It seemed for some time this would be a change for the better but sadly it began to wobble and the wheels have now definitely come off. Reading back what I blogged at the time now leaves a feeling of sick irony.
For over a year there has been talk of making one of the clubs waters (known as the Small lake) into an easy, overstocked fishery. I have no problem with this in principle but there are individuals who find it impossible to believe this is possible while there are Pike in the water... Yes that old chestnut, in 2015! (This was also attempted around ten years ago when Pike were removed from the water on the quiet and killed. The very fact it has reared up again proves the policy is doomed to failure.) Needless to say there has been a great deal of heated debate but it seemed that it had died down and sanity restored. Sadly not so.
The club issues news letters every now and then and the most recent caused me much food for thought. I had been aware that there was a policy to move Bream and Tench from one pit (known as the large lake) into the proposed 'small lake' easy water. I have always been uncomfortable with this. Firstly I prefer natural fishing, I don't want to catch fish that have grown to a decent size in one water then transferred to another. To me that's artificial, meaningless, plastic fishing. Secondly I don't believe it does a fish that has grown to a 'specimen' size any good at all to be moved into another, far smaller water. One of the justifications for this policy was a supposed 'oxygen problem' on the larger water. As far as I know there has been one occasion when there may have been a dip in dissolved oxygen. This has given an excuse for the real motivation for this policy, it will allow the carp to grow bigger. No one seems concerned about any oxygen problems caused by overstocking in the 'small lake'. I should state here that both lakes were once one larger water before being reworked, therefore as far as I know, EA permission is not required to move fish.
Reading down a bit further I noticed the decision had been taken to stock the 'small lake' with carp and straight away the alarm bells rang. As soon as I read that I knew that moving Pike would be on the agenda again. I challenged the club secretary and was invited to attend the club's monthly meeting, which I did on Monday, the first occasion I was able. It was my intention to voice my opinions then walk away and not renew my membership.
I initially challenged the moving fish policy and was told by one attendee that if I was against moving fish I must therefore be against stocking fish, as it was the same thing. As far as I am concerned the two things are absolutely not the same and I really couldn't believe my ears. I was told the 'small lake' "didn't fish very well this year". Well click on my blog entries for May to July 2015 and you will see evidence to the contrary. I caught Carp, Tench, Bream, loads of Rudd and hundreds of Perch. I actually tried to avoid catching these latter species so I could keep my bait on the bottom for long enough to attract a Tench! There are plenty of fish in the lake, just the wrong species for some.
The subject of Pike was brought up by someone else in the room and I took the opportunity to challenge the committee. This went pretty much as I expected but what was disappointing was people who claimed to be Pike anglers actually support the decision. (To me there is a world of difference between a Pukka Piker and someone who chucks out a deadbait in the winter when the carp have become hard to catch.) Some even claimed this was a Pike welfare issue as a large Pike was being hammered in this tiny lake. I countered the Pike would get no less hammered if moved to the larger (but still small) lake as intended. Also I stated they would never be able to remove all the Pike so it made sense to leave the apex predator where it was for reasons that are obvious to most. Maybe I should have kept quiet because the committee began discussing electrofishing the place! You couldn't make it up...
Finally I asked why the committee hadn't announced it's decision to move Pike. I was told that actually they had. Well I double checked and they bloody well didn't. The decision was made weeks ago and it was deliberately hidden for as long as possible. I didn't notice at the time but there was a certain person in the room who was unusually quiet, others had obviously been primed to do the talking for him.
Following the open meeting and after I had been asked to leave, two lads had been summoned before the committee in a closed room to hear disciplinary charges. Their reputed crime was parking their cars in the wrong place. Now every time I walk around these lakes I see rules being broken. It could be argued that carp anglers wandering away from their rods is no big deal but that wouldn't stop an EA bailiff issuing a ticket. This is just one example, other rules are ignored by the very people who should be enforcing them. That aside it has become apparent that the inner circle of the GAPS club can do whatever they want with impunity. These lads admitted they had parked in the wrong place because they didn't know any different. The real reasons they were brought before the committee were; 1) They've been catching quite a few carp from a challenging water. 2) They are not part of the clique.
In the days that have followed I've had many conversations and it has become apparent that I'm one of many people who is angry at this state of affairs. Discussions in this period have revealed a much wider dissatisfaction and it isn't just Pike anglers that are annoyed. Many long standing, loyal members of the club have simply resigned and walked away. Other things have come to light this week that I cannot mention at this stage. One of which, If proven, is potentially disastrous and would make my grievance about Pike removal seem trivial.
I should make it clear that although I have been referring to "The committee", not all of its members are involved in dirty deeds. There are a couple of top blokes involved, others are genuine people with whom I have a difference of opinion. Sadly other committee members are playing politics and feathering their own nests.
From the high hopes and optimism of a couple of years ago we are back to the situation we had a decade ago, where the GAPS club only represents one section of anglers and feels it is acceptable to treat Pike and Pike anglers as a nuisance not an asset. The whole situation is reminiscent of the end of Orwell's "Animal Farm" where a few years after the revolution it's impossible to tell the difference between the Bolsheviks and the Romanov's. Or to put it another way, a bit like the feeling we had a few years after voting for Blair. Never trust a politician.