Skip to main content
Creating a better place

Meet the EA angler: Dougal Ziegler

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Fisheries and biodiversity

Dougal Ziegler is an angler and environment officer who deals with pollution and water quality on the River Wye in Herefordshire, which for Dougal is “the greatest river of them all”.

For 6 years now I’ve been an Environment Officer, dealing with pollutions and water quality and I’m a very lucky chap. I get paid to look after the River Wye in Herefordshire, to my mind the greatest river of them all.

Fishing has always been in me. As an ankle-biter I was always peering into water and on more than one occasion I had to be saved from impending doom.

It’s the mystery of ‘what is lurking’ that never seems to leave me. As a boy I really, really wanted to go fishing. But no one in the family knew how. So I was left to figure it out for myself. I’d be abandoned by a pond or river with wholly inappropriate tackle- rusty hooks and great coiling lengths of nylon more suitable for shark fishing. And bait? I’d have to find a worm. It took a lifetime, but that first movement of the float! That first huge spikey perch (3 ounces) blew my mind!

These days fishing is a joyous cycle of chasing certain species at certain times of the year. Spring means 4am dawn starts with tench fizzing around a waggler float between lily pads or fly fishing for small stream brown trout. Summer, often a difficult time on the river, I may go and camp by a wooded lake for a few days and try and outwit some ancient, noble carp. Autumn- and now the river fish suddenly find form and it’s hard to ignore those hard fighting barbel on the Wye and Severn. By the time winter arrives I’m really excited by the draw of hungry predators. Cold water means all those bait fish shoal up and some die. Those mighty Wye pike get hungry and fat. Not much can beat that moment when your pike float starts to drift away as deep down below a freshwater crocodile slides off with a whole sardine deadbait.

Fishing has carved my whole life. It’s why I studied Environment Management at Uni. My long suffering Liz calls fishing the F-word. “If he’s not doing the F-word then he’s talking, thinking or reading about it” she says.  But all those beautiful places, moments and memories. Who else gets out to a mist shrouded pool for dawn in an unfurling spring? We anglers can feel very smug sometimes- like we know of this amazing secret that our dry friends don’t.

And full circle again my children are keen.  My son Zander is now 9 and daughter Flora is 11 and I may have been a bit mean over the years because I’ve tried to make it so they struggle. Like I had to. We stuck to a net and a jar for a long time. In a modern world of bite alarms and self-hooking carp rigs I think it’s easy for children to quickly become blasé about fishing.  However the 3 of us (plus Tinca dog) are planning our first night by the pool when the weather warms up a bit.


Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by Peter cain posted on

    like the site very informative.Also gives some great tips,keep them coming.

  2. Comment by DAVID RILEY posted on

    Hello Dougal, nice interesting story sounds very similar to a lot of the things I myself got up to, just loved hearing the birds whistling very early morning and the thoughts of what today will bring brought back many memories reading your story Dougal, well you do a good job we need people like you to keep your eye on the fisheries to check on diseases and a keeping a watchful eye on the water quality, without you there would be no fishing keep up the good work and thank you very much for your story.

  3. Comment by dave posted on

    your a very lucky man Dougal . Keep up the good work your river is our river so to say.Thanks

  4. Comment by Iain posted on

    Insanely jealous 😉 I live in Yorkshire and can only manage to get down onto the Wye once or twice a year, it is truly a magnificent place and you are very lucky. Keep up the good work.

  5. Comment by Chris posted on

    I was 5..with a bent pin and worm on Wandsworth common...jam jar in hand..and caught my first perch about 2 Inches long...I’m now 70..still fishing...just love the tranquility of it all..

  6. Comment by David Fox posted on

    You didn't really name your son after a FISH did you?!?

  7. Comment by Michael Carr posted on

    Bent pins, the luxury!!

    I retired almost 2 years ago and pretty soon will be arriving at the banks of the Wye for the first time. Although a belated novice to the art of angling in the UK, I already know the amazing secret that my dry friends don’t.
    What may come as an added surprise, I do not believe there is a better country, never mind river, in which to participate.
    I will report back after the visit to your river.

  8. Comment by Skipp posted on

    Hello Dougal, more a general observation with bio issues all around us for whatever reason... Should we all be careful on 'hand contamination' too... putting fish back is a delight but if you do this while visiting different waterways/ fisheries, are we adding to the problem.? Plus fish can suffer 'hand burn', do folk wet their hands before handling live fish, more-so to the smaller fish. Many fisheries don't like 'hand touched' fish being returned to the same water. Should we be using a disposable vinyl glove, similar to that used at gas stations..! (once used take the glove home for disposal).

  9. Comment by Susan Bailey posted on

    Thank you Dougal, well someone has to do the job!!
    We need people like you who care and nurture our environment. Your in a very special job which your family will also get the benefit and joy from too. Keep up the good work.

  10. Comment by Sam posted on

    Hi Dougal. I'm currently in year 10 and I am looking for a work experience placement in year 11. I've been fishing for about 6 years now and I'm really interested in studying fishery management at University. I read that you studied Environment Management at Uni and I was wondering if you knew anyone that accepts work experience in this area.


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.