Angler fined for retaining monster pike to show friends

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An angler who landed a monster pike more than a metre in length and weighing a whopping 15lbs wanted to keep it to show his friends a “record” catch - but it was in breach of laws to conserve stocks.

Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Friday, February 3 a Fisheries officer spotted Damian Ignera (25), of Forth Glen, Cookstown, at the River Bann in August last year. The defendant threw the pike , which weighed 7.16 kilos or 15.78lbs, up the bank and did not return it to the water.

The case was brought by the Fisheries Conservancy Board and in court Ignera admitted a charge of contravening a fishing regulation that pike weighing over four kilos must immediately be returned to the water without avoidable injury.

A prosecuting lawyer said when approached, Ignera had an electronic print-out of a fishing licence number and he admitted he caught the fish.

Ignera was fined £75 along with an offender levy of £15 and also had to pay court and legal costs of £163.

District Judge Liam McNally noted Ignera had a licence and would have been allowed to keep any fish under four kilos but over that he had to put it back.

The Fisheries Board lawyer said pike over four kilos are “becoming more rare” and the regulation was in place in relation to conservation.

Judge McNally added: “The temptation for the fisherman is the bigger the fish the more temptation to take it home”. Through an interpreter, the defendant, originally from Poland, told the court he wanted a “record” fish to show friends.