All Eastern European anglers who turn up at leading commercial Gold Valley Lakes will now have to undergo an interview with venue boss John Raison before they can fish.
The move comes after John and his son, former world champ Will Raison, had to escort five foreign nationals off the Aldershot, Hampshire, fishery when they tried to smuggle a 10lb carp away in a suitcase. Some local anglers took pictures of the men as they left the premises and circulated them to other anglers and venues, with a warning anonymously phoned in to Angling Times that they will be ‘dealt with’ the next time they surface.
Consequently, from now on Eastern European visitors to Gold Valley will have to produce their rod licence, or buy one on-site, before being interrogated by John.
“I’m not banning them like the fishery owner in Lincolnshire, I just want to prevent this happening again and I don’t like my property being stolen.
“There are good and bad people in all walks of life and as soon as an angler sits down your instinct tells you whether or not they are genuine. Some of the Polish anglers who come here have all the gear and are as good as gold,” said John.
Incidents unfolded on Gold Lake when the party of Eastern Europeans began acting suspiciously while playing fish. Unbeknown to them, they were being watched by staff using the powerful on-site telescope, as well as by local angler Mick Fordham two pegs away, who alerted the Gold Valley team when he saw them catch a carp and fail to return it.
As a result, Will Raison stopped fishing a match on nearby Middle Lake in order to help remove the individuals, who were caught with the fish plus a skimmer bream wrapped in polythene in a suitcase.
“They’d put a spike down its gills to puncture its swim bladder, but it was still alive. Apparently doing this keeps it ‘fresh’ for longer. From being able to speak very good English earlier in the day, they suddenly couldn’t speak any at all. When you confront them they can accuse you of all sorts, so the fish were put in a freezer as evidence,” said John.
An anonymous caller to Angling Times, who witnessed the events, revealed that images of the men had been captured on a mobile phone.
“I am a law-abiding citizen, but even I felt so enraged that I wanted to hit them ¬ I just had to walk away. In some ways I wish Will and John hadn’t been there because the lakes were full of anglers who would have dealt with the problem there and then. They knew they were doing wrong, but they didn’t care. These people will be dealt with,” promised the caller.