Angling: Wilson takes parting shot at the ‘baby-faced assassin’

Cute they may be but some anglers are not as taken with otters as others owing to dwindling fish stocks.

Cute they may be but some anglers are not as taken with otters as others owing to dwindling fish stocks.

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Remember I told you a few weeks ago that John Wilson had put his property in Norfolk up for sale with an asking price of £750,000?

Well, the latest is that the four bedroomed house and three-acre fish-filled lake were snapped up and in the very near future John and his wife will be leaving these shores for his new home in Thailand – a newly built bungalow at the side of yet another three-acre lake.

John, who is now 71, has suffered from arthritis for many years and thinks that the much warmer climate, a yearly average of 85 degrees, will improve his health.

He will not be too far from family as his brother has lived in the same area for years and has actually supervised the building of his new home.

John is an absolute legend for all anglers and seems to have been on our TV screens for ever as his “Go Fishing” half-hour slots on Anglia TV have run for 160 episodes.

He is also a prolific writer and has written numerous columns in the angling press plus 40 books, the latest of which – Where to Fish in Norfolk and Sussex (the eighth edition) – is just out on general release.

His contribution to angling over the years has been phenomenal. He started by running a small angling shop on the Broads and from there he travelled the world making his angling videos.

He is not just a one-style angler either, as he is skilled at all aspects of the sport be it coarse or sea fishing.

And who will ever forget his maniacal laughter when he hooks that elusive “big one”? John could not leave this country without having one last dig though at the people and authorities who are running our sport and in particular the Environment Agency.

John thinks that they have let anglers down in recent years.

He recalls that originally, in their rules, it stated that it was their duty to protect and maintain our inland waterways and his view is that it has failed to do that because, in recent years, over £25m of anglers’ licence money has been spent on what he calls useless surveys, one of which stated that the eel stocks have been the lowest in living memory.

Now, every angler knows that the eel is the favourite food of that baby-faced assassin the otter and after decimating that species otters are now turning to other sources of food – and voles are now on the danger list.

John has seen changes on his own lake where in previous springs there would be a mallard duck swimming round followed by up to a dozen ducklings.

He now says that he has not seen any wildlife on the lake for the last three years, all destroyed by otters, as they have eaten not only the ducklingss but also the adult birds, plus the eggs of other breeds of birds.

John is a firm believer in what is commonly known as “farmers law” a subject that I have mentioned many times in this column. And I will remind you of it: if a dog is found to be savaging a farmer’s livestock, lambs, chickens etc, then he is within his rights to protect his stock and shoot the assailant as it is destroying his livelihood.

And John reckons the same law should apply to fishery owners and they too should be allowed to shoot the culprits.

With that parting salvo I am sure we all wish John all the best in his new life.

Darren Starkey with big tench

caught from Leeds & District's Knotford Lagoon.

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