GET HOOKED: Broadcasting big catches sends out the wrong signals

First published in Sport Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Photograph of the Author by

THERE is an email address for catch reports at the bottom of this piece; it is there every week. Regular readers will have noticed, though, that catches are rarely featured.

I receive plenty of interesting emails from readers, but rarely ones saying ‘I caught such-and-such, from so-and-so lake, and I’d like you to mention it’.

It could be that readers of the Standard are a singularly modest bunch, and I’ve no doubt that they are, but I suspect that it has more to do with the ingrained secrecy of modern anglers.

I’ll illustrate with a recent example. Last spring, on a celebrated Water Park lake, I approached a small group of anglers at dawn, while on bailiff duties. As ever, I asked how they were getting on.

To a man, they shrugged, eyes cast downwards, and muttered the time-honoured phrase ‘not a thing, mate, very quiet’.

They were standing around a wet unhooking mat, and a weigh sling hung in the tree next to them, drying. Some of them were holding cans of lager. At 7am. A very big carp had just been caught.

They knew that I knew, but they weren’t saying anything and I knew better than to push it. My discretion was rewarded with a tinny; secrecy is one thing, rudeness something else all together.

Shenanigans of this sort are the norm on specimen fisheries. Big fish – carp, especially – are much-prized and only a rank beginner would encourage hordes of anglers to join them. The bivvy-dwelling specimen hunters know better.

I’ve been on the receiving end of loose lips more than once. My favourite barbel swim on the Kennet was featured in an Angler’s Mail article. Similarly, the shoals of specimen perch which once inhabited a marina on the Upper Thames were publicised widely. At both places, the fishing has never quite recovered from the attention.

Day Ticket lakes, however, are different; catch reports are vital for encouraging custom.

One of the best of its kind is Whelford Pools, a place I’ve fished on and off for many years, and the owners contacted me recently to report some big fish – perch to 2lb 15oz for Liam Hodges, pike to more than 18lb for Albert Pretorius, and a brace of 20lb plus carp for Nigel Williams.

Great catches, certainly, and there are even bigger examples swimming there. I won’t say quite how big, though. That would be telling.

Catch reports: jon_s_berry@yahoo.co.uk.

Twitter: @jonberrywriter.

Website: www.jon-berry.net.

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