Ahead of Easter (and this weekend's predicted warm spell) this edition of Boaters' Update gives you the low down on fishing, exciting news from the Cotswold Canals Trust and much more besides. So, put your feet up have a read and then make the most of your weekend(s) with a visit to your local canal and river.
In the last edition I talked about planning for the main boating season ahead. Well, with Easter just next week (and a four-day weekend) now is very much the time to get afloat if you haven’t already.
Of course, if you’re not able to get onto the water this Easter, then maybe a spot of gongoozling is in order (perhaps at the 40th Easter Boat Gathering at National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port)? Or for the anglers amongst you, Canal & River Trust’s fisheries & angling manager, John Ellis, discusses angling etiquette.
Elsewhere in this edition you’ll find the usual mix of news and this weekend’s stoppages as well as an exciting announcement about the Cotswold Canals. If there is something else you’d like to see in a future edition, then do get in touch.
In this edition:
Over the last couple of weeks you may have heard, or seen, that:
Of course, there are plenty of other activities and volunteering opportunities around the network so please visit the events section of the website to find the perfect one for you.
Lots of you have been in touch over the last few months asking for an article on fishing and it’s no secret that many boaters are keen anglers too, so, in this article, fisheries & angling manager, John Ellis, looks at the history, and modern practicalities, of being a boaty angler.
Who was the first boater to fish the canals?
‘To the best of my knowledge, history does not record the name of the first person to actually fish on a British canal. Who knows, it could have been a member of the first boat crew when they moored up on that very first trip. Or, if you include the Fossdyke, then a Roman angler wins the prize. Whoever it was, the purpose would have probably been for the capture of food rather than for sport. For back in the 18th and 19th Centuries, coarse fish such as shad, pike, eel and even gudgeon were an important part of the diet.’
Who owns the fishing rights?
‘Fishing rights are legal property in their own right. The Trust owns the fishing rights on much of the canal network, although there are some exceptions to this which have their origins back in history to the time of the Canal Enabling Acts. On the river navigations, the position is that where the Trust owns the land, we also own the fishing rights associated with that land ownership.’
Does the Trust boat licence cover me to fish or do I need a separate permit?
‘In situations where the Trust owns fishing rights on canals and rivers, we manage them by either license agreements with angling clubs or under our Waterway Wanderers scheme. Anyone wishing to angle from their moored craft (it’s not allowed when moving) or kayak needs to have a permit to do so. This will typically be:
Where can I go fishing with just an Environment Agency rod licence?
‘The Environment Agency rod licence is legally required to fish anywhere, including in your own pond in the back garden! With very few exceptions (some EA owned fishing rights) the rod licence does not give the holder the legal right to fish anywhere in freshwater. It’s perhaps best to think of the rod licence as something that is required to licence the use of a fishing rod or pole, along the same lines as a gun licence.’
I’m always cruising about so how do I know who to buy a permit from?
‘This is a genuine concern often expressed by the cruising boater. The best answer I can give is that technology is beginning to come to our aid. The Trust's fishing pages have the most up to date information regarding clubs on the canal network. The 'fishing info' section of the Angling Trust website is the first port of call for information on the river navigations.’
Why not have a national boaters fishing permit?
‘In principle, there are obvious merits. It would be convenient and eliminate worry for the boating customer. There could potentially be extra income to enable clubs and the Trust to reinvest in its fisheries. However, there are some practical hurdles to overcome before this sort of permit could ever become a reality. These include obtaining the permission of the multitude of different clubs and owners of fishing rights for all the numerous fisheries that would be included. Then agreeing the ratio of the split in income, not to mention agreeing a set of fishery rules that everyone would sign up to, would be quite daunting. Sorting all these things out would be a substantial undertaking.’
What are the rules once I have my rod licence and permit?
‘When renting fishing rights from the Trust every angling association will sign a Standard Angling Agreement. There are some specifics set out which, for instance, prohibit the following:
And what about at visitor moorings?
