Recent angling press reports about an angler "being prosecuted for being asleep" while fishing for carp have generated a huge amount of interest in the wider media and on Facebook. Today, the Angling Trust has published the full facts, obtained from the Environment Agency today by Fisheries Enforcement Manager Dilip Sarkar in order to set the record straight about why this particular angler's actions presented a threat to fish and wildlife and to reassure other anglers that as long as they can take immediate control of their rods when they are awakened by a bite alarm they will not be faced with prosecution for this normal angling activity.
"Mr Holbrow was prosecuted for leaving his rods unattended and for fishing without a valid rod licence. When approached by our bailiff, he was asleep in his van and failed to wake for 15 minutes. The bailiff tapped on his window, said 'hello' and deliberately tripped his bite alarms to rouse him. When Mr Holbrow did awake, he failed to state his name and address to our bailiff, which is also an offence.
"Unattended rods pose a risk to fish and other wildlife. We will not prosecute anglers simply for being asleep when fishing: many anglers, especially carp anglers fishing at night or over a long session, will take a nap, but will respond immediately when they have a bite, often with the help of a bite alarm. This is not an issue, as long as they can take control of their rods. But, whether they are asleep or otherwise, anglers that cannot take immediate physical control of their rods (for example because they do not have an alarm, are out of earshot of it or unable to return to it immediately) could be committing an offence.
"The vast majority of anglers fish responsibly and make sure they do not put their quarry or other wildlife at risk. A few do not and we know of situations where anglers have left their baited rods in the water fishing while they have gone to the fishery cafe to get a drink or eat a meal."