There will be something for everyone – pleasure fishing, carp fishing, match fishing, specialist fishing or anything else.
This week’s Angler’s Mail HQ blog is by production editor Richard Holroyd.
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BUILDING BRIDGES WITH EASTERN EUROPEANS
WE’VE all read about the negative reports on Eastern Europeans poaching fisheries due to either a lack of understanding or an unwillingness to respect UK angling laws, but there are measures in place to combat this illegal activity and also bring the cultural divide closer together.
The Angling Trust and the Environment Agency are looking at ways of integrating Eastern Europeans with their Building Bridges project. There are now more anti-theft posters and multi-language signs along our riverbanks and fisheries to highlight laws and discourage poaching.
Also one of Angling Trust’s 2011/2012 key strategies is to invite Eastern European communities to fish matches at various fisheries.
This is obviously an exercise to integrate and teach Eastern Europeans the way coarse fishing is partaken in the UK.
The Angling Trust and the EA have also set about employing Polish anglers to talk to Polish communities to explain fishing laws. Furthermore, the Scottish Federation for Course Angling recently announced the formation of the first Polish Angling Club in Scotland with the objective to highlight and encourage catch and release.
These seem to be good, positive steps to help build bridges so I was dismayed to see a sign at the entrance of a fishery I visited recently stating that Eastern Europeans are banned.
The owner has had problems in the past with Eastern Europeans – not with taking fish for the pot but leaving litter, starting bankside fires and not paying – but surely a ban is not the answer and it has left me wondering how many other fisheries have also gone down this route.
Dave Coster in My Say in the letters pages of this week’s Angler’s Mail has noticed that some landowners in Ireland have closed venues because they have had enough of all the bother that foreign anglers cause.
For fisheries to have a blanket ban on all Eastern Europeans is discriminatory and creates an us-and-them mentality, and may put off potential newcomers totally off fishing completely.
The closure of venues, and thereby punishing all anglers, doesn’t seem right either, so surely there is a way forward without taking such drastic measures.
I recently spoke to a couple of Polish immigrants and when I asked them about what fishing in Poland means to Polish people they both concurred it is viewed as a social gathering where they cook what they catch on a bankside fire whilst drinking Vodka.
It is naïve to think that this view is taken by all Polish anglers, but it does conform to stereotype.
There are certainly some highly skilled Eastern European anglers – you only have to look at the results of international fishing competitions, such as the recent World Carp Fishing Championships, to see how well they perform at the highest level.
There are also a number of accomplished Eastern European anglers living in the UK, like this week’s Angler’s Mail cover star, Polish angler Kajetan Wyslane (left), who enjoy the sport and prefer to, no matter what country they fish in, return their catch.
In Poland and by some Polish residents in the UK, however, carp is eaten on Christmas Day, much in the same way as British traditionally eat turkey, and in Polish folklore brings good health and prosperity for the New Year.
In fact one of the Polish lads that I spoke to has a scale of the carp served to his family on Christmas Day in his wallet as he believes that, like many other Poles who keep a carp scale in their wallet or purse, it will bring him good luck and fortune.
For many British anglers the perception of coarse fish and fishing (in the main to catch, admire, care for and return fish) is in complete contrast to lots of Eastern Europeans who catch fish for consumption.
We have to believe that a growing awareness of our laws will be adhered to by an increasing number of first generation Eastern European immigrants. And with the boom of British born babies to Eastern European, and interethnic, parents, it is likely there will be understanding and acceptance of our fishing culture from future generations.
There are current laws, however, that adhere to the Polish viewpoint of removing fish. You can remove coarse fish under current EA laws. The fish removal byelaw states that you can take 15 river fish a day that are under 20 cm, plus a pike of under 65 cm and two grayling of between 30 and 38 cm. Although, certainly with fish under 20 cm, these laws are aimed at anglers wanting to catch fish for live or deadbaits rather than for consumption, this law could be made more aware to Eastern Europeans, which will help further build bridges and allow them to pursue fish (legally) in a manner that is much more identifiable to their culture.
With concerns about the diminishing amount of sea fish, celebrity chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall are championing easily sustainable coarse fish, especially carp, so, if done legally, could there be a place for venues that invite all (not just Eastern European) anglers to catch coarse fish for consumption, much in the same way that catch and keep trout fisheries operate? I think the majority of coarse anglers in the UK would oppose such a proposal, but it is certainly food for thought!
Taking care of pike
One species of fish that have been slaughtered in the not so distant past in Britain are pike, with misinformed clubs, fishery owners and anglers removing or culling pike in order to protect fish stocks that were preyed upon.
Pike are now much more respected and better managed, and in the main are returned safely.
If you are looking to catch your first pike then you must read this week’s All The Answers in Angler’s Mail where expert predator angler Andy Black provides top advice to help you in your quest.
Pike can be found in every kind of freshwater waterbody so catching them shouldn’t prove too much of a problem if you follow Andy’s guidance on tackle and tactics.
The tricky part is the actual handling and unhooking of UK’s biggest native freshwater fish predator. Because of their fierce reputation as a predator doesn’t mean that you can be heavy-handed as they are actually a delicate fish that must be treated with respect.
Andy’s sequence on unhooking is an absolute must-read to ensure any pike you catch go back safely. Of course it’s not only the safety of pike you need to consider; you also need to be careful that you are not punctured by the teeth of pike when handling and unhooking them.
Andy’s advice is essential reading to put you on the right path in catching, unhooking and handling your first pike but if you are venturing out for the first time it is best that you go with a seasoned pike angler who can show you how to handle and unhook them correctly.
If you do not know a piker then visit the Pike Anglers Club website who will point you in the right direction to someone who can.
Former BBC Young Apprentice contestant – Adam Eliaz has opened up a tackle shop in a shopping centre. In difficult economic times, when some independent tackle shops have had to close down in recent times, let’s hope he makes a success of it. Maybe he’s onto something too – it won’t be such a chore having to traipse around shopping centres with the missus with the knowledge that you can always pop in to the tackle shop for a bit of respite.
Dodgy plumbing – we reveal news that almost four million litres of sewage a day is leaking into rivers in London and the South East. How sad that this is due to bad plumbing. Read more in this week’s Angler’s Mail mag.
VIDEOS OF THE WEEK
If you are a regular reader of our Wednesday blog, by Mail HQ, you will know we pick out some latest videos worthy of focusing your eyes for a few minutes.
Well, check these new ones! First fun, then tackle news, then where to fish!
1. It’s getting MILLIONS of views. It’ll give you nightmares. Check it out now…
2. UK’s youngest tackle dealer – former BBC Young Apprentice star, seen in our mag.
3. Our mag’s weekly Where to Fish section is unbeatable – here’s why! Our spies get out there. Here, former barbel record holder Ray Walton reports for us.