Crawley AS chairman campaigning to end the river fishing closed season

The chairman of a popular angling club has launched a campaign to get the closed season on rivers abolished.

Fishermen across the country have debated the pros and cons of the enforced shutdown ever since the old stillwater closed season was scrapped in 1995.

Those in favour claim it allows waterways the time to recover, while critics argue virtually deserted riverbanks have led to a growth in poaching and pollution problems.

Crawley AS chairman Lenny Wells is now spearheading a crusade to secure year-round sport for river anglers.

“There is no scientific evidence to support the closed season and it’s about time we scrapped this outdated rule,” said Lenny.

“Rod licence-holders are being short changed ¬ they pay for a 12-month licence and yet they’re not allowed to fish the rivers for three months of that. It’s ridiculous. Anglers are often referred to as the guardians of our waterways and the fact is it would be more beneficial to have us present on the rivers all year round. If anglers pull together, then I’m certain we can convince politicians to put an end to this nonsensical rule,” he added.

AT columnist Des Taylor has repeatedly hit out at the Environment Agency for its insistence on retaining the closed season and is willing to add his weight to the fight.

“There’s now less reason than ever before to close our rivers to coarse anglers. The excuse that it gives the fish the chance to recover is no longer relevant as hardly anyone targets rivers any more. When I first moved to Bewdley, every peg on the Severn was over-subscribed, but now it’s empty almost all year round. As for the argument that anglers would disrupt spawning, every experienced angler knows that spawning fish aren’t interested in feeding,” said Des.

Despite the calls, EA officials have again restated their determination to retain the current policy.

“There are no plans to review the coarse fishing season on rivers. There has been no new evidence to suggest removing it will not have an impact on stocks and fisheries. From our most recent survey, the majority of anglers remain supportive of retaining it,” said an EA spokesperson.

Fisheries scientists have been split about the topic, but Sparsholt College lecturer Simon Scott told Angling Times he was in favour of keeping it.

“Fish caught on a regular basis are more prone to stress and the closed season lets them recuperate. If you were allowed to target rivers all year round, there is a chance catch-rates would deteriorate as a result of higher stress levels in fish.”