Angling venues and shops close due to coronavirus

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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This stunning 18 lb 8 oz brown trout, one of a number of giant brownies to coarse anglers over recent months, fell to Kai Hulbert.

The 34-year-old landscape gardener, from Lawrence Weston, Bristol, legered sardine at the Somerset pike mecca.

His dad, Steve said: “Myself and Kai have fished Chew for the last 12 years both for pike and fly fishing for trout and have never witnessed anything like this.

“It picked up the deadbait late afternoon at Walley Bank – and what a fight it put up. Nothing else was caught that day but that trout of a lifetime sure made up for it.”

Coronavirus fishing concerns

Kai’s impressive catch came as coronavirus began spreading in the UK, and its spread has accelerated at an alarming rate.

Venues across the country had gone through a period of wondering what to do, and when to act.

Chew Valley Lake’s controllers halted ALL fishing for the famous stocks, which include giant pike, perch and trout.

Other venue controllers were not far behind… after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced sweeping new travel, social and shopping restrictions on Monday, March 23.

Fisheries, clubs and tackle shops rapidly made the heart-breaking move to temporarily close.

The Government’s clearest, main message to limit the spread of coronavirus is: ‘Stay at home.’ But it also stated reasons why people could leave their home, including:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible.
  • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with.
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home.
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school.

Is fishing anywhere allowed?

It is certain that very few people in Britain will wet a line for the time being.

The clampdown made many anglers ask: can I legally go and fish, if access is possible?

The Angling Trust was unsure, and was seeking clarification on which activities are permitted.

“For now we have advised all anglers via our communication channels to abide by the restrictions announced by the Government,” said the Trust.

Chew Valley's statement in full

When Chew closed on Monday, March 23, its managers at Bristol Water posted an explanatory message on social media.

It said: “Due to the ever increasing concerns surrounding the spread of the Covid-19 virus (coronavirus) we have sadly made the decision to cease all fishing activities at our waters in effect from 7.30pm today.

“Bank and boat fishing will cease until further notice.

“We are aware that some customers have pre-paid for bookings and will endeavour to refund when possible.

“Please understand that the staff and fishery are under immense pressure at this moment in time.

“We will tackle refunds when possible. This will include considerations for season ticket holders.

“Please also note that our picnic area sites found at Chew Valley Lake will also be closed until further notice.

“We thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.

“Please take care of yourself and follow government advice to help prevent the spread of this virus.

“We hope to be able to offer fishing again in the not so distant future and will continue to monitor government guidelines daily.”

Angler's Mail

Running from 1964 until 2020, Angler's Mail was the UK's leading weekly magazine devoted to coarse fishing, telling readers everything they needed to know about which fish to catch, where to catch them, and what kit they needed to do it. Now, loads of the magazine's expert advice can be found on, as a helpful resource for angling newcomers and experts alike.