How To Plan Your Season Of Fishing Adventures With The Wild Trout Trust Auction

With hundreds of generous donors contributing lots from every corner of Britain and Ireland, and even beyond, the annual Wild Trout Trust Auction (8th-17th March) is a fabulous way for anglers to widen their horizons and explore fisheries which they might never otherwise be able to visit.

And, anecdotally, some super-keen participants have even started using it as a guide to help them scope out whole seasons of exciting fishing experiences.

As a wide-ranging fisherman myself (and not just on urban rivers!) I was intrigued when I heard that fishing pals John Pollard and Roger ‘Steve’ Stephens have been doing exactly this. I had to find out more, and ended up discussing how they go about planning their adventures with the Wild Trout Trust Auction…

Wild Trout Trust

Wild Trout Trust auction – 8-17 March 2019

Interview:

Theo: John and Roger, thanks so much for supporting the Wild Trout Trust Auction! How long have you been taking part, and how did you come to start using it as a way of planning your fishing season together?

John: We have been bidding and winning lots for at least 15 years – in fact I’d say it’s now just part of our annual routine. In general, we use the Auction as a way of extending our range of fishing experiences – focusing on trout and grayling beats we wouldn’t normally be able to enjoy. On the other hand, this hasn’t precluded us from being attracted to some real wild cards, like carp fishing with the WTT’s Director, Shaun Leonard!

Quite early on, we also started to use the Auction for buying overseas holiday lots – for example where a three-day package can be extended into a week by buying a few extra days direct from the lodge. This way, we’ve been able to enjoy price-competitive holidays in Patagonia, Spain, the Bahamas (four times) and Mexico (twice) with the added satisfaction that our money was going to the worthiest of all causes.

WTT Auction Bonefish trip

WTT Auction Bonefish trip

Theo: That’s fascinating… so do you have a process that you go through, to identify and prioritise your favourite lots for the year?

John: Our process is pretty simple – going through the catalogue with a fine comb to identify lots we’d both like to fish in our geographical area. As I’ve said, we usually try for new experiences, though sometimes the opportunity to go back to a beat with knowledge from a previous visit can be an attraction.

We each do this separately, before discussing a final list over a beer together, to agree our maximum bids which we work out as a percentage of the guide price. Most importantly, we also agree a rock-solid maximum spend and the number of days we want to fish! Steve then draws up a master list marked with these numbers, and we watch the online bidding, dipping our toes now and then. As bidding proceeds, we inevitably have to knock off our list the lots that pass beyond our maximum, so by the last day the list is much shorter. To avoid any screw-ups, we’ve agreed that only Steve will bid on the last day, and I have to wait for him to tell me how big a cheque he needs from me – that’s trust!  Sometimes all our budget is spent before our list has played through, and occasionally we have a few pence over. That’s when we might look very closely at the short re-entry list of unsold lots which the Trust makes available after the main Auction has finished – there’s often another opportunity not to be missed.

Steve: I won’t argue with one word of that! But I can give you some numbers too – last year, after our beer-fuelled shortlisting meeting (which we spent whittling out lots for only one fisherman, and pretty well everything north of the Watford Gap) our bidding long-list contained over 50 lots.

We were more or less rapidly outbid on over than 40 of these, and then I started to play cat and mouse with the remainder. Great fun! Right at the end, I spent the whole evening crouched over my keyboard with a large glass of Rioja, and often the bidding went right down to the wire in the very last minute. Sometimes, if we have a bit of spare budget, I do go a few quid over our originally-agreed maximum bid to make sure of landing a really remarkable lot…

Theo: So what kinds of lots have you won in the past – and can you tell us about any of the memorable adventures that you’ve enjoyed as a result?

Steve: I have lasting memories of the days when we laughed ourselves silly – notably with Shaun looking for carp on the fly, and some extra special days on super hush-hush Itchen beats. And how about the irrepressible Ivan Tarin in the magical Pyrenees?

