Rod Sturdy: Canoe Access and What You Need To Know.

FishingMagic

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British Canoeing (BC) the canoeists’ governing body, has issued a charter for access. As you probably know, the canoeists have for many years claimed that they have an ancient right of access to rivers. As ever, they are pushing for the total, unrestricted 24/7 right to paddle and have encouraged their members to get their MPs on side to support them.

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Before we go any further, it is worth making clear the existing right of access in law to paddlers in non-tidal water on rivers in England and Wales, because very few anglers I meet are totally aware of the situation: with few exceptions, there is no legal right of access. Legitimate paddling has hitherto often been by means of voluntary access agreements agreed between landowners and canoeing clubs.

BC (formerly the British Canoe Union – BCU) is now taking a hard line on this issue and has issued a ‘Charter for Access’ which insists on their right of universal, unlimited – and of course free – access. Not only that, but their new manifesto includes a guide for canoeists on how to avoid being identified and how to avoid legal action.
BC has been unable so far to produce hard evidence in support of their supposed access rights except by quoting somebody’s PhD thesis claiming that such a universal right has always existed in law, something which various senior legal professionals have categorically ruled does NOT exist. In addition, various canoe clubs are in the habit of claiming that in their particular area there are rights of river navigation dating from 1204, or whenever… all I can say is that if, for example, somebody knocked on my door and claimed that he intended to make use of a right granted by King John in 1215 to shoot or ride on the land on which my home stands I think I know what my response might be…

In July 2018 British Canoeing turned down an offer from the Angling Trust (your governing body) to participate in a joint initiative to encourage and promote legitimate canoe access agreements. The reason they gave was that such agreements would, understandably, involve restrictions as to when and where, with the aim of avoiding significant environmental damage. Clearly, having canoeists rampaging through spawning areas at the wrong time is not a great idea, for example.

As a result of this inflexible refusal and totally unyielding attitude, many legitimate, law-abiding canoeists have lost much legitimate access. The canoeists’ charter calls for ‘fair, shared, sustainable open access’. In practice their demands do not match any of these descriptions. Their website looks to promote canoeists as the caring guardians of rivers and other waterways. I leave you to comment on that one.

I have not really mentioned the question of damage, vandalism and rowdy behaviour associated with canoeing. Suffice it to say that there are good reasons why paddlers should be charged, ie should pay an environmental contribution on the lines of the angler’s rod license, and should be identifiable, something which they clearly seem keen to avoid.

So what do we, as anglers, need to do? First, and most importantly, resist the temptation to act violently if you swim is invaded by canoeists. Any serious injury, or worse, to a canoeist would provide wonderful propaganda ammunition for the canoeists’ cause. Apart from that, let us please not descend to their level of law-breaking.
Second, be aware of whether a right of access or voluntary access agreement exists. If not, then the appearance of canoeists needs to be reported to your fishing club, or – in theory at least – to the local police. Failing that, the relevant landowner would, I am sure, in most cases wish to be kept informed. It is a good idea to take a few photographs if you can of the trespassers who, of course, never like their faces becoming known.

And last not least, take a look at the Angling Trust website to keep track of what it is doing about the situation. You can access it here: Angling Trust Organisation for Anglers

Don’t imagine that the canoeists will somehow disappear from the scene and give up their struggle. Because they won’t. All the more reason to support the organisation which works for you. And please do consider joining the Angling Trust and/or donating to the cause. The Angling Trust is working on behalf of you, the angler, on this and many other issues.

Rod Sturdy.
Rod began fishing in his local park lake at the age of twelve, and from there he graduated to chub and roach from the river Tees in North Yorkshire. He now lives in Surrey within striking distance of the river Mole, as well as the Medway and the Eden in Kent and does a lot of surface carp fishing on small waters in the area. Latterly he has enjoyed winter fishing on the Test in Hampshire. He has contributed numerous articles on various angling subjects and personalities to ‘Waterlog’ magazine, as well as many posts on environmental and political subjects in support of the work of the Angling Trust on the ‘Fishing Magic’ website (FishingMagic Online Fishing Magazine and Fishing Forum)
He remains a passionate angler as well as a member of, Ambassador for, and promoter of the Angling Trust; do join him as a valued member.


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geoffmaynard

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Canoing on water where no public rtight of navigation is a civil offence. The police are not going to be interested in anything unless there is a criminal element, i.e. aggravated trespass.
 

Keith M

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I’ve always found that a few catapults of stodgy groundbait accidentally landing in and around canoeists or a few pouchfulls of nice wriggly maggots often helps, (unless you are on your own and outnumbered of course); or unless they are being very polite and respecting where your fishing by slowing down and asking, which is extremely rare.

