise poachers could have a free rein,” said fishery manager Chris Allport.
“These game anglers will act as the eyes and ears of the river. It’s vital that every club realises this threat and makes their presence felt on the bank.” Another club to have implemented fresh measures to protect stocks during the closedown is Hereford & District Angling Association, which controls some of the best fishing the River Wye has to offer.
It now has five bailiffs who patrol the waterway all hours of the day and night and the club also intends to use boats on its venues and investigate ‘out of the way’ areas favoured by poachers.
“After the Wye Festival, we were finding set lines carrying up to 17 hair-rigged baits, and that’s during the season. God knows what would happen if we didn’t have a presence on the bank during the shutdown,” said Paul Woodward, club member and local tackle shop owner.
“I had an argument with seven foreign lads in my shop the other day who were kicking the counter and shouting because they were convinced that they could still fish the river. What’s the point of a closed season if the stocks are being pillaged?” Further east, King’s Lynn AA has also doubled its bailiff numbers and is actively encouraging members to make regular patrols of its waters.
“We’re having to bailiff venues to the same level as we would during the season, which is strenuous for a club like us, but ignoring the problem would be like going on holiday, leaving your house unlocked and wondering why the place is empty when you get back,” said Ashley Brown, secretary of KLAA.
“Fishing clubs need help because the closed season poses a whole new threat to fishing. It’s about time the powers that be realised this.”