Many years ago life was much simpler and I think people had more respect for the ways of the country and the land. I was recently chatting to an angler friend of mine who had an interesting but ultimately fruitless experience on a particular stretch of water. The water in question was adjacent to a residential development and a couple of the residents had become convinced that some duckling had been taken from the surface. Now it was known the water contained some good sized carp and tench and a few trout but none of these are going to be responsible for taking a duckling off the surface. The rumour had spread that the water contained a catfish and this was the culprit.
I believe that our very own Coultershaw was subject to a similar rumour two or three years ago and despite a number of sightings and a concerted effort by club members to catch it the Coultershaw catfish never did surface. Well this was also the case with my friend who was commissioned by the owners of the water to use his angling skill and guile to catch and remove the catfish from their water.
He tried all shapes and sizes of dead baits some of which were reckoned to be an absolute magnet to any predator within a radius of 5 miles, however all he managed to land were eels albeit some were of a respectable size. He proclaimed that the water was probably free of catfish!
Anyway to the crux of my tale he recently revisited the water only to be informed that the owners have had serious problems in recent months with poachers and illegal fishing. Equipment consisting of a handline adorned with a number of baited hooks was found after a would be poacher was disturbed one night.
He said that these incidents are being investigated by the Environment Agency and I understand that they have come across something similar on the Chichester Canal and might even have caught someone – let’s hope so as we don’t want this sort of incident to ruin our fishing. They can deplete our precious fish stocks as well as alienating the landowners from whom we lease our waters. So keep an eye out and if you see anything suspicious on any water report it to the authorities.