Kickles Facts, Syndicates & The Future
Tony Miles steps into the Kickles farm syndicate controversy and has some serious words to say about angling pressure and how he will deal with his future investigations of new waters.
Ever since the farmer made the decision not to renew the lease onhis Kickles Farm stretch of the Great Ouse, which had been under thecontrol of Newport Pagnell Club, and his subsequent confirmation inthe angling media of his reasons for so doing, there has beenunsubstantiated rumour, unfair accusations and rank hypocrisydisplayed over the entire episode.
As one who has fished Kickles for seven years, and has anexcellent relationship with the farmer, David Walsh, over thatperiod, I am as close to the situation as anyone. For that reason, Iwill again state the facts as fully as I know them.
From when I first fished the stretch in 1995 until the earlywinter of 1999, it was extremely rare to see another angler, for thesimple reason that a session on Kickles is a blank waiting to happen.It is extremely slow fishing. As I said on an earlier post, I hadthe grand total of one perch and one pike in my first two concertedwinter campaigns. During this period, my fishing, as usual, wasconfined to Thursdays and/or Fridays. I obviously have littleknowledge of anyone fishing at other times, other than two localfriends who were regulars at weekends. I do know from the farmer thatit was rare to see cars in his farm other than mine and the twolocals in question.
In 1998 I had two nice barbel, and the following winter anotherthree of four men were becoming regular visitors to the stretch. Itis a matter of record that some very big fish have been caught sinceand when the record was broken in March 2000 the floodgates opened,so to speak. The winter just gone saw pressure on the farm at anunprecedented level.
Now let me come to hard facts, and to do this I would like torefer to a post placed by Steve Pope in which he posed seven points.These were as follows.
- Why did the farmer not renew the Newport Pagnell lease?
- Did the farmer inform Newport Pagnell of problems with member anglers?
- Did Newport Pagnell adhere to the terms of the lease?
- Was a formal agreement in place?
- Were Newport Pagnell given the chance to resolve problems?
- Did someone approach the farmer about syndication to persuade him to ditch Newport Pagnell?
- Did the farmer make the approach to anglers reference the syndication?
1. Lease Renewal
He has simply stated that the water has become too busy and hewants his peace and quiet back. He had been used to a few familiarfaces fishing the water for several years, making occasional visits,and realises that is the scenario he wants again and is comfortablewith. Many of the newer faces from last season, particularly thoseassociated with specimen groups, were fishing every night.
2. Problems with Anglers
David has stated that he had no problems with anglers as such, asno-one broke any rules or caused any offence. It was just the generalpressure on his farm that caused disquiet. He was also, despitecynical comments I have read, worried about the general well being ofthe big barbel. David has often come down the river bank to us towitness and photograph fish and takes an active interest.
3. Newport Pagnell Club
The club are totally blameless in all this. David has no problemwith the club or any of its officials. He simply decided he wished torestrict access to a few people he knew.
4. Formal Agreement
My understanding is that it was an annually renewable agreement,but I cannot be absolutely certain on that point.
5. Resolve Problems
This is not relevant, as there were no problems as such toresolve. David had decided to move in a different direction as far asallowing access to his land is concerned, as he had every right to doas landowner.
6. Approaches to the Farmer about Syndication
The answer to this is a categorical NO. David's first intentionwas to stop ALL formal fishing on his land from the start of nextseason and had apparently made the decision to terminate his leasewith Newport Pagnell as early as last Autumn. He retained the rightto invite people he knew and trusted. In that regard, the wordsyndicate itself is a misnomer. Those anglers who are on his listwill fish by personal invitation. This is a vitally important point. I agree that it is totally wrong for anglers to deliberatelyinfluence a fishery owner into terminating a lease with a club, butin this case that most certainly did not happen. This will bearrepeating.
THE DECISION TO TERMINATE THE LEASE WITH NEWPORT PAGNELL WAS TAKENBY THE FARMER ALONE, AND WAS NOT INFLUENCED BY ANGLERS. LONG BEFOREANY MENTION WAS MADE OF A FEW PEOPLE BEING INVITED TO FISH THE WATER,THE STRETCH WAS EFFECTIVELY CLOSED TO ALL ANGLERS FROM THE START OFTHE 2001 SEASON.
7. Did the Farmer Make the Approaches to Anglers
YES. There is no more to say, the farmer has dictated the courseof events throughout.
