Keith Arthur - Closed season is here for the sake of the fish

I honestly don’t know whether I once had a very complicated and lifelike dream but to everyone that says there has been no scientific research into the closed season, either I did, or you are wrong!

In the early 1970s there was research, conducted on stillwaters around the country by Liverpool University. The old Halls Angling Scheme played a major role in it. Sometime before the closed season was abolished on stillwaters there was more research, conducted by the National Rivers Authority.

It’s why the closed season on stillwaters was abolished. Originally this was only to be on ‘managed’ and enclosed fisheries, but as virtually every stillwater in the country has introduced stock anyway, the self-regeneration argument wasn’t there: fish vanish, so pop in some more!

The reasons given for the closed season to be retained on rivers was absolutely clear and unequivocal. The research concluded that fish living in rivers migrate to spawn.

They gather in large shoals to do so, and if those shoals are over-exploited there is a good chance that successful spawning could be compromised. Now if I have dreamed that, I’ve got a pretty fertile imagination.

Look at Ireland and Denmark, two countries where English anglers used to have great sport during our closed season. The more wealthy we became, the more of us went there. The more of us that went there, the worse the fishing became. The evidence is circumstantial but compelling.

Now I am still waiting for someone to give me a reason to abolish the closed season from a fish’s perspective. ‘We don’t disturb the countryside any more than the walkers, cyclists, canoeists etc’ but then, in the next breath:

‘With no anglers the cormorants and goosanders run riot because there is no-one to disturb them.’ ‘No anglers mean the Eastern Europeans are there nicking all our fish’. Really?

I would have thought that anyone not obviously fly-fishing on a river in the closed season would stand out more as a poacher or potential fish thief than someone sat there stealing fish among others fishing legally - wouldn’t you?

As for paying for 12 months when we only get nine months to fish - who is having a laugh with that one? Anyone that is solely committed to angling on rivers only isn’t losing anything because we have only ever had nine months; the three months on stillwaters and canals is a bonus!

Sorry, but there is NO case for coarse fishing rivers during the closed season: never was, never will be as far as I’m concerned. And I am a six-minute walk from some of the best river fishing in the country, so don’t think I’m not as frustrated as anyone else.