£5,000 bounty on poachers

Angling Times has joined forces with one of the UK’s most influential fishery owners and two desperate angling clubs to offer an unprecedented £5,000 reward to bring fish thieves to justice.

The cash will be awarded for information that leads to the successful conviction of criminals who plundered Kent-based Cranbrook and District Angling Club’s flagship specimen water.

Hundreds of unwanted dead roach and rudd were left scattered up the bank when thieves used nets to steal Park Farm Lake’s historic head of carp, all of which weigh over 20lb.

Now Angling Times and Mid-Kent Fisheries have joined Cranbrook DAC and their neighbouring club Linton AS in an attempt to catch the criminals before other waters are hit.

“This sort of crime can destroy a club like ours because people want to catch big carp. We don’t know how many of the carp have been taken because the lake is now frozen, but if they’ve all gone it will be heartbreaking,” said David Sherwood, publicity officer for the club.

“They have to be caught before they strike again. We are extremely grateful to AT and Mid Kent Fisheries, but also to Linton AS who have joined us in the fight. It’s vital that local fishing communities pull together at times like this because it’s the only way we will win the fight.”

Mid Kent boss Chris Logsdon was quick to put £500 of his own money into the Cranbrook DAC reward fund because he has also recently suffered at the hands of fish thieves, despite commanding a team of full-time staff and bailiffs.

He revealed that six specimen carp have been taken from a ‘top secret’ stock pond and believes that there are several highly-organised gangs of fish thieves currently working the Kent and Sussex areas.

“I’ve been in this game for a long time and know every trick in the book, but these low-lives stop at nothing. I really fear for smaller clubs because they are the most vulnerable,” Chris told Angling Times.

“The other problem we all face is that the police and Environment Agency do very little to deter these criminals. That’s why it’s vital that fisheries and clubs work together to make sure that our stocks are not just easy pickings.”

The number of venues hit by poachers has soared since the recession began, and AT editor Richard Lee believes it’s an issue that every UK fishery owner, club and association needs to address.

“This campaign should signify the start of a battle against thieves, but the baton needs to be picked up by the rest of the angling world if we’re to have any chance of success. It’s easy to stick your head in the sand, but now is the time to act. These thieves are destroying lives and businesses every day. It’s time to fight for our stocks and the survival of clubs like Cranbrook.”

Anybody wishing to offer information, or to add to the reward fund, can contact Angling Times on 01733 395102. Alternatively, log on to www.cranbrookanglingclub.co.uk or www.lintonangling.co.uk to contact the two clubs directly.