Angling: Bait bans’ debate still a hot topic for anglers

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Over the years, when asked, I have always made it clear that I have been against bait bans.

I am old enough to remember some silly ones such as hempseed, squatts and, more recently, the blanket ban of using wasp grub on most of the popular stretches of the river Trent.

In the case of grub, the bans were usually made by anglers too lazy to spend the hours spotting and collecting the nests.

As years passed and trends changed with the onset of commercial fisheries, I recall, while staying and practicing for a national final at the Droitwich bagging venue Woodland View, a story and reason for a bait ban that has stayed with me all these years.

At the time, 100lb catches were possible only at certain fisheries around the country. Arles lake on the Woodlands complex was one of these. Over just a few summer months match weights dropped dramatically with even the best anglers struggling to catch just a few of the masses of resident carp. Owner Mike Mason explained that the en-vogue method at the time was mushed luncheon meat/slop as feed, with a small piece on the hook.

Anglers were going through easily five 350g tins per match, with a minimum of four matches a week on the 40-peg lake plus pleasure anglers on non-match days. A staggering one-and-a-half tonnes per month could have been hitting the lake bed. In his words: “the maths was making scary reading.”

After netting, closing and draining the lake, he found the bottom covered in inches of thick fat, impenetrable by sunlight and lacking in oxygen – effectively making the water a “putrid dead pool”.

Over the next few months heavy machinery returned the lake bed back to its clay/silt base. After refilling and the ecosystem restored, the fish were returned to a healthy environment and catches were soon back to their brilliant best. Years later, the venue’s meat bans are still in place.

As commercials became the fisheries of choice for most anglers, our area came to provide some of the country’s biggest and best. The Oaks at Sessay, Carlton Minniot’s Woodland Lakes, Messingham Sands to the east, and South Yorkshire’s Lindholme come to mind first. All brilliant fisheries, though, surprisingly, all with different rules and bait bans.

Fishery feed pellets only, though very similar to everyone else’s, seem to be at the top of all rule boards with meat in its different guises usually next on the list as a banned substance.

After reading nutritional values and remembering the fat problems caused by luncheon meat, I find it hard to fathom how most fisheries can ban cat/dog meat but leave the sandwich filler alone.

Chatting this week with Tom Kay, owner and fisheries manager of the superb Oaks at Sessay (a venue without bans yet still able to produce huge catches for both match and pleasure anglers) he obviously has things as good as they get.

He insisted that very little of the anglers’ bait was wasted and often added supplementary feed, even in the warmer months, to make sure the fish had a balanced diet. He also felt that a lot of bans were instigated by anglers who were not able to compete, but would rather blame the bait, or quantities of it, rather than themselves.

Tom stressed that without the facility of clean water, aeration and a perfectly balanced ecosystem, a complex like Sessay would be hard to achieve.

Everything he said made perfect sense!


BSR Winter League, Kippax Park: 1, Neil Rymer 30-12; 2, Paul Clark 25.05; 3, Steve Mazza 23-07; 4, Sean Rodgers 19-00; 5, Andy Barker 15-00.

Toms Pond Winter League, 5th Round: 1, John Mills, Forest Lane 57-02; 2, Kev Trevors, Keighley 53-09; 3, Daz Harrison, Team Jigga 39-11; 4, Andy Barker, Kippax 28-10; 5, Stef Armitage, Team Glum 28-04.

JT Rodgers, Winter League, Moor Monkton Pools: 1, Mick Addinghall 48-04; 2, Lee Smith 47-13; 3, Steve Power 45-08.

Oaks at Sessay: 1, C Routledge, Cleveland 92-12; 2, A Hampson, Leeds 81-13; 3, A Stock, Colmic 63-02; 4, S McAvoy, Oaks 53-02; 5, D Smith, Bait-Tech 52-07.

Oaks at Sessay: 1, S Medd, Cleveland 62-09; 2, A Stock, Colmic 46-09; 3, M Bailey, Garbolino 42-11.

Oaks at Sessay, Cedar: 1, A Stock, Colmic 35-11; 2, D Smith, Bait-Tech 32-11; 3, T Peters, Tri-Cast 30-01.

Moorlands Farm, Match Lake: 1, S Cromie 45-00; 2, S Hoyle 32-08; 3, T Hankinson 30-00; 4, J Brown 28-08; 5, A Waters 24-04.

Mirfield AC, Aire & Calder, Altofts: 1, Dave Pollitt, Mirfield 8-10; 2, Keith Hobson, Barnsley 8-04; 3, Dennis White, Barnsley 6-10; 4, Dean Grace, Selby 6-06; 5, Ian Bowman, Barnsley 6-04.

Mirfield AC, Aire & Calder, Great Heck: 1, N Thewlis, Mirfield 8-096; 2, I Bowman, Barnsley 7-00; 3, P Bennett, Tackle-2U 4-03; 4, S Haigh, Anglers World 4-02; 5, M Shaw, Mirfield 3-08.

Wakefield AC, Calder & Hebble Canal, Wakefield: 1, D Armitage, Cleckheaton 22-09; 2, M Chapman, Wakefield 12-06; 3, D Scales, Selby 11-14; 4, J Deakin, Diawa Dons 10-14; 5, B Reah, Wakefield 10-13.

Woodlands Lakes, Curlew/Wagtail: 1, D Hudson 52-00; 2, S Keane 50-07; 3, S Walker 50-01; 4, G Poole 34-15; 5, L McGinley 34-02.

Angel Lakes, Open Lookout: 1, T Wilson 67-08; 2, D Pearson 29-05; 3, R Emery 27-12.

Rodley Barge, Brafferton F1 Lake: 1, L Hook 38-08; 2, R Ward 10-04; 3, J Harvey 7-07; 4, T Hodgson 5-01.

Fryston AC Winter League (Viking Fox): 1, S Varley 37-04; 2, S Lupton 14-08; 3, G Gill 12-04; 3, R Evans 12-04.

Match Diary


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 Oscars draw 8.30, 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, 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.


Bradford No 1 AA: 10th January, Cowthorpe River Nidd, Contact Simon 01274 571175.

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 Pools, 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 50’s: tickets £16 contact 01347 838115.


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


Birkwood Farm Fisheries: Emily’s or Oscars draw 8.30, 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.