A group of anglers are celebrating this week after they averted the cull of thousands of carp by chaining themselves to a fishery entrance gate in protest.
Members of Henleaze Angling Club in Bristol were outraged after the swimming club which holds the lease to their lake announced plans to destroy huge numbers of fish because it felt the venue was overstocked and water clarity was suffering.
Environment Agency officials gave the go-ahead for the cull, having ruled out the possibility of moving them elsewhere because they were allegedly carrying a parasite, a move which mobilised the 200-strong angling club into action.
At the forefront of the protest was venue regular Dave Hodges, who chained himself to the entrance gate in order to block the path for the culling team.
“They were proposing that roach to 2lb along with big bream and carp were culled. I was chained to the gate for almost six hours before it was announced they were not going to kill the fish. The only way I was leaving without getting what we wanted was by being arrested. It’s a beautiful lake and it seems to me like the swimming club are trying to slowly phase fishing out. We will not tolerate it,” said Dave.
Several well-known figures, including England Under-22 international Callum Dicks, threw their weight behind the protest. The former junior world champ, who showed up at the gates, believes a cull at Henleaze is unnecessary.
“They claim the lake is grossly overstocked and that the water will become deoxygenated in the summer. Both suggestions are ridiculous. The lake has been there for 40 years with the same stocks and it has never had any problems. The swimming club has said that it wants clearer water, but it is already absolutely crystal.”
Despite the uproar, officials from the swimming club remain adamant that action must be taken to thin out the stocks at some point. Lake trustee Mark Thompson told Angling Times: “We have been advised by fisheries management consultants that we risk a major fish-kill if we have a period of hot weather.
“We purchased an aerator several years ago because the head bailiff observed the fish gulping for air on the surface. We bought a second aerator this year and used both every night between June and September. We have issues with overstocking, the fish stock health and water quality which we must act upon.”
Both parties now appear set for further discussions and Angling Trust chairman Mike Heylin has moved to offer advice.
“The anglers need to look at the constitution of the club to see what they are entitled to and what their rights are. If they are members of the Trust, then we can offer advice on what action could be taken.”