Commercial fisheries are bad for anglers and bad for our sport. This is the controversial warning given by scientists this week following in depth research carried out by Newcastle University.
Conducted through interviews with anglers on the river Esk, Ure and Swale as well as at a number of still water fisheries, researchers on the project entitled ‘Angling and the Rural Environment’ concluded that commercials could be detrimental to the sport as they require ‘little commitment to learn skills’ due to the amount of fish stocked in them.
The effects of this means the fisheries make angling too easy for newcomers to the sport resulting in these anglers then only ever fishing commercials as they haven’t developed the skills and patience needed to tackle other waters such as rivers and canals.
“Commercial fisheries do have huge advantages for people who find it difficult to access rivers,” said lead researcher on the project, Dr Liz Houghton. “But they are almost like shopping trips that require little in the way of commitment to learn how to catch because of the high density of stocked fish.” Dr Sally Eden who was also involved in the research added: “Youngster who fish commercials aren’t going to get to know rivers in the same way. They’re not going to have the patience or the skills to interact with rivers, and more and more fishing will be devoted towards commercials.” The conclusions of the research have angered many fishery owners, including the owner of Gold Valley Lakes in Hampshire, John Raison, who believes the opposite is the case.
“If it didn’t take any skill to catch at commercials why are there six or seven brilliant anglers who are virtually unbeatable at every top commercial in the country?” asked John. “It’s because they are more skilled than the rest.
Commercials draw new people into the sport and they then transfer over to the rivers so if anything venues like Gold Valley are having a very positive effect on the amount of people visiting running water venues.” John Williams, the Secretary of Birmingham Angling Association that controls more river fishing than any other club in the UK, also disagrees with the findings.
“Commercials are not damaging to our sport, they are simply fulfilling a role that wasn’t being filled before they came along,” he said. “They’re not damaging river fishing either and they’ve given angling its biggest boom since the closed season rules for still waters were changed.