Back in 1990’s (I think) the close season was lifted on still-waters and at first I was defiant as the magic of the sixteenth was to be savoured. I stayed pretty much to my guns on this until about four or five years ago when I asked myself, why? I’m led to believe the close season was put in place to keep the ‘oiks’ off the decent trout rivers rather than some romantic idea that it was an ecological move to protect spawning fish and worn out flora on the waterside.
British species of fish spawn at different times, pike can start in late January and carp seem to go on into late July, the current close season is only a half hearted opportunity to protect many of these species. Most rivers these days are deserted all year round and more popular places like weirs have built platforms, worn banks are not generally that common these days. Rivers really are not pressured waters unlike many commercials and stillwaters. Perhaps we have the closed season the wrong way around, close the still-waters and open the rivers?
Redmire is a good example of how I think a well managed still-water should be run, as the water is closed for the traditional three months. Redmire is a pressured water with four angler on its three acres all year bar the close season, this makes sense to rest the carp although I would consider extending the rest period from the end of March to the end of June which would cover more of the spawning activity and still give the flora the same period of rest. On my own syndicate water in Sussex there are three lakes and I very rarely see more than four anglers on any given day and there must be over ten acres of water. Because of the low pressure, the syndicate allows fishing all year but ask any anglers fishing for carp to keep away if spawning begins. Commercials are probably the waters that really would benefit from a rest but money speaks louder than fish welfare in modern angling, thankfully I’m not one to fish these high-pressured waters.
So where does this leave me personally? I now find the spring the most exciting time to be fishing for carp and tench and when the fish spawn I simply pack away the rods for a few days and enjoy the spectacle for what it is. Most of my fishing is not that easy, lakes with low stocking, just quality fish and rivers with a natural and balanced eco- system. Pre-baiting the canals as the water starts to warm in search of carp is now part of my annual angling calendar, I started doing this two years ago resulting in two lost monsters, I now have unfinished business and spring time is my prime opportunity to locate the feeding carp.
I understand those who follow the traditional route and pack away their rods for three months, lets face it, this can be a good rest bite for the mental state of any obsessional angler and those jobs on the house don’t do themselves. Personally I find my precious fishing time throughout the year requires those extra three months, it takes some pressure off the months when one can fish especially after the last winter with two lost months due to flooding.
As for the romantics, the sixteenth will always be a special day and more so if one observes the close season. I shall be fishing throughout the spring but I am a bit of a romantic myself so I shall be on the river at dawn on the first day of the season.
Nigel Brooks said:
I must admit I fall in to the traditional fisherboy and enjoy the break,this gives me time to catch up with jobs ,get the garden in a mild form of order and give my old battered looking tackle some required TLC ,but by mid May I start to dream of my first Trent gudgeon of the new season….no over excitement for me just the sheer pleasure of fishing again.
The tuesday swim said:
Well Nigel, I can’t argue with that, I’m quietly dreaming of old sussex hammer ponds as I sit here at my desk in London….
Nigel Brooks said:
not a day goes by where some time is not taken up by fishing,either reading ,finding a nice piece of old fishing tackle to purchase for the use of…..or simply walking the banks of my local stretch of the river Trent with my Terrier Fudge which is within walking distance of home.The close season gives me that time to dream and plan for the 16th….happy days!
Personally speaking, I’m a hypocrite. I believe it should stay but I don’t observe it on stillwaters!
Bob Roberts made a good blog about this recently. I don’t agree with him but I can’t argue with anything he wrote, really.
I’ve only been fishing since the original one was a abolished in the 90s so I’ve never known any different . And as a Devonian it turns out we never had one anyway! (Because Devon and Cornwall are 99% trout streams there was no need for a coarse fishing ‘close season’). I think so anyway. Not 100% certain.
Your point about rivers is correct. They’re not pressured. Quite the opposite. I think it’s sad but I go fishing to avoid the crowds at lakes etc so I can’t say I’m not ungrateful. But I don’t think it’s good for the long term sustainability of river fisheries. (If club members don’t fish them why should they pay to lease them etc?)
There are going to be more demands on rivers from hydro, canoe access etc etc in the future. I think angling is in a far greater position to argue our case if we show we’re committed to conservation as well as simply ‘catching’. Although I do understand the arguments about the ineffectivness of a close season considering that a lot of fish aren’t spawning during April/May/June etc etc.
But surely we (as anglers) have to do SOMETHING to show we care about the fish we love to catch and ecology in general?
But it does seem slightly odd that I’m not allowed to fish the rivers Tone an Parrett at the moment but it’s perfectly OK for the EA and Co. to destroy habitat as they dredge and scour the riverbed of tons of silt and mud with enormous JCBs etc…………………