Categories
Tom Baird

What’s in your Lake

Evening All, Hope you are all safe and well and hope in a few weeks we can travel to fish. Until then I will make my brain hurt and pass on some of my skills and knowledge. If you can call it that lol. A few weeks ago, I done a blog about stock management in the way I see to get that perfect fishery. After I done that blog, I have spoken to several keen anglers and lake owners asking what’s the best way to find out what stock you have in a lake. This is my recommendations and how I would go about it. Obviously, it all depends on budget and time and what resources you have available from a small club to a rich vibrant owner of a lake complex.

However, undertaking a new fishery can be a frightening prospect. Seeking advice from professionals within the field is a brilliant first step. Clear communication is required in these early stages as to what the fishery owner hopes to achieve from carrying out an assessment of the lake. The methods for obtaining actual density or abundance of fish, can be vastly different from a ‘look and see’ method which will enable a rough species guide and composition. Planning at this early stage can help prevent costly or unnecessary expenses.

Within the early discussions any known history of the site should be shared with the fishery expert including geographical reference. It is noted that the lake in question, “knows it contains fish” and that there is, “circumstantial evidence of people catching fish.” This information, however patchy or second hand, can help gauge future management and sampling techniques. In an extreme example, if anecdotal accounts of Wels catfish, were present in the lake, then sampling methods could be tailored to capture said species. It may also be worth asking some of the proposed members or an experienced angler to rod and line the lake for a few days to see what/if anything, is caught.

Some of the survey methods highlighted later in the report are only appropriate at certain times of the year, due to high temperatures, low dissolved oxygen/water levels and spawning which causes additional stress to the resident population. These environmental stress factors can be magnified with some survey techniques, which may suggest any assessment is postponed until more favourable conditions are available, such as November to February.

Pre survey information

Important lake contour information should, if possible, be gathered prior to any survey. Simple depth analysis can be carried out with measuring staffs and the use of a boat or more advanced bathymetric surveys used to further inform which sampling method will be best served.

Competency

Before undertaking fishery management or stock assessment, owners should ensure the team undertaking the work has appropriately trained staff and expertise to carry out the work in a safe and professional manner. Generic risk assessments, method statements and relevant certification should be produced before the commencement of any fisheries activity.

Permitted activity

Prior to any surveying the following equipment permit may be required from the Environment Agency should methods other than rod and line be employed to remove/sample fish. Make sure your legal when doing this otherwise you could be in a heap of trouble and it could have been prevented.

Survey methods available

Seine netting

 Probably the most widely used and accessible fishery survey technique used within still waters. This a method which can be used for surveying and stock thinning. The operation requires a knotless mesh net with floats across the top section and a lead line along the bottom. This allows the net to be pulled through the lake creating a barrier to escaping fish. In the case of a large lake, a boat would be required to set the net. The lake can be portioned off using stop nets to ensure maximum coverage minimising effort to factor in the length of seine net available.

The following diagram demonstrates the method of capture.

As both lines are drawn into the bank, fish are captured and processed using hand nets.

PositivesNegatives
Relatively inexpensive compared to other methodsIn large lakes, can be labour intensive
Repeated and correct use can collect large quantities of fish for accurate stock assessmentMay disturb lake silt and macrophytes
Can be used to collect all size ranges of fishIf lake is deep of comprises hollows, fish can escape underneath net
Use of fuels/engines/batteries restricted to boat use only, reducing health and safety riskCan cause abrasive damage to fish
Although skilled operatives required for operation, good method to allow fishing club members to participateNet can get snagged on branches, macrophytes or structures, making it difficult to pull in, possibly causing damage to net and allowing fish to escape

Electric fishing

Electric fishing uses the physiological effect of an electric field in water to attract and immobilise fish. Electrodes, immersed in the water, stimulate a fish’s nervous system so that it swims towards the operator, or is unable to swim away, and can be caught.  (Environment Agency Operational Instruction). Fish can then be safely netted and removed for processing. It requires a highly skilled team of operatives to ensure the safety of the users and the welfare of the fish are not compromised throughout the survey.

This method is widely used in rivers and shallow, smaller lakes or in combination with other techniques such as seine netting.

Demonstration survey using electric fishing.

PositivesNegatives
Effective at sampling margins and shallow lakesOnly skilled and trained operatives to use equipment
Excellent tool to quickly assess species presentAs a standalone sampling method, not suitable for deep or large lakes.
Relatively non-intrusive. Does not disturb great quantities of siltCan be expensive
Reduced risk of damage to fish through nettingTargets certain sizes of fish more effectively than others
 Temperature and Conductivity dependant

            Drain-downs  

Provide the opportunity to assess fish stocks with a high degree of accuracy. The steady drawing down of a lake gives greater ability to remove fish via netting as the water level drops. Repeat seine and hand nettings can be carried out to ensure the maximum number of fish are captured, providing a comprehensive study of all lake species, especially the benthic dwellers such as Tench,which are often difficult to capture in deep water. Due to the potentially large number of fish captured during this method, careful consideration needs to be taken as to where the fish will be retained during the draw down/processing and whilst the lake is backfilled.

