Fish for the table but be mindful of other anglers
As the traditional predator season gets underway this month quite a number of pensioner anglers who wish to take home the occasional fish for the table appear uncertain of the new bylaws that have turned all previous fish legislation on its head.
Now the New Marine and Coastal Access Act declares that only one pike up to 65 cm in length (Apx 5lbs) may be retained each day and by contrast there is no limit at all on the number of alien Zander that maybe taken away because the Wildlife and Country Side Act insists that no Zander may be returned to the water. It should be noted that the Crown Prosecution Service has stated that in the public interest no angler will ever be taken to court for this criminal misdemeanour.
That said, an angling club could well attempt to impose a ban on any angler believed to be harming the fishery by taking a Zander home.
But that is a civil rather than a criminal matter and no one in their right mind would wish to become bogged down in that rigmarole.
It is beyond dispute our native pike need protection but the same might be said of Zander considering its popularity as a worthy angling quarry.
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Perhaps the most equitable solution on a club water is for the local bailiff to whisper in the ear of a pensioner fond of eating Zander: 'Just take medium sized fish now and again Old Boy, but don't make a habit of it.'
For other coarse fish species the limit is 15 per day, no more than 20cm (8 inches) in length for use as predator baits or for the family table.
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And although eight inch perch are tasty off the barbeque it is more likely that the great majority of silver fish retained will fill the bait can rather than the frying pan.
New regulations governing eels ban anglers from taking these wrigglers either for bait or food, but they maybe weighed in at competitions and returned to the water immediately.