‘Unless specifically signed as no fishing areas, angling is allowed at visitor moorings. At quiet times of the year this is a rarely a problem and space is amicably shared. However, when it’s busier and visitor moorings are in high mooring demand, then moorers have priority. Put it this way, if you cruise up to a visitor mooring and the only available space is taken up by an angler then you have priority. If there’re other spaces then the angler can stay put as you can still moor on the visitor mooring without the angler moving!
‘These clauses in the angling agreement document set it out formally:
The above is a bit of a whistle-stop tour of fishing but there’s a whole bundle of information on our fishing pages if you’d like to read more.
As someone lucky enough to live close to the Stroudwater Navigation I was especially pleased to see this statement issued by the Cotswold Canals Trust:
Cotswold Canals Trust and Stroud District Council are pleased to announce that the Canal & River Trust is backing the bid to reconnect Stroud to the national canal network.
Canal & River Trust trustees have pledged £625,000 to support the restoration of the Cotswold Canal. The assistance will be spread over five years from 2018 if a bid this year to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful. This is in addition to the support ‘in kind’ that the Trust can also provide.
David Hagg, chief executive of Stroud District Council, comments: “We’re delighted to receive support from the Canal & River Trust. It’s a real endorsement of all the effort that has gone into restoring the canal. The funds could be an important factor in helping to secure a bid by Cotswold Canals Trust and Stroud District Council to the Heritage Lottery Fund later this year which would see nearly £20m overall investment in the waterway. Equally, we look forward to working with the Canal & River Trust’s staff and to making the best possible use of their tremendous knowledge and expertise.
“If the bid is successful, it will fulfil the waterway movement’s long held ambition to connect approximately 11 miles of ‘new’ canal to the wider network as it will connect the six miles of largely restored canal around Stroud, to the Canal & River Trust’s network at Saul Junction on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.”
Jim White, chair of the Cotswold Canals Trust, comments: “The Canal & River Trust has been supporting the Cotswold Canals for the past few years with management support and professional advice although this has passed largely under-the-radar to the wider waterways movement. Their financial support now is very welcome indeed as we go back to the Heritage Lottery Fund to try and unlock the funds to complete the restoration of the Stroudwater Navigation.”
Richard Parry chief executive of the Trust comments: “Cotswold Canal Trust and Stroud District Council have done an amazing job in building support for this project. We are pleased to pledge what funding we can to help unlock the significant HLF funding required. There is no better way of transforming places and enriching lives than restoring an abandoned canal and reconnecting it with its local community, especially when it will also be re-connected to the national waterway network, providing an exciting new destination for boaters to visit.”
The decision follows Stroud District Council’s investment of £3m in the project, and Gloucestershire County Council’s recent announcement that it will commit £700,000. If the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund is successful, ‘Stroudwater Connected’ would start in 2018/19 with the Canal & River Trust’s contribution of £125k per annum (plus staff time as can be made available) continuing over five years.
As regular readers will know, I always include a ‘Bits and bobs’ section at the end of every Boaters’ Update to capture all the snippets of news, and information, that I think you’ll be interested in but couldn’t quite squeeze in elsewhere.
In a bit of break from tradition, and because there are so many, I’ve divided it out in this edition and included this new section which includes the different ways, as boaters, you can help us with this or that. Please let me know if this helpful.
Keeping your canals and rivers ready for you to enjoy is a year-round job. From time-to-time this includes some major engineering that we need to temporarily close the navigation for. Below you’ll find a list, by region, of anything that’s happen that may affect your cruising.
Just click on the one where you’ll be and a webpage will open listing any stoppages for that region (if your region isn’t listed then, yay, there aren’t any navigation closures there!). If you’re not quite sure which region your planned cruise falls in to please take a look at this map.
When any restrictions to navigation happen we get them up on to our website as soon as we can – always best to have a scan before you set off for a cruise.