Larford Lakes' Phil Briscoe furious at smear campaign

The owner of one of the UK’s biggest and most successful commercial fisheries has admitted to almost closing the complex for good after ‘losing faith in modern anglers’.

Phil Briscoe, owner of Larford Lakes in Worcestershire, told Angling Times that he’s furious with anglers who started ‘vicious and damaging’ rumours which threatened the reputation and future of the award-winning fishery.

The stories that appeared on internet forums, and are said to have flooded into local tackle shops, ranged from Larford’s stocks having been ravaged by the killer Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), to rumours that JCB diggers had been seen removing dead fish from its lakes.

The Maver UK boss is pointing the finger of blame at certain groups of club anglers who began to ‘threaten the reputation of the fishery’ after he temporarily closed its lakes due to problems with low oxygen levels. He said that the reaction of anglers to responsible measures to protect his stock had left him and his staff ‘heartbroken and disillusioned’.

“We’ve worked our fingers to the bone to create the best fishery possible for our anglers, but after this I feel like throwing in the towel,” Phil told Angling Times.

“I closed this fishery for a week as a precaution after we discovered low oxygen levels. But all anglers could do was spread rumours that the lakes were finished and all the fish were dead.” In light of this, Phil has already started limiting club bookings for 2010-2011, refunding deposits to certain groups of anglers he suspects were part of the ‘scaremongering’.

“I’m not surprised that many of the stories were started by club anglers, they’re the first to blame the fishery if they can’t catch,” Phil said.

“The most hurtful thing is that it was regulars who know us that started many of the rumours. These people know who they are and I’m telling them now I don’t want them within a mile of the complex ever again,” he added.

One man who can sympathise with Phil is Cyril Brewster, owner of Cudmore Fishery in Staffordshire and chairman of the Premier Fisheries group.

“Heavily-stocked fisheries lose a few fish every year, that’s just the nature of the beast.” Cyril told AT.

“Anglers must realise how damaging rumours can be and if they want the stocking levels that give them huge catches, then they have to let fishery owners manage their water how they deem fit.

“I really believe that commercial fisheries have created this monster where every angler who buys their day ticket expects to catch 100lb and if they don’t they blame the fishery or assume they’re aren’t enough fish.”