New regulations that will help the poor and needy

Roy WebsterThe Environment Agency has announced full details of new bye- laws governing the removal of coarse fish caught on rod and line under the Water Resources Act 1991, while recognising the long held freedom of anglers to take whole fish for the table.Roy Webster

The Environment Agency has announced full details of new bye- laws governing the removal of coarse fish caught on rod and line under the Water Resources Act 1991, while recognising the long held freedom of anglers to take whole fish for the table.

In addition, the practice of using small course fish as predator bait has been given the green light.

Legislators have ruled that on rivers an angler may retain one pike per day up to 65cm in length (approx 5lb), two grayling per day between 30cm and 38cm in length and unlimited numbers of alien zander, exotic species such as Koi carp and mini fish like bleak and gudgeon.

Up to 15 fish per day not exceeding 20cm in length (8 inches) may be taken, including silver bream, common bream, barbel, crucian carp, common carp, chub, dace, roach, rudd, tench, pike, smelt, grayling, perch and hybrids.

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While the majority of these smaller fish may be required for live or dead predator bait, the by-laws do not specify usage.

And, since perch are the tastiest of course fish, a dozen or more of these plump eight inch strippers will inevitably become lawful contents of the frying pan.

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Explaining their decisions, the EA said there was a need to allow for species that are traditionally taken for eating (pike and grayling) while also needing to protect the more valuable large and mature specimens.

It was also recognised that taking of small fish for bait was an important part of predator fishing, and since there was new evidence this was damaging fish stock it should be allowed to continue.

It was also emphasised that all these limits were subject to the agreement of the fishery owner or occupier who could actually set tighter restrictions beyond the jurisdiction of the authorities.

The application of the by-laws on still waters will allow anglers to remove fish only by written consent of the owner or occupier.

Venues classified as still waters are the Norfolk Broads, boat yard lagoons, boat dykes, lakes, pits, ponds and canals.

Since fish in still waters usually belong to the owner or occupier, who will be free to apply tighter and stricter rules under the Theft Act without Environment Agency involvement.

The by-laws confirm that the removal of endangered eels by rod and line will be prohibited and they will be ineligible for weighing in at competitions.

Since only 33 anglers from the Broads area participated in the consultation process leading up to the Royal Ascent of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill that triggered these changes, it is unlikely there will be much more than a murmur of protest against this very even-handed revision of the by-laws which secures something for everyone.

Especially happy will be those anglers who visit the Fens for the sole purpose of restocking their freezers with succulent zander fillets.

Pike anglers on the Broads will be obliged to seek written permission to catch live bait from the Broads, boat yards and boat dykes.

And where the owner of any still water cannot be identified no fish of any species maybe removed for what ever reason. The riparian of a trout stream can apply for special dispensation to remove unwanted coarse fish, included pike of all sizes from their fisheries.

It is understood this relief to cull unwanted predator fish may also be granted where roach and dace are considered threatened and below strength.

Apart from the predator anglers who have welcomed the 15 fish rule the other benefactors are the poor and needy such as senior citizens who for years have supplemented their cash restricted diet with some of the course fish they catch.

Meanwhile, the chances of catching any fish for sport or the pot are steadily becoming more remote under the relentless grip of the bitter Siberian weather.

Lakes, ponds, Broads and slow moving rivers are frozen over and with overnight temperatures forecast to plunge further main tidal rivers may well become glacial by the weekend.

Match catches have varied between abysmal and nil, with one exception on the River Wensum in Norwich where Lewis Murawski (Anglers' World) won the Linda Thompson Memorial with a bream catch of 29lb 7oz.

On the River Waveney Cut Davis Roe won the Norfolk and Suffolk Veteran's Tuesday match with 30lb 13oz of small bream while along North Norfolk beaches sport plunged with Clive Leggatt (Gorleston) winning the Holt Open at Kelling with 2lb 4oz of flat fish.

t The first round draw involving Norfolk and Suffolk clubs in the Super Cup 2010 is: Dersingham Blue v Fakenham, Diss Dace v Sudbury, Hunstanton v Dersingham Black and finally Martham v North Norfolk Misfits v Norwich Union. These first three rounds must be fished by midnight, March 7.

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