IT’S time for our must-read Sunday blog. Every Sunday we welcome coarse fishing all-rounder Colin Mitchell.

For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career.

He understands match fishing, pleasure fishing, carp fishing – the lot.

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I HIT a note last week – a good one – with my rant about law-breaking Close Season anglers and licence dodgers.

It was good that so many think along similar lines: that we can do without these so-called anglers and that we’d like a bit more support from the Environment Agency. So here’s a bit more food for thought. If participants in any other sport break the rules they get a ban or are fined.

We know that licence dodgers, if they are ever caught, get taken to court and fined. It’s time for those fines to be hefty and include the confiscation of their gear.

The tackle that they should not be allowed to use could be donated to worthwhile coaching courses around the country, things like Take a Friend Fishing and Les Webber’s excellent Angling Projects. And – you knew this one was coming – let’s slap a ban on these law-breakers too. No fishing for a month, three months, year, five-years, life even if the offence is bad enough.

I know that’s a difficult one to police but it’s possible through the Angling Trust and others to blacklist these rule-breakers so they can’t join a club. Easy then to keep them off these waters.

Commercial fisheries certainly don’t like anglers who break rules so it should be pretty easy to get rid of them on most of these venues too. I can’t see many owners worried about losing the odd fiver or tenner if they are seen to be supporting angling by getting rid of the people who don’t belong in our sport.

The difficult part comes in catching people who shouldn’t be fishing if they visit public venues or ones hidden away. I’d hazard a guess that the law-breakers wouldn’t be on too much public water if they knew they were bailiffed regularly. And many hidden away waters wouldn’t appeal to them or are probably fished by others who already like to protect our sport.

I know the police are busy fighting bigger crimes, and this visit to the bank was a rare one, but law-breaking and rule-breaking still wants sorting out – FIRMLY.

We are fighting here to protect the image of angling, the environment and also the fish we catch and protect.

Just imagine if we could outlaw the committed rule-breakers. Just imagine if those on the edge of buying a licence felt peer pressure to get on line or go down the Post Office and buy one.

The figure of anglers buying licences in this country would be a much better reflection of just how many people legitimately take part in our sport. And the higher that figure the more clout we would have with politicians and others in high ranking jobs who could help us in our fight for angling.

I’m not going to side with any political party here (they are all as bad as each other) but next time you are asked to put a cross in a box it’s worth asking about how that vote seeker views angling. And what he or she can do for our sport!



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