Angling: Unpredictable spawning at odds with close season

Airborough's Pete Hyde days before the end of the season yet the fish are months from spawning.
Airborough's Pete Hyde days before the end of the season yet the fish are months from spawning.
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Every year around this time the same rumblings regarding the reasons for and against the closed season hit the angling headlines, forums and social media pages.

Every angler has their opinion, but how many of those opinions are based on fact.

A brief explanation as to how the whole thing started: The late 19th century had a basic, but thriving match fishing scene. Keepnets were rough 2ft jobs, all the sizeable fish were killed to feed the anglers’ families and most of the other fish died before the weigh in.

In those ‘sepia days’, conservation was protecting a food source, and the certainty that spawning gravid fish made for rubbish eating.

Anglers themselves lobbied for a close season through Sheffield parliamentary member the Rt Hon AJ Mundella, ironically a non-angler. The bill was compiled and then agreed by the heads of the two largest angling areas at the time, Sheffield and London.

It became law in 1878. Even then though, anglers couldn’t agree on everything and the original dates of March 1 to May 31 were changed to those we have now as a compromise.

Today, all equipment, particularly nets, are endorsed fish-friendly. Match-men don’t kill their catch or take fish for the table.

The accepted trigger for spawning fish is water temperature and light values, which makes the dates a nonsense considering the south often has a five-degree higher temperature average than the north. And there can be a five-month difference between the first spawning predators around February to the later spawning barbel, often caught shedding milt into July.

The river Ouse around Hunters Lodge and Linton threw up some remarkable catches nearing the end of last season. Numerous nets of quality roach were caught, easily two months before their recognised spawning time of May – a 60lb-catch of bream from a 20-foot deep swim at least two miles away from the shallows where they are known to spawn again around May.

Yet the river closed leaves anglers to miss the best chance of a decent catch. Hungry fish without the anglers needed baits makes it a free-for-all for any predators. On the other side of the coin, the two most-talked about catches came in February. First, 36lb of perch from the Bungalows section, then an even bigger catch of big perch from exactly the same peg, weighing 45lb.

These fish were obviously shoaling up ready to spawn and were on a feed frenzy.

The lads who caught them are both conscientious class acts, always fish to the rules and know how to handle fish, but aren’t the dates supposed to cover any fish ready for spawning? I don’t want to see the close season removed completely, but I think the dates could be moved to protect the fish much better than they do now.

England’s Salmon Licence has over 10 different start/stop dates to suite the different regions’ and fisheries’ needs.

Couldn’t course fishing be offered the same?

Results

Southfield, Cowick Reservoir, Diawa League: 1, Wayne Bartholomew, Steel City 57-10; 2, Neil Malinson, Ossett 39-14; 3, Stuart Drage, Barnsley 27-8; 4, Mick Vials, Preston Innovations 27-6.

Mirfield AC, Huddersfield Broad Canal: 1, Ian Dawson, Tricast 11-0; 2, Kev Forbes, Halifax Matrix 9-3; 3, Stan Haigh, Anglers World 8-4.

Mirfield AC, teams of 4, Round 1, Huddersfield Broad: 1, K Hobson, Barnsley 12-4; 2, M Helliwell, Halifax 5-12; 3, M Taylor, Halifax 4-0; N Hirst, Willy Worms 3-14.

Mirfield AC, Saturday, Aire and Calder Great Heck: 1, Pete Turner, Doncaster 18-11; 2, Dean Grace, Pontefract 13-6; 3, Wayne Bartholomew, Steel City 10-4; 4, Bob Bell, Barnsley 10-2.

Bobco Spring Series, round 6, Moor Monkton Pools: 1 Martin Dodworth 112-5; 2, Graham Broadley 103-10; 3, Olly Hewitt 85-12; 4, Gordon Wright 83-7.

Kippax Park, Osprey: 1, Steve Pearson 89-11; 2, Tony Hewson 82-7; 3, Adrian Broomhead 64-7; 4, Tommy Rodgers 50-6.

Kippax Park, Lapwing: 1, Steve Cromie 56-12; 2, Tommy Rodgers 54-2; 3, Andy Barker 52-10; 4, Tony Hewson 49-13.

Robin Hood, Woodlands: 1, John Clark 89-10; 2, Mick Herrington 81-0; 3, Alan Hunter 66-08.

Woodlands, Help the Heroes, 108 pegs: 1, A Alderson, Woodlands 73-15; 2, L Grinitt; Army Angling 69-8; 3, K Barnes, Woodlands 67-2; 4, M Synyar, Woodlands 63-7.

Oaks at Sessay: 1, A Barker 157-15; 2, C Hall 102-8; 3, P Whale 93-7; 4, R Singh 92-4; 5, C Kendall 89-13.

Yorkshire Post at Forrest Lane: 1, K Gale 51-10; 2, A Heaps 47-11; 3, R Hemingway 34-4; 4, B Taylor 33-9.

Colton Sports AC at Swanlands: 1, B Taylor 122-10; 2, K Gale 113-12; 3, I Asquith 103-10; 4, M Durkin 97-1; visitor, S Butterill 98-11.

Armley AC at Redwood Arc: 1, D Atkinson 63-12; 2, C Greenwood 59-8; 3, D Fish 47-4; 4, J Levery 32-6.

Poppleton Saturday Open on Horseshoe Lake: 1, E Boldison 102-2; 2, G Farmery 71-6; 3, A Hattee 63-8.

Poppleton Sunday Open on Horseshoe Lake: 1, P Cressey 92-2; 2, S Pearson 79-0; 3, D Ward 71-10; 4, T Carlton 71-0; 5, G Peak 69-9. Silver prize: J Thirkill 48-2.
There will be an open match next Sunday at Poppleton.

Match Diary

Saturday

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18.00, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 Pegs, tickets £17.00, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 Pegs, tickets £16.00, contact 01904 431874.

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £20.00, contact 07155454371.

Moorfields Farm: 54 Pegs, tickets £16.00, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 Pegs, tickets £15.00, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 Pegs, tickets £16.00, contact 01132 80609

Viking, Hawk Pond: 30 Pegs, tickets £16.00, contact 01405 860764

Sunday

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18.00, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 Pegs, tickets £17.00, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 Pegs, tickets £16.00, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 Pegs, tickets £15.00, contact 01347 810686.

Bobco Winter Series at Moor Monkton Pools: contact 01904 431874.

Monday

Woodlands over-50s: 30 Pegs, tickets £15.00, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes over-60s: 30 Pegs, tickets £10.00, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds over-50s: 30 Pegs, tickets £16.00 contact 01347 838115.

Tuesday

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £10.00, contact 07155454371.

Wednesday

Woodlands: 72 Pegs, tickets £18.00, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 Pegs, tickets £15.00, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds over 50s: 30 Pegs, tickets £16.00 contact 01347 838115.

Thursday

Kippax Park: 27 Pegs, tickets £12.00, contact 07155454371.

Harry Lodge is congratulated by Jeff Stimpson.

Angling: Deserved honour for stalwart Harry Lodge