Although fishing wasn’t allowed there, the complete wipe-out of the pit known as ‘Colne Mere’ took with it some stunning fish, including a carp known as the ‘Black Mirror’ - because of the illegality of fishing for it, one of the most desirable fish in the country. It takes a special kind of ‘bottle’ to risk a court appearance to catch a fish.
The lesson to be learned from The Mere is that if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere. This was a very low-stocked water, with a large surface area, surrounded by other lakes in an excellent water table, yet its demise was entirely by way of natural causes.
The fact that people fish there illegally brought up another topic, one that was known years ago in carp circles as ‘guesting’: fishing a club or syndicate water without a ticket!
It’s nothing new, indeed I did just that myself for several years in the 1970s when some friends who were members used to take me along to fish a ‘southern river’.
We had some magnificent winter catches of bream and roach too, and were quite often the only anglers on the bank. The bailiff at the time never doubted I was a member and regularly sat with me drinking tea from my flask as I caught bream or roach, one after another.
Nowadays it’s slightly different with some ‘guests’ breaking, nay flouting, club rules by fishing overnight where that is banned, using a tent where it is specifically not allowed and breaking all manner of other rules, some of which are laid down by the owners of the lake.
This puts the club, and its genuine members, in jeopardy of losing the fishing rights on the waters that they rent. Of course it won’t affect those ‘guesting’, as they’ll continue to poach there anyway!
I know of one angler in particular who has fished a club water for years without a membership and just goes back time and again.
It is a public access area, where members of the public can walk round, so unless there is intent to steal fish, a criminal act is not being carried out. The best the club could hope to do is take out an injunction - at some cost - that if the angler ignored could make him in contempt of court. A judge could then fine and, if repeated often enough, imprison the offender.
Could you honestly see a judge doing that? Me neither.