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.