Time to stop dumping bait at the end of sessions

Throwing unused bait into lakes after matches drastically reduces catch-rates and makes fish semi-nocturnal, the manager of the country’s biggest match fishing venue claimed this week.

Clint Elliott has clamped down on the practice this year at White Acres holiday park in Newquay, Cornwall, where it is now banned under its festival and residents’ match rules. It comes as second nature to many anglers at the end of a session but, according to Clint, it’s like using a fishery as a ‘dumping ground’ and turns the water green with algae, stopping the fish from being caught in contests the next day.

White Acres operates a limit of eight pints of combined standard baits in matches, but he has experienced fish delaying their feeding times as they expect a bulk of feed when matches end. Since banning throwing bait in afterwards, he has experienced a marked improvement in match results in 2010 compared to recent years.

“You don’t always need loads of bait, especially if the fishing is difficult, and most anglers might still have half of their eight-pint limit left over at the end. But if 50 people are fishing, there is a sudden influx of 25 gallons of bait. That’s a lot of bait!And if some of these are dissolvable baits, such as pellets and groundbait, you get a lot of suspended solids in the water. It’s easier to throw it in rather than bag it up and take it home and we’ve all been guilty of doing it over the years,” he said.

Dr Mark Burdass, a fish scientist from Sparsholt College, said that when anglers’ baits break down, they add nutrients to the water, encouraging the growth of algae.

“The worst baits to throw in after a match are the ones with very little water in them, such as pellets or fishmeal boilies. These release high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous which are plant fertilisers. In extreme cases, this can lead to either ammonia release, which is toxic to fish, or a de-oxygenation at night because there is so much algae in the water. Fish will adapt their feeding to food availability, so if they learn times when there will be lots of food available, they can quickly switch to those times,” he said.