The meeting started at 8pm, 37 members in attendance at the Tallington Leisure Park Bar.
The owner started the meeting with a personal statement on now being able to undertake much more maintenance work in the week due to now only working 3 days a week in paid employment.
There was a discussion about pike welfare and the season for fishing for them. In 2022 a 1st November start date had been introduced due to milder autumns, but it was proposed that 31st March was too late to be fishing for pike as milder Springs meant they were likely to spawn Mid-March at the latest. There had also been reports of night fishing for Pike whilst sleeping on site, which was a practice which could lead to a delay in hooking a fish. There was also a discussion about whether there should be a general pike only/Winter ticket introduced. After much debate it was felt that aligning the end date for pike fishing to the rivers, i.e. 14th March would be a sensible compromise and that night fishing for pike would not be allowed. There was not any positive support for a Pike only ticket, so members felt that things should be left as they were.
The owner confirmed that Bainton Fisheries was licensed by Natural England for the control of Cormorants and Greylag Geese. The former was for fish stock predation and damage and the latter was for water quality issues. As large numbers of geese produce a huge amount of manure during the spring leading to algal blooms and the potential for Dissolved Oxygen crashes. The strategy was very much to harass these birds to not attend the fishery so that they are eventually become very nervous of people and cars as they associate them with shotgun use. The other main threat to the fishery was Otters which are very prevalent in the Maxey Cut. The otter fence does offer a significant level of protection but members should be vigilant for damage to the fence as even a small gap the size of a fist, could allow access. Members should be particularly aware of opening and shutting gates, as there had been incidents in the last year of gates not being fully engaged on the hasp, padlock flaps being left propped open and gates kicked open causing damage to the mesh at the bottom of gates. There is also deliberate vandalism to the cranks along the public footpath which is a regular occurrence. The quicker that any threats are identified and privately reported to the owner the better to safeguard the fishery.
The next item to be discussed was anglers who had the potential to catch large carp but were not fishing for them. This meant that they were ill prepared to handle these old and valuable fish on the bank leading to potential damage of the fish. It was felt that as a rule, 42inch landing nets, large weigh slings, unhooking cradles/cribs and fish care liquid treatment (e.g. Propolis) should be mandated for the new season and the rules should reflect this agreement.
The owner wanted to check with the membership whether the current options for a non-fishing, dawn til dusk fishing and 24 hour fishing permit was still the correct type of ticket the fishery should offer. Other fisheries offer selected lakes only, winter tickets, pike tickets etc. It was felt that this had worked for over 20 years and was easy to bailiff. There should be no change in ticket type, but there was a debate over who exactly had non-fishing tickets.
The owner stated that there were currently 66 non-fishing tickets held, about a dozen tickets were held by partners of anglers and a few locals who walked the fishery on a regular basis. The vast majority were “sleeper” tickets, belonging to ex-members who for £24 could get a renewal each year and then opt to return to fishing the complex. The owner also stated that the number of “sleeper” tickets was increasing each year and was effectively becoming a waiting list. The reality was that soon no new members were likely to get onto the fishery as the increasing number of “sleepers” would consume all of the vacated tickets.
It was felt that the owner should attempt to differentiate between non-fishing tickets and “sleeper” tickets and that “sleepers” should only have 12 months to take a rest from the fishery. Furthermore, members with non-fishing tickets would not have the right to upgrade to a fishing ticket to prevent future queue jumping. A figure of £100 to become a “sleeper” was proposed which would only last for one year, after which the ticket holder would have to buy a fishing ticket or cease becoming a member. A “sleeper” ticket is only allowed as an option from an existing permit, not for a new referral or new open application.
The owner wanted to confirm if the current arrangements for joining the fishery were still relevant and in the context of the prior discussion and talked about the convoluted joining process. There also was no formal waiting list which potential new members were always seeking to join. After much discussion the membership felt that the current arrangements ensured that the risk to the fishery of unknown anglers and their associated reputation or behavior was something that should be kept.
Therefore the process is as follows:-
- Existing members can elect to renew their permit and permit type, in 2023/24 non fishing members will have the opportunity to stay as a non-fishing permit or buy a 12 month limited “sleeper” ticket.
- Once members have not renewed and the known number of permits available is known and the owner has accommodated the process in stage 1. Then members who have been referred will have the opportunity to have their application considered.
- Once referred members have been accommodated with any spare tickets then open applications will then be allowed.
The owner stated that he was very keen to move to an online only renewal and application process, which would remove the cost of two lots of stamps and stationary and a vast amount of collation and printing. This would also give the opportunity to introduce photo ID to the membership ticket. It was acknowledged that a few existing members would struggle with this process and that the owner or other members would support them to adjust to the process and not exclude them. The reliability of Royal Mail in the last few years has also been causing problems with on average a 2% loss of mail causing problems during renewal time. The existing handbook and dashboard card, would be replaced by a single membership pass which must be displayed when on site. The introduction of the photo ID would allow easier bailiffing and prevent key and permit sharing. Renewals would be sent via Email only on the 1st April, due to production time of tailored membership passes this would require an earlier renewal deadline of 30th April 2023. Advance warning of this process and the importance of a correct email address will be shared via Facebook and WhatsApp beforehand.
