With lure fishing we can catch pretty much every species that swims, from Grayling, Roach to Catfish. But which is best? The most common 3 are perch, pike and chub. Pike despite getting big, fighting hard and being pretty common they are only a winter and autumn species as its dangerous to fish for them in summer. Perch, being stunning, growing big and the grind to find big perch are all brilliant being an all year round target and very fun fighters. perch really are up there as some of my favourites to catch. Chub, challenging but strong, hard fighting and stunning are another brilliant target, their weariness makes them hard to fool but when you do you know your in for something good. Again being safe to catch all year round if you haven’t targetted these on lures yet, what are you playing at! I cant speak on literally every species as we wil be here all day so im only gonna cover one more. That is the catfish, big, strong, awesome and rare these make for a fantastic catch. Catfish are mostly spring to summer fish however their size and power gives them a pass!
For me light fishing is king with strong fights and big fish feeling gigantic on a light set up. And as much as i hate fishing with rods built like broomsticks you cant deny the chance of a 30lber makes it all worth it. I haven’t had the opportunity to target catfish on lures thats coming very soon. So for me its defo the light fishing on small chalk streams for big chub and trout. In conclusion for me the best fish for lure fishing is chub due to their versatility. Whats your favourite?
Hello all. It’s been nearly a year since my last blog. I bet you are all going oh no not him again. Yes, it’s me, I’m back. I have missed you all and I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in so long. As always, everyday life gets in the way and we need to do that first before any enjoyment etc. But I have been fishing.
So, in March last year I moved home and as we know it can be a daunting task. We didn’t move far only a few miles, but its better for the family and still near water, that’s the main thing lol.
I did get my own fishing workshop, which I love and my own office and yes fish everywhere. The wife just rolls her eyes (She is very supportive). Lots of different types of fishing over the year from sea to freshwater. I always have my year set up, to what type of fishing I will be doing.
For freshwater fishing I would start Mid-March to August/September with my Tench (got to love a Tinca). Then Oct (First Frost) until Feb (Spawning) Pike fishing with lures and dead bait. In between this I do other bits on the river during the season: Roach, Rudd, Dace, Bream and so on. On the lakes I’m trying for Tench and Crucians. How I can’t wait for a summers evening by the water, tiger breaded sandwich in one had and the rod in the other.
As for sea fishing it’s been great in the summer catching Thorny-backs, Smooth-hounds and Bass then this time of year Whiting, Pouting and Dogs (Dogs all year really lol).
Mind you I’m still enjoying my Pike season at the moment. Nothing big this season yet, but still great fun none the less. The weather has been all over the place this year, amazing sunny days and really cold nights. I feel for the fish really, they don’t know whether they are coming or going. Someone I know, who is a very seasoned angler and has had some great Pike over the years has had 7 blanks. This has never happened to him. It’s even confused the Kingfishers; I was fishing for Chub last week and I saw the male brining the female small fish (Sticklebacks & Minnows). This is part of their courtship; I would say it’s a bit early for that sort of business.
I have also become a published author with my first children’s book being published in November 2021. That’s right its about fish, how I love a plan to make sure everyone has fish on their minds. It has gone really well and the feedback is just amazing. It’s set on the River Wensum and a Roach goes on an adventure to find his family, what a story. It’s for sale in all major book retailers and online too. Sorry about the plug with the book, but you have to try.
I was also on Fisherman’s Blues (TalkSport2) in January this year, that was great talking about fishing and my book. What a treat and I have some more interviews booked in with some East Anglia radio stations.
Well, I’m going to end it there, as I want to ease myself back into it, plus not bore you to death. Stay safe and enjoy your fishing sessions.
Today’s session is a quick after work trip down to the River Chelmer. Hoping to target some of the lovely Roach which reside in this stretch of River. I have personally caught them up to 2lbs, and heard of some 3’s.
The approach for my River Roach fishing is to keep things as simple as possible. For bait…Bread, blitzed bread to feed, breadflake on the hook.
In terms of tackle, a nice light quiver rod, in this case the 8ft Specalist Quiver, it has a lovely and soft 1oz tip, perfect for detecting the delicate bites from these Roach, Light line, 6lb in this case, down to a free running plastic cage feeder with less holes, its a deep river so I want my feed closer to the bottom. Then a quick change bead into a long (16inch) hook length with a size 16 hook.