Moving on, Steve Pope also made a comment that at some stage thefarmer has to make a statement. With respect, he has already donethat. Of his own volition, he sent a written statement to AnglingTimes, which was published a few weeks ago. He has further confirmedhis position to Angling Times editorial staff no less than threetimes in telephone conversations. This latter information has made meannoyed with AT because, by printing the uninformed and inaccuraterantings of Des Taylor, they are effectively calling the farmer aliar. And that is unfair and offends me deeply.
A recent post also asked me to disassociate myself from theaffair. My position is clear. I regret the fact that the fishery hasbeen lost to Newport Pagnell, and if I felt for an instant that theloss had been deliberately engineered by anglers then I mostcertainly would not be comfortable with the situation. But that isnot the case. The fishing has been lost to the club in any event andin those circumstances I shall accept any invitation that comes myway from the farmer with a completely clear conscience.
And then we have the ridiculous calls to black list from all clubsthose anglers lucky enough to receive invitations from the farmer,plus other calls to not recognise any possible new record. Whatreally incenses me about this is the flagrant hypocrisy involved. Tomy certain knowledge, no less than four groups of anglers haveapproached David since his announcement, offering wads of cash forthem to form a syndicate instead of the friends that David intends toinvite. Some of the people involved in those offers are now loudestin condemnation, and therefore, to their shame, are attempting toblacken the farmers name and discredit those who do get to fishthere. The reason is jealousy, pure and simple.
River Syndicates In General
Let me move on now to more general comment about syndication ofriver lengths. I have read no condemnation of Matt Hayes for hiscatching of six pound chub from an upper Ouse syndicate water, or ofJohn Wilson for his catches of four pound perch from a closelycontrolled syndicate on an upper Ouse tributary. As far as I amaware, everyone is happy with the new record carp from Conningbrook,massive roach from Willow or huge bream from Swithland, all of themclosely controlled syndicates. Several Ouse stretches are alreadysyndicated, and the reason is invariably the same. The landownersconcerned do not want the pressure of hordes of anglers, they arehappy with a controlled few.
I remember having the same scenario on the Wensum in the eighties.The farmer had removed access to the controlling club, and, thatbeing the case, Dave Plummer opened negotiations to form a limitedsyndicate. The same accusations were levelled at Dave as is happeningnow on Kickles, but the reason was the same, sour grapes.
This now leads me on to my final point, my involvement in allthis. In his post, Keith Truscott made reference to the fact that Ihave always been open and honest in my writings, telling the readerwhat I was up to, the successes and failures, and accepting theinevitability of the pressure I could bring on my own fishing. Someof his comments were complimentary to me, and I thank him forthem.
However, the undeserved criticism that David Walsh is receivingand the vitriolic attacks on other, as yet unknown, anglers, who arecompletely blameless, has led me to re-appraise my future strategy. Ihave to accept my share of responsibility for the current situationat Kickles. When I look back, had I not publicised my 14lb 7oz barbelfrom Adams Mill in the mid nineties, when the stretch was lightlyfished, possibly there would have been no explosion of anglers insubsequent years and it would still have been peaceful. And if thatwas the case, Kickles would still be relatively unheard of.
Explosions Of Angling Pressure
There have been other examples, too. In my angling life, I havebeen involved in bringing to the forefront of big fish angling manyquiet and little known waters, such as the Cherwell barbel stretch,TC pit, and Queenford Lagoon. But perhaps the most extreme example inmy own fishing of a sudden explosion in angling pressure occurred onthe Claydon Brook, and its superb perch fishing. The stretch that isnow syndicated (and no, I am not a member) is one that I first wroteabout in 1967. For over thirty years, starting in 1962, I fished forbig perch from that river, very few other anglers seeminglyinterested in river perching, and it wasn't until the mid nineties,when the fish made the extra growth to four pounds plus, that otheranglers began arriving in droves. Now, I see more perch anglers inthe average day than I used to come across in a season.
Big fish angling has changed. More and more specimen anglerssimply follow the success of others, and less and less devote thetime, hard work and inevitable blanking involved in uncovering newpotential Kickles Farms, or TC pits. For that reason, I have made thedecision that I will no longer discuss any of my fishing on newwaters I am investigating, and there are two new river lengths I amlooking at next season as well as an exciting gravel pit. Should I besuccessful the photographs will remain firmly in my album. I shall,as one recent poster so eloquently put it, keep my gob shut!
Go And Chase Someone Else's Fish!
You see, although I can still handle the pressure, and believe Iwill always catch my share of big fish whatever the competition, Ican no longer condone innocent friends, such as the farmer atKickles, being unjustly harassed simply because he took a decision toease the pressure on his farm, which, after all, is home to him andhis family. I will never again be responsible for a similar situationdeveloping, so you will have to chase someone else's fish!