PositivesNegatives
Only viable method available to precisely assess fish stocksVery labour intensive
Gives fishery owners opportunity to redesign lake, creating shelving/lake features to enhance biodiversity/habitatLarge impact on fish, habitat and aquatic invertebrates
Desilting can be completed and silt traps dug to ease future managementVery expensive, use of personnel and equipment such as nets and holding tanks
Assessment of bank/lake structure can be carried outRequires area to dewater and source to refill
Opportunity to remove unwanted fish speciesDischarge consent/abstraction licence may need to be granted from EA
 Unsuitable during high temperatures

Hydro acoustic Surveys

Hydro acoustic surveys use an echo sounder, which transmits short pulses of sound through a transducer into the lake. The sound waves reflect off of objects such as the lake bed or fish swim bladders and a computer-generated image is returned back via the transducer. This method of sampling is commonly used in large expansive lakes and reservoirs and other deep waters, where other sampling methods are ineffective. Surveys are carried out via boat or fixed-point locations and can be used to map fish abundance and provide topographic information of the lake. Acoustic cameras such as DIDSON, Dual-frequency Identification Sonar and ARIS, Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar, (www.soundmetrics.com), produce high resolution images which can be captured and even relayed to the bankside for anglers to marvel at. These are becoming an important tool in monitoring our large water bodies.

PositivesNegatives
Cover large areas of deep water in relative short timeOnly estimates of fish sizes. Equipment struggles to detect fish smaller than 70-80mm
Non-invasive method, preventing damage or stress to fish and impact on lake through silt disturbanceAlthough speciation is possible in some cases, this is labour intensive and can provide delays whilst analysis is carried out
Minimal person power requiredProhibitively expensive
Reduces the need for additional bathymetric surveysHighly trained staff required to operate equipment and process data
Reduces risk of physical injury to operatives, as may be found when seine nettingUnable to estimate population due to free movement of fish
Can work in areas with low visibility and high turbidity 
No environmental restrictions, such as temperature 

Fyke netting

Fyke nets (with leaders or wings) are conical nets with inscales and a circular or D-shaped opening held open by metal rings. There is a series of interconnecting nets with one-way entry to trap fish. EA Operational Instruction.

Fyke netImportant to note that these static traps hold fish until they are collected by the operative. This poses the fish health problems due to overcrowding, predation from crayfish and mammals. It is a legal requirement to ensure an otter guard is fitted to the entrance, as they are understandably attracted to the held fish, especially eels, which this type of trap is often used to catch.

Fyke net set up, with otter guard

PositivesNegatives
Easy to deploy, can be single personNot suitable for determining fish populations
Relatively cheap and can be readily reusedSelective for species and size of fish
Good for targeting Perch, Crucian Carpand EelsRequires checking at least every 24 hours
Useful as one element of a population surveyCaptured fish at risk from predation from crayfish

eDNA

Organisms continuously release DNA into their environments in the form of shed cells,

waste matter, blood, gametes and decaying material. Analysis of this ‘environmental

DNA’ (eDNA) is revolutionising the way biodiversity is monitored. This exceptional new

technology has been rapidly adopted for targeted monitoring of single species and

studies have consistently shown that it outperforms traditional survey methods in terms of ease of sampling, sensitivity and cost. (EA publication).

This method of sampling could be used to ascertain whether a particularly desirable/undesirable species is present, which could aid the fishery manager with decisions on suitable monitoring techniques, stock management and complying with site permits.

PositivesNegatives
Inexpensive method of presence/absence samplingDoes not allow fish biometrics to be recorded
Non-invasive, no fish removed or lake disturbanceNot suitable for determining fish populations
Quick method to obtain evidence of desirable or undesirable species reducing survey costsTechnology still in its infancy

Written reports

Upon completion of the survey and analysis of the results, a report should be compiled and supplied to the fishery, complete with recommendations for future fishery and stock management. For the first time fishery owner this will then represent the baseline for any future management decisions and the data, combined with any habitat, biological or chemical surveys should encourage future monitoring as the business evolves.

As habitat changes, fish stocks and species dynamics will also change. Helping the fishery understand that one initial survey is unlikely to represent the state of the fishery 10 years in the future, will be important when considering stock management within a commercial fishery.

Categories
Tom Baird

The Fish Louse

Evening all, Hope you are all safe and well. Looks like their is light at the end of the tunnel. In the mean time I thought I would put my knowledge to good use. I hope you enjoy…..

Stillwater fisheries contain a whole host of parasite and host interactions and one of the most common is Argulus foliaceus, or the ‘fish louse’.  Fish louse have a relatively simple life cycle and are known as ectoparasites, which require the external attachment to a fish host to feed and develop. Argulus deposit eggs within the lake/river and seek out hard substrate to attach. In 2000 it was observed that female argulids lay 2 to 4 egg clutches, then return to a host, before detaching again to lay another batch within 2 to 4 days. These eggs start as a pale yellow and as they develop the darker yellow they become. The egg strings can contain up to 400 eggs. Research carried out in 2007 suggests that these egg strings are more likely to be laid between the water surface and 1m, with lower levels of egg deposition occurring below this, suggesting shallow lakes may proliferate parasite numbers.

