Reaction to trust low key

No appeal and no benefits. That's the early verdict from grass roots anglers following the formation of a new unified body to protect the sport named the Angling Trust.

No appeal and no benefits. That's the early verdict from grass roots anglers following the formation of a new unified body to protect the sport named the Angling Trust.

The Trust has been formed by an alliance of various fragmented groups of yesteryear including the National Federations of Freshwater and Sea Anglers, writes Roy Webster.

It has been hailed as an organisation “to defend our rights at the highest levels”. Significantly the Salmon and Trout Association, the National Pike Anglers Club and the Professional and Commercial Fisheries Association have not signed up to this new amalgam that is demanding �20 per annum for individual membership and �200 from angling clubs in order, it says, to protect one of the nation's most important outdoor recreations for years to come.

However, despite these trumpet fanfares anglers' response has been less than lukewarm and in some cases as cool as the prevailing climate right now.

The problem facing the Trust is to persuade anglers who have never belonged to any organisation to part with another �20 on top of their annual rod licence fee of around �25.

Angling club officials correctly point out that the Environment Agency has a statutory duty under the Water Acts to develop, maintain and improve fisheries in return for receiving some �24 million annually in licence revenues. Why pay more to fund another body to do the same duty? they wonder.

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Secretary of the Yarmouth Sportsmans and Gorleston Jolly Boys Angling Clubs, Lee Arnold, was scathing when asked how his members would greet this so-called new governing body.

“To be honest this Trust has no appeal to our grass roots members simply because they can see no tangible benefits from forking out another �20 a year when their pockets are already hit hard by economic recession.

“We have not had official meetings to reach a decision on these matters, but I believe I can safely say now that the clubs I am involved with will not be in a position to pay �200 a year subscription to the Angling Trust and members will have to make up their own minds whether to join individually, “he stated.

Barry Burlton a founder member of the Yarmouth Browning/Pownalls match group sponsored by the Regent Road fishing tackle retailers, was equally dismissive and said: “The Angling Trust is never going to get off the ground in the present financial climate. Anglers nowadays are not keen to part with their hard earned cash unless they can see tangible benefits in return,” he explained.

“I shall not be joining and I am given to understand that the Environment Agency is already planning to give our free riverbanks a facelift this year. As for the commercial fisheries, they seem well able to look after themselves otherwise they would be joining the new Trust. It is not difficult to understand why the pike anglers and the salmon and trout enthusiasts have also declined to pay up for membership.”

As for sea anglers, some may be faced with a dilemma if they happen to be ardent enthusiasts of beach tournaments primarily organised by the National Federation of Sea Anglers which has now been swallowed up by the new unified body.

So far there has been no official reaction from beach match organisers, but considering the unanimous opposition against a sea fishing rod licence it is unlikely that the average rodman fishing for the family table will show any interest at all in parting with �20 just to fill coffers of a remote organisation possessing no more influence on sea fishery policies than its predecessors.

In the meantime the wintry weather is taking a heavy toll on all rod and line sport. All lakes that are not being kept open artificially with aeration pumps are completely unfishable right now.

On Sunday the Jolly Boys managed to cast baits in one of the Barford Lakes where the result was Richard Silverwood 23lb 4oz, Karl Hodgins 17lb 15oz, Mick Bunn 11lb 7oz.

The Stalham Club visited their lagoon which has since frozen over, and caught roach and perch. John Hehir won with 9lb 6oz then Dave Egerton 8lb 3oz and Robin Austrin 7lb 2oz.

Prospects this weekend for both freshwater and sea anglers is not encouraging while high pressure hovers over the east coast.