High Pyrenees waters

High Pyrenees waters

Mentioning Ivan brings me on to food and wine: it would have been worth the trip to Spain just for the hospitality. We’ve had some notable streamside lunches by the chalk streams, too. After the importance of lunch, there’s the learning aspect too – for example, the opportunity to fish with Charles and Alex Jardine, two of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet, and so many splendid river keepers and host-donors. And a remarkable variety of Caribbean bonefish guides, like the hilarious ‘T’ at Bair’s Lodge in South Andros (“Why do they call me ‘T’? Because they can’t spell ‘Theophilus’!”)

John: In more than 15 years, it’s hard to list all the memories of our adventures, but I’d agree with Steve – in the main, they’ve been the ones where we’ve enjoyed the company of wonderfully interesting hosts, guides and river keepers. People who shared knowledge and experience with us, that we’d never normally be able to enjoy. I am grateful that they have made me a much better fisherman as a result!

Theo: That’s so inspiring – and such a huge variety of experiences near and far. Thanks for telling us about how you’ve made the most of previous Wild Trout Trust Auctions, John and Steve, and best of luck when you’re planning and bidding for this year’s season of adventures!

The Wild Trout Trust Auction runs from 8 – 17 March 2019.

Click here to download a catalogue, or follow #WTTauction and #WTTseasonofadventures on social media, and start planning your own season of fishing adventures!

The Pyrenees and bonefishing along with other trips abroad are not in the auction but are sold as fixed price trips up to 15 April. https://www.wildtrout.org/auction/catalogue?c=t

Fishing with Charles Jardine https://www.wildtrout.org/auction/1-day-for-2-rods-river-lambourn-berkshire-guided-by-charles-jardine

Author profile

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements.

His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing, has recently been republished in ebook format.

Theo now also works with the Wild Trout Trust as their Trout in the Town Officer (South) helping to boost the impact of this programme across the south of England and Wales.

Wild Trout Trust Auction 2019

BID FOR A NEW SEASON OF FISHING ADVENTURES

IN THE WILD TROUT TRUST CHARITY AUCTION: 8th – 17th MARCH 2019

The Wild Trout Trust’s annual charity Auction is an exciting opportunity for anglers to start bidding for a new season of fishing adventures across England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and even further afield.

Wild Trout Trust

The Wild Trout Trust are a conservation charity that focuses on practical work to improve habitat for trout across the UK and Ireland.

From an expedition to a secret salmon river in Argyll, or a wild trout safari on three Norfolk chalk streams with Nick Zoll, to a choice of fishing on exclusive private beats of the Test, Itchen and Avon, the River Usk with Airflo’s Gareth Jones or gritty urban river adventures with guides like Phillippa Hake and Damon Valentine, the Auction is full of exciting experiences for everyone.

And, with around 300 lots, there are prices to suit every pocket, with a huge number of very affordable adventures starting from just £20.

Other inspiring lots include artwork by Sam MacDonald, hand-crafted fibreglass rods, special sets of flies from tyers like Lee Evans, Nick Steedman and Dave Southall, and books signed by their authors (including ‘Silver Shoals’ by the Trust’s former president, Charles Rangeley-Wilson).

A new section of the Auction also contains a selection of once-in-a-lifetime destination trips, whose donors have kindly pledged a percentage of each one sold to the Wild Trout Trust.

Some fishermen even bid for a range of different lots, and use the Auction as their way of setting up a whole season of new discoveries. It’s a brilliant way to broaden your horizons, and spend time exploring places which you might never normally get to visit, since many of the lots have been privately donated by the Wild Trout Trust’s generous supporters.

Best of all, every successful bid will help anyone in Britain or Ireland who’s interested in making a better world for our rivers, lakes and their wildlife, including our native trout.

The Wild Trout Trust Auction is the charity’s single most important annual fundraising event, which makes it possible for the Trust’s expert Conservation Officers to provide practical advice, deliver hands-on habitat improvement projects, and bring in even more match funding from other sources. The Trust has low overheads, a small staff and an ever-growing group of volunteers, so the money raised in the Auction makes a real and direct difference to our rivers.

The Wild Trout Trust Auction will run on eBay and by post from 8th to 17th March 2019.

To find the lots from 8th March 2019, visit www.wildtrout.org and click on the link, or follow #WTTseasonofadventures on Twitter

For a copy of the Wild Trout Trust Auction catalogue, visit www.wildtrout.org, email office@wildtrout.org or call 023 9257 0985.