 Development of eggs is dependent on temperature and eggs usually hatch above 10°C with the highest numbers seen during mid-summer. During these warmer months, hatching can occur 2 weeks after laying, (anecdotal evidence suggests, this could happen after only 8 days). The first mobile stage of Argulus life cycle is following hatching, where the free swimming metanauplius are well adapted for this life stage and are very mobile in the aquatic environment using developed thoracic legs to seek out a host.

Within a well-balanced ecosystem, such as most river conditions, factors such as variations in depth, flow and relative low numbers of hosts, reduce the likelihood of Argulus finding a host. Should the metanauplius not find a host within 3-4 days, it will die and this results in minor problems due to Argulus in these conditions. However, within a fish farm or over stocked Stillwater, the factors mentioned previous may be more favourable to parasite/host interactions with a greater likelihood Argulus will succeed in attaching to a fish in greater numbers. An increase in fish activity linked to warmer water temperature is likely to improve the chances of interactions with Argulus.

Once attached to a host, which has been seen to be fish, frogs and tadpoles. Argulus begin to develop suckers which enable them to move across the host to feed causing epithelial damage and increasing the potential for infection. Argulus then perform a number of moults, where the adult stage is eventually reached. The adults then mate and females detach from the host, where they will seek to find suitable substrate to lay eggs, leading to the next generation of the parasite. Adults will then seek out another suitable host, where they will feed, detach and lay further eggs. During spring, summer and autumn, it is understood up to 4 generations of Argulus can add to the population, cumulatively adding to greatest infection rates seen in August/September.

As temperature drops towards the end of autumn this process slows down and once temperatures around 10°C are again reached feeding begins to stop. Throughout the winter most adults die and it is the eggs laid in late autumn which over winter and will produce the following season’s population. As such, warmer winter temperatures can increase the likelihood of Argulus overwintering at all life stages, giving rise to a greater outbreak when spring returns.

Possible solutions to reduce the impact of Argulus on fisheries

For example to understand any ecological impacts within a Stillwater trout fishery it is essential that sustained monitoring before, during and after an event is undertaken. In the case of Argulus infections it is important for the trout fishery owner to monitor levels of the parasite affecting fish. This will highlight at what time of the year significant pressure and stress is placed upon the stock. Monitoring of lake temperature should accompany these observations to determine at what point temperatures around 10°C are noted, providing evidence for suitable stock management.

Many trout fisheries choose to undertake single large stockings, which reduces transport costs and reflects well with their members seeing large numbers of fish entering the lake. This method gives the parasite the perfect opportunity to increase the likelihood of a host interaction and greater chance of survival/reproduction. The spring hatch of Argulus makes up the bulk of the lice population at this time.

Consequently stocking large numbers of trout in spring/early summer provides the perfect vector for a population explosion. Trickle stocking, whilst expensive, is a viable option to reduce Argulus population blooms. To reduce costs, it is a good idea to link up with other fisheries in the area to maximise the efficiency of any fish deliveries to an area. If transport costs can be shared, then a greater number of small scale stockings may be possible.

Other stock related solutions to combat high levels of Argulus infection include;

  • Stop stocking during summer – late summer/autumn additions may benefit from low levels of parasite numbers and reducing the period suitable for Argulus reproduction
  • Stop, catch and release – Whilst popular with some anglers, removal of stock through catches will help reduce stress, and parasite interaction potential
  • Maximise stock turn over – target an increase in membership which will aid revenue and further stocking
  • Reduce stock through the winter – Less effective, due to fishing effort.

Further reduction in parasite numbers can be achieved by the removal, temporary or permanent, of suitable egg laying substrate. Studies carried out by C.Williams pers comm demonstrated the addition of plastic pipe suspended vertically in the water column provided an excellent substrate for Argulus to lay their egg strings. These were removed every two weeks and the eggs were left to dry out and die. The pipes were then reinstated and the study continued. Over the course of a 3 month period approximately 12 million eggs were removed from one fishery, suggesting this method may be effective at reducing Argulus numbers. The study required a significant degree of effort which may be restrictive to some fisheries with lower angler numbers, so a programme targeting key spawning times in spring and summer may provide an agreeable alternative to year round collection.

Once again i hope you enjoyed this little read. Please remember this isn’t aimed at one particular fish species.

Tight lines………

Categories
Tom Baird

The Perfect Lake

Running a fishery or club can be difficult, and anglers complaining of low catches and often blanking. Demanding the owners/committee do something to rectify this.

The typical answer is to add more stock to allow anglers to catch. Unfortunately this in most cases makes the situation worse and a very quick downward spiral.

Many fishery traits which are often the basis of poor fishing returns. Fish become stressed if the environment they are situated in, that does not support their needs for healthy growth.

Common stress factors:

  • Poor habitat
  • Lack of suitable spawning substrates
  • Inadequate natural food sources
  • Unsuitable water quality
  • Over stocking
  • Disease and parasites, often as a secondary result of other stress related issues
  • Minimal habitat for predator avoidance
  • Algae dominance

In some cases, if one or more of these elements are not in the right balance, fish will reduce feeding and consequently angler’s catches will reduce. Often the reaction is to stock greater numbers to increase catches, but this is not often effective in a water.

