Angling: Pond-life vandalism – Steve Fearnley

Langwith Lakes arson attack.
Langwith Lakes arson attack.
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Pond life has, unfortunately, taken on two meanings for fishery owners and managers this year.

The first meaning describes the fish, newts, and frogs that everyone wants to know, and secondly the moronic, slimy toads responsible for the recent spate of theft, vandalism and arson that no one ever admits to knowing.

Local commercial fishery Kippax Park has suffered more than once to the thieves, losing valuable nets, motors, fuel and pumps, all with little resale value but costing thousands to replace for the owners.

Leeds & District’s premier carp fishery Knotford Lagoon is proving every week that vandalism and theft are not only the problem of the inner city.

Sitting in over 30 acres of the stunning Wharfedale, the lake, surrounded by a £25,000 otter fence and locked gates, has become a target for those practising fence hurdling and jumping, or the pretend hiker/walkers demonstrating against its existence and just wanting to prove that a five-foot fence is no match for quality wire cutters.

York’s Langwith Lakes is one of the area’s first and favourite commercials but has become the latest victim to suffer at the hands of the mindless with last week’s entrants to the over-50s match arriving to the smouldering remains of the site’s office and meeting point.

Vending machines, maintenance equipment, scales, nets and fishing tackle were all lost to the fire, but, after chatting to owners Norman and Carol, it’s business as usual and over 100lb was needed to win the latest match. Though bailiffs, members and volunteer working parties all pull together and work hard repairing the damage, I wonder how long before associations and fishery owners have had enough, and start taking seriously the offers for lakes to be filled in and made into housing estates.

The river Wharfe. often moody but predictable, this season has even the most regular and expert anglers of the Ulleskelf venue scratching their heads. The annual migration of chub and barbel to Kirby Wharfe and the rapids section seems for the first time to have skipped a year, leaving tiny dace and roach making up the bulk of anglers’ catches.

Bradford’s old stager Pete Baron was quick to pick up on the lack of bigger fish at the venue, and put in a winning stick float-performance from just below the railway bridge to become this year’s North of England champion with a mainly-dace catch of 9-6. ‘Mr Tidal Wharfe’ Martin Thorpe was a close second with a similar catch to the winner totalling 8-15 from the railway fields bottom peg.

Tony Parr took third with the only barbel to be caught on the match for 8-5, and Tony Hewson told the best hard-luck story for a fourth place 7-14. Catching steadily at the start and heading for an easy win, his match quickly nose-dived after losing his first 4oz dace to a hungry double-figure pike. Another 14 lost fish to marauding pike put paid to any chance of winning, but at least he has given a good pointer for any pike anglers reading peg 73 was the scene of fishing carnage for those interested.

All this year’s major prize winners came from the furthest downstream railway field section, but more worryingly one perch won the section at the top of the fishery with every other angler sitting the five hours without a bite.