Australia in flames. Climate change. Our oceans of plastic. No longer is it acceptable to treat our planet like a dustbin for our idly, ignorantly dealt with rubbish. Or that is what many of us think. I have been urban angling all of this new year and in the bowels of Norwich it seems that there is a high percentage of anglers that consider we are still living in 1850 and that the banks of the Wensum are the rightful place for bread wrappers, tins and line leftovers.

Probably there is nothing we will ever be able to do about this. There are some beyond education, beyond reason, beyond the pale. What worries me is the unintentional slips that the best, most caring of anglers seem incapable of remedying. I am not ruling myself out of this conversation either. Yesterday I was guiding and a client made a cock up with my pin and I was forced to strip off line, bury it in my pocket and walk to the car 400 yards away to respool. When I got there, I found to my horror that what line had been left on the reel had somehow become detached during the walk. I guess the trailing end had become caught around a fence post or branch and the drum had revolved until empty without my knowing. I searched for perhaps 30 yards of line for over an hour. I am going back when I finish this with a fine pronged rake to comb every inch of that path till I find it.

We are at the height of the winter pike season. At the weekend I went to check out an open water but one on a country estate and carefully controlled. Fishing has been curtailed. A twin treble trace was left bank side and a walkers dog became entangled with the resulting vet’s bill topping a grand. A moment’s carelessness. A dog in agony. An owner distressed and badly out of pocket. A fishing water lost.

I have a problem. I take anglers to a very special pike water in Essex.  The owner walks his dogs around that lake once, sometimes twice a day. Should one of them become snared by a treble that would be that, curtains! I tell all my clients that repeatedly. They are all top anglers, careful people but still, this winter alone I have found two traces abandoned in the marginal grasses and reeds. Complete disaster has been a whisker away-literally I guess. One of the guys involved swore his traces had been packed away. It was too dark for me to make more than cursory check but he said he had counted them into his box and there could be no mistake. Wrong!

What do I do?? Do I dish out traces at the start of the session and count them back in at the end? Do I insist all traces stay on made up rods so there is not the danger that comes with full tackling down? Do I stand over every angler at the end of the day, watching and counting every trace back into its box? But how Big Brother is that?

But my brother anglers what do I/we do to clean up every aspect of our act? I’d really like suggestions on a subject that truly engages us all. Thank you.