The session started quick, with rip round bites coming, but I could never connect to any of the bites, became frustrating, however knowing there were some fish feeding filled me with confidence that I would catch.
I plugged away, and made sure I kept holding the rod to react to the quick bites, and it paid off, hitting into the first Roach of the day, proving to be a nice one! The next few bites came quickly and the next two fish were also tidy Roach.
Sadly after the great triple start, the fish did soon slow down. And did get a bit smaller. However for a quick session after work for an hour. I was very happy with the fish I had caught. A few good size Roach, and for a first river roach session of the season, it made it even better, surely it can only get better!
Hope you guys enjoyed this quick after work blog! If you did, check out the video on it! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to see the videos sooner!
Today’s blog is a bit of a wet session back down the River Chelmer, targeting Perch using the Dropshot technique. This time I had my dad with me again as he fancied a taste for some Perch. It really is great fun this type of fishing, a light rod (Fish Rig 180) and some worms!
We walked the usual bridges I like to fish, giving a range of chances of catching a lot of wasp size Perch, some chunkier ones, and if we are lucky maybe a Perch of the 1lb mark. Nothing huge, but great fun!
It wasn’t long until the first bridge provided a bite, while slowly working the worm back. It a felt a good size fish, however it came off at the net! Agonising way to start the day!
I preserved on, and it wasn’t long before I had another Perch!
The day continued catching perch of this size, and smaller wasps pretty much constantly, a lot of action and great fun!
These bridges become such holding grounds for Perch, with slight undercuts in them, where some chunky perch reside!
The best Perch of the day came at the furthest away bridge, so about halfway through our session, as we fished the bridges again on the way back!
It smashed the worm and put a fantastic bend in the rod, and put up a great fight, It was swiftly in the net though! And what a great fish it was, not the biggest Perch, but a lovely fish!
Sadly we never had a Perch as big as this again this day, this bridge always seems to hold the slightly bigger Perch of this size, I feel like I have caught this same fish a few times now!
On the walk back we continued to catch more wasps and small yet chunky Perch. And on the last bridge before the car, we had a few worms left so decided just to try and use them, although this did become quite hard work, after a few perch they soon wise up!
However, I had a hit and struck, to what I initially though was nothing…yet it turned out to be something very special…
This is the first ruffe I have ever caught, and there can’t be too many left in Essex or the River Chelmer, I was chuffed and it was a great way to end the day!
Hope you guys enjoyed this blog, if you did please watch the video of it below! If you could leave a like and a sub that would be amazing!
Well today’s blog is a quick after work session down a local bit of river on a lovely sunny evening. I was fishing with bread/worm in hope for a few good Roach and maybe the odd surprise. I have learnt this bit of river holds some great roach for the size of river, but also some good dace and chub, and catching any of them would be a great bonus.
The first swim was a bit more of an open part of the River, with a nice reed bed in, casting just to the side of this towards a tree too, I was hoping for some quick action, and the action did come quickly! With the first bite and fish of the day being a lovely Rudd!
Wasn’t complaining at all with this lovely fish, I thought I would have a few more chucks here, missing a few bites, but connecting to two good fish!
Two cracking roach from a tiny river! You won’t see many complain with this stamp of Roach!
Moving onto the next swim, a lovely over hanging tree swim, I was confident again of a few fish living here!
And again, fish where straight on the bread flake, with another few nice Roach coming from this swim!
This little river is really getting a warm place in my heart for being reliable in throwing up some fish, and those of a good stamp too!
The last swim fished is a lovely long overhanging tree going into the river, so have to be careful while casting here, although this is a swim I have even seen goldfish swimming around! So catching one of them would be great!
The bites continued into this swim with another 2 fish from here! The first being again…another lovely Roach!
What quality fish from this little river!
The next bite took a tad longer, however on landing, I quickly noticed is was one of the resident good Dace which live in this stretch of the river!
And that sadly was the end of my session, and what a little evening session it was. To go to a river after work for barely 2 hours, and catch these fish, I was chuffed!
Hope you guys enjoyed! Here is my video from this session to so you can see the action in real time! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube!
Back to BDAC’s Parsonage Farm Fishery, a lovely lake, with no carp, and a lot of Tench stocked, other species such as Perch, Roach, Bream and I’ve heard good size Crucians are also resident to this venue. However I am mainly targetting for Tench.
