Categories
Brian Holland Coarse