Published: 11:00, 11 May 2020
| Updated: 14:05, 12 May 2020
Anglers are allowed to fish again from this week and many lakes in Kent are preparing to open.
River fishing is not permitted during the current close season, which runs to mid-June, but private lakes will be opening their doors and sea angling is also allowed under the government’s new coronavirus guidelines.
The Prime Minister announced on Sunday that unlimited outdoor sports can be played as long as it's alone or with members of your household, while still following social distancing rules.
Angling was one of the first sports mentioned by the government as being able to resume, after intense lobbying by the Angling Trust, the representative body for game, coarse and sea anglers in England and Wales. Sports secretary Oliver Dowdren said sport could return “in the least risky outdoor environments.”
Bewl Water have announced that they will be opening for walking, cycling, fishing and members water sports.
They say they are taking "robust measures to ensure that the wellbeing of our guests and employees is of paramount importance" and that the reservoir is open to anglers observing the Angling Trust guidelines.
Their statement released on Tuesday, said: "Bewl wants to ensure a safe return to angling post lockdown and has implemented a phased opening to ensure controlled management and asks everyone to read and follow the Angling Trust guidelines.
"Fishing permits and boat hires are only available online. Please do not call the fishing lodge to enquire about booking."
Permit only fly fishing is available from Wednesday onwards and boat hire at the weekend.
Orchard Place Farm Fishing in Paddock Wood boasts 12 lakes and are one of the places you can book to fish from this week. They are back open on Wednesday from 7am, with social distancing procedures in place.
Lakes owner Steve Morgan said: “It’s been very tough for us. It’s our busiest time of the year, especially the Easter period that has just been.
“It’s quiet for us through the winter and our major period is spring and summer and obviously we have already lost some of that. We’ll be busy now though.”
The angling trade is estimated to be worth a total of £4bn to the UK economy, according to the Trust.
Mike Morrison from Manor Fisheries in Headcorn says they have been inundated with calls about when they will be open.
Sandwich Coarse Fishery, which has five lakes, will also be among those back open this Wednesday.
Fishery manager Kevin Killeen said “We are open on Wednesday and will be following Angling Trust guidelines with regards to social distancing. It’s booking only and we’re limiting numbers, using every other swim to keep people apart.
“We’ve been feeding the fish throughout this and we’ve used a tonne of pellets since the closure so there is a cost there for us and we couldn’t keep going like that. We need to open and that’s why we’ve made the decision.”
The Environment Agency has reminded anglers that coarse fishing on rivers is closed for three months, since Friday, March 15 until June 15. The close season applies to all rivers and streams in England but does not apply to most still-waters and most canals.
Wesley Shrubsole, who writes an angling column for the KM, has welcomed the sport's return and has advice on where to go, what to fish and how.
There is no shortage of coastline in Kent to fish from and he said: “With fishing tackle shops unable to open at this time it is now that the sea angler must get inventive with baits to use.
“As we are only just into May the species that we might see from our beaches will be limited. The mackerel will in all probability still be off shore but with a few days of calm seas and warm conditions this could change.
“If you have not got any lures for fishing for mackerel no problem, make some! All you need is some strong line, about 50lbs is perfect, it needs to be this strong as it will help keep the lures away from your main line and reduce tangles. Size one or two hooks, superglue and some of last year’s Xmas decorations! The tinsel is perfect.
“Go wild and use your imagination. I have caught with these homemade lures so they do work. When out doing your essential shopping pop a jar of cockles into the trolley, they also will catch you fish.”
As for the freshwater angler, he has advice for them too.
He said: “There is a wealth of baits on the supermarket shelves. Sweetcorn, cheese, bread, these will all catch fish.
“Remember though to check that the lake you intend to fish is open and follow the rules to the letter.
“Stay safe and enjoy your time fishing.”
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