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Fishing in England opens, but some fisheries remain closed

As the dust settles following the announcement that – in England only (and from last night, locally in Wales) – fishing can re-commence today (Wednesday, May 12), many English trout fisheries remain closed for the time being. Larger operations such as Anglian Water and Bristol Water fisheries will stay closed whilst some smaller commercial trout fisheries are planning to open.

It’s becoming apparent that game fishing rivers in England are the most likely to be open, particularly those with current memberships, syndicates, season ticket holders, or easily accessed day tickets, or club waters, which have memberships already in place. Even so, many of these waters will be awaiting details of access from land owners and confirmation of the rules and guidelines anglers need to follow whilst on the water.

Anglian Water, which runs Rutland and Grafham, has announced that because they are tourism venues that draw large crowds their waters will remain closed to the public for the time being. “We know how much the local community and visitors love our green spaces, but the health and safety of our local communities, visitors and colleagues is our priority. We must be certain that when we reopen we can do so safely, meeting all the guidance on social distancing” it added.

Bristol Water, which runs Chew Valley and Blagdon, offered stillwater trout anglers a little more hope saying, “Our fisheries remain closed and will not be reopening tomorrow (May 13). We appreciate everyone is keen to get fishing but we will not open our waters until we are confident we can fully comply with government guidelines.”

Northumbrian Water fisheries took a similar line: “We will be looking at government guidance over the coming days so that we can fully understand what this means for these sites and will make a further announcement in due course.
“At present, these sites and their associated facilities, including car parks, remain closed while we assess the guidance, and we urge people to stay away.”

Ifor Jones, who runs Midlands trout fisheries, Draycote, Eyebrook and Thornton, said last night, “Until I get clarity from our landlords and importantly see the guidelines we must follow, the fisheries remain closed”.
With a number of coarse fishing lakes due to open today – it is currently the closed season for coarse fish on rivers (until June 16), smaller trout fisheries are looking at their options on opening and ticketing, whilst maintaining the social distancing rules.

Ellerdine Lakes, in Shropshire has stated it will open today at 8am. Fishermen have been told they must use contactless payments if possible, the lodge and shop will be closed, and anglers must only fish from marked pegs, over 15 metres apart, with anglers implored to stay on their markers.

However, putting into perspective the underlying threat and responsibility of inviting the public onto a fishery, Anglers Lodge at Jubilee Lakes has decided to remain closed for the time being, due to the health of family members that run it, and preferring to wait until the course of Covid-19 in the Darlington area is more fully understood. Anglers Lodge on-line tackle store will continue to operate.

Nottingham’s Colwick Park lake is still closed. It stated it would follow Nottingham City Council's Bronze Command and will only open once instructed.

There was more encouraging news for anglers in the south west, where South West Lakes Trust announced its fisheries would open on Wednesday May 13 at 10am. Initially, this would be for season permit holders only. Season permit holders will have a week of access before day permits become available from Wednesday, May 20.

The Trust stated it was reserving the right to limit numbers to ensure the safety of its employees and visitors alike. The Trust runs fisheries throughout Devon and Cornwall, such as Colliford, Roadford, Fernworthy, Kennick, Burrator, Stithians and Siblyback. Its rules and regulations will run in line with the Angling Trust’s phased approach to reopening.

The advice to all fishermen is to check before they travel, and this was made clear by the Wye & Usk Foundation, which issues tickets for fishing in both England and Wales. “We are glad to announce that as of tomorrow (May 13), Passport beats in England will restart fishing ... Passport fisheries in Wales will remain closed while full lockdown restrictions on travel are still in place that side of the border.

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