If we look at the stress factors above, a conclusion can be drawn as to what the underlying problems are within the lake and what approach is best to return it to a fishery which is agreeable with anglers.

As primary producers, the plant community are the basis to lake ecosystems, without which, a lake cannot support a healthy fish population. Macrophytes and algae use nutrients entering the lake such as nitrogen and phosphate, to support growth. This growth provides oxygen through photosynthesis, shelter from predators, food and habitat for zooplankton and macroinvertebrates – which in turn are essential food source for fish, bank stabilisation and spawning substrate for certain fish such as Roach. One element not relating to fish, but important to anglers is these plants help to improve the aesthetics of the lake and consequently the angler’s enjoyment. Habitat surveys are a quick and ideal assessment of the lakes ability to support a suitable ecosystem and a plan of this can be drawn up and stark comparisons made with other more diverse lakes.

The picture below shows the various zones and lake depths which plants and subsequently macroinvertebrates and fish can thrive and support healthy growth rates. The various zones will support different communities, all reliant on each other. For example, Tench, will be found in deeper water, utilising the productivity of the lake silt. However, Rudd are surface feeders and will benefit from invertebrates fallen from trees and water lily pad growth such as Nymphaea alba to provide cover for predator avoidance.

Algae

If lack of macrophyte growth is evident, an algal dominance could potentially cause unwanted problems within the lake. Algal blooms can cause dramatic changes in the chemistry of the lake affecting parameters such as pH, dissolved oxygen, (DO) and ammonia. Without plants to buffer these chemical extremes, fish can become stressed and mortalities are regular occurrences in poorly managed still waters. Water quality sampling is the basis of good fishery management with a fishery owner being better placed to make informed decisions based on known water quality history. Sampling for pH, DO, temperature and ammonia should form the basis of any daily checks, preferably two or three times a day to understand the diurnal changes that occur following increased photosynthesis in the day and respiration of plants and algae at night.

Predator avoidance

The presence of a variety of habitats and substrates provide fish with the necessary hiding places to avoid being eaten by predators. Like all creatures, fish will become stressed if they are unable to seek sanctuary from those further up the food chain. Within any aquatic environment fish will hide from predators under rocks, within macrophytes or in amongst tree roots to avoid being eaten. If they do not have this protection, not only will the likelihood of being eaten by piscivorous fish, birds and mammals increase, but the stress levels within the fish will be heightened, causing the fish to be easily spooked and be less likely to take an angler’s bait.

Lack of spawning substrate

All animals have a desire to breed and foster the next generation. If conditions within a lake are not suitable for spawning, i.e. no gravels or suitable macrophytes, not only does the fishery not increase its stock but stress can also be induced. In the case of Carp,the fish can become egg bound, a condition known as dystocia. Within a stable environment the eggs will be absorbed by the females, if there are extremes in temperature or oxygen levels the eggs can build up within the ovaries leading to possible infection. In extreme cases the fish can die. (www.koi4u.co.za)

Insufficient natural food sources

If the habitat is not there, the invertebrates will at best be sparse and species poor. Within a diverse plant and habitat community the lake will benefit from spring emergence of species such as Common Hawker and Banded Demoiselle, the lake bed will be crawling with the likes of freshwater shrimp and the larva of the marbled sedge. In lakes, one would expect to find blood wormsand water hoglouse, which are more tolerant of poorer water quality and lack of habitat.

This will have a detrimental effect on the fish as the lack of natural food and diversity will impact on fish health. In extreme cases where little or no food is available, fish within the lake rely solely on the input of anglers, which often does not contain all the necessary ingredients for a healthy diet and can be intermittent depending on angler numbers. Biological sampling using fine meshed nets is a useful tool in assessing the taxa within a lake, with the data collected helping to inform the fishery whether natural food stocks are scarce and a possible reason for poor fish weights and catches. A sample of scales from various species could be analysed to ascertain growth rates which would inform whether the fish were putting on suitable growth or whether the fish were stunted due to insufficient dietary requirements.

Stock levels

Whilst there is no information provided as to stock levels, it is an important consideration when assessing the reasons for the faltering catch numbers. A lake overstocked with small Roach and Rudd can have a detrimental effect on Carp weights and numbers. If there are too many mouths to feed within the lake, larger non piscivorous fish may be unable to forage for sufficient food and see a reduction in the number of desirable fish. At the other end of the scale, too few fish may be present due to uncontrolled loss to predation and/or insufficient fecundity of the water. Stock assessments using, netting and/or electrofishing techniques are probably best placed to give an indication of fish numbers. Which would inform on species composition and aid direction of future management.

Proposals

Following habitat, biological and fisheries surveys if it is found there is insufficient natural food due to the lack of habitat and uniform depth, the first course of action may be supplementary feeding. This will allow a short-term fix whilst the following measures are instigated.

Habitat creation should be the primary aim. A number of options are available which will benefit fish productivity, welfare and angler’s enjoyment.