The images below are just a taster of some of the places you might find in the WTT auction this year:

Exclusive upper Test beats

Exclusive upper Test beats

High Pyrenees waters

High Pyrenees waters

Tyne River Hill

Tyne River Hill

WTT Auction Bonefish trip

WTT Auction Bonefish trip

Total Fishing Gear Now On Instagram

Carp and coarse fishing tackle innovators Total Fishing Gear (aka TF Gear) have recently created a new Instagram page!

Here you will find the latest TF Gear fishing tackle news, as well as fish catches by high profile sponsored angler Dave Lane and the rest of the Total Fishing Gear team. With an emphasis on high quality ‘on the bank’ images, the TF Gear Instagram page seeks to  inspire anglers to fish. If you are a fan of carp and coarse fishing why not give them a follow?

Follow them here: @totalfishinggear

TF Gear now on Instagram

TF Gear now on Instagram!

The Shortest Month – Rene’ Harrop

Noted mainly as being the shortest month of our longest season, February is a continuation of deep winter on the Henry’s Fork. Precipitation mostly in the form of snow averages more than in January while temperatures in the early part of the month can be among the coldest of the year. Still, there is benefit to a fly fisherman when daylight stretches toward 6:00 P.m., an addition of 1 ¼ hours from the lowest point in mid-December to February first.

A Hope For Spring

A Hope For Spring

For much of the month ice will continue to chill the river and fishing is mainly limited to deep nymphing for bottom hugging trout still locked in winter’s lethargy. Eventually, however, the occurrence of severely frigid days begins to thin and the river enters a period of reawakening.

While midges exist almost exclusively as the basis for February dry fly opportunity, the days of rising fish increase proportionately to increasing air temperatures as the month progresses.  Though spring Baetis are a rare feature prior to early March, there are occasional years when the first mayflies can make a token appearance in late February. Usually, this uncommon event portends an early spring which in the high country can mean returning to our mountain cabin in April rather than May. However, in a place where general prosperity is measured by the abundance of snow, only a foolish person would welcome the temporary comfort of a short, dry winter.

February Brown

February Brown

Fortunately, we now approach February with snow continuing to accumulate and the expectation of that trend extending into the foreseeable future. Accessing the river will be come more not less difficult until average daytime highs rise well above the freezing mark and rain becomes the common form of precipitation.

In the interim, I will savor the incremental process of achieving spring while enjoying even small advancements in outdoor comfort.

Back on the water

Back on the water

As the water warms and winter releases its icy grip, the activity level of trout responds proportionately to the change. Hungry from winter’s dormancy, the big guys will go on the prowl and the methods of capitalizing of this new-found energy begin to expand.

By February’s end, I will be pulling a streamer at least as often as fishing a nymph and the dry fly rod will seldom be left at home.

While warm days and green grass lie well into the future, the shortest month will not be time wished away nor will it include long strings of days spent indoors away from the water. And at this point in winter, that is good enough.

February Distraction

February Distraction

5 New Years Fishing Resolution’s For 2019

2019 is going to be a great year for fishing!! We all have New Years resolution’s, but how about some fishing ones? As an angler, these suggestions should hopefully improve your fishing year to come.

1. Fish more often

Did you fish as much as you had hoped for last year? Probably not. So set aside a target number of days to spend on the bank this year. For example, a minimum of 5, 10 or 20. Tick them off as you go so you know how many you have done. Tip: Why not tell the other half about your target, whilst she’s still in a festive mood?

2. Visit a new venue

Visiting a new water can change your mindset and get you thinking outside of the box. It’s always worth making that long drive to a place you’ve always wanted to fish, but have never visited. Instead of ‘maybe next year.’ plan a day and get in the car and do it when the time comes.

Dedicate a day to visiting a new venue

Dedicate a day to visiting a new venue

3. Get somebody into fishing

Our sport needs new members, so why not take somebody with you? A friend, child or relative might appreciate fishing and it could lead to a life long passion. So why not dedicate a day or two for sharing and instruction this year rather than for yourself.

family fishing

Image source: Tide Lines
Letting the kids come with you is a great way to catch their interest.