The owner stated that the last padlock and key change was 2017 and that there were now approximately 50 keys that had not been returned in the last 5 years. This was probably due to the lack of incentive due to the cost of the key deposit. Due to the large number of keys outstanding a return to the owner. The membership agreed that it was about time to change all padlock barrels and keys and that the cost of this exercise would ultimately be borne by the membership. Going forward to incentivise the return of keys, all new keys issued would have a deposit of £50 now placed on new members which would also compensate for the padlock/key pattern change to some extent.
The owner highlighted some rules that had not been followed or where no rule existed new rules needed to be considered. These were as follows:-
- Fish movement (except for bait), it is not allowed, but some carp have been moved and some even moved back. This must stop and will result in a permanent exclusion from the fishery for anyone found undertaking such an action without prior agreement from the owner.
- Multi hooked baiting rigs (excluding pike fishing). The rules have never explicitly banned this, but it was now necessary as rigs with multiple hooks on were being used.
- Rule 5 about braid diameter is related to pike fishing, this should be separated out to cover all fishing. Therefore braid must be a minimum of 0.35mm in diameter which is equivalent to 15lb monofilament.
- Dawn to dusk fishing, the owner had previously tolerated the vacating of swims by dawn to dusk anglers but permitted them to stay on site overnight in designated spots. This rule was now being breached, some anglers were not packing up and were effectively enjoying the benefits of a 24 hour ticket without paying for it. The membership felt that it was difficult to police for the owner and bailiffs and therefore the simplest thing to do was to withdraw this facility from the 16th June 2023. Dawn and Dusk was also open to interpretation by anglers. The owner has decided that anglers that have a dawn til dusk permit must use the Sunrise and Sunset times as determined by the BBC Weather Website (for Helpston) as arrival and departure times.
- Rule 21, allows anglers to occupy a swim for 7 days, there is no rule about vacating the lake nor the fishery. The problem that was occasionally occurring was that some swims seemed to be permanently occupied and this was very frustrating for weekend anglers. The membership discussed reducing this to a 72 hours rule, but it was felt that a significant number of retired anglers or holidaying angler enjoyed the benefit of a longer stay on occasions. Without a clear majority in favour of any one solution the owner felt it was better to leave it at 7 days, but extend the rule to the whole fishery, with no return for 24 hours. This change would be monitored during 23/24 to see if it has any impact. The owner also urged anglers that had the luxury of fishing during the week to consider weekend anglers as well. There was a suggestion to introduce weekday and weekend tickets, but it was felt that this was not necessary and made a complicated ticketing process even more complicated and harder to bailiff.
- Rule 25, six hours allowed to leave site rule – the membership felt this was excessive, it was agreed to reduce it to three hours.
Maintenance for the fishery was discussed, the owner highlighted that there would be some tree removal work in the coming weeks once a felling license had been obtained from the Forestry Commission. The plan was to thin out some more willow trees along the North Bank of the Back pit, remove a willow tree from the Old Stock Pond, remove a couple of trees along the South Bank of the L Shape which were slowly falling over into the lake and remove 5 black poplar trees which were growing along the Maxey Cut bank of the Orchid pit.
From the floor.
Members also suggested other repair work, some swims made from sleepers were needing repair, tracks along the L shape and Orchid needed hard coring.
It was also suggested that it could be useful to introduce a “firewall” gate between the Orchid and Big Pit. That could be closed if there ever was an Otter intrusion. Limiting the freedom to move in a large area.
The owner said he would investigate and see what could be done on these matters.
A discussion was held about the North Bank of the L Shape, alongside the public footpath where there is no vehicle track. There has never been an explicit rule about fishing along this bank as the owner has always felt that common sense would prevail to prevent anglers fishing both sides at the same time. However due to disputes between anglers on this section of the fishery it is best to withdraw fishing access along this pedestrian only bank.
Comments were also made that an angler continues to leave large amounts of cigarette butts when they fish, there is a rule that covers littering but members should understand that cigarette butts are not excluded from this rule and must be taken home along with all other material brought on site.
Accidental angling hazards, e.g. Snagged Fish and Crack offs. This are infrequent but members should bring to members attention the incident has happened and also seek to rectify the problem. Posting on the members Facebook group will also make people aware of the hazard and the rectification that the member is attempting to resolved the problem, i.e. taking a boat out. The view was that these things happen, it’s better to be open and transparent and try to fix the issue.
Costs for 2023/24. These had not been calculated yet by the owner and was dependent on some quotation for work that needed to take place. But as a point of principle tickets would only increase by the amount necessary, likely to be mid £300s for dawn to dusk and low £600s for 24 hour ticket.
The meeting closed at 11pm. There was a lot to discuss!