He wanted to net these fish and put them back in the river, ten yards away and back from where they had come in the very first place. The EA refused to permit this obvious solution and Billy was forced to sell 1500 pounds weight of prime roach to a dealer who carted them off to a pit in the Midlands. The Wensum running through Billy’s land remains starved of roach as a result of this. It could just have been that an introduction of 2/3000 healthy young roach could have gone a long way to reviving the river’s roach fortunes.

What a boneheaded, wilful, ignorant and jobsworth response. What we have here is a slavish obeyance to unproven science which says stillwater roach cannot exist in running water. What unfounded tosh. Stillwater roach have thrived in rivers when they have been relocated for decades in point of fact. This is a roughshod ride over the wishes of river anglers everywhere as well as a repudiation of river management practices that worked all my young life and before.

During the EA’s watch, one river after another has collapsed as a fishery. Since 1990 the Habitat Mantra has been followed to the exclusion of any other solution. We anglers are not fools. We know habitat is vital but we also know that that there has to be a sustainable fish population to make a habitat, however good, viable. The EA’s blind refusal in most cases to stock rivers on a national basis, or allow private fisheries even to do this, has helped lead fish stocks everywhere to spiral down to all time lows.

Habitat. Healthy fish populations. Predator control. Surely the meanest intelligence can grasp the importance of these three foundations for future river fish rehabilitation?

Which anglers are hit by the EA’s intransigence? Not the put and take rainbow trout fisherman. Not the match angler on commercial puddles. Not the big fish fish pro carper bivvied  up behind an otter fence. They are fine but many of the rest of us are not. Think the wild brown trout fisherperson. Grayling lovers. Salmon anglers. Those who love barbel, chub and river roach. Indeed, if you a pin angler, the chances are sky high that you are a wild fish/natural water angler and your opportunities will have been decimated by the stance of this most unfortunate of statutory authorities. To you and to me, Billy’s email serves to highlight an idiotic refusal to protect that branch of angling we are passionate about.

My friends. What on earth do we do about this?