Sunday, September 27, 2009

More details for this season now confirmed

I can now confirm that the fish-in for members on Petty Pool will take place on Sunday 29th November 2009. Please contact me to reserve your place as pegs are limited.

I am also delighted to report that Gary Knowles and John Milford have agreed to do talks and slideshows for us. Gary is a very accomplished all round specimen angler, based in the North West. He will be giving us a valuable insight into how he targets big pike, perch and eels. John is a past chairman of both PAC and the Lure Anglers Society, now based in Derbyshire. He has been at the forefront of lure angling in the UK for more than 25 years and has enjoyed great success in targeting a variety of species.

Finally, the joint fish-in with our friends from PAC's South Lancs. Region looks set to take place at Tatton Park sometime between Christmas and New Year. I will post the exact date as soon as this is confirmed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Melchett Mere

For a number of years I have been aware that The Builder’s Arms Angling Club, based in Knutsford, holds a couple of pike fishing matches annually on Melchett Mere which is a small water on the Tatton Park Estate.

During the summer I decided to contact the Tatton Park Estate with a view to trying to gain an additional day’s pike fishing on Melchett Mere for members of PAC's Cheshire Region.

Initially I made contact by telephone and was advised that the venue was a S.S.S.I. and that limited pike fishing was only allowed as a means of gauging the overall health and population of the fish stocks; pike being an ‘indicator species’ because of their role within the overall ecology of the Mere.

On August 17th 2009 I wrote to Simon Jones, the ranger at Tatton Park, acknowledging the conditions which I had been advised of, and requesting consideration be given to allowing a single day’s fishing for our members on Melchett Mere.

In his reply, dated August 28th, Simon stated:

Unfortunately it is impossible, due to the constraints laid down by English Nature, to allow more than two matches per year on the water”.

He went on to add:

The matches that are held are only allowed as they are open qualifying matches for the British Pike Fishing Championships, and this is the only reason they have taken place for the last twenty years plus”. Simon suggested that I “contact Mr. S. Buckley at The Builder’s Arms to gain places on these qualifying matches”.

I was rather surprised by this response because, to the best of my knowledge, open qualifying events for the British Pike Championships are always advertised in the angling press and I had never seen Melchett Mere listed as one of the venues.

The British Pike Championships are now run under the auspices of the Angling Trust, and so I checked the full list of qualifying matches on their website. The Builder’s Arms’ matches were simply not listed.

I contacted Sandra Drew, the Events and Competitions Manager at the Angling Trust, who said

"I do not know of any qualifiers that are held on that particular venue unless it is coming under a different venue name that we hold or are aware of.

... (the) Angling Trust must know about (qualifiers) as they are managed by us and any funds raised have to be returned to AT by the local organizers, who we have details of".

I replied to Simon on September 21st, pointing out my suspicions and questioning how The Builder’s Arms’ matches could possibly be “open qualifiers” if they were not advertised as such, along with all the similar events which were taking place around the country.

I suggested that, if only two days pike fishing were allowed on the venue, then a compromise might be reached by allowing Cheshire Region PAC one day and The Builder's Arms the other.

Simon’s response to this, in a letter dated 6th October, has been to put a stop to all pike fishing on Melchett Mere whilst the situation is reviewed.

I understand The Builders Arms A.C. have been advised of this and, subsequently I have been on the receiving end of some fairly hostile criticism. Let me make a few things clear:

My only agenda has been to try and secure Cheshire Region PAC one day’s fishing on Melchett Mere in future years. I have no interest in the British Pike Championships, or in pike matches in general.

The decision to stop pike fishing on Melchett Mere seems to have been made because the management of the Tatton Estate were under the impression that the matches which were being run were open qualifiers for the British Pike Championships. Clearly there is now a question mark over that.

I have now been told that the Builders Arms A.C. didn't advertise their matches for the following reasons:
  • Advertising produces too many applications.
  • The venue is subject to a publicity ban.
How you can run an 'open' match without making its existence known to the general public is a mystery to me. Publicity bans in angling normally relate to the publication of catches; not to the publication of open match dates.

The pike fishing has now been stopped, not because of anything that I have said or done, but because the Builders Arms A.C. clearly wasn't running the matches in accordance with the wishes of the Tatton Park Estate management. That is the Builders Arms A.C.'s fault, not mine !

In his letter Simon Jones did say that the situation would be reviewed, and I would suggest that the way forward is to negotiate some kind of compromise which allows fairer access to Melchett Mere for all pike anglers.

Membership of PAC is open to everyone, including members of the Builders Arms A.C. and I sincerely hope that, in due course, everyone will have an equal opportunity to enjoy a day’s pike fishing at Melchett Mere.