The Environment Agency is sending more than 600,000 letters to anglers urging them to buy their 2003/04 rod licence by Direct Debit.

Letters will start arriving from today (Monday) and anglers have until the February 4 to return the completed mandates. In 2001/2 a pilot Direct Debit project was launched in the Agency’s Anglian and Midlands regions. More than 26,000 anglers responded - an 11 per cent uptake rate.Now the Agency is targeting 662,000 holders of full annual and concessionary licences across England and Wales. The initiative means anglers who sign up for Direct Debit will automatically have a licence sent to them in time for the new season. This will mean anglers will not have to make a special trip to buy their licences. In the long term, savings generated by this project will enable the Agency to spend more money on improvements for fisheries and anglers. Those who completed a Direct Debit mandate in 2002 need take no further action - the Agency will contact confirm their bank details.

Its Been Tough On The Northern Rivers

For chub and barbel anglers its been tough on the rivers Ure, Ribble, Aire, Wharfe, Wyre and Nidd With extreme frosty conditions for the past few nights and temperatures dropping to as low as 34 degrees F with gin clear water, the fishing conditions have been hard for many anglers venturing forth onto northern rivers. I've fished the Ribble and Aire getting just two bites from three days fishing, I had a river Aire chub of 4-8-0 on crust, plus a Ribble chub of 4-3-0 again crust was the top bait. Some anglers fishing with gentles have caught grayling and out of season trout from the Ribble while Brian Johnson of Leeds fishing the Ure near Ripon had a great day catching 14 grayling all on trotted double gentle bait on a size 14 hook to 3lb line.

According to the latest weather report, the high pressure zone should move away on Sunday to be replaced by a low pressure zone from the Atlantic bringing warmer winds and rain. All our rivers badly need some rain to put some colour in the water and raise the water temperature. Should the water temperatures rise to 44 degrees F the fishing could prove to be excellent, even the barbel might feed.

Congratulations this week go to Anglers Mail reporter Gary Newman for catching a barbel of 13lb 15 ounces from the river Severn. The river was up a few feet and flowing fast which meant Gary had to use a 6 ounce sea lead to hold bottom. Gary used a 12lb line with a 15lb hook line bait was a boilie used in conjunction with Dynamite Baits Marine Pellets. Gary is one of those angling writers who can catch fish. His record of big fish is very impressive which includes Bream 12-4-0 Common carp 38-10-0 Chub 6-11-0 Eel 3-4-0 Grayling 2-2-0 Perch 2-8-0 Pike 32-8-0. Mark Callaway from Ringwood must also be congratulated for catching an Hampshire Avon chub of 7-6-0 The picture of this super chub on page 5 of this weeks Anglers Mail certainly looks impressive. Pages 16 and 17 feature my old friend Tony Miles who has recently taken a brace of barbel weighing in at 16-7-0 and 16-3-0 which helped Tony win the December Fox Specimen Cup.

Royal Lancashire Show

This years three day Royal Lancashire Show will take place on Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st July on the banks of the river Ribble upstream of Ribchester Bridge. This year sees for the first time a Piscatorial Centre which will be a new attraction for the many thousands of visitors who attend this premier country show. Events covering Game and Coarse fishing will be featured including Wallis Casting by Alan Roe, Spey Casting By Frank Casson. You will be able to see the latest techniques for catching barbel, one of the most popular fish in English rivers, the Barbel Society will also be in attendance headed by Phil Bettley

First five pound plus chub in 2003

Despite the cold frosty conditons, gin clear water with the water temperatures around 34 degrees F I fished the river Aire today for my 4th session of the week on a new stretch of water that Keighley AC have acquired at Kildwick. Today Thursday 9th January I got lucky. Fishing with Graham Cook of Lancaster we fished a couple of swims then at dusk I suggested we should have five minutes in the first swim. Within a couple of minutes of casting out a big bit of crust on a size 4 barbless hook to 6lb line I had a small tap on the rod tip then a pull of about half an inch, the strike connected with a good fish. It turned out to be a chub of 5-10-0. The only bite of the session but an excellent fish my 19th five pound plus chub of the season