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Which reservoirs will open soon for 2021?

Despite conditions resembling the Arctic, and with the whole country in lockdown, fly fishers all over the country will be well aware that it is mid-February, and anticipating fervently the new trout fishing season, which is just around the corner. However, all fly fishers in lockdown will be wondering where – and when – will they be able to fish?

The English government is due to review the current lockdown on February 15, with a "roadmap" for the way out of lockdown planned for February 22, thus Ifor Jones, who runs Thornton, Draycote and Eyebrook trout fisheries, says "By Tuesday, February 23 or Wednesday 24, it should be becoming clearer what guidelines or restrictions we will all be working under."

Ifor has already had to postpone the opening of Leicestershire's Thornton, which was due on February 1. Planned opening dates for Warwickshire's Draycote is March 1, with  Eyebrook, Northamptonshire opening four days later, on March 5.

"The good news is there are no price increases for 2021, and, due to demand, a new two-fish kill then catch & release permit has been introduced at £21.50", added Ifor.

At Bewl Bridge, the new season could start on Wednesday, March 17, which is a few days earlier than usual. However, this date still needs to be confirmed. Anglers are advised to check the Bewl Bridge Fly Fishers or Bewl Water websites beforehand.

Boat fishing is set to begin at the Kent reservoir on the same day, from a new extended jetty, with pairs able to fish together, but again, the advice is to double-check at the time of booking (booking is available online). 10,000 Exe Valley rainbows are due to be stocked during March (2,000 more than 2020).

Anglian Water, which runs Cambridgeshire's Grafham, Rutland Water, and Northamptonshire's Ravensthorpe and Pitsford, announced on January 27, that access to angling, watersports, mini golf, cycle hire and non-essential retail shops will be "closed until further notice". Following the government briefing, it stated that "it is now looking more likely we will be unable to open our fisheries on our advertised opening dates.

"As such, we anticipate our new season to begin on April 1, however should restrictions ease before this date, we will open as planned.

"If restrictions extend past April 5, 2021, refunds will be given for any closed period from this date. No refunds will be made for the period between the planned fishery opening date and the April 5, 2021.

"Our planned pre-season stocking is continuing as normal in anticipation of a fantastic opening day", it concluded.

In the south-west, South West Lakes Trust (SWLT) will open all trout fisheries as planned. This means Kennick and Siblyback will open on February 13, and Stithians and Burrator on March 6. Season-ticket holders for these rainbow waters can fish one day earlier than day-ticket anglers.

Its brown trout fisheries – Roadford, Colliford, Fernworthy and Wistlandpound – are all due to open on March 15.

Day permits for SWLT waters will only be available online from the website: www.swlakestrust.org.uk/trout-fishing
or from the SWLT office, Monday to Friday, 9.00am-4.30pm on 01566 771930. Anglers can buy a permit in advance of fishing. All day and season ticket prices have remained the same as 2020.

The above is assuming fishing is still allowed as exercise, and so long as participants adhere to the rules of staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors,' which was the latest guidance from the Department of Media, Culture & Sport, made on January 6, 2021.

• Only local travel is permitted for the purpose of daily exercise as set out in the Government’s travel guidance.
• The local area is specified as the town, village or part of the city in which you live. There is recognition that there will be a need to travel for outdoor exercise, this should be done locally, but you can travel a short distance within your area.
• Anglers will need to apply judgement in defining their local area.
• Boat fishing can continue and the boat fishing rules and regulations during covid-19 remain in place.
• You can only fish with members of your own household, your support bubble or with one other individual
• You must adhere to social distancing measures: Hands, Face and Space.
• Competition fishing, or any other organised fishing event, is prohibited by law during lockdown.

In Wales, no reservoirs have been able to make plans to re-open, as there is no road map laid out by Welsh Government yet for non-essential businesses. The next three-week review by the Welsh government is to be made on February 19.

Ceri Thomas, of the Angling Trust's Fishing In Wales, said, "Anglers are hopeful that at that point they may release some news, and ease travel restrictions slightly for exercise (fishing);
in a best case scenario they might allow driving five or ten miles.

"I'd say the way it's going Easter (April 2–5) is a realistic time to expect fisheries to be open again. Club waters possibly early or mid March".

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