Anglers can put trust in new group to prect Arun and Rother

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Petworth & Bognor Angling Club have some of the best stretches of the Rother downstream from Coultershaw bridge to the lower reaches at Fittleworth, not far from where it joins the tidal Arun at Hardham.

Over the years the number of fish in the Rother have had a population see-saw.

In 2005 there were plenty of varied coarse fish on these stretches but recently a combination of heavy silting because of land drainage from the large vegetable crop farms that have appeared, water extraction and pollution is starting to cause concern.

Anglers are finding some species in decline, mainly roach and perch, while thankfully chub and sea trout are still there to be caught, but not in the numbers of previous years, and the location of fish sometimes seems mystifying.

Being an angler it’s always easy to blame anything or anyone for one’s failings but our rivers are the lifeblood of our countryside and provide not only angling recreation, but all the wildlife, birds, small animals, plants and the very things we need as a community to protect and enhance.

An organisation called The Rivers Trust exists and the recently-formed Arun & Rother Rivers Trust acts as a link between different interest groups, be they anglers, bird watchers or those who just like to walk alongside or visit our rivers.

The new trust will soon have a website for the public to view but already the trust has been busy talking to landowners, farmers and, of course, angling clubs who actually pay a rod licence to the Environment Agency as well as landowners for the right to fish where the rivers pass through their land.

When a focus group start taking a close look at the state of the Rother and Arun, the number of worrying issues suddenly emerge.

There are man-made structures which restrict fish passage and the loss of trees, mainly Alders, and without trees and a re-planting programme the rivers will end up looking like a battle scene from the Somme.

There is much to be done and angling clubs are urged to get involved.

Recent low rainfall may have put some anglers off from visiting the rivers, but there have been some good-quality fish caught. Barbel and chub continue to give good sport from Coultershaw with barbel also being caught further downstream perhaps as a result of the lower water levels.

Chub are nearly everywhere and Fittleworth has produced at least six chub more than 5lb, while the Coates Castle stretch has produced some good bream and sea trout which make their way up from the Arun.

There is an ongoing work programme at Hurston Lane Fishery, Storrington, and a hard-standing car park will shortly be laid.

The improvements to the popular ponds have been welcomed as has the urgent work necessary to repair a leak at Cart Pond, Walberton.

Match anglers have had events severely restricted by the weather, but matches will continue and details are to be found at www.sussexangling.co.uk

The fishing season on rivers closes on March 15 but there is still good fishing to be had from most of the club’s lakes and ponds.

ROGER POOLE

BOGNOR

Bognor Regis Amateur Angling Society is staging an open beach competition on Sunday, March 11. It will run from 9.30am to 2.30pm on the beach at Pagham.

Booking-in and the draw for pegs is from 8.30 at Pagham Yacht Club, West Front Road.

Entry is £8 for seniors, £4 for OAPs/juniors. There’s an optional pool of £1 each for round fish and flat fish.

A cash prize will be subject to entry. For further information, call John Small on 07799 762377 after 5pm.