4. Get involved with a clean up

Whether you area member of a carp syndicate, an angling club or simply on a day ticket our rivers and lakes need a bit of TLC. Even if its a few hours of your time sweeping the bank with a bin bag, a clean up makes your venue a much better place to fish and inspires respect from others.

A river clean up. Image: Wandle trust

5. Take stock of your fishing tackle

The New Year is the perfect time to check through your fishing gear. Make a resolution to give it a good sort out – be ruthless and sell or giveaway the stuff you never use, or if it is past it’s sell by date chuck it out. If find you need near fishing gear, then indulge yourself – it’s better to have everything ready for 2019 than not.

It’s 2019 – time to sort out this mess and treat yourself to some new gear! Image: Ifish.net

Angling Trust And Fish Legal Fundraising Dinner

Worried about the state of our freshwater environment? We are and so are The Angling Trust.

Did you know that half of all aquatic species including many fish are in decline and 13% are threatened with extinction?

To help turn this around, Angling Trust have launched a new joint initiative with The Rivers Trust and WWF. YOU can help them raise vital funds to protect our freshwater environment and fish.

There are lots of ways to get involved with this joint initiative  – join them at their fundraising dinner, donate an auction lot or take part in the auction itself which has a fantastic range of lots to suit all budgets and tastes.

The Angling Trust 2019 Dinner Fundraiser

The Angling Trust 2019 Dinner Fundraiser

More information on the Angling Trust dinner event can be found here.

A Time of Plenty By Rene’ Harrop September, 2018

The departure of summer in the high country is a process that begins well before the Autumn Equinox. It may be something as small as adding an extra blanket on the bed in late August or a morning layer of thin ice on the dog’s water bowl at about the same time. At the fly shops, river guides may linger with clients for an extra hour while waiting for temperature that may not be sufficiently comfortable until well past eight a.m.

Breaking The Calm

Breaking The Calm

Early September brings a change for many residents of the Henry’s Fork community as shotguns and bows join fly rods as tools for a season that adds hunting to the list of opportunities for outdoor activity. With these changes comes an alteration in the rhythm of daily life as noticeably shorter days prompt a sense of urgency for mountain dwellers.

Air Under A Rainbow

Air Under A Rainbow

With signs of a colder season blending with the remnants of summer the pulse of all creatures seems elevated into heightened awareness that time is short before the arrival of winter. It is a rare September that does not feature a substantial snowstorm which, though always a temporary disruption, is a stark reminder that preparations must be made for the six months or so when that form of precipitation becomes standard.

As with all wildlife, trout are instinctively alert to a behavioral necessity that will determine the ability to survive during the lean months when food becomes scarce and existence is largely reliant upon fat stored prior to that precarious period.

Free & Proud

Free & Proud

In autumn, trout become opportunistic in a constant search for food and at times can appear almost indifferent to its identity or timing of availability. This is a time of plenty for a fly fisherman as virtually all local waters are at their best in terms of condition and productivity. Always severely tested in this regard, personal discipline for responsibility nearly evaporates during the thirty days that span my favorite month of the year.

With so much happening on the rivers and lakes of Yellowstone country, the biggest challenge in September is making a decision on where to fish on any given day. But is that such a bad problem to have?

Henry's Lake Monster

Henry’s Lake Monster

Fishtec Blogger Joins The Angling Trust

Keen all-rounder and author Dom Garnett is writing a new chapter for the Angling Trust

Keen all-rounder and author Dom Garnett is writing a new chapter for the Angling Trust, in search of untold stories and unsung heroes. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Regular readers will already know our blogger Dom Garnett is as passionate about conservation and inspiring the next generation as he is about his own fishing. In his new role at the Angling Trust, he’ll be travelling the country to cover the stories and issues that matter. Here’s a flavour of what to expect, in his own words…

Dom’s mission

Are we living in the best or worst of times for fishing? I guess you could say it’s a bit of both at the moment. We’ve never had better value tackle or more choice of places to fish. Then again, the sport is faced with more hurdles than ever, from environmental threats to a lack of young recruits.

