I spent an enjoyable afternoon at the annual Carp Society Show at Sandown catching up with old mates like Dave Mannall, talking big barbel tactics with Alan Stagg, picking up a few tackle bargains and doing a stint on the Angling Trust stand. I also used the opportunity to take the temperature of carpers about the thorny issue of multiple rod licences.
As many people already know the Angling Trust has begun talks with the Environment Agency on the structure of the coarse angling licence. Subjects under discussion include the possibility of introducing a free junior licence in order to encourage more youngsters to take up fishing and introducing a 365 day rolling licence rather than the current 31st March end date.
It was clear from talking to anglers, and from the straw poll I conducted at the end of the Julian Cundiff forum, that most people see the sense in the rod licence running for twelve months from the date of purchase rather than someone having to pay for a whole year when they buy halfway through the season. There was also strong support for abolishing the £5 charge for 12 – 16 year olds but a feeling that getting youngsters into the habit of registering as anglers, thereby enabling them to be made aware of the rules and opportunities that exist, was a thoroughly good thing.
The charging for the use of multiple rods has been a longstanding complaint of many carp and specimen anglers who feel aggrieved at having to buy two separate rod licences, allowing four rods to be used, when most fisheries only permit three at most. The strength of feeling on this subject was illustrated in the recent Angling Trust angling survey and comes up in representations to both the Trust and carp fishing magazines and organisations.
The Angling Trust isn’t wedded to any particular system but we do believe that the current arrangements need to change as they don’t seem fair to carp and other specimen anglers using three rods, but being charged for four. On the other hand any changes must not reduce the funds available to the EA for the restocking of waters, tackling fish health issues and delivering fisheries improvement and habitat restoration works. Particularly at a time when the government is cutting grant funding to the Agency. We also don’t want to see any additional burdens placed on game or match anglers who only ever fish with one rod at a time.
We’ve also been very encouraged by the willingness of Sarah Chare, the new Head of Fisheries at the EA, to consider this and other possible reforms of the rod licence regime. Any changes could not be implemented until April 2016 at the earliest however, because of the constraints of the commercial rod licence contract.
A personal view
I floated some my own thoughts at Sandown and they go like this.
- The existing two rod limit on the standard licence should remain
- Anglers wishing to use a third rod should pay a 50% supplement
- Juniors over 12yrs should be licensed for free
- Rod Licence holders should have their own licence number, like a driving licence, and it should be renewable from the date of purchase
- The EA should make it clear that the courts have the power to revoke licences in cases of serious transgressions. (Fishing out of season for a magazine feature perhaps?!)
- The rod licence needs to rise as income is falling and the price has been frozen for five years.
- Do we really want to carry on allowing the use of four rods for coarse fishing in rivers?
Now I’m only an occasional carper so have been happy enough, up until now, to limit myself to using two rods. But if I could buy a supplementary licence for a third rod, rather than having to buy two licences, I reckon I’d shell out the extra cash. And I can think of others who’d do likewise. There are plenty of tench anglers like myself, who usually fish with either one or two rods at a time, but who would sometimes like to use a third rod to switch quickly to a new method to stalk a fish showing in the margins or well away from our baited areas. We would represent an additional revenue stream for the EA which would go some way to balancing the loss of income from those carpers who would pay less under a new system.
And, as I’ve said before, I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for my own licence if it meant that juniors could fish for free as anything that attracts youngsters into our sport has to be good for the future of our sport.
What others think
These changes have been welcomed by leading figures in the carp world. Simon Crow, editor of Carp-Talk told us – “It would be so much more user friendly if a single rod licence was introduced.”
Sarah Chare, Head of Fisheries at the Environment Agency has said:
“This review may also affect the cost of rod licences, which have remained at the same level for the last 5 years. As part of this review we are talking with the Angling Trust and other partners to understand the views of the angling groups they represent. Within government rules we will be seeking the fairest deal for anglers that secures the best future for angling through the services the Environment Agency delivers both directly and through the partners we fund.”
What do you think?
We’ve had a fair bit of correspondence on this subject already but we are keen to hear as wide a range of views as possible. For example, the Secretary of a well-known game angling club has written to me with concerns that his fly fishing members could end up paying for those who want to fish with three rods. Now at the Angling Trust we are quite clear that any changes we put forward will not mean that some anglers end up paying for another type of angling method.
To facilitate the debate we’ve set up a Hot Topics page on the Angling Trust website here:
As with the Close Season issue we would like to publish a selection of contributions so please feel free to pitch in. Alternatively you can post a comment here.
I would remind everyone that it will be the EA that makes the final recommendation to ministers, not the Angling Trust, but this is a really good opportunity for anglers to make their views known.