  1. Reprofiling banks and lake bed to increase variation of depth, margins and shelving. This will allow marginal, emergent and submerged plants such as water plantain, to take hold and will provide habitat and shelter for fish and invertebrates. Depth variation is also an important factor when attempting to regulate temperature. A shallow mono-depth lake will warm up quickly over a period of dry, warm weather and in a feature less lake may provide the perfect conditions for an algal bloom.
  2. Stabilise banks using materials such as geotextiles and revegetation. These provide the support to reduce erosion whilst providing more natural habitats. Brushwood mattresses are also useful for stabilisation and can act to capture sediments entering the lake. Tree/shrub planting around the lake is also essential in reducing wind erosion and will further support bank stability. Trees also provide shade, habitat and a food source when shedding invertebrates into the lake.
  3. Add interest within the lake. This can be provided with island creation or floating islands and predator avoidance structure. This will add further diversity and interest to the lake and provide refuge for fish to aid predator avoidance.
  • Monitoring should continue to be a vital tool in fisheries management. Continued chemical, biological and habitat assessment will gauge the success of fishery management and guide further improvements.

  • Once all or some of these measures have been carried out it is essential to give the fishery time to adjust. This may take longer than anglers are prepared to wait, but the message should go out to anglers that the long-term aim of supporting a sustainable fishery far out ways a short-term fix. Following a settling period, if catches still remain low, further surveys can be carried out to ascertain stock density and at this point small scale stockings may be sensible fisheries management.

Whenever carrying out stock assessments/stocking it is essential the correct permits are in place for introductions, use of equipment other than rod and line and when supplying fish.

I hope this helps with your fishery, tight lines…….

Categories
Tom Baird

The Nightmare – KHV

Evening Anglers and a Happy New Year. Well kind of. With the new lockdown now in force, 1000’s of anglers now have to live in the workshop, garage or shed avoiding a divorce sorting out tackle. Your tackle is never going to be so organised and clean.

I am about to move home, but have been avoiding the packing of fishing gear until the last moment. I have no excuse anymore and will now have to pack it away, to be ready after lockdown to get back out there.

Sunken eyes on the left

In my last blog I spoke about Black Spot and it seemed to go down well. I have spoken to a few of you and I was asked to discuss KHV. Most of us know about this dreaded disease, but thankfully if the fishery is run properly and measures are put in place you will never come across this nasty infection.

So, Cyprinid herpesvirus 3 (also CyHV-3, koi herpes virus or KHV) is a species of virus causing a viral disease that is very contagious to the common carp (Cyprinus carpio).

The disease is mostly found in ornamental koi, which are often used in outdoor ponds or as feeder stock. Unfortulantly we see Koi be added to fisheries as a dream fish to catch. Which I must admit I have caught a few in my time and they are amazing. But this is where we put our other stocks at risk and the heart break seeing a dead 40lb mirror or common is devastating to the angler, but more so to the owner.

The first case of KHV was confirmed in 1999, after a report in 1998. KHV is a DNA-based virus. After discovery, it was identified as a strain of herpesvirus. Like other strains, KHV stays with the infected fish for the duration of their lives, making the recovered and exposed fish potential carriers of the virus. Fish infected with KHV may die within the first 24–48 hours of exposure.

Symptoms of KHV include:

  • Gill mottling
  • Red and white patches appearing on gills
  • Bleeding gills
  • Sunken eyes
  • Pale patches
  • Blisters

Changes in the fish’s behaviour may also indicate the presence of KHV. Behavioural symptoms may include

  • Disorientation,
  • Hyperactivity
  • Isolation, in which the fish detaches themselves from the shoal.

You can help control the spread of disease if you:

  • follow rules for imports – Health checked stock
  • perform regular health monitoring to spot disease early
  • contain outbreaks as quickly as possible
  • use good husbandry practice
  • follow rules when moving fish – EA will help advise you
  • put in place and follow a biosecurity measures place i.e., dip nets/dry nets etc.

If you come across an infected fish or shoal you should inform the owner or club etc. Then you need to report it to –

CEFAS – Email: fhi@cefas.co.uk,  Tel: 01305 206700

Environment Agency – Email: enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk, Tel: 0800 807060

I hope you found this helpful and if you’re new to angling you can do your part.

Categories
Tom Baird

What a Plank

Evening fellow anglers and what a day. So, after a few jobs this morning I decided to have a few hours fishing at a venue recommended and blogged about by fellow blogger Andrew Pilgrim. I arrived at Bobby Georges lakes at 10:30 and I was the only one there. I went to the back lake where the island runs down the middle of it.

Looked around for a while to see where the fish were and chose my spot. I used the good old Darent Valley Specialist rod by Tackle Box. Put on a simple rig and these new boilies that I’m testing out for Baylys Baits, 11mm Blackcurrant Twist. Soft but durable boilie and the smell is amazing. I took some photos obviously for my blog and sent them to the team.

First Joe noticed that my hook was bent, so back in came my tackle and sorted it out and then Andrew sent me the rules of the lake. Which clearly states no hire rigs. This is where the Plank bit comes in. WHAT A PLANK, I only looked at the rules the other day. After I spammed myself and had a word in the mirror. I reeled in again and decided to go to the float.

