Biggleswade fishing festival called off due to depleted stocks

PUBLISHED: 08:30 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:30 05 March 2018

The River Ivel at Biggleswade. Picture: Martin Elvery

The River Ivel at Biggleswade. Picture: Martin Elvery

Archant

A long-running fishing festival has been called off because organisers say there are simply not enough fish to catch.

The Ivel Winter Open, which takes place annually on the River Ivel at Biggleswade, has been cancelled because organiser the Ivel Protection Agency says stocks are too low to guarantee anglers who pay fees to take part will catch many fish.

The decision was made after a recent pairs match during which only five minnows were caught.

Graham Inwood, the IPA’s vice president, told the Comet: “When you’re asking people to pay £10 or £12 entry fees and then shell out money for bait, you need to expect that two-thirds of them will catch something, but at the event the other day only about four out of 14 people caught something.

“The Ivel isn’t a match river anymore. We used to run events up here 25 years ago with 250 people taking part but we might get 20 people turning up for this festival.

“You can still catch bigger fish in the river but it’s the silver fish like roach that have gone.”

Mr Inwood says he puts the decline in fish stocks down to an increasing population of cormorants and otters which prey on them.

He said: “It’s not the quality of the water, that’s probably better than it was, but the cormorants are very protected and whilst the otters are a good looking animal, they are predators.”

The IPA is an association of 14 angling clubs in the area which looks to promote and protect fish stocks and angling.

It rents sections of the River Ivel from local councils and landowners in order to fish them.

It is currently installing otter fences at one of its sites at Dovecote lake at Willington.

Mr Inwood says the IPA is working with the Environment Agency to try to work on ways to improve the habitat of the river so that fish can more easily survive and reproduce.

He says it is hoped the festival will go ahead next year.

The Environment Agency confirmed it has spoken to IPA about ways to improve the habitats.

A spokesman said he was “sorry to hear” the agency has had to cancel the event.

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