Article - Coarse

A Price on Your Head

By Mike, added on 07/10/2009

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I don’t like looking at a large carp as a financial asset, in fact I hate it. Another fact though when you run a fishery, is that you cannot avoid it.

Fish farming can be a good business to be in, very profitable. It is not something that I do. I take great pleasure in growing fish on, only to supplement my own stock. It took me five years to get things in place to be able to do this, but now I reap the benefits of self sufficiency. The biggest & best thing of all, is that I have lost the risk of contamination from fish from others places with unknown histories. I still have more work I want to do to improve my efficiency at growing fish on, but this work is all part of the overall pleasure.

During 2001 & 2002 I supplemented the small native stock with fish of the Royale strain, plus some others. It’s a strain with a good pedigree, the fish farmers tell me their origins go back to the Champagne region. These fish were from around 7lbs thru to the mid twenties. Their cost then equated to from £40 to £80 each. Things have changed immensely since then, huge price increases in the price of good quality fish. Today, to replace a forty pounder, you can easily pay 3,000 euros for one carp. This is a replacement cost that most small to medium size fishery owners cannot afford, so hence the need for your own self sufficiency. Imagine the surprise when I calculated the financial value of my existing stock, it being double for what we sold our house for in the northwest three years ago. And carp in France are cheaper.

I had a natter with the fish farmers again & spoke with some of the insurance companies, plus my local bank. Insuring fish stocks was not something that gained much attention from insurers. As I expected – way way too risky. Unless money falls out of your ears of course.

There are numerous fisheries here in Brittany & just as many in Normandy. Any prospecting angler is spoilt for choice for where to choose to take a fishing holiday in France. Many have been set up by the Brits, bought before the huge price increases. I still hear though of people selling up their southern county homes, coming to France & shelling out huge amounts of money buying carp. I have heard of £100,000+ being spent on a single carp stocking several times. Next, there is the new ad - ‘3 tonnes of carp in 5 acres’. This is still happening despite Brit owned fisheries now going up for sale, for crazy prices I might add. Many lakes were bought on the basis that they would be instant gold mines, which just don’t happen. Not unless you want anglers continuously lining the banks.

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Who is to say what is the right or the wrong way to run & protect a fishery. There are not just a few horror stories usually floating about the fisheries, but many on an ongoing basis. The usual one, is anglers so drunk that they can hardly stand up with their lines still in the water. Other things include anglers wandering around the other side of the lake to see their mates, followed by a five minute rush back to the swim to connect with a carp that has stripped 100 yards of line from the spool. Plastic baits attached to barbed hooks dangling from branches, particles that have never seen the inside of a pressure cooker, death rigs, fish being dropped onto bare ground that has been baked by the sun for two months, baits taken so far out by bait boat that a deep kiting fish takes out five other lines. I once saw two anglers playing each other, both thinking they’d hook a fish. Only one had of course & the fish was lost with a hook left in its mouth.

Any fishery owner will tell you they have some or all of these things. Here’s a question – how would you feel about arriving at a fishery & having your car & tackle searched? This is something I do not want to do, but is a conversation that some fishery owners are engaging in at the moment. Visiting anglers arrive having paid a good price for a good holiday. Many do think that you just sit back, take the money & rub your hands. One dead forty pounder & it takes another fourteen anglers to pay for the damage caused by that one idiot in a hundred. This is how our rules evolve, not for the ninety nine, but for the one who don’t give a monkeys about a dead fish.

I get so passionate about the fish & the wildlife. Its’ not just all there for our sport & entertainment. We live with them, along with them, sharing exactly the same environment. I am certain those who think like this, get so much more from catching a fish, in particular a large carp. Not another notch on the rod butt, but a magnificent living creature. Seeing an angler cradling & admiring a large carp in pristine health never fails to do it for me, its just awsome. The next major event that will happen here soon, is that someone is going to catch a fifty pounder. For me, this is the point at which we enter a new domain. I have never seen a fifty pound carp but I am prepared to be in awe of such a beast. Those with a weak heart need not apply!

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