Catmeat banned to save fish health

“Catmeat was poisoning my water so I¹ve banned it.” That¹s the view of Gerry Bibbey, owner of premier Essex commercial fishery Colemans Cottage, who has taken the radical step to protect his fish stocks after witnessing his water turn an ugly shade of green.

With its oils, soft texture and strong smell, the fish-catching potential of catmeat has never been in doubt, but the good it does to fish and water quality has frequently been of concern to fishery managers. Witham-based Colemans Cottage is not the first - and won¹t be the last ¬ fishery to ban the petfood, which is mostly purchased from budget supermarkets.

Although he has not placed a complete ban on luncheon meat, Gerry has also limited the amount that can be used of this other popular bait after witnessing anglers feeding too much last year.

“The new rule is two small tins, or 400g, of meat per day, as I¹d rather have anglers using corn and pellet. They¹ll catch just as much as they would with meat. Most of the matches here are won with 100lb-plus, or 200lb-plus in warm weather and, as an angler myself, I know that you need a fair bit of bait to do this,” said Gerry.

Another man who has seen the side effects of too much meat being used at his fishery is Mike Mason, owner of Preston Innovations Woodland View in Droitwich, Worcs. Up until two years ago, anglers were allowed to feed liquidised meat at the venue but Mike stopped it because of problems with fish not picking up all the bait ¬ leading to Œan unhealthy scum¹ forming on the surface of the lakes.

“If a bait is too difficult for a fish to pick up and put through its digestive system, it will rot and decay on the bottom. Every year we have our water tested and usually spend lots of money correcting any irregularities in the quality with chemicals. Last year was the first time we didn¹t have to do this, which I¹m convinced was down to the change in meat rules,” said Mike.

Simon Scott, a fisheries lecturer at Sparsholt College, said that the scenario at Colemans Cottage was typical of any venue where anglers were baiting too heavily. He explained that water turns green due to excessive eutrophication, or nutrient enrichment.

“The average commercial match fishery is having its water polluted very effectively by every angler who fishes it. Just look at the case studies I¹ve given below. Remember this scenario is just for one day¹s fishing, but imagine the ammonia levels building up during a warm month such as August.

You can substitute the pellets for meats or any other high-protein bait ¬ essentially they have the same effect,” said Simon.