Angling: Season law '˜antiquated and lacks relevance' '“ Steve Fearnley

Not many things in fishing are consistent, but it's happened again! As the coarse fish closed season was only days away, the weather turned mild, the rivers dropped back to levels where we remember they used to be, and, lo and behold, the fish started to feed.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 5:30 am
Dave Miles finds good conditions and feeding fish at Aireborough, but coarse angling now stops for three months because of a 138-year-old Act of Parliament.

I know that some won’t agree, but the whole antiquated 1878 Mundella Act forcing anglers to put their kit away at the best time of year is total garbage.

The law brought in over a century ago is totally irrelevant today with not one jot of scientific evidence to back up its aims of protecting spawning fish.

Having read or heard every conceivable reason for keeping the three-month closed season, as it has been all these changing years, not one stands up to any form of scrutiny.

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Obviously, the most-used reason is protecting cyprinids as they spawn and recover, but it doesn’t!

No-one can guarantee not catching a fish close to spawning from January to July.

Predators are known to spawn in the colder months, with some huge catches of perch taken every year as they shoal up in preparation, pike fishing is at its most popular as the big females are at there heaviest (probably spawn-bound) and it’s only a few weeks ago I reported the Environment Agency’s cropping of grayling ready for stripping from the River Wharfe.

Gravid barbel and chub are often caught way into June, but, like the early breeders, everything is okay because it’s the way it has always been – acceptably legal but utter nonsense.

Giving the banks, vegetation and other wildlife a chance to recover is another well-used but ridiculous argument for those that enjoy the break and expect everyone else to agree with them.

Riverbanks in spring are full of hikers, ramblers and dog walkers, the water full of boats and, worst of all, canoes that use, without a thought, the fast-flowing gravel bars that are vital spawning grounds. How is this recovery?

Both stillwaters and canals have had closed-season restrictions lifted for over 16 years with no recorded ill-effect on recruitment.

Ireland, Denmark, Spain and most of Europe don’t have a river break, yet still provide brilliant year-round sport.

The whole fiasco should be about protecting our fish stocks, global warming, climate change and the ever-increasing levels of flooding which weren’t even part of the equation when dates were set all those years ago. Times have changed – and we need to change with them.

Salmon seasons change around the country with closures timed to benefit its runs of fish. Shouldn’t river coarse fisheries be given the same rights and be able to close when conditions dictate?

For those who still see the ‘magical 16th’ as a time of misty mornings and leafy glades with tench bubbles on a lilly pad pond, it’s all very simple: if and when the closed season is abolished, and you still don’t think it’s right to fish between March and June, leave your rods in the garage/shed and don’t go.

The conservation and the protection of fish is, genuinely, top priority for me; we should push for changes to be able to manage our fisheries at the right time and in the right places, not follow like sheep a restriction made in a different era.


BSR Winter League, Kippax Park: 1, D Wright 34-04; 2, A Broomhead 33-04; 3, B Rodgers 33-00. Final League Table; 1, N Rymer 22pts; 2, A Rymer 23pts; 3, S Raper 24 pts; 4, S Rodgers 24pts; 5, D Wright 28pts; 6, B Rodgers 31pts; 7, J Wake 31pts. Tom’s Pond, Final Round: 1, J Mills, Tom’s 52-10; 2, J Verbruggen, Maver 39-07; 3, R Jackson, Maver 33-06; 4, J Clarke, Magnum PI 31-07. Final League Table: 1, J Mills 11pts; 2, A Barker 12pts; 3, N Rymer 12pts; 4, B Rymer 12pts; 5, M Herrington 14pts

None-Go-By Farm, Silver Fish Series: 1, P Wilson 19-04; 2, C Ellis 15-10; 3, S Michaels 15-05; 4, G Ogden 10-01; 5, G Bennett 9-02.

JT Rodgers Winter League, Final Round: 1, K Worth, Castleford 145-11; 2, K Priestley, Leeds 106-10; 3, S Power, Leeds 89-11; 4, S Mazza, Leeds 46-02. Final League Placings: 1, D Wright 123pts; 2, O Hewitt 122pts; 3, G Watson 106pts.

Moorfields Farm: 1, M Heptonstall 42-10; 2, S Hoyle 32-00; 3, L Wherritt 28-04; 4, A Waters 23-00.