Fishing is so much more than just a hobby for me. When a new role in blogging and digital media came up with the Angling Trust, I had to go for it. Little did I know the huge amount of stories to cover and good work going on behind the scenes – and that’s just after the first couple of months!

Is angling in a good place in 2018?

Social media isn’t always healthy for angling.

Social media isn’t always healthy for angling. The sport needs togetherness and positive action, rather than yet more keyboard warriors!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Catch a typical pub or Facebook conversation and you might think fishing is going to hell in an illegal keepnet. All the big fish have been eaten. The rivers and canals are empty. By 2050, there will only be crayfish and cormorants left. I could go on, but you’ve probably heard it before and, I hope, realised that much of it is way over the top or pure nonsense.

Of course, there are still serious challenges, but these won’t be solved by keyboard warfare. In fact, the biggest problem angling faces is not otters or immigrants but good old-fashioned apathy. That’s why it can feel that, in spite of being a sport with a giant following, we punch like a toddler. So, if I can highlight some of the positive things going on and rally more anglers to do their bit, that in itself would be a result. So where do we start?

Rewriting the story of fishing

A lot of the good work in fishing is not very visible. In spite of claims to the contrary, there are more volunteers, projects and campaigns than most of us are aware of. Sadly, the real heroes of fishing tend to get on quietly and determinedly, while those who contribute little more than spleen feel the need to make an awful lot of noise.

My first aim is to show anglers what really goes on behind the scenes – whether it’s the many ways their EA fishing licence money is spent, or the great projects and people out there making a difference.

Sometimes this needs a fresh angle, and so I’ve aimed to make my blog posts for the Angling Trust’s “Lines on the Water” unashamedly entertaining. It can be hard to catch readers in this digital age, so I’m keen to uncover the eye-opening truths and human interest stories behind the serious stuff. Here are just a few recent examples:

Police, thieves and fishy goings on…

From firearms to stolen carp, fisheries enforcement staff see it all!

From firearms to stolen carp, fisheries enforcement staff see it all! But the picture is changing, thanks to joined-up thinking and better practice.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

One of the greatest positive changes in fishing for decades has been the vast improvement in the way fisheries crime is tackled. The Angling Trust’s enforcement team has been instrumental in making this happen – from closer working with police and the EA, to creating a nationwide army of 500 Voluntary Bailiffs. This is a massive step in the right direction!

Of course, we can all help by reporting crimes and incidents. You never know what you might uncover and would not believe some of the cases that have come up in recent years! Actually, take a look for yourself in my recent post about Amazing Fisheries Enforcement Wins. Did you hear the one about the wanted murderer, or the bathtub of stolen barbel? I kid you not!

Random rubbish and bizarre finds

Not what you’d hoped to catch; but litter is no laughing matter!

Not what you’d hoped to catch; but litter is no laughing matter!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

The media have been going nuts about litter and plastic pollution lately. About blinking time, too, because it is atrocious and so unnecessary! The moment you start to lecture people about tidying up, they tend to switch off.

So, instead of dishing out a sermon, I decided to do some homework and ask all my angling pals about their most bizarre catches. The results were strange to say the least, from body parts to erotic toys! You can see the worst and weirdest of them here. Better still – do your bit and join our “Take 5” campaign.

Turning the “problem” of immigration into a positive

Polish kids learn to fish with the Building Bridges scheme

Polish kids learn to fish with the Building Bridges scheme – an excellent Angling Trust project supported by Environment Agency rod licence money.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

You only need to mention the word Brexit these days to conjure up fierce debate on immigration. But could our neighbours from the continent be a positive for fishing in the longer term? Granted, there are still a few bad apples; but thanks to efforts from the Angling Trust and others, the tide is now turning.

Not only is the Daily Mail style “immigrants have nicked all the fish” line getting pretty tired, the statistics no longer back it up. Non-British anglers carry out only a small proportion of fisheries crimes; and I don’t hear many calls to have middle aged Englishmen hung, drawn and quartered.

Part of this is down to much better education, from multi-lingual signs to special events and wider enforcement. The Angling Trust’s Building Bridges project has been crucial here, too. In fact, there’s growing evidence that immigration can be hugely positive.