Before this I was getting lots of attention on my line and this was from the blackcurrant oozing out in the water. I had only put these on my hook and a few in the water. No ground bait or tones of bait piled in, small and often. This means they must be a decent bait, but had to bring in due to the rules.

Now set with a float, I only had fake sweet corn, so put that out and there wasn’t much. Until a knight in shining armour, a true and knowable angler came to the rescue. Andrew Pilgrim had arrived with worms and a tin of sweet corn. I could not let down my hair as I have none, but he managed to make it to my swim.

I put some corn on and we had a really good chat about fishing in general and some of the amazing places Andrew has fished. I had some interest but still nothing. Andrew then went of on his noble stead and left me to it.

I was in front of some Lilly’s and my reel screamed off, thank god I was in. A nice 10lb 2oz Common. What a save from blanking and thanks to Andrew for rescuing me.

Lovely Autumn colours

What are the lessons for today, do your research, read the rules and be more prepared? Also, what a lovely fishery.

Tight Lines……..

Categories
Bailey Payne

Rudd-y Hell!

An early start brought me to a rural Essex Lake in hunt for Rudd! This lake is known to have some big Rudd in, some of which are 4lb! However, this was a perfect chance for me to set a possible PB (anything over half a pound would’ve done that! I don’t target Rudd a lot!), with the risk of a thunderstorm looming, I knew I didn’t have too much time in not the ideal conditions for Rudd, however, thought I’d give it a go! After some of the locals trying to intimidate me I started Fishing!

Local Geese trying to Intimidate me for free Bread!

My tactics today was a simple waggler setup Fishing about 3-5ft deep changing depending on the swim, spread shots to slowly let the bait sink to the bottom and either bread flake or corn on the hook! Simple and hopefully effective! I worked my way around this small lake targetting the lily beds, in very overcast and drizzly weather, I wasn’t too hopefully of big Rudd showing and feeding aggressively, so was hoping to nab one where they live!

I started on Bread flake to no luck on the first lily bed, and after about 30 minutes, I headed to the next peg and lily bed and opted for corn this time (I never went back to bread, however have loads of liquidised bread now!), after setting the float in position on the edge of the pads I quickly got a bite, and quickly missed the bite! Frustrated I quickly went back out in hope the Fish was still there, and it was, managed to get a lovely condition Rudd, probably 8-10oz (You may disagree, I didn’t bother weighing since it wasn’t clearly big! And I’m not very good at judging!) I quickly added to this one Rudd and managed to get two more in about 5 minutes! All similar size and lovely condition! Great Fish to catch!

It soon went quiet, I decided to move on again, and went a bit round the lake to a lovely looking bed of lilys! Straight away on first cast I managed another small Rudd! Followed by one a bit smaller who I deemed non photo worthy!

A lot of time then passed with no more action, I decided to move down to an aerator, where I had seen a lot of Fish top and was hopefully maybe some bigger Rudd where here! Missing a lot of bites eventually became frustrating before I connect to a rather angry Fish! A nice little scrap, and was happy to see the lovely golden scales surface of another Rudd! I weighed this Fish as it was a lot bigger than others, weighing in at just over a pound, this is my new PB Rudd! A lovely Fish, and a good bar to set to hopefully in better conditions get some better ones!

I had another quick Rudd after this, but back to the small size, and then the weather turned and rain got a lot harder! It was a good morning session! And decided was a good time to go home and not get too wet! Hopefully on my next visit I will find some bigger ones!

Categories
Bailey Payne

Exploration of the Roding

With the scorching weather we have had this week and weekend, I decided to give my usual Saturday Fish a miss, the weather was 30c and it’s been dry for a while so Rivers would’ve been low and I don’t think many places would’ve Fished well, and I didn’t fancy heatstroke!

However, I recently convinced my Dad to join the stretch of the Roding I am a member of, and thought it would be nice just to have a stroll along the stretches, seeing if we could see any Chub sunbathing and get out the house while it was cool. Now, you are probably thinking, why didn’t you bring a Rod if you went? Well, I wish I did! However, never had the time before to walk the full stretch of River, so thought it was a good chance to map it, and not get distracted in one swim for a while! As you guys have seen from previous posts, I Fished the Roding a few times last November, however didn’t explore much and managed two small Chub, so wanted to walk it all and see if I could find any bigger ones!

This was a perfect opportunity to continue my “Exploration Of” series, in a previous post I done Exploration of the Wid (https://essexanglers.co.uk/exploration-of-the-wid/), thought this would be a nice chance to do another and talk about the scenery of the Roding a bit!

We started on the bottom stretch, and were greeted by a field of long grass and nettles, was a smart choice to wear shorts! We first walked to the small bridge to be able to look down and see how much water was in the River, it looked at least a foot lower than normal! Both ways along the River looked untouched for a while, and a small path of those who braved it before us was left, knee high grass and nettles attacking our shins it wasn’t long before we arrived at our first bit of access to the River, I was shocked to see how many lily’s were covering the River on this stretch, first time I have seen this part since the winter! Half wish I had a photo of the grass! We spent a while observing this swim, and watching the fry swim around, hoping to see something burst into the small pack of fry, however, nothing did. Although one hungry Chub, of maybe around a pound, started trying to eat some of the small duck weed on the surface, and on surfacing noticed us peering at him and soon spooked under the safety of the pads.

