A HARD-pressed angling club has said that illegal poachers are taking advantage of the lockdown, by stealing their valuable fish for the pot.

Officials were shocked to discover nets spread out across their lake, near Barnsley, South Yorkshire, during the coronavirus crisis.

The illegal traps had already killed prime bream and roach at the Wombwell Dam Community Angling Club venue.

Club secretary Danny Bann said: “It saddens us to report that the illegal fishing has stepped up another gear, as this morning we have found nets in Wombwell Dam.

“These tactics are solely to catch fish to eat, and unfortunately the fish in the picture have all perished.

“To say that we are angry is an understatement. We’re all volunteers, trying to protect a fishery and to provide a very cheap day’s fishing for local anglers.

“We are shocked that people target such a fishery. We spend hours every week on the upkeep of the water, asking for nothing in return.

“We’ve been left thinking: ‘Why do we bother?’

“We won’t be beaten though, and we’ve had an amazing response. We have had total strangers offering to help police the Dam, and even a gent who has a canine security business has offered his services for free.

“Angling Trust’s Mark Gregory is helping facilitate the correct procedure in logging this incident, both to the Police and the Environment Agency,” added Danny.

More incidents during coronavirus crisis

Many other incidents of poaching have come to light in recent weeks.

No anglers out on the banks during the coronavirus crisis lockdown, and very minimal baliffing, has left the door ajar for illegal activity.

Another club, Berkshire’s Bracknell Herons AC, found deadlines on their South Hill Park fishery.

The discovery came after they received reports of three men taking away large carp. The club reported it to the Police.

Bailiff Simon Harrison said: “Not only is this illegal, but it’s a danger to the public, children, dogs, wildfowl and fish.

“People who get caught will be prosecuted for breaking the Covid-19 law and also for the theft of fish.”

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “We received a report that three males were fishing in the North Lake, just off South Hill Road, Bracknell. Officers attended the scene.”

Across the midlands the coronavirus crisis has seen assorted cases of illegal fishing – by a few anglers and also out-and-out poachers.

Keen angler David Jenkins was shocked when he found a long fishing line in the Warwickshire Avon.

Birmingham-based David said: “I found a line across the Avon, which was held down with bricks.

“The line had about 200 hooks on it, baitied with worms.

“I brought all the line in and handed it to the local Police station, and they said this was the fourth lot of line that has been handed to them.

“They believe that it is fruit pickers from Europe who are putting the lines out,” added David.

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