I recently attended a fantastic event with Wellingborough Nene and District Angling Club where dozens of Polish kids and their families came together with local coaches to learn fishing skills and laws. It was one of the most uplifting experiences of my fishing year. The result of more events like this could be huge. Migrant anglers now provide a substantial boost to the tackle trade, while the fishing clubs get much needed junior members. Make no mistake; if we can work together, we can create long term, positive change here.

How you can help

Together, we can protect our fisheries and build a brighter future for angling.

Together, we can protect our fisheries and build a brighter future for angling.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

In a sport that has a huge number of participants, it’s a crying shame that such a small percentage play their part and join the Angling Trust. As you might have seen from my previous Fishtec blog post on why it’s so important to get involved, there are simply too many positive reasons not to do just that!

There are far too many great things going on for one blog post, it’s fair to say. We haven’t even touched on Fish Legal, and its huge wins against polluters. Not to mention the Angling Improvement Fund, injecting many thousands of pounds of rod licence money into helping angling clubs and freshwater fisheries. Nor have we mentioned the huge number of coaches and free fishing events every summer with the “Get Fishing” organisation.

I’m well aware that doing your bit is not as sexy as talking about huge fish or the latest tackle; but the future of angling depends on all of us to show that we care. I’ll say it again: apathy is by far the biggest threat to angling. We won’t win the longer battle overnight, but joining the Angling Trust is a bloody good start! Signing up today costs less than £30 and brings a whole host of discounts and other benefits too.

In the meantime, do follow your regional Angling Trust Facebook page and keep an eye on the “Lines on the Water” blog for current goings on and inspirational stories. It’s only together that we can beat apathy and build a better future for fishing. What do you say?

Read more…

For more of our blogger Dominic Garnett’s stories and articles, his website has books, blog posts and more to enjoy. Crooked Lines (£9.99), his collection of fishing tales, makes especially enjoyable summer reading. Or, discover the flies and innovative tactics used to catch a wide range of freshwater fish in his highly acclaimed Amazon Bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish.

10 Reasons You Need To Join The Angling Trust

Are you a member of angling’s most important organisation? If not, there’s no time like the present to join Angling Trust & Fish Legal, says Dom Garnett. With more threats than ever to the fish and fisheries we depend on, there’s never been a greater need to support the future of the sport you love. Here are ten excellent reasons to get involved, from protecting fish stocks to superb member benefits.

1. Because we’re stronger together

Angling_Trust_Blog - 1

Game and coarse anglers meet on the bank. Angling is stronger when the different branches unite!
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Does it sometimes feel like fishing has too little say as a sport, given how many of us are out there? In the past, we tended to split up into many different groups, fighting our own little corners. The Angling Trust is the only body to bring everyone together, from sea anglers to carp fishers. The result? A more powerful voice and real progress for us all.

2. To inspire the next generation of anglers

Angling_Trust_Blog - 2

Angling Trust coaches have inspired thousands of youngsters to go fishing.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Perhaps the most important reason of all to join the Trust is to inspire and encourage the anglers of tomorrow. By giving quality, affordable training to coaches in sea, coarse and fly fishing right across the UK, we can bring in the new blood that fishing depends on. You might even want to get involved yourself.

3. To get discounts on tackle, day tickets, bait and more…

If you thought that joining the Trust was all about supporting fishing and doing the right thing… well, you’d be correct, but it’s also more than that. Members also get some cracking discounts, whether that means tackle, bait or the latest fishing books for less.

4. To help fund projects and bring angling into the community

Even in times of austerity, there are funds available to strengthen the vital work done by fishing clubs and organisations. The Angling Trust works hand in hand with a range of brilliant projects to bring the positives of fishing to communities right across the UK.

5. To fight polluters and restore fisheries

Angling_Trust_Blog - 3

Without Fish Legal, many cases of criminal pollution would go unpunished, with no compensation to restore damaged waters.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Have you ever wondered who puts things right when waters are polluted or damaged? In so many cases, it’s Fish Legal, which you support by joining the Angling Trust. With Environment Agency success rates for prosecuting offenders and getting compensation as low as 3%, Fish Legal is not just important – it’s vital!