After some rest bite from battling the nettles, we decided to move on and find the next swim, this is a place I had previously caught Chub and missed bites during the winter, so I knew they liked to be here, this swim was the featured photo, and in entering to look, with the sun before us, we instantly spooked another, bigger, Chub. We stayed to see if he would be back if we hid, watching more fry move around the pads, and a few splashes both left and right, we knew there were a few Chub around, mouthing at the duck weed still. Was a good sign to see this big Chub, this all reassured me of how hard this River will be, the Chub are so aware.

We walked down to a little whole in the bushes leading to yet another lily infested swim, and again, spooked another good Chub. really was a promising sign seeing and spooking so many. Noticed a lot of 8-10oz smaller Chub swimming around as too, which hopefully will be back in the winter for a nice bite!

We now swapped to the other section of the River the club owns, so had a small drive to the other side of the town. The first swim was next to a sloosh gate, and you could really tell how low the River was from this, although not seeing any decent Chub here, you could see hundreds of small Roach/Chublets and other fry swimming around, the odd one taking an adventurous slide down the sloosh gate!

This stretch of the River was more shorts friendly and was a welcome rest for our sore and itchy legs now! Flat smooth ground and no nettles! Was a dream! This part of the River, still having lillys, didn’t have anywhere near as much, and also had a lovely set of bends with trees and bushes providing the perfect hiding spots for Chub.

The next spot was a slow down to a bit of a spit into the River, which walking down a Chub was hiding in the weeds by the spit and spooked instantly! This swim had a huge shoal of small Roach holding in it, couldn’t believe how many there was! Looking to my right I saw a group of maybe 3-5 bigger Chub, all over 2lb at least, they were holding in the light flow of the River, after a while, I think they spotted my head peering over the reeds and they instantly fell back into an overgrown bush covering the River.

We walked down many more fantastic looking swims, we thought would definetly hold a few Chub, and saw the occasionally smaller Chub under a pound. We eventually came to one swim, with overhanging trees all along a bend, and saw numerous small Chub darting around in a group, then drifting in under our feet, was the biggest Chub I have seen in this River, easily around 4lb. It just cruised past us, unbothered by us, and continued it’s journey along the River.

This walk was fantastic to do, and sometimes you need some weather you don’t fancy Fishing in to fully explore a new stretch of River, and this certainly gave me that opportunity, filled me with confidence seeing so many Chub, however catching them is always the harder bit, however have found their homes so hopefully can drop a nice bait on their heads soon!

Tight Lines all!

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Bailey Payne

Bag of Crucians

Due to the scorching conditions it’s a weekend I won’t be Fishing, but in spirit of the great weather we are having (although a bit too hot for my liking!), I may as well talk about the perfect summer Fish! The Crucian!

Now, I am lucky enough that my club lakes stock Crucians in some of their lakes, and these ones aren’t timid at all, and have started to put a nice bit of weight on! Makes them a pleasure to catch, and you can have days of catching quite a few of them mixed in with a nice bag of Skimmers too!

Funnily enough I believe this was July/August last year, I decided to take a friend who was just getting into Fishing to my club lakes so he could bag up on the Carp and Barbel which are in there, and I could have a day on the Pole targetting the Skimmers/Bream/Roach/Crucians.

I was Fishing about 10m into a bit of a deeper hole, was using the Sonubaits worm groundbait with dead maggots and casters mixed in and using dead maggots and casters as a hook bait. Dead maggots are personally one of my favourite Crucian bait and they are also fantastic for the Skimmers. Pole was equipped with hollow blue elastic (can’t quite remember the brand!) and using light mainline with one of my homemade 0.4g diamond floats with a bulk of number 10 stotz down to small sized hook (again can’t fully remember, the session was a year ago!).

I started off by cupping in a few balls of the groundbait mix and then let the swim rest for about 5-10 minutes before I started Fishing it. Perfect time for a quick tea!

It wasn’t long before the Skimmers were there in numbers, catching one after the other. In the early part of a session when on the Skimmers I always start to think about management, as I was only Fishing the one line, I wanted to manage this one nicely and keep it ticking over all day with the most I would have to do to follow the Fish back. This meant quickly working out how often and how much feed to put in, this being all trial and error, it seemed to be that one small nugget after every 3/4 Fish was a good amount, and it kept bites coming consistently.

I find mixed in with the shoals of Skimmers on this lake are the Crucians, and they seem to feed together, and mixed in with the Skimmers, the Crusty Crucians started coming! Always obvious when you hook a Crucian, their tell tale swimming in circles, and then the pop of gold as they surface! Seeing this beautiful Fish surface never gets old!

Mixed in with the Crucians and Skimmers the Bream started to show, however not in any numbers, the peg I was on is more known for the big shoals of the Skimmers rather than Bream, this helped me start putting together a nice weight. Although I was more focused on catching as many of the Crucians as I could!

