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Anglers want longer season

PUBLISHED: 15:43 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:09 03 July 2010

Please extend the coarse fishing season by a month. That was the passionate plea from beleaguered tackle and bait dealers who have been joined by anglers in a concerted voice to compensate for lack of income and sport during the worst winter for some 20 years.

Please extend the coarse fishing season by a month. That was the passionate plea from beleaguered tackle and bait dealers who have been joined by anglers in a concerted voice to compensate for lack of income and sport during the worst winter for some 20 years.

However, the Environment Agency insists there can be no changes to the statutory 93-day break imposed by the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Acts until at least 2010, after the contents of the new Marine Bill are on the statute book, writes Roy Webster.

It is beyond doubt that sales of freshwater tackle and bait were in freefall during the Siberian weather as stay-at-home anglers spent their weekends with their feet up in front of the television.

“The worst sales period since I've been in the trade, and if it wasn't for sea anglers we would be in serious financial difficulties,” admitted one local tackle shop boss.

Anglers are definitely on the side of the shopkeepers seeking amendments to the close season.

The secretary of Gorleston Jolly Boys AC, Lee Arnold, said his members were meeting shortly to discuss the issue but he expected the unanimous vote in favour of tailoring the close season to suit not only anglers but popular coarse fish species too.

“As far as our tidal rivers and broads are concerned, we all know they will become inundated by the sea within a few years. So we have to enjoy them while we can.

“I would like to see the close season come in on May 1 and this would cover important species like bream and roach during their spawning period,” he declared.

By contrast the Norwich and District Anglers' Association, who control the important banks on the tidal Rivers Bure and Thurne at St Benets Abbey and Cold Harbour, Ludham, have always supported the three-month shutdown without question on the grounds that both fish and anglers need the break.

This week Roger Handford, the Environment Agency's principal officer of fisheries at the Regional Strategy Unit, confirmed there may well be amendments to the close season dates, but not yet.

“This matter will be included in the forthcoming Marine Bill, but there cannot be any changes at all until we know if the new bill will allow some flexibility,” he explained.

“At present we cannot alter the dates of the coarse fish close season because they are enshrined in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act.”

Commercial landlocked fisheries are not involved in this debate, for they already are exempt from the close season. And if the latest results are any guide then the quality of sport on the lakes will extend in parallel with the lengthening days.

That was illustrated at the second round of the Barford Winter League where Yarmouth's top squad Browning Pownalls kept in touch with the title race by maintaining third spot in the table with two rounds to come.

Top catch on the day was 99lb 2oz for Barford's Vince Cross, Mark Sawyer (Dynamite) was next with 73lb 15oz and then Browning Pownalls Mark Haverson with 55lb 11oz.

These results left Barfordtackle.com leaders with 27 penalty points, then Dynamite Z 35 and Browning Pownalls 41.

Other match results: Burgh Castle Open: L Arnold (Jolly Boys) 41lb 2oz, R Silverwood (Sportsmans) 30lb 12oz, D Grimwood (Sextons) 26lb 6oz.

Stalham (Club Lagoon): J Hehir 8lb 13oz, L Reeves 9lb 10oz, W Beckett 5lb 2oz.

Hot Beach Open (Kelling): C Leggatt (Gorleston) 3lb, J Lacey (Yarmouth) 2lb, P Loke (Norwich) and T Thomas (Sheringham) both 1lb 12oz.

Diary date: Horsey Mere opens for unlimited permit fishing on Sunday. Pike prospects are rated excellent.

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