6. To make sure angling isn’t ignored by the politicians

Even if you consider current politics as dirty and divided, it’s absolutely vital that fishing is brought to the attention of decision makers. The Angling Trust works tirelessly to communicate and lobby key figures at local and national levels, effecting real change. Never mind Facebook rants, the Trust takes coordinated action on the issues that matter to you.

7. For healthier seas, rivers, lakes and ponds

With threats like pollution, over-abstraction, hydropower, overfishing and habitat destruction, it’s crucial that angling is represented in discussions about the future of our waters. We can’t win every battle, but without an organised body to represent thousands of anglers, who will fight for change and sustainability?

From protecting marine fish populations, to working directly with policy makers and groups like WWF, the Angling Trust makes sure we are heard. Find out more about some of the Trust’s current campaigns.

8. To educate European anglers and reduce poaching

Building_Bridges.asp

Image courtesy of the Angling Trust.

With more European anglers than ever living in the UK, it’s crucial that those from other cultures are made aware of British laws and the importance of catch and release fishing. Along with better information and signage, the Building Bridges project has been a huge success, bringing anglers together to create better understanding and create a clear message.

9. To put more bailiffs on the bank and protect fisheries

Whether it’s the theft of carp, pike or threatened populations of salmon, our fisheries need protection. As important as the police and Environment Agency are in this, they need information to target their scarce resources. Set up directly with Angling Trust, the Voluntary Bailiff Scheme (VBS) has been an innovative and effective answer to provide really valuable intelligence and help the police tackle waterside crime. Nearly 500 volunteers have been recruited and they are making a big difference.

10. To combat predation and invasive species

Cormorant_Watch.asp

Image courtesy of the Angling Trust.

With populations of creatures, including cormorants and goosanders, rising to alarming levels in some areas, there has never been a greater need to campaign for sensible measures to protect fisheries and, where necessary, reduce numbers of predators. The Angling Trust is one of the only major organisations that campaigns for this on a national scale, using an evidence-based approach with projects such as Cormorant Watch.

Don’t delay, join the Angling Trust today!

At just £29 a year (or less for OAPs and young anglers), membership doesn’t cost a fortune and makes a huge difference to the sport you love. In fact, for the sake of all the great work the Angling Trust and Fish Legal do, it’s an absolute bargain! It’s easy to get onboard too; all you need is five minutes to join online or call directly on 0343 5077006.

The Green Menace – Invasive Plants

Giant-hogweed-warning

Invasive non-native plant species can quickly take over and spoil local fishing spots
Image source: Lance Sagar

If you haven’t settled on a New Year’s Resolution yet, why not make 2018 the year you start your very own fightback against alien plants like Himalayan Balsam, Giant Hogweed, Floating Pennywort and Japanese Knotweed?

Invasive non-native plants like these can cause real problems for your favourite stream, river or lake – and even spoil your fishing season completely. And while some of their worst effects don’t become visible until the spring and summer months, it’s never too early to start planning your campaign against them…

Himalayan Balsam

Himalayan-Balsam

Himalayan Balsam can destroy bank-side structure causing erosion
Image source: Shutterstock

Also known as Policeman’s Helmet or Poor Man’s Orchid, Himalayan Balsam is probably one of the most widespread invasive plants in the UK. But the good news is that it’s also one of the easiest to tackle.

It’s very shallow-rooted, which is why it’s so damaging when it dies back in the winter (after shading out all the native plants and killing their root systems) and lets seasonal spates dump all the bankside soil into our rivers as silt.

However, it’s easy to pull up or strim from May onwards. Just make sure that each stem has been snapped below the first node, then pile up the plants somewhere dry and shady to desiccate. Start as far upstream in your river’s catchment as you can, to stop seeds floating down to recolonise areas you’ve already cleared.

For best results, you should plan to revisit each infested area once a month until around October, to pick off later-germinating plants which will otherwise produce up to 800 seeds each, causing even more problems next year. Monnow Rivers Association volunteers have successfully applied this approach for a number of years, even asking visiting anglers to pull up 50 plants as part of their day on the water.

For more information about Himalayan Balsam, visit the GBNNSS website.