The day soon fizzles away when you are on a nice shoal of Fishing catching all day, and it was great fun! Ended this session with probably around 20-25lb, having caught about 40 Fish on the clicker of okay size Skimmers, Crucians and the odd Bream.

In the end I had a nice bag of Crucians as well! So couldn’t help but get a photo with my bag of gold!

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Bailey Payne

My River Roding Curse!

Today (Sat 4th July 2020), marked my first early start for a while, arriving at my club River for the first time this season at an early 8am. I decided to Fish a stretch I haven’t yet, haven’t even walked this stretch before. After rain last night and a bit during the week I was hopefuly I’d catch the River at the right time, and it looked good, still had a bit of colour and had good depth. The worrying thing about fishing a stretch of Essex River for the first time is how overgrown is it going to be, am I going to be able to Fish it?

The first spot I decided to Fish looked good, it was just the entry to a small weir pool, although I’m not sure how I’d manage to Fish the weir pool, I can Fish just before the River runs into it, there were some nice reeds so I thought it was worth a shot. I used my normal aim towards River Chub Fishing, blended bread in a cage feeder with breadflake on the hook. My instincts were repaid quickly, missing a very soft bite after a few minutes, I rebaited, recast and waited with anticpation. However, it went quiet for a bit. Always in these moments you wonder if you lost the chance and should move on, that is until a few little knocks, which eventually turned into a forceful bite came along, after a good little scrap I managed to land the featured Chub, no record breaker, but a beautiful condition Fish one I was very happy to catch.

Now, my River Roding curse came back, It seems I am only ever able to catch one Fish from this River each session, I’m happy I don’t blank, but would love to be able to get a few more! My task now was to try and break my curse! I walked down and found some amazing looking swims, which must have been home to a few Chub

But frustratingly, this is where it ended for me, I had a few more knocks, and missed another bite which still baffles me when I think about it! However, for a quick morning session, all I was looking for was to catch, but, my curse continues…

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Bailey Payne

River Wid – Unexpected Catches

At the end of my previous post “Exploration of the Wid”, I wondered what different species I could catch from the Wid and the size of them. A few trips will be crammed into this post, as I done some quick evening sessions with different setups.

Tactic #1 – Bread Flake

My first tactic is what I think is the best way to catch Chub, Bread. Buying a cheap loaf of Bread from Asda for 60p was all I needed for this session. I saved 2/3 slices for hookbait and the rest got some treatment from the blender to create some liquidised bread. I used a simple link ledger rig and decided to hand feed the balls of bread. The first spot I wanted to fish had some dog walkers sitting by it, so decided just to fish close by ready to jump in to claim the spot when they left. The first spot, wasn’t very deep, so didn’t expect any monsters, although while on my walks I did spot some maybe half a pound Chub which I thought could provide some good sport. It didn’t take long before I was getting notifications, although looking back, I think this was the sheer amount of small fish pecking at the bread flake, eventually, a Chublet managed to get in before the smaller fish and take the bread. This fish was only small, but was a good way to spend the time while waiting for the dog walkers to move on. Finally being able to get to the spot I had my eyes on, I had to decide what feature to fish first, it had a lovely over hanging tree and a bit of an undercut bank so was spoiled for choice! I first tried the over hanging tree, and weirdly the pecks from the small fish had stopped, but after a while and only a missed bite I decided to try the undercut bank and from a bit of luck I managed to drop the bread flake on top of a Chub’s nose, and he took it on the drop, providing the best fish I’ve caught from this stretch of the Wid on date of posting. This fish is the featured image Fish.

I then moved to another spot I saw which looked fantastic, as the River was bending and loads of reeds. I chose to stay in this spot a bit longer to see the evening out. It provided me two quick Chublets and then it went a bit quieter, and I was getting very weird bites, each one leading to being snagged. Eventually I managed to catch the culprit of these weird bites! It was a good size Crayfish! The Crayfish must have moved in after they got wind of the bed of blended bread on the bottom of the River, a first for me catching a Crayfish, the hook somehow managed to stay in its claw!

Tactic #2 – Float & Maggot

My next method is also as simple as it can get, I used one of my homemade Pole Floats, a number 10 shot and then a small hook length with single maggot on the hook. I planned on just Fishing the one spot to build up the fish feeding and just catch anything that came my way.

This method provided constant bites, and reminded me of my childhood Fishing experiences, just catching anything no matter what the Size, and it was a good hour or so, catching loads of Fish. I probably caught over 30 Minnows on this session, some of them with beautiful little colours, they’re a fish not targetted a lot, but do have some beauitful colours, my girlfriend also quite enjoyed catching them! The Species I was able to rack up using this method are; Minnows, Roach, Dace (My first and PB) and Rudd (Not photographed) – I was disappointed not to see any little Perch as I was expecting at least one. However, it was a good session with a lot of Fish.

Overall, I’ve loved the evening sessions I’ve had on this River and with it being so local and full of Fish it is definetly one I will see myself going back to often. And hopefully I can find some bigger Chub there too!