Fisheries in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire are being warned to be on their guard against a gang of organised fish thieves using rod and line to catch carp to order for other waters.
One venue has been hit so badly that it has been forced to turn its lake into a silverfish-only venue after having over 90 per cent of its carp stolen, leaving it up to £10,000 out of pocket.
Scunthorpe Pisces Angling Club even banned keepnets and carp sacks to try to catch those responsible at its Flixborough Lake, but the move was taken too late because, when the club came to removing the remaining carp, just 13 were left, instead of the 100-plus they were expecting.
Simon Mattison, fisheries manager for the 1,500-strong club, told AT that fish to 26lb had been stolen.
“We’ve had reports of vans with large tanks on the back at the lake, and managed to catch two people night-fishing, which is banned, with no club memberships or licences. We have the names of several individuals, some of whom have been turned away from other venues. I blame the fisheries which are buying these illegally-moved carp at cut down prices ¬ they’re fuelling the crimewave,” said Simon.
One man who can sympathise with Simon is Kev Johnson, owner of the nearby Messingham Sands complex, which suffered a similar problem 10 years ago, resulting in its Island Pond having to be turned from a big carp syndicate to a match carp water to thwart the thieves. Kev revealed how, when he eventually netted it, his three biggest fish were missing.
“They are very recognisable fish and turned up in a nearby water, but I think they were even ‘moved on’ from there. This summer, I’ve been staggering my sleep and getting up at all hours of the night to try to catch thieves. One morning I found a man with a barrel full of water and an air hose in the back of his van. I know for a fact that and the men caught at Flixborough also came here. I’d like to see some guidelines from the EA and police as to what to do when I catch these people,” said Kev.
Humberside police constable Martin Ferraby, a keen angler and member of SPAC, said that prosecuting fish thieves is a difficult process.
“You have to catch them in the process of removal ¬ it’s like making off without paying for petrol ¬ once you’ve left the forecourt how do you prove that the petrol was put in? Unless fish are chipped, they are virtually unidentifiable. I would urge all clubs to remain vigilant and include the right for bailiffs to check vehicles, as well as permits, in their rules,” he said.