Go fish: Anglers complain of limited access to Heath ponds

Man holding caught fish outside

Bob Gibbs: "There is an innate hostility to angling among some of the more powerful lobbies on the Heath." - Credit: Bob Gibbs

A Hampstead Heath fisherman has criticised the City of London Corporation (CoLC) for further restricting fishing access to the ponds.

The chair of Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society (HAHAS), Bob Gibbs, said the CoLC, which manages the Heath, has cut the period that the society is allowed to teach children fishing.

The group was allowed to teach children how to fish, three metres from the edge of the north bank of the men's ponds one day a week from the beginning of May each year.

A child casts his first line during fishing tuition from the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society

A child casts his first line during fishing tuition from the Hampstead and Highgate Angling Society tutors. Picture: Bob Gibbs - Credit: Archant

This year the City of London told the society they were only allowed to begin teaching from June 16, five weeks before schools break up for the summer holidays.

Bob filled out a 20-page "events" form to teach every Tuesday afternoon from the beginning of May, but he was refused permission.

"I've tried to engage with the CoLC but it's not made a blind bit of difference in four years. Not a single bit of extra bank has been added," the 70-year-old said.

The City of London Corporation declined to comment.

Most Read

Bob said: "There is an innate hostility to angling among some of the more powerful lobbies on the Heath ever since the 2015 dam project."

The dam project, which safeguarded the area from flooding, resulted in landscaping that meant fishing territory was "cut almost in half", yet he said anglers were not consulted on the plans.

"Areas I fished at when I was a teenager and with my sons when they were much younger, I can't fish there anymore. They're overgrown," Bob, who is from Crouch End, said.

Another blow came in 2017. Fishing in the men's pond of the Heath was suspended after a swimmer got a barbed hook caught in his hand.

Even though fishing with barbed hooks is banned in the area, the rules were "rarely policed", said Bob. Some rogue fishers had also been leaving rubbish in the park, which he said added to a culture of hostility towards anglers.

Hoping to turn the tide and regain the City of London's trust in fishing, Bob helped set up HAHAS to "instruct principles and set a good example".