My first session resulted in landing one, and losing one, along with a small Roach. So I was eager to improve on this. This time, although still cold and not ideal, at least it wasn’t raining! The brolly happily stayed down for…most…of the session. I opted for the same approach as last time, fishing my light quiver tip with a hybrid feeder with a Tincaberry groundbait/micro mix with either a berry boille or grain of sweet corn on the hook. I did decide to feed slightly more aggressively and hand fed the area I was casting too just past the reeds.
First cast provided a quick bite, although it was no Tench, as the tip quickly jolted, the Tench usually drag the rod in. This eager fish happened to be a decent Roach, and this venue is really proving to have some chunky size silvers.
I quickly re-baited and went in again, and it wasn’t long this time before the rod was being dragged in! The fish charged to the reed bed I was fishing by, as did every fish I hooked here, proving a challenge to keep the fish under control. I managed to steer this fish clear, and slowly waited and tired the Tench in the open, free of any snags. The net was swiftly under the Fish, and time for photos.
This was a great Fish to start with. Sadly, after this quick two bites and fish, the swim went quiet. And hours went by with only a few touches on the tip, but never developing. I had been feeding quite reserved, with only my initial few balls and then what was in the feeder. I still saw a few Tench coming out, and was getting notifications fish were in the area. I decided to try and up the feeding after this hour or so of quietness. And it wasn’t long before it paid off with another wrap round of the tip.
The perk of using a 1oz tip with these Tench, is they are so much more of a joy to play, however I do feel I should probably go to a 1.5oz tip, just to have a bit more beef while playing them away from the reeds, however the 1oz tip has done me well. This fish yet again, was persuaded away from the snags, and had a lot more energy than the last. When the fish got close, it looked a good Tench. And upon weighing, it was infact a new personal best!
5lb Tench! Not a monster by any stretch of the imagination, however a PB of any size, is a good fish for anyone. So I was chuffed with this! The fish was soon slide back into the Lake.
And on a new high with a new PB, and doubling the amount of Tench I caught last time. I was eager to get back in! And again a cast, another ball or two hand fed over, and the tip wrapped round again! This fish got me while I was hand feeding, so a slower reaction to strike, however I connected quickly to the fish, although it seemed to little to late as the Tench made it’s way to the reeds, and dislodged the hook leaving it in the snag. This is the risk of fishing towards a snag, however the previous Fish shows the benefit.
I quickly re-rigged, and recast, and after another 30 minutes, the tip went round again, however, I was not going to make the same mistake, and brought the fish away from the reeds before the powerful Tench got a sniff of the snag.
Another lovely Tench landed, and with this fish, the heavens decided to open a bit. I was satisfied with my session, and was happy to leave it and head home while still fairly dry and warm!
Flounder just epitomise LRF (Light Rock Fishing) to me… Quirky looking, surprisingly aggressive and fight so well on light tackle. Knowing that they start to come back from spawning in May, could I catch an early one? A trip to Cornwall was on the cards…
Flounder return from their spawning grounds in deeper water, hungry and aggressive. They have successfully served their purpose for another year and spend the rest of spring and summer building back up their fat reserves. Although they aren’t traditionally targeted by most anglers in these months, for me, this is the best time to find them. These fish are lean and fit, ready to take on any prey they can get their jaws around!
Recently, I had badgered Jon Owens (Jonny Lerfer on Facebook and Instagram) to order the Magbite Blading Jigheads in, and of course he came up with the goods. These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out. They have a thick, strong hook, with a small blade underneath coming from an extended lead head. Flatfish love bling and these seemed perfect. I couldn’t wait to give them a dipping.
Keitech make exceptional soft plastic lures. I have tried and caught on most but there was one I had eyes on that day. The Mini Wag is a perfect worm imitation, especially in natural pink. Scented with squid like most Keitech lures, it has a mad wriggling tail. Unlike your average curl tail it wiggles from the middle of the tail, not the end, so it’s really unusual. Combined with the Bladed Jighead, I had a combo with great potential, but could I find the fish?
The tide was pushing in around the harbour and with it, hopefully some predators. I often find flounder will hug the structure, skirting the base of the harbour walls hunting for any fleeing prawns, fish and worms in the onrushing tide.
In classic Cornish fashion, myself and Jon were sharing the quay with tourists from across the UK. There were a variety of accents, ordering drinks and enjoying chips and pasties. Cornwall has a love hate relationship with the tourists that make their way to the county every year – they cause chaos but the money is vital for the locals. As angling tourists though, me and Jon were more interested in the life below the waterline rather than expanding our waistlines.
