Changes from the old flimsy paper rod licence to the now accepted credit card type seemed as much as we could expect from the Environment Agency (EA) just a few years ago; how good it is now to report a shake-up of rules that will make a real difference to all the country’s anglers.
Answering questions in Parliament last week, Fisheries Minister George Eustace confirmed proposed changes to the licence from 2017.
These will include a licence for a maximum of three rods instead of the current two, a full year’s rolling licence rather than a fixed season, and a free junior licence for anglers under the age of 16.
My own take on the changes is: “About time.”
While we acknowledge that the third rod won’t be free, it’s better than being forced to buy two separate licences for the species lads.
The rolling licence is just common sense and should encourage anyone starting mid-to-late-season to take the plunge, knowing they have a full 365 days from purchase date.
The free junior licence is an absolute ‘no brainer’. Anything to give the kids a helping hand to use our lakes and rivers has got to be a positive move.
Martin Salter, campaigns chief for the Angling Trust, said: “Carp anglers will obviously be pleased, but tench and bream anglers, like myself, who usually fish large pits with two rods at a time, would sometimes like to use a third rod to switch quickly to a new method or to stalk a fish showing in the margins.
“Whilst many anglers I know won’t buy two separate licences at the moment, they would be happy to pay a fair price to use a third rod occasionally. We are particularly pleased that the EA have taken this forward and are prepared to forego the income from the £5 junior licence.
“I certainly wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for my own licence if it meant that more juniors under 16 could fish for free, because anything that attracts youngsters into our sport has to be good for the future of angling.”
Meanwhile, searching for information to go with my picture this week was made easy with a visit to my predecessor Dennis Lemmon’s super-efficient filing system and archives.
An hour or so tipping out dusty envelopes of fishing results from as far back as 1950 gave me everything I needed.
Headlines from the back pages of a 1964 Evening Post read: “The Leeds Amalgamation’s annual juvenile match at Roundhay Park saw 306 competitors between the ages of five and 16 surround the Waterloo lake some six or seven yards apart.”
With juvenile match entries now averaging just 20 against the 306 in those ‘black and white years’, even the smallest changes by the Trust and EA could make a difference to the future of fishing as we know it.
Well-known Leeds match angler, Steve Raper, is living proof that starting young is the way forward.
The 58-year-old has been the winner of some of the country’s most prestigious matches, including the P&O International on Ireland’s River Erne and the ACA masters final at Hayfield.
Steve is the holder of the match record on Ireland’s River Bann with 242lb, together with numerous other river championships. He is pictured receiving his prize as the youngest angler to catch a fish in the under-12s section of the huge Roundhay event.
Steve hasn’t changed much over the years, and I know the presented rally car is still his favourite toy as he plays with it whenever he isn’t fishing!
Can anyone put names to faces for the others in the picture?