This week’s Angler’s Mail HQ blog is by assistant editor (production) Richard Holroyd.
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Rivers decline – how we can help
I was heartened and dismayed at the same time after reading Duncan Charman’s My Say in this week’s, February 25, issue.
Heartened because he has noticed an increase in anglers returning to rivers, presumably looking for a change from commercial fisheries and carp lakes. Rivers open up many more angling challenges than stillwaters do, and I’d like to think that the trend in anglers returning to rivers will continue to grow.
I’m equally dismayed because Duncan has noticed that a lot of stretches of rivers have been neglected and left in a shocking state. He points the blame at controlling angling clubs for neglecting river stretches but are they solely to blame?
Over the last few decades the numbers of anglers fishing rivers have been in sharp decline, so I can see why clubs may have shifted their resources into their portfolio of stillwaters to give members what they have been seeking for over recent times – well-manicured banks at highly stocked carp pools. Anglers’ desire to fish these types of waters is a major cause of river banks being in decline.
But if anglers are returning back to rivers, stretches should be cared for and in top condition, to ensure anglers don’t become dissatisfied, and return to the well-kept pegs found on stillwaters.
But I don’t think there is a quick solution. We’ve seen how neglected rivers have fared without anglers on the bank with predators (otters and cormorants) able to flourish on once populated, but now barren, stretches. On the same stretches we also seen and heard of algae blooms which have starved fish of oxygen, not to mention numerous cases of pollution and waste which has destroyed fish and their habitat.
Without fishing clubs then river stretches would be in much a worse state than they already are, but
obviously more needs to be done. Lobby groups and clubs have done much to keep rivers and river fish populations in the best condition they can, but in the long-term are they fighting a losing battle without enough willing anglers to fish and help maintain rivers? The way I see it is rivers need anglers more than ever, especially with announcements that the Environment Agency are having to make cut-backs on staff and resources.
Personally, I much prefer to fish a natural water than a man-made one, and I hope the trend of anglers returning to rivers continues and angling clubs are able to call on their members to help keep rivers well maintained and attractive places to fish.
Maybe we should have a National River Week in which all anglers (whether you are a member of a club or not) partake in carrying out maintenance work on rivers up and down the UK. With hundreds of thousands of anglers in the UK, quite a bit of work can be done in a short space of time, even if every angler could only spare a few hours of their time each year.
LIKE OF THE WEEK: big river fish winning captor’s awards. Get this week’s mag for details.
DISLIKE OF THE WEEK: the culling of shark off Western Australia.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
River fishing with Carl & Alex.