Last week I was talking a little bit about the Estate Lake and about the ins and outs of fishing it. I thought it might be interesting this week, and maybe controversial, to look at how small angling clubs handle carp waters they run and how they handle carp fishing and carp anglers. I was Secretary of a club for two years and before that was on the committee for five years so I have an insight to these things.

To use my club as an example, they have two lakes they have short licences on. Both are estate lakes and both hold carp. The bigger of the two has had carp on it for years whereas the smaller was stocked with carp by the club. The club is run as an all round fishing club so many species are stocked and maintained in the lakes. This is quite right, a club should be for all anglers, carp-only waters should be run by specialist syndicates. However clubs need to recognise just that, carp anglers should be catered for as well, after all clubs put carp in their lakes to attract the carp angler to get his, or her, money. However once they have the carp anglers they need to know how to cater for the different requirements of carp angling and not make rules that inhibit carp fishing.

There are some rules that are made by some clubs that are just pointless but the non carp-angling committees make them because that is the hip thing to do on day ticket waters. Now day ticket waters are different again, they need to have many rules and bans because they get different people through the gate every day and these people will have no identity with the water and will not care about it after they leave. Club waters are different. The members will have paid many pounds to fish for a season and will care about the fish and lake because they want value for their money and will want to come back again.

Therefor, let's look at these pointless rules and what they pretend to achieve. First my favourite, the ban on barbed hooks. What is the point of this? Barbed hooks do not cause damage to fish in themselves. They go in the same as barbless hooks, it's when they come out they may cause damage. They only cause damage though if the angler is incapable of unhooking fish. I agree that small barbed hooks, less than a 12 are very difficult to remove, especially if the anglerís eyesight is a little less than excellent. Damage then could be caused when struggling to remove them. However bigger than a size 12, as long as the angler has some idea, then there is no problem. Carp anglers use large hooks, certainly bigger than a size 12. Most carp anglers who fish club waters are quite capable of removing a barbed hook with no damage caused. Carp are hard fighting fish and will tear through weed beds. With a barbless hook the change of angle will often result in the hook coming out, a barb is needed on weedy waters. Day ticket waters rarely have weed so barbless is fine even for carp fishing, day ticket anglers remember, do not care much what happens to the carp. - Iím generalising here by the way!

So, clubs that have blanket bans on barbed hooks are penalising carp anglers for no reason and are in fact making them break rules, otherwise there is no point fishing for the carp as most would be lost. What should happen, if clubs want to ban barbed hooks (and there is little evidence to suggest even small hooks with barbs cause much damage) is that carp anglers using hooks bigger than a size 10 should be allowed barbed hooks. I belong to one such forward thinking club, well done to them.

Bait bans next, what a waste of time they are! What is the point of banning nut baits or trout pellets. There is no evidence that either do any harm. Peanuts were used in vast quantities in the late 70s and early 80s and did cause some carp liver damage on just one or two waters across the whole country. Then, boilies were not available in the vast amount and variations we have now and 99% of carp anglers would now use a boilie rather than a peanut because boilies are readily available, and carp anglers are lazy - I'm generalising again, donít worry. There is no need to ban nuts, of any sort, these days on club waters. Bans are put in place on day ticket waters because, again, day ticket carp anglers can not be trusted and they do not care. Club waters are different. Committees banning nuts, because that what everyone else does, again penalises carp anglers. Bans on trout pellets again are totally unfounded and pointless. There is no evidence that even huge amounts make any difference to any fish's health.

Other bans, use of three rods in winter; nothing wrong with using three rods in winter, even on the smallest water. Only two rods to be set up at one time; what a load of rot. Both these are pointless rules that penalise just carp anglers from getting the best from their sport and from the club, where they have paid just as much to fish as everyone else. Another one, no stalking. What is that all about?
Club committees consist of non carp anglers who have no idea of why carp anglers do what they do or use what they use. They are pleasure anglers who use day ticket waters a lot and look at the rules in place there. Those day ticket rules are in force for good reason, and the committees think itís a good idea to introduce the same rules on their club waters, for no reasons at all. Now carp anglers are lazy as I have said, so they do not want to get involved with committees, they want to go fishing. The only way to stop this pointless beauracracy is though to get on the committee and change things from the inside. It not fun, I assure you, but itís the only way. In the meantime, if you are "stroke pulling", look out for the big bad bailiff!

Have fun!