A few weeks ago I put a survey on Yorkshire river angler website titled Should we abolish the closed season on rivers? There were some heated debate and some good reasons for abolishing the closed season and good reasons for keeping it. Recent news may have paled all the discussion into insignificance as announced in the online version of the Telegraph that the closed season is likely to be scrapped following a government review see here. [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/06/140-year-old-law-preventing-river-fishing-spring-likely-scrapped/]

•The discussion on the various angling pages on Facebook and Tumblr twitter and others were very interesting, Here are some of the comments.


•No, keep the closed season. It makes the 16th more magical. Gives a new year, an actual date to start again. Gives the fish a break. A few anglers asked a break from what the reply was angling pressure? well, angling pressure on most of the rivers here in Yorkshire is virtually nil ?? so the fish would feel no difference then?

•Its ok to fish lakes and ponds all year round…but not rivers !! Never made any sense to me. that’s a simple observation but look closer and the guy who posted that is right, also one angler pointed out that it would make more sense to keep the closed season on ponds and lakes as these fish are targeted and have no escape from anglers. river fish travel the river and can be so far from any angler within a few hours. whatever your views you may find them below. I’ve put most of the comments left on the media groups here apart from the abusive ones.

•No, keep the closed season. It makes the 16th more magical. Gives a new year, an actual date to start again. Gives the fish a break.?

•Also gives the banks time to recover. Popular pegs look like commercial pegs or in some cases the Somme.

•Yes, it should..
We miss a good period of weather in close months.. and will generate more new interest in Barbel fishing.

•Are we the only country that does this should be able to fish rivers all year round that’s what you pay your licence for

•Its ok to fish lakes and ponds all year round…but not rivers !! Never made any sense to me.

•Have always been in favour of keeping it but recent events have changed my views, we really need more responsible anglers on the bank due to increased predation from Otters, Cormorants and others, also illegal fishing for the pot is prevalent during the close season with the E.A. either unable or unwilling to stop it.Nowadays it seems sensible to have eyes and ears on the bank all year round.

•when you put it like that. Yes. Same here. I’ve always been a fierce defender of the close season (including Stillwater and nothing to do with spawning issues) but your argument has certainly made me think.

•Get rid, their’s nowhere near the pressure on the rivers now compared to 20-30yrs ago when both banks used to be matched up on most stretches all over the country, I can honestly say 80 percent of the times I’ve been on the river this season never seen another angler, but their again I don’t fish Topcliffe!!!

•Can’t see a point to it.
More reason to have a closed season on commercials, you just have to look at the damage on the mouths of fish in commercials for an example, they have nowhere to hide.I’m not saying the big carp lakes as most carpers care for their impeccably.
If fish are pressured on a stretch of river they will move.
And has anyone actually thought on the busy stretches the effects of one minute everyone is throwing bait in and all of a sudden nothing for 3 months?

•Plus river anglers are a passionate bunch..anyone can sit and fish a hole dug out.

•River fishing mainly depends on weather/conditions..we need more available weeks to make it worth paying for a hobby with more flexible dates possible to fish.

•Defo keep it to some extent maybe a month or two to when the fish are actually spawning lol

• Abolish as we are in need of eyes on the water all the year round with all the poaching going on these days.

•Nobody ever mentions the fact that it was introduced with zero scientific evidence to back it up. When you also consider that very few people actually fish rivers from Dec to Feb it’s pretty much a closed season as it is. Brought in by the trout and salmon brigade to keep us out of their way.

• I agree with Michael Hunter I think the close season is during the wrong period… I’ve seen fish spawning when the new season has already started

•Fish spawn at different times, it’s easy if it fish welfare you’re after leave the barbel alone and target the roach or dace with a nice bit of watercraft and use a stick float, that’s what I do!!

• 3 months is far too long away from the river for coarse anglers yet the fly fishermen( I do both) can wander through the waters and river banks. if it’s for spawning reasons why can we still fish for carp when they’re spawning? don’t get me wrong I like the break and change away from river coarse fishing and makes June 16th exciting but I think it’s time to change it

•You try and catch a barbel from Cundall lodge on the 16th be hard going because there are not there and still further upstream in there spawning grounds

•Wots point in having it to protect fish when spawning when the EA won’t do anything about the overpopulated otter problem, surely it’s pointless if they keep it I’d say move it to 16th of April

•More anglers in the bank more frequently will stop Otters settling in the stretch and feeling comfortable making it a regular spot to reside.

• I totally agree to some extent but I’ve seen videos of one not giving a flying **** eating a big barbel opposite Collingham bank full of anglers

• It’s like the debate with the stupid clock change that should be left when it changes in March but that will never change like the close season as it’s the same debate every season, from all the polls I’ve seen 80% want no close season 5% want it left as it is and 15% want it moved.

