12:00PM, Sunday 01 March 2020
More stormy weather, more rainfall and yet another week when most rivers were out of bounds, but the Environment Agency annual report shows that angling is in a pretty healthy shape.
The future is positive
Despite the many challenges facing our sport, the latest annual report from the EA shows that it is not all doom and gloom for fishing. In fact the future is bright and progress is being made in many key areas.
The headline figure is that 955, 310 rod licences were sold last year, raising some £21 million for funding vital fisheries work.
The number of licences is still well down on the peak of 1.47 million sold in 2009/10 but given that fishing has to compete with so many social changes it remains in rude health and statistics show that some 37,000 newcomers were introduced to the sport last year.
In addition to recruiting newcomers, the EA report reveals the amount of scientific research and fish stocking that took place last year. In total over half a million adult fish were stocked last year, well up on the 358,000 that were released in 2017.
In addition, some 7 million advanced–stage fish larvae were introduced from the EA‘s state of the art Calverton Fish Farm. Species–wise the highest number of introductions were barbel with 123,398 stocked last year, there were 101,397 roach put out, 96,615 chub and over 56,000 grayling and bream.
Of course there is little point in stocking fish if their environment is not being maintained and improved and the report reveals that progress is being made in this respect too. In total £33.5 million was spent on fisheries last year, with almost 2,000 fish stock surveys conducted and over 1,000km of river habitat opened up or improved.
Our sport does, of course, still face many hurdles and locally there are rivers that are still in decline but there are enough positives, both locally and nationally, that should give cause for plenty of optimism.
Trout remain the one species that keep feeding locally and despite another week of foul weather reports from Haywards Farm Lake have been positive with anglers catching up to 13 fish in a session with an average weight of 3lb 10oz, a rod average of 3.1 and a top weight of 9lb 12oz.
Chris Hayward tells me that buzzers have been very productive despite the conditions, lures have also worked but the fish have really homed in on the naturals.
Unsurprisingly the water remains high and is likely could rise again after the fallout from the latest heavy rain, so make sure you bring your wellies!
The week ahead
More rain is due and the forecasters suggest a few cold nights too. It is going to be another tough week!
Any anglers wishing to report catches may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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