The morals of a fishery boss who has installed a ‘bait cannon’ in an attempt to create a British record carp venue have been called into question this week.
Rob Hales, who owns a number of big carp venues including The Monument in Shropshire, has erected the £2,000 device at The Avenue, a picturesque 10-acre lake in the same county which is due to open its doors next year.
Similar equipment is widely used to rear massive fish at lakes on the Continent, and Rob is hoping that it will maximise the growth potential of the Avenue’s residents, fish that are already putting on 5lb a year.
Far from being a temporary measure to boost fish weights, Rob insists that the gun will remain operational when anglers begin to flock through the doors from next April onwards.
“Lots of French waters have these machines running all of the time and it’s no coincidence that these venues hold some of the biggest carp in the world. I’ve managed to rear carp to 55lb without this machine, so with it a British record should only be a matter of time.
“All my fish are big, beautiful and healthy, so why should there be any cause for concern?”
Rob’s plans have ruffled a lot of feathers on the big-carp scene, with many questioning the morals behind his plans, among them respected big fish angler Ian Chillcott.
He said: “It’s nothing more than the exploitation of a magnificent fish and makes me feel sick. To my mind, there’s no difference between force-feeding carp with pellets and doing the same to geese to fatten their livers in the production of fois gras. Both should be banned.”
However, Dr Mark Burdass, a leading fisheries scientist at Sparsholt College in Hants, believes that pellet feeding machines are fine as long as food levels are managed and fish welfare maintained.
“These machines are more effective for carp growth than bucket feeding because smaller amounts of food are introduced more regularly, so carp are constantly grazing. But carp of record proportions don’t happen overnight; growth rates in fish between 10lb and 30lb are far higher than those weighing 30lb-60lb,” explained Mark.