•So if we abolish the closed season, which has been in place before any of us were born and it has a detrimental effect on the fish how long would it be before we noticed, and how long would it take to rectify?
Barbel are gonna love 24/7 365 days a year pressure, if you think it’s hard now imagine that, the poor buggers would spend half their time avoiding otters and the other half avoiding capture.

•With hundreds of miles of fishing available barbel won’t feel the pressure as much as you think they are a very nomadic species

•Michael Flockton it’s about the river fishing close season, not barbel!! It seems to be its the barbel anglers what will be doing all the damage then don’t get me wrong I like to do a bit of barbel fishing at the right times but I class myself as a river angler who will go Grayling fishing, roach and dace fishing bream fishing and so on but when we start going on about close season every barbel Fisherman goes on how the barbel will get hammered, well I say some of you barbel lads should take a good look at yourselves and see who’s doing the hammering.

•I’m an all rounder too Andy but the page is a barbel fishing page. And yes it seems to me that its barbel anglers who know that at this time of the year they are at their biggest and are coming on the feed to build up after the winter. I have no desire to catch one after the season ends until mid-July. Leave them alone, and don’t think otters are deterred by our presence because they are active when we are there fishing!

•I know that Michael, I’ve had them plenty of time in front of me might be about barbel this page, but the subject is river close season!!!

• I don’t know why people are moaning… if you want to fish that badly during the close season just go rip the mouths out of those puddle pigs in commercials…. while we’re at it let’s do away with maternity leave for women and the shooting season.. let’s blast of the Little Birds while they’re sat on their nests

Well, the fact that I can only fish once a week for a start!! If that!! I prefer rivers is another reason. The closed season achieves nothing. I get less value for money. The poaching problem. Winter. I could go on.

 •Most rivers are f–k anyway so what’s the point in a closed season might just as well close them completely because in 2 year’s time there won’t be anything left too fish for

• Looking at another way, or ways, when spawning fish are not interested in anything except spawning. Fish spawn different times due to weather yearly, every species of fish. Also, If did need food, are we denying this due to not being on banks? Should clubs have overall say? Well, known spawning areas put signs up saying no fishing till the glorious 16th. Also no wading in known areas till 16th, looks like then we have, had an educated/calculated attempt to solve the situation. Again some lakes get no respite, some rivers never get fished. Wrong way around at the moment.

• I think that’s a good point about wading especially with the fish spawning in the shallow water where the eggs will be

•Anyone who ever fished for carp knows when there spawning there not interested in food anyway

•most lad will soon find out when there spawning and have a rest of that part of a stretch if they have half a brain, water temps are way too cold on March 16th for any spawning in my opinion, sack it off or move it for me

•no me neither they will just keep discussing it and reject it every year.

•[ only for coarse fish,saying that the salmon ND st St season IS a very late starter at April 6th one of the later seasons in the uk,actually they is new bylaws coming everyone’s way this season for all types of fisher be it game or coarse,firstly the river eden,ribble, border esk, tees will all go catch and release for salmon not sure about st which are the ones that are really in decline,river likes the wear and tyne two best salmon rivers in england and wales won’t be affected,by rights any river that flows to the humber via ouse or trent shouldn’t be effected as that system has now took over the mighty tyne as far a river system is concerned,estimation af around 100k + salmon must easily pass the humber each yr on their way to trent and ouse tribs (also don and river hull) the ure alone from its two fish counter count around 12k + fish, but lots miss both counters hand that’s just off the ure,!! the rest add up to a good 50k+ fish and that is a very very low-end estimate, so don’t be counting chickens before they hatch, like this do ya really want folks trying to catch pike in say april march when they are spawning, ok fish spawn at diff times,we know but in general this is a rest period for them, like is salmon fishing the last thing you would do is go to the dales on the spawning redds (grounds) and try to catch stale red/black past their best salmon….so the same applies to coarse fishes……but come april they will be an announcement online in many forums and the .gov.ukwebsite…… good point Micheal Hart

yorkshire will also be getting an enforcement team to combat future salmon poaching in the newly recovered rivers in yorks   that also means coarse fishing outa season at the likes of Topcliffe will now be out, many weirs will get no fishing bylaws to prevent people from hammering the salmon