Keith
 
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bennygesserit

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Rod Sturdy.
Rod began fishing in his local park lake at the age of twelve, and from there he graduated to chub and roach from the river Tees in North Yorkshire. He now lives in Surrey within striking distance of the river Mole, as well as the Medway and the Eden in Kent and does a lot of surface carp fishing on small waters in the area. he enjoys writing ill informed and noxious articles but never appears to want to debate them afterwards. Latterly he has enjoyed winter fishing on the Test in Hampshire. He has contributed numerous articles on various angling subjects and personalities to ‘Waterlog’ magazine, as well as many posts on environmental and political subjects in support of the work of the Angling Trust on the ‘Fishing Magic’ website (FishingMagic Online Fishing Magazine and Fishing Forum) but he is much too important to want to take the trouble to answer any questions.
He remains a passionate angler as well as a member of, Ambassador for, and promoter of the Angling Trust; do join him as a valued member.Or Not depending on your point of view.
 

The bad one

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Rod Sturdy.
Rod began fishing in his local park lake at the age of twelve, and from there he graduated to chub and roach from the river Tees in North Yorkshire. He now lives in Surrey within striking distance of the river Mole, as well as the Medway and the Eden in Kent and does a lot of surface carp fishing on small waters in the area. he enjoys writing ill informed and noxious articles but never appears to want to debate them afterwards. Latterly he has enjoyed winter fishing on the Test in Hampshire. He has contributed numerous articles on various angling subjects and personalities to ‘Waterlog’ magazine, as well as many posts on environmental and political subjects in support of the work of the Angling Trust on the ‘Fishing Magic’ website (FishingMagic Online Fishing Magazine and Fishing Forum) but he is much too important to want to take the trouble to answer any questions.
He remains a passionate angler as well as a member of, Ambassador for, and promoter of the Angling Trust; do join him as a valued member.Or Not depending on your point of view.
Bang on the money Benny! And what he forget to say as the gobsh1te for the AT, that they did and possible still do offer paddlers insurance cover to paddle our wateways. Yes you heard me right..... They AT did offer, and possibly still do, paddlers insurance cover to paddle our wateways! It's one of the reasons why I dropped out of the AT 3 years after it was formed. They also keep saying they are looking to take BC to court for instigating their members to commit a Civil Tort.
But yet, 2-3 years on, no papers, writs, as far as I'm aware have ever been issued on BC.

Now why not, if as they claim leading Council has said they have a very strong case against them?
Is it a case of empty cans make more noise than full ones?
 
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geoffmaynard

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I’ve always found that a few catapults of stodgy groundba
it accidentally landing in and around canoeists or a few pouchfulls of nice wriggly maggots often helps, (unless you are on your own of course); or unless they are being very polite and respecting where your fishing by slowing down and asking, which is quite rare.

Keith
I can't afford it - I'd need a gallon an hour some Saturdays or school holidays!
 

geoffmaynard

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Bang on the money Benny! And what he forget to say as the gobsh1te for the AT, that they did and possible still do offer paddlers insurance cover to paddle our wateways. Yes you heard me right..... They AT did offer, and possibly still do, paddlers insurance cover to paddle our wateways! It's one of the reasons why I dropped out of the AT 3 years after it was formed. They also keep saying they are looking to take BC to court for instigating their members to commit a Civil Tort.
But yet, 2-3 years on, no papers, writs, as far as I'm aware have ever been issued on BC.

Now why not, if as they claim leading Council has said they have a very strong case against them?
Is it a case of empty cans make more noise than full ones?
The ATr are not the enemy. But they are a part of the problem on the upper Wye - as are the WUF, NRW and especially the EA. Let's not single them out and let the others go scot-free.
 

jasonbean1

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I did fish your stretch a few years back and it was terrible but I also fish Hereford a lot and you don't see many canoes through the town center..is there a reason for that?
 

The bad one

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The ATr are not the enemy. But they are a part of the problem on the upper Wye - as are the WUF, NRW and especially the EA. Let's not single them out and let the others go scot-free.
If they are not the enemy Geoff, then they are doing a dammed good job of looking like it!They have done nothing, other than spout *iss and wind over it for years!
 
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geoffmaynard

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I did fish your stretch a few years back and it was terrible but I also fish Hereford a lot and you don't see many canoes through the town center..is there a reason for that?
Well the river is a lot shallower and 'more exciting' on the upper river where we are. But in Hereford they have a PRN so are legal - but they don't care about legality, they want 'excitement'. ;) There is also a rowing club in Hereford but the river is a lot wider and deeper there so the boats are much less of a problem.
 
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