New rules to stop predator 'circus'

The owners of Britain’s best big pike day-ticket water have introduced a raft of strict new rules in an attempt to stop its huge predators being hounded to death by irresponsible anglers.

Boddington Reservoir, in Northants, came under enormous pressure last year following Steve Davis’ capture of a 40lb 10oz pike in February, with anglers travelling from far and wide to target the fish.

The more unscrupulous among them left no stone unturned in their quest, stitching up most of the swims and even illegally fishing the venue’s feeder stream, which was used by the vulnerable predators as a refuge during spawning times.

However, following the untimely death of the 40lb-plus pike a couple of months after Steve caught it, plus the demise of other specimens weighing 30lb and 28lb, British Waterways has now said that it will issue lifelong bans to any anglers caught fishing the ‘out of bounds’ area, and will turn away anybody not having the tackle needed to safely land, unhook and return their catches.

“What happened here last winter was a tragedy and will never happen again,” said Ken Ryan, head bailiff at Boddington.

“Up to 16 anglers at a time were seen fishing the narrow stream, and some were even fishing it at night. Things just got way out of hand ¬ it was a circus. These fish need somewhere to go to escape anglers ¬ especially somewhere as popular as Boddington. We have a prized and historic stock of big pike that we’re very proud of, so even though we welcome pikers with open arms, they won’t get away with anything that might put the fish in danger.”

BW has also tightened up its fishery rules, meaning all predator anglers will have their tackle meticulously checked to ensure that they are using the appropriate terminal tackle and possess both forceps and unhooking mats.

Pike fishing legend and AT columnist Neville Fickling has welcomed the new regime, and believes that strict fishery management is the only way to protect big day-ticket pike.

“As soon as a big pike is caught, both the fish and the venue are immediately put under huge pressure, which is both inevitable and unfortunate,” said Neville.

“Rules not only save pike, but also serve to educate day-ticket fishermen because anyone can buy a carp rod, a few traces and a bag of deadbaits and then call themselves a pike angler.”

The Pike Anglers’ Club of Great Britain has led the fight for the protection and promotion of the species for more than 30 years, and president Tim Kelly is urging anyone looking to target predators to first become familiar with the basics of fishing for them responsibly.

“Pike are extremely susceptible to poor handling, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s easy to make a mistake, which could jeopardise the fish’s safety. Our website contains guidelines about the tackle and equipment needed to target pike, and also the correct handling techniques. If any angler or indeed fishery needs advice, they are more than welcome to contact us,” said Tim.