Oaks at Sessay, Cedar: 1, R Minikin 64-04; 2, C Hall 59-05; 3, C Kendall 49-12; 4, M Baker 49-08; 5, D Birchall 48-10.

Woodlands Lakes, Thirsk: 1, N Speed 80-01; 2, G Mumby 75-01; 3, A Clemments 71-02; 4, D Smith 70-12; 5, D Hudson 68-12.

Leeds DASA, Saturday League, Yorkshire Ouse: 1, N Speight, Leeds 9-00 (1 barbel); 2, I Bowman, Barnsley Blacks 7-06; 3, K Weighell, DH Angling 5-06; 4, D Taylor, Saints 4-14. Final League Placings: 1, M Highe 38pts; 2, D White 37pts; 3, K Weighell/P Austin 36pts.

Bradford No 1 AA, Cowthorpe, River Nidd: 1, H Foster 11-11; 2, A Gradidge 11-04 (inc 9lb barbel); 3, J Leyland 9-00; 4, A Miller 6-01.

Viking Saturday Open (Hawk): 1, D Nicklas 84-12; 2, A Thornton 75-15; 3, J Brown 48-02; 4, S Hoyle 39-03.

Viking Saturday Open (Deer): 1, G Thornton 43-15; 2, D Sawyer 33-06; 3, L Tones 26-10; 4, P Morris 25-11.

Rodley Barge (Viking Hawk): 1, M Rockingham 40-11; 2, J Harvey 39-02; 3, P Sawyer 30-02.

Fryston Winter League (Viking Fox): 1, G Gill 23-01; 2, S Varley 18-00; 3, S Birch 17-00.

Magnet AC (Viking Deer): 1, S Ripley 53-09; 2, M Dunn 35-03; 3, S Johnson 33-04.

Angel Lakes, Open Lookout: 1, K Halham 34-03; 2, M Craig 32-12; 3, B Huggins 32-05.

Angel Lakes, Bowes Open: 1, J Foster 33-15; 2, J Dryden 23-04; 3, D Pearson 22-14.

Match Diary


Lex’s Legacy ‘Pride of the Isle’: Lindholme Lakes Big Bash, June 1, contact 01427 875555/01427 872905.

Feeder Master Qualifie: River Aire, Beal, contact Angling Trust 0115 906 1301.

Leeds & District, Winter Series: Ouse/Ure, contact Stan Haigh 07542700743.

Kippax Park, BSR Winter League: details contact Sean 07814454271.

Poppleton Saturday Open: pools £15, draw cafe 10am, contact Roger 01904737279.

Aire & Calder Pollington: £15 all in, contact Kelvin 07779991483.

Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Kippax Park: 27 pegs, tickets £20, contact 07967000746.

Moorfields Farm: 54 pegs, tickets £16, contact 07710817150.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Birkwood Farm: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01132 80609.

Viking Saturday Open, Hawk Pond: 30 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01405 860764.

Tollerton Ponds: Open Match all ages, (Kingfisher 20 pegs, Coot 18 pegs, Heron 32 pegs), contact 01347 838115.

Listerhills AA, Leeds/Liverpool Rodley: £12 all in contact Eddie 07984597328.


Leeds & District, Winter Series: Ouse/Ure, contact Stan Haigh 07542700743.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Oaks at Sessay: 50 pegs, tickets £17, contact 01845 501321.

Langwith Lakes: 60 pegs, tickets £16, contact 01904 431874.

Oak Tree Leisure: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01347 810686.

Leeds DASA: Moor Monkton Pool, contact 07967000746.

Poppleton Sunday Open: 50 pegs, draw 11am cafe, contact 07425 146677.


Woodlands over-50s: 30 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01845 520110.

Langwith Lakes over-60s: 30 pegs, tickets £10, contact 01904 431874.

Tollerton Ponds over-50s: tickets £16, contact 01347 838115.


Kippax Park: 27 pegs, tickets £10, contact 07967000746.


Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscar’s, draw 8.30am, contact 01924 892251.

Woodlands: 72 pegs, tickets £18, contact 01845 520110.

Fleets Dam: 50 pegs, tickets £15, contact 01226 292579.

Tollerton Ponds: open match, all ages, contact 01347 838115.

Glen AC Ouse Thrash: contact D Miles 01133 910570.


Kippax Park: 27 pegs, tickets £12, contact 07967000746.