A NUMBER of big name anglers were consulted during the river fishing Close Season review of evidence.

The main findings of the river fishing Close Season review are here on this Angler’s Mail website.

And the next step in the process is to be a ‘poll’ of 20,000 rod licence holders later this year.

Here is what big name anglers said during the course of the work by Environment Agency and Angling Trust…

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

Specimen ace, former matchman and journalist Bob Roberts

“It’s that time of year again when folk like to make a lot of noise but ultimately do nothing. It will probably be just the same this year and in the Close Season to come.

“Unfortunately talk is cheap, especially on internet angling forums. But this year we are told things are different.

“Some who were previously opposed to change have had a Road To Damascus moment and it’s making headlines. Big deal. Forgive my cynicism but I remain unconvinced that this will have any bearing whatsoever.

“I’m pleased to be able to report that I haven’t changed my mind one iota. I remain utterly convinced that the current Close Season is a farce. Always has been, always will be.”

Mark Everard

Mark Everard

River specialist and fish ID expert Dr Mark Everard

“Yes, the coarse fishing Close Season on rivers is, well, coarse, but that is the way it was intended.

“Handling fish does cause stress, albeit that we try to minimise it, and spawning is a naturally stressful time so I am all in favour of curtailing my pursuit of the fish I love for their own benefit.

“I’m afraid that arguing for lifting the Close Season on economic grounds does not stack up, as many potentially lucrative activities are of questionable benefit to society.”

Angler’s Mail contributor Gary Newman.

Former Angler’s Mail reporter & specimen ace Gary Newman

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Close Season and on the club lakes that I’m involved in we still maintain a traditional three month shutdown.

“But with the change in our climate, there are plenty of species that don’t spawn during this period anymore.

“We also have a growing problem with predation, both from humans illegally fishing for food, and also by cormorants and otters.

“By insisting that law-abiding anglers, who protect the waters that they fish, withdraw from the banks for three months, it just leaves them wide open to this threat. I now think the traditional close does more harm than good and that it is time for a rethink.”

Neville Fickling

Neville Fickling

Predator specialist, author and tackle shop owner Neville Fickling

“From fishing on waters where there is no Close Season I believe there are risks associated with close season fishing on open river/drain systems.

“In the case of pike I believe the spring is the wrong time to fish intensively fished waters. You only have to look at how Loch Lomond has declined with intensive fishing around the spawning bays.

“Barbel and chub are not really a major concern to us here, but they do move to pre spawning areas. Those pre spawning areas might be targeted by anglers happy to put big bags of fish into a keepnet.

“This was certainly the case with roach in Ireland and that fantastic close season roach fishing didn’t last long. I hope the majority say ‘Leave well alone’.”

Dick Clegg

Dick Clegg

Dick Clegg, OBE, Angling Trust international events manager

“It is impossible in a country with such a variable climate to determine when species such as carp, bream and tench will spawn.

“European countries with a more limited close season or without one don’t seem to suffer as a result, and fish seem to spawn ok in all year round fisheries.

“Because we have an exodus of anglers now fishing stillwaters and commercials then lifting the Close season ban will not create that much of a problem for the environment.”

Steve Pope

Steve Pope

Barbel Society chairman Steve Pope

“I wish we were capable of introducing flexibility so that the Close Season – whatever the dates – was actually doing what it is supposed to without placing possible undue restriction and putting the responsibility where it should be, with us and not by virtue of statute.

“However, until such times that there is scientific evidence to the contrary I will remain in favour of a Close Season, although I do believe a change will eventually come driven by the next generation.”

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