Why anglers should love boaters and vice versa
As Bishop Michael Curry, addressing a global audience of close to 2 billion at the recent royal wedding, reminded the world wonderfully, ‘love is the way’.
He went on to add, quoting French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, ‘if humanity can harvest the energy of love like it harnessed the controlled power of fire, then it will revolutionise human history’.
Both a boater and an angler be
There are around 33,000 boat licences issued annually by the Trust. Most are either moored on the fishery or continuously cruise the waterways. These licence holders and their families are all potential customers for our controlling clubs or for our Waterway Wanderers permit.
If we can secure more angling income, we can invest more in our fisheries and in developing and educating the next generation of anglers through our Let’s Fish campaign. You can find out more about fishing from you boat here.
Talking of income, our wonderful waterways are not cheap to maintain. Did you know it costs over £200 million to look after them each year?
Boaters pay substantially more than anglers directly to the Trust but none of our customers contribute anything like the full amount needed to make sure we can look after our waterways. That's why we need the support of hundreds of thousands of individual Friends as well as the government to make sure the canals will be here for all to enjoy in another 200 years’ time.
It’s often overlooked that anglers, including those fishing on our waterways, contribute around £23 million to the Environment Agency each year through the rod licence, which is one of the few examples of an hypothecated tax.
Some of this money is now coming back to the Trust to part fund the Let’s fish campaign.
When we ask anglers to name their favourite canal venues those mostly frequently mentioned are:
- Shropshire Union Canal
- Kennet & Avon Canal
- Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal
- Aire & Calder Navigation
- Grand Union Canal
- Trent & Mersey Canal
What do they all have in common? Boat traffic.
Canals without sufficient boat traffic levels become clear and weedy, great for nature conservation for sure as some species (including crucian carp) can’t tolerate even moderate boat traffic levels but overall non-boated canals are less popular with fisherman in the long run. Left to nature, biological succession will, in its own good time, lead to the disappearance of the canal, as has happened to many waterways in the past hundred years or so. Once a canal has disappeared, restoration isn’t cheap.
Stirring it up
As boat traffic levels decline in the winter months, the colour drops out of the water. On these days, its often the passing of a couple of boats that switches the fish into feeding mode. Light intensity in the water column has a big impact on the feeding patterns of roach in particular.
One of the most frustrating things that inexperienced boaters do, almost always with the best of intentions in mind, is to steer a path away from the central channel where the deepest water is usually found. Most canal anglers focus their efforts on the offside bank as the fish will hang out protected by the offside vegetation, the perfect fish habitat. The water here also tends to be shallow.
In the worst case scenario, the boat will become grounded. Our Let’s Fish coach Simon Mottram discussed passing boats in one of his 'improve your fishing' videos.
Eyes and ears
Both boaters and anglers do a great job as our eyes and ears on the waterways. We get regular reports from eagle eyed boaters of fish in distress and reports of fixed engines and spotting anything fishy from their boat.
How many fish have been saved by the prompt actions of boaters and anglers picking up the phone? The number to ring is 0800 807060 (England) or 03000 653000 (Wales).
Sharing the space
As the Trust becomes more successful at attracting the public to use our waterways, it’s becoming more necessary than everyone appreciates the need to Share the Space.
Regrettably, there are too many locations these days where it’s impossible for anglers to cast a line and with 8 million people living within easy walking distance of a canal fishery, not being able to fish when you reach the towpath is a great shame. That’s why we have introduced the five-metre mooring gap rule as part of the terms and conditions of our winter mooring permit. Boaters can show their love to anglers by being considerate and where it’s possible to do so, leaving gaps for a fisherman to enjoy the canal.
The power of love
Just occasionally, we all bump into people visiting our waterways with their grumpy heads on. If that’s ever you, then do take a second to consider the words of that wise Episcopal bishop.
For if we can all learn to share the waterways in harmony, then the world will be a little bit better of a place for it. Because, as boaters and anglers know very well, life is most definately better by water.
Last date edited: 19 July 2018
About this blog
The team undertake a diverse range of work including looking after the Trust's £40 million worth of fish stocks, managing agreements with over 250 different angling clubs and helping more people, especially youngsters, take up angling on the canal. Follow this blog to keep updated with the thoughts and work of the team.See more blogs from this author