Bigger fish, less litter and more smiling faces. These are just a few of the positive outcomes that one of the nation’s most proactive fishery bosses has noticed since she turned a popular complex into a members-only haven.
Ann Freeman, owner of Bedfordshire’s Tingrith Fishery, decided to close her doors to day ticket anglers at the turn of the year after suffering from poor catch returns, increased rubbish and lakes that were so busy pegs were hard to come by.
After months of consultation, she took drastic action and decided to create a membership-only scheme – effectively turning her back on day-ticket visitors.
And although her decision was met with derision, eight months on, that criticism has disappeared and the fishery’s in better shape than ever before.
“We have created a lovely community and I don’t regret the decision at all. The fish are putting weight on, there’s a more relaxed atmosphere and the banksides are more scenic as a result of fewer people being present,” explained Ann.
“I don’t feel as though I have to be on-site 24/7 because the members respect the rules and don’t leave litter. It is not the most profitable way of going forward, but I would highly recommend it to others,” she added.
Virtually all the members who signed up to join have been quick to praise the transformation. Luton-based Linda Billington said: “The waters have less pressure on them and there are more swims to choose from. The anglers who are here care about the environment and make sure it is pleasant for the next angler. I had an open mind when the change first happened, but there is no doubt I will be joining again next year.”
Various figures from within the sport believe it is no coincidence that the venue has seen scores of upbeat changes since the introduction of the scheme.
“The fish will probably be under less pressure and this will help create better growth-rates and bigger catches,” explained Sparsholt College fisheries expert Simon Scott.