Professional angler fined for catching prized fish in private waters

18/06/2015

A professional angler has been convicted of unlawfully taking a 52lb prized fish from a private lake in Cheshire.

Macclesfield Magistrates Court heard that Myles Gibson, 27, from Victoria Street in Sandbach, was pictured in the Angling Times last August at Tatton Mere, holding a highly prized Carp.

A fishing officer from Tatton Mere contacted the police about the picture of Gibson holding the so-called "Jim's Carp"  - a very large carp that belongs to Tatton Park Estates.

The officer said he knew Gibson and knew that he hadn't been given permission to  fish on Tatton Mere. Gibson had returned the fish to the water after he'd been photographed with it.

The picture showed Gibson in the area known as Dog Wood next to Tatton Mere, which is out of bounds apart from a designated path which is around 100 metres from the Mere.

Gibson was interviewed by specialist wildlife investigation officers and he told them that he'd entered the private land by crossing fields and a fence into Tatton Park.

He put bait out in the water and returned the following morning and put out two fishing rods. He then caught the prized Carp, which belongs to Tatton Park.

Gibson told the officers that the Angling Times had copied the picture of him with the fish from his Facebook page and website, without his permission.

He also told them that he is a semi-professional fisherman who is sponsored by a number of companies that make materials for anglers. He also makes money from advertising and writing articles for fishing magazines.

He said he'd been fishing in Tatton Park about  20 to 30 times this year and thought it was OK to go into Dog Wood as he had seen other people fishing there.

Gibson's defence lawyer argued that the prosecution had failed to prove that the defendant's actions were unlawful. The court rejected this, agreeing with the prosecution that case law determined that the offence is absolute.

Gibson was fined £240 and ordered to pay £620 costs.

Senior Crown prosecutor Bev Dobson, prosecuted the case for Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service.

She said: "This case was an important one for the fishing industry, which relies on the income generated by  fishing permits to maintain fish stocks.

"No fishing is allowed in Dog Wood as it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a wetlands conservation site. The way Mr Gibson got to the area, by crossing fields and climbing over a fence in the middle of the night, clearly shows he knew that he shouldn't have been there.

"As a highly experienced angler he would have known that he was flouting the regulations but he did so for the thrill and kudos of landing the special fish which he had persistently baited over a period of months."