Drayton Reservoir to host catch and release matches

‘Catch and release’ contests are set to become increasingly common in the UK as the average size of carp in commercial waters continues to get bigger, Angling Times can reveal this week.

Match anglers fishing Drayton Reservoir will soon have to weigh and return every fish they catch immediately, following news that British Waterways is planning to implement a keepnet ban at the Northants superwater in response to the rocketing growth rates of its fish stocks.

A number of fishing clubs holding matches at the venue are already embracing the changes by allocating ‘runners’ to weigh and record each carp caught.

The average size of the Drayton fish has increased to between 12lb and 14lb this season, and this is simply too big for keepnets, said joint fishery manager Angela Ryder.

“Our carp put on about 2lb last year, and an increasing number are exceeding 20lb – one angler had four twenties in a recent session. Last year an angler had 11 big carp in the same net which couldn’t even be lifted and had to be dragged up the bank. This is totally unacceptable,” said Angela.

Catch and release matches have been trialled before, most notably at the Angel of the North fishery in County Durham. However, owner Ann Adlington admits that the concept required too much manpower to be practical.

“It worked in junior competitions, but wasn’t too popular with the open match guys. Now we use keepnets, but insist that any fish that is longer than the width of a keepnet is weighed and put back, as it is vital that a fish is able to turn round inside the net,” said Ann.