Time off beckons some anglers, but not others

Ewan and Finley Hayes with a carp caught on one of Petworth and Bognor's waters
Ewan and Finley Hayes with a carp caught on one of Petworth and Bognor's waters
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It’s that time of the year again when coarse fish anglers suddenly realise they have few days left before the dreaded March 15, when rivers and many lakes begin their annual close season.

It’s a law introduced to respect the spawning season so vital to support a thriving fish population.

Once you have caught a fish it’s a pastime that rarely leaves you, hence today’s anglers are, let’s say, of a certain age – but we are desperate for youngsters.

Roger Poole

All country sports have close seasons of one type or another as mankind steps back and lets nature do what nature does best.

Coarse anglers have to wait until the glorious June 16 and it seems such a shame that we are deprived of fishing during spring, but it’s a sensible law and supported throughout the country.

For those who fly-fish it’s a different story – the close season running from the November 1 to April 3 when trout await the mayfly hatch, usually during May.

The mayfly have one of the shortest lifespans of any winged insect. The air is full of them and trout go on a feeding spree and the hopeful fly fisherman casting away hopes to fool a greedy trout.

To do this there are a multitude of man-made flies – wet flies that sink, dry flies that float – and I’m always amazed what can be achieved by tying these with different strands and colours. Open a fly box and there they all are, but picking the right one comes down to knowledge and experience but it’s great fun.

This is also the busiest time of the year for angling clubs. Busy club secretaries and committee members have the task of sending out renewal membership applications, and upon receipt of payment out go the new membership documents, car park stickers and handbooks, full of every bit of information you need to know.

The work that goes into its production is time-consuming but necessary when it comes to knowing where the venues are, where to park, what to avoid – in particular overhead power cables – when you can fish, what fish you might catch there and so on.

No club member should fail to take his handbook with him – it’s the club’s bible. All fishing clubs are on the lookout for new members.

There are those loyal members we can count on, but there’s a large number of those who prefer to join another club, or in many cases hold tickets with several. But costs continue to rise and it often comes down to which club offers the kind of fishing that attracts those vital numbers that keep a club financially sound.

We are an ageing population and even more so when it comes to fishing. My generation were spurred on by Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing, a popular serial that ran in the Daily Mirror and attracted youngsters to get into the countryside and give fishing a try.

Once you have caught a fish it’s a pastime that rarely leaves you, hence today’s anglers are, let’s say, of a certain age, but we are desperate for youngsters.

Angling really has to get its act together if it’s to survive. If you can take a son or daughter fishing and they land a fish, you are halfway there, so choose somewhere a result is fairly certain. Nothing caught means the interest fades very quickly.

I look back over the last season I can say that for most of us it’s been pretty good. There are always blank days but ponds and rivers have provided good sport.

The key is to know how best to fish any particular spot, choose a swim that looks likely to hold fish, pick the right bait and line and use ground bait wisely (not too much, not too little).

Are there signs of fish and can you cast to them? I see so many anglers use the same tactic, reel, line, hook size, and bait without changing to suit where they hope to catch.

We must now be patient and await the second week in June, although most clubs have several ponds and lakes that remain open throughout the year.

Where are they? Back to the club members’ handbook or www.sussexangling.co.uk

Roger Poole

Petworth & Bognor Angling Club

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