I flicked the lure out, letting it drop so I could work it along the base of the wall, jigging up and then stopping regularly. The tide was pushing over the slipway, created a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder I thought.
The technique is super simple.. Let the lure hit the bottom and leave it for a few seconds. Once the slack is tightened, I then flick the rod tip gently to lift the lure and spark it into action. A couple of turns of the reel bring lure closer, covering the ground, after that I let it sink back down and stop again. For any bottom dwelling species, this is the ultimate lure technique – stop go, stop go, stop go. It keeps the lure in the strike zone.
After lots of casts working my way around the harbour, about half way in the rod bent round into substantial weight. The fish had taken the lure on the drop and as I tightened the slack I set the hook. This felt good! There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!
Spring flounder are far more aggressive and active than in winter, they hit lures with ferocity and fight hard. This fish was no different. It went on a number of drag ripping runs, giving it hell to avoid being netted. The hookhold was strong though in the flatfish’s bony jaws. With a now captivated audience of tourists it was in the net. My first decent lure caught flounder of the year.
We moved out of the way of the now gathering holiday makers, onto some steps to get photos. Other than scorpion fish and gurnard, flounder are my favourite muse. If you get the angle right – photographed from their bottom jaw up – you can really capture their moody nature. Photograph them from the other side and they look a little dorky – these are quirky fish after all!
After admiring the fish’s mottled markings, burgundy spots and bony head, I held the flounder in the water. The fish caught it’s breath and kicked away powerfully. The tactic had worked first time and this was the earliest in Spring I had caught a flounder. Everything bodes well for a great season to come.
The set up ROD – Majorcraft N-One NSL-S662H/AJI 0.8-12g REEL – Shimano Stradic 1000 MAINLINE – Majorcraft Dangan Braid 8lb LEADER – Majorcraft Fluoro leader 4lb Find more articles like this on my blog – www.benbassettfishing.home.blog
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.
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.
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
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.
Relatively inexpensive compared to other methods
In large lakes, can be labour intensive
Repeated and correct use can collect large quantities of fish for accurate stock assessment
May disturb lake silt and macrophytes
Can be used to collect all size ranges of fish
If 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 risk
Can cause abrasive damage to fish
Although skilled operatives required for operation, good method to allow fishing club members to participate
Net 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 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.
Effective at sampling margins and shallow lakes
Only skilled and trained operatives to use equipment
Excellent tool to quickly assess species present
As a standalone sampling method, not suitable for deep or large lakes.
Relatively non-intrusive. Does not disturb great quantities of silt
Can be expensive
Reduced risk of damage to fish through netting
Targets certain sizes of fish more effectively than others
Temperature and Conductivity dependant
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.
Only viable method available to precisely assess fish stocks
Very labour intensive
Gives fishery owners opportunity to redesign lake, creating shelving/lake features to enhance biodiversity/habitat
Large impact on fish, habitat and aquatic invertebrates
Desilting can be completed and silt traps dug to ease future management
Very expensive, use of personnel and equipment such as nets and holding tanks
Assessment of bank/lake structure can be carried out
Requires area to dewater and source to refill
Opportunity to remove unwanted fish species
Discharge 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.
Cover large areas of deep water in relative short time
Only 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 disturbance
Although speciation is possible in some cases, this is labour intensive and can provide delays whilst analysis is carried out
Minimal person power required
Reduces the need for additional bathymetric surveys
Highly trained staff required to operate equipment and process data
Reduces risk of physical injury to operatives, as may be found when seine netting
Unable 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 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.
Important 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
Easy to deploy, can be single person
Not suitable for determining fish populations
Relatively cheap and can be readily reused
Selective for species and size of fish
Good for targeting Perch, Crucian Carpand Eels
Requires checking at least every 24 hours
Useful as one element of a population survey
Captured fish at risk from predation from crayfish
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.
Inexpensive method of presence/absence sampling
Does not allow fish biometrics to be recorded
Non-invasive, no fish removed or lake disturbance
Not suitable for determining fish populations
Quick method to obtain evidence of desirable or undesirable species reducing survey costs
Technology still in its infancy
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.
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.
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:
Lack of suitable spawning substrates
Inadequate natural food sources
Unsuitable water quality
Disease and parasites, often as a secondary result of other stress related issues
Minimal habitat for predator avoidance
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…….