• that came from salmon fishing forums-the green forums not the blue ones  ill post soon as the new byelwas be announced as the norm is for the E/A to announce very quietly….usually online, game fishing is a million miles away from coarse fishing when it comes to rules,we are hammered each season with new regulations in the name of the ever so called declining salmon,if only it was true check river wear,tees or tyne fish counts google it to see that numbers are on the up esp early spring fish,now the whole of the humber catchment has to have upped the number to an easy 100k fish per season passing the humber,the river mersey is now getting runs of fish and so to are rivers in derbyshire? youtube salmon going over Norbury weir, so they ain’t declining that much from where I’m sat,but the problems not on the wear or tyne but tees and Yorkshire rivers ie ouse, Ure, swale and Wharfe is that they are pike venues, but soon as our season finishes 31st October a day later yer see salmon anglers fishing for pike ! yeah right oh ok they use wire but still makes ne odds to a fish that is about to spawn and becomes defensive and highly aggressive virtually over night,so that what we all up against, they the e/a are terrified that the salmon will be poached to death, and lets face it we have hull to covntry-to wensleydale and all in the humber system,so it wont take long for people to cotton on that salmon are worth anywhere from a £1 per LB – £ 7 per LB 5 easy fish from a pool where they rest all 15lb in weight at a fiver a pound every night some times getting up to 30s and 40s of fish all sizes,so they e/a will make new laws to suit them, trust me  fishing near some weirs will be well out from now on,certain weirs will be permanently banned for all types of fishing and some will have daily nightly restrictions and usually september to october weirs can be restricted to fish hence the back end run in them very months when the fish will be piling over……….yeah yorkshire,derbyshire and the midlands have all come alive with salmon,they even been seen at sheffiled for crying out loud great news but the salmon always get priority over everything, very different on a game river yer see the e/a  all the time not like on say a stick float venue or somewhere yer bivvy up all night on a river for bream or what ever (barbel) rents for clubs will go sky high and riparian landowners will rent to highest bidders,or chase the Clubs and charge folks to fish,wensleydale near castle bolton before aysgarth falls £140 next beat £90 and its like that all the way to west tanfield……tyne beats byewell was 50 quid a yr soon as the salmon boomed now £240 a day !!!!]

•Closed season at least it stops the poachers and we all know who they are  from stealing fish for a few month

•Closed season definitely does not stop the poachers and we all know who they are just means there are fewer people on the banks to keep an eye on them!!!

•Our rivers have never been in better fettle despite predators and pollution why change it i personally think its a month early tho barbel are still always spawning opening day and people head for these areas to put even more pressure on fish that are in poor condition

•Tbh the river never closes anyway you just got to change tackle an fish with flies

•Today’s Society will vote for no close Season because the Younger ones won’t see any reason why they should be stopped from fishing…..

•Just fish on worms and keep them open

Open, keep an eye out for the poachers

•River fish don’t get half as much pressure as lake/pond fish. Canals and river fish have miles they can travel to get away from anglers. Whereas lake/pond fish are in a hole and can’t get away so if anything id shut them as soon as they start spawning and leave it 2 weeks after they’ve finished so they can recover

•Keep it open it helps keep the cormorants away

• I think years back it was a good idea but now I would say open all year

I would say keep it open to help try to keep the poachers away but that wouldn’t help cos the government still wouldn’t do anything about them

•If my memory is correct the old closed season for coarse fish started at the end of February and ended on the 16th of June. This covered the vast majority of spawning fish. The closed season then lasted for 3
1/2 months. If with global warming etc the times of spawning change then the timing of the closed season could be looked at.

• If you want to carry on fishing during the course closed season, why not try fly fishing for trout or even long trot with a worm for trout on some rivers that I know of. It gives another string to your bow.

•Its not all about fish either.bankside vegetation flora and fauna all need time as well as a close season is a traditional time for clubs to do bankside work and improvements

•Dearne probably gets fished a lot due to its locality to towns, villages. Some Yorkshire rivers even part of Trent, hardly see an angler. Leave well-known spawning areas out, and leave up to clubs. Problem is decent people abide by the rules, only affects decent people and not ones we should be aiming for.

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•The comment above are just a few there are many more. The final result from the poll on the website was 62 % to abolish the closed season to 37 % to keep it.


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Andrew Collier  Yorkshire river angler  I can see pros and cons and its quite a complicated subject, one that needs to be looked at in depth.  River fishing has been in decline for years so it would make sense for it to be available all year round just like it is on lakes and canals. Also, fish spawn at different times I’ve seen barbel spawning on the gravel and not give any bait a second glance. Yes, give the river a rest there are always trout to target with the fly. lots of reasons but a lot of rivers see little or no angling pressure at all so what is the point of extending this for 3 more months. on the other hand, some river receives constant pressure so one rule for these rivers won’t suit a river that receives little pressure. personally, it needs abolishing ill not sit on the fence just like my angling friends on these pages. The one thing you can take from all this debate is every one of the Anglers that have commented are all dedicated caring individuals who like me care very much about their sport and should be listened to.Thank You.            Andrew Collier Yorkshire river angler


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