One of television’s most famous fishermen has urged people to buy a rod licence for the start of the new fishing season and discover some beauty spots they never knew existed in the east of England.
John Bailey, the host of Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing, began fishing as a child in East Anglia and thinks his licence is a passport to see hidden gems many are not aware of in the area.
Every spring, there is a three-month long fishing close-season that begins on 15 March to allow banks to recover, fish to spawn and wildlife to go undisturbed.
The new fishing season starts on 16 June and it costs anglers £27 for an annual licence. The money goes towards Environment Agency projects for the area’s vast range of lowland rivers, chalk streams and man-made drains.
John said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the Environment Agency is doing some great things on our rivers, and that brings real joy to my heart.
“£27 for a licence is a pittance when you think the protection our fisheries get for it.
“Fishing is the most fantastic way to see some of the most beautiful and secret places in East Anglia. It is far more than just catching fish – it is about seeing nature.
“I started fishing in East Anglia, and I have found it to be really fantastic all my life.”
Recent fishing seasons have seen record rod catches for barbell in the River Wensum, rod-bending zander in the Fens, large pike in the Broads, and increasingly large perch spotted in the Great Ouse.
A variety of stillwaters are also home to carp, bream and tench, while the trout fishing at Rutland, Grafham and other similar reservoirs is also widely praised.
Roger Handford, an Agency fisheries specialist, added: “We are blessed with exceptional fisheries of national renown in this part of the country.
“The chance of encountering a fish of a lifetime is a significant attraction to anglers who should now be buying a licence to try their luck and skills on local riverbanks as the new season approaches.
“We want to improve fish stocks and provide a better environment for wildlife and people. We want to make it possible for more people of all abilities to enjoy angling and for our fisheries to provide a positive contribution to the quality of people’s lives.”
Money from the licence is also used carry out focused fisheries enforcement to target those breaking the law. Licence sales pay for surveys of fish populations which ensure the Agency can react to calls about fish in distress or illegal incidents.
Tom Howard, an Environment Agency fisheries intelligence officer, said “The enforcement part of our work helps to protect fisheries and encourages those angling without a licence to go out and buy one.
“We encourage all anglers to buy a licence as without this money many of the projects undertaken each year would not go ahead.
“Those caught without a licence will in the future hopefully go out and buy one, especially when they see what work is going on within their local area.”
Children under 12 do not need a rod-licence. All anglers aged 12 or over need a valid Environment Agency rod licence before fishing in England. Annual rod licences for trout and coarse fishing cost £5 for 12 to 16 year olds, £18 for senior and disabled concessions and £27 for non-concessions.
Buy a rod licence by calling the Environment Agency on 0844 800 5386, visiting any Post Office branch or visiting the Post Office online: http://www.postoffice.co.uk/rod-fishing-licence.
To ‘take a friend or family member fishing for free’ on 16 June download a form from: http://www.takeafriendfishing.co.uk/offers/free-rod-licence-voucher/.
Rod licences run from 1 April to 31 March and fishing without one can lead to a fine of up to £2,500. Prices remain the same as last year.