The controversial debate on whether pleasure fishermen should be allowed to use keepnets at commercial fisheries was opened up this week as anglers are given the green light to keep their catches at a huge day-ticket complex.
Bosses at Staffordshire’s Cudmore Fishery have announced that day-ticket anglers can now use keepnets on six of its most popular stillwaters after it revealed a ‘noticeable’ decline in day-ticket sales due to old rules that allowed their use on just two of its venues.
But now visitors will be able to spread their catches between two nets, for a maximum of six hours, while fishing for a mixture of species including carp, tench, bream, roach and F1s on offer on the Milo Lake, Sues Canals the Panama Canal, Moores Canal and Pool 1.
Since the decision was made and first announced across popular social media networks, fishery bosses have admitted to being inundated with replies, e-mails and phone calls from excited pleasure anglers that now wish to fish at the venue, that hosts the prestigious Fish O’ Mania Final, specifically because of the fact that they can now use a keepnet.
“Day ticket sales have suffered and we’ve lost count of the number of anglers that won’t come and have a day’s pleasure fishing with us because there aren’t enough of our lakes that allow them to use a keepnet,” said Fishery coordinator Frank Clarke.
“Since we announced the decision to allow nets on six waters the response has been incredible and confirms the fact that the opportunity for people to see what they’ve caught at the end of the day is a really important part of their fishing experience.
“We will be policing these rules very carefully with the use of fishery own nets, a maximum use of six hours and obviously there will be times in the summer where the use of nets won’t be appropriate as the welfare of our fish has to come first.”
It’s a management policy that divides both anglers and fishery owners alike and another hugely popular fishery that welcomes pleasure anglers that wish to use keepnets with open arms is Stafford Moor fishery in Devon.
“There’s no doubt that anglers like to see what they have caught at the end of the day and may choose a venue that allows keepnets over somewhere that doesn’t,” said fishery owner Jo Coombes
But there are commercial waters that don’t allow the use of keepnets and it’s a ruling that many won’t ever consider changing.
“We used to allow keepnets, but one day I walked around and found somebody that had been fishing for about 10 hours and had placed 170lb of fish in a net. That was the final straw for me and I banned them there and then,” said John Raison, owner of Gold Valley Lakes in Aldershot, Hampshire.
“I never wanted to see a repeat of that again and that ultimately made me realise that allowing pleasure anglers to use keepnets just wasn’t for us.”
Leading fisheries management consultant Dr Bruno Broughton believes in a 'horses for courses' approach to keepnet use.
“A well-designed, correctly-used keepnet is a useful, perfectly safe means of temporarily retaining fish,” he said.
“If common-sense rules are instigated and enforced, as I know they will be at fisheries as well-managed as Cudmore, problems should not arise.
“But I totally accept that, given the circumstances at their fisheries, some owners may prefer an outright keepnet ban to prevent inadvertent, but unnecessary damage to their valuable fish.”
Dr Bruno Broughton’s keepnet code:
Look out for those carrying the distinctive Angling Foundation water lily logo, which is proof that they have been accredited to rigorous fish welfare standards.
Nets should also be securely pegged out so that the rings don’t collapse onto one another and only used to retain modest numbers of fish for short periods of time.
Large and small fish shouldn’t share the same net and all should be released without withdrawing the net from the water.
Fish should be gently coaxed out of any keepnet and never be returned by being rolled down an inverted net.
10 waters that allow the use of keepnets:
1 The Oaks, York, N Yorks - 01845 501321, Sat Nav: YO7 3BG
2 Lloyds Meadow, Chester, Cheshire - 07894 450850, Sat Nav: CH3 8BD
3 Baden Hall Fishery, Eccleshall, Staffs - 01785 850313, Sat Nav: ST21 6LG
4 Sykehouse Fisheries, Thorne , S Yorks - 01405 785403, Sat Nav: DN14 9AJ
5 Sherwood Forest Fishery, Mansfield, Notts – 07721 316334, Sat Nav: NG21 9HL
6 Tunnel Barn Farm, Shrewley, Warks - 01926 842188, Sat Nav: CV35 7AN
7 Lakeview Fishery, Melton Mowbray, Leics - 07813 276623, Sat Nav: LE14 4SX
8 Stafford Moor, Dolton, Devon - 01805 804360, Sat Nav: EX19 8PP
9 Bitterwell Lake, Bristol – 07901 074158, Sat Nav: BS36 2UF
10 Bullock Farm Fishery, Kingston Seymour, Somerset - 01934 835020, Sat Nav: BS21 6XA
*Please contact the fishery before taking a keepnet to check rules on their usage.