Giant Hogweed

Giant-Hogweed

Removing Giant Hogweed requires careful handling and protective eyewear
Image source: Shutterstock

Once made famous by Genesis in their song ‘The Return of the Giant Hogweed’, this highly dangerous plant is steadily rampaging along the banks of urban jungle rivers like Manchester’s Irwell.

During the 70s, 80s and 90s in Northern Ireland, it turned whole rivers into no-go zones every summer. Each hair on its towering, purple-blotched stems holds a bead of phyto-phototoxic sap, and if you get this on your skin, any exposure to sunlight will produce blisters and third-degree burns which can keep coming back for years.

In the past couple of years, volunteers from the Mersey Rivers Trust have started spraying young giant hogweed plants from around March onwards. If you don’t want to use chemicals (not least because you’ll need permission from the EA to use them near water) you can stop older plants from seeding by cutting off seed heads into a bin bag and incinerating them carefully. You can also dig out young plants by cutting their thick tap roots at least 15cm below ground level with a sharp spade.

Always wear full personal protective equipment when you’re working on Giant Hogweed, including eye protection to stop squirting sap and prevent permanent damage to your eyes.

For more information about Giant Hogweed, visit the GBNNSS website.

Floating Pennywort

Floating-Pennywort

Floating Pennywort can completely choke waters in a very short space of time
Image source: Crown copyright, GBNNSS

First found in the wild in the UK as recently as 1990, Floating Pennywort spreads over still or slow-flowing water a rate of 20cm a day, so it’s a particular problem on canals and impounded areas behind old mill weirs.

At first, in some of these straight-sided brick and concrete areas, it can even look like a welcome addition of soft green structure. But it soon makes fishing and boating impossible, shades out native plants, and increases the risk of serious flooding.

Treating fully-established infestations in deep water can cost thousands of pounds, but if the water is shallow enough to wade safely, it’s perfectly possible to clear smaller areas by hand. Gently follow the fleshy stems back to where they’re growing out of the bank, and pull them up by the roots, leaving all the foliage safely on the bank to compost down. Best practice also includes setting nets all around your working area to stop small pieces of stem and leaf from floating off and starting new colonies of their own.

To start dealing with the other plants in this article, you’ll need to wait a few months until spring or summer. However, if you’ve noticed Pennywort on your patch, winter is a good time to tackle it, when growth is slow, frost has driven the leaves below the surface of the water, and the plant’s total biomass is lowest.

For more information about Floating Pennywort, visit the GBNNSS website.

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese-knotweed

Japanese Knotweed has heart-shaped leaves, bamboo-like stems and white flowers
Image source: MdE (page at dewiki | page at commons) – own photo, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Once loved by Victorian gardeners for its bamboo-like stems and pretty, lacy flowers, Japanese Knotweed is one invasive species that’s best left for the experts to handle.

Having evolved to grow through hardened lava on the slopes of volcanoes like Mount Fuji, it makes short work of tarmac and concrete, and can destroy dams, paths and boat ramps – even fishing huts if it sprouts up through the floor. New plants can regenerate from thumbnail-sized pieces of stem or root, so even the smallest fragment is classified as controlled waste.

As a result, it’s best not to touch Japanese Knotweed yourself at all – instead, you can make a real difference by noting its location and telling your local council or rivers trust. They’ll send a specialist to treat it with glyphosate in late summer or autumn, when the plant is drawing nutrients (and thus any pesticide) back down into its deep root system. The Wye & Usk Foundation has already scored some notable successes in clearing Japanese Knotweed from the Afon Lwyd in this way.

For more information about Japanese Knotweed, visit the GBNNSS website.

Other tips for fighting invasive, non-native plant species

  • Download the PlantTracker app, and start submitting geolocated photos whenever you see one of these invasive non-native plants.
  • Find out if your fishing club or local Rivers Trust runs an invasive non-native species programme – if not, volunteer to help them start one.
  • Get to know the Check, Clean, Dry protocols – these will help to stop you accidentally spreading alien plants as well as invasive shrimps and other invertebrates.
  • Always try to get the landowner’s permission before starting to tackle Invasive Non-Native Species of any kind. If you plan to use pesticides like glyphosate anywhere near water, you’ll also need consent from the Environment Agency or SEPA.