What is happening to freshwater fishing?
1. Small stillwater trout fishing has brought trout fishing to the masses, however stocking larger and larger trout has devalued the capture of a big wild trout. Even reservoirs are not immune to the stocking of brood fish! Much as I enjoy catching doubles on these fisheries it always feels somewhat artificial.
2. Fishing for those silver tourists, the salmon and sea trout isn't what it was. Even if your wallet can stand the cost, catch returns from most of our rivers are pitiful. How lucky were those anglers who fished before the 1970's when the decline kicked in.
3. What is it about carp Commercial stillwaters are in many cases so seriously overstocked that visiting match anglers have to catch a hundred pounds of pasty carp during a five hour match to stand a chance of the prize money. Visiting pleasure anglers are guaranteed a bite every few minutes. The RSPCA and environment agency stand by and do nothing about this animal cruelty. Overstocking to that extent is cruelty, period!
4. Where are the young anglers ? Those few youngsters that can be tempted away from their screens are obsessed by carp fishing. Youngsters get all the gear, flock to the nearest carp fishery and camp out until they either get bored of carp fishing or catch a big carp or two and give up fishing because camping out for days behind multiple rods is frankly a bit boring and not real angling.
5. When I was younger a twenty pound carp was a real achievement, nowadays there are waters where every fish landed will be a twenty. Carp fishing has gone the way of stillwater trouting which has devalued the sport.
6. Many of our rivers have suffered serious declines. My local welland for example is a shadow of it's former self. Thirty years ago I could walk a mile of river and spot fifty or more chub,and shoals of small fish were everywhere. Now if I walk that same mile of river I am lucky to see any chub and small fish just aren't present. Cormorants clear a stretch of river as soon as the fish reach six inches or so. Otters which have been reintroduced without any consideration of the entire ecosystem pick off the few remaining specimen sized fish to eke out a living. That river of the seventies would have happily supported otters!
PS. Went fishing for the first time in a month and caught a stack of silver bream up to 1lb 7oz. The highlight of my day was seeing "ratty", it must be a decade since I last saw a water vole.