“I’m afraid of losing my local customers who say I shouldn’t sell tackle to Eastern Europeans.” These are the words of Rochdale tackle dealer Dale Wardle, who has admitted to ‘not knowing what to do’ after his regulars urged him to ban the foreign anglers - blamed for decimating local fisheries.
Illegal angling and fish theft on Rochdale Canal has spiralled out of control in the past two years, with reports of the banks being littered with decapitated corpses of pike and bream.
Nearby, other stillwaters are said to be unearthing nets and illegal setlines ‘almost on a daily basis’.
Dale, who owns the popular Carp Kabin, is now faced with a dilemma that he believes could make or break his business: on the one hand he doesn’t want to lose the custom of his locals, while on the other he fears alienating others on the basis of their nationality.
“I welcome any angler that walks through my door, no matter where they come from, but I’m under so much pressure not to serve East Europeans,” said Dale.
“Either way, something has to be done, because if the devastation of fisheries continues I won’t be in this shop in two years’ time because there won’t be anything left worth catching. It’s got that bad on local council waters that the authorities have now cut down all the vegetation so that the pegs are always visible. They’ve also employed bailiffs and put up signs in foreign languages to try to curb the poaching.
“I’m running a business, so I’m not going to ban anyone outright, but if I think that people are buying gear to use for poaching or fishing illegally, then they won’t get served.” Not only is Dale monitoring tackle sales in his shop, he’s also joined forces with close friend Gary Leigh, who runs the popular Five Ponds at Stake Hill Lodges, to try to combat the problem.
“Dale and I have formed a small search team that’s going to spend an hour every day patrolling waters looking for nets and set lines,” said Gary.
Drennan North West team member Derek Bowers lives on the banks of the Rochdale Canal and has fished it for almost 60 years. He believes illegal fishing has taken a devastating toll on a venue that he holds close to his heart.
“The banks are littered with barbecues and fish bones, and during the winter the canal is lined with foreigners armed with crude tackle.”
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