The COVID-19 outbreak has probably stopped some of you buying the Journal so he is this weeks column.
North Devon’s angling community are waiting patiently until they can return once again to the water’s edge. Close to three weeks of lockdown have passed it is likely to be several more weeks before the chance once again cast a line.
The lockdown will have had a devastating impact upon many businesses that rely upon angling. Fisheries have lost their income at the busiest time of year with Easter normally a bumper time for both coarse and game fishing. Many fisheries incorporate holiday accommodation and are often fully booked throughout the Easter period. Those fishing tackle shops that have an online presence will continue to do some business as anglers stock up for future times but bait sales will have ground to a halt.
Early April is a time when many anglers renew their Rod Licences in line with the historic financial calendar. I suspect many anglers will have delayed purchasing a licence until fishing resumes. This will have had a significant impact upon funding for fishery work and habitat work throughout the country.
The charter boat sector will have lost a significant part of their season and will be hoping for fair weather to allow a return to fishing grounds when normality returns.
The rivers are now running low and clear so runs of migratory fish will be at a minimal until we have substantial rainfall. Strange how just a few weeks ago the rivers were raging torrents.
The lockdown is in effect similar to a closed season. The older generation of Coarse anglers will remember the closed season that prevented fishing for coarse fish from March 14th until June 16th. The glorious sixteenth was a day to celebrate with anglers often casting their lines into lakes and ponds across the land at the stroke of midnight. It is to be hoped that all anglers can share in the magic of a new season when this tragic pandemic ends.
Nature will have enjoyed a reprieve with many waterside paths untrodden. Birds will have nested undisturbed; grass snakes will have basked in the warm sun upon the banks where anglers normally contemplate their luck. The friendly robins will wonder where the anglers have gone with their handfuls of juicy writhing maggots. The large carp in many of the region’s lakes will perhaps miss the angler’s high protein baits. Will the fish be easier to tempt when we return to the water?
The longer term impact on angling will be hard to predict. A long lay-off could hopefully encourage an eager return to the water’s edge and a greater appreciation of the great outdoors. There is of course the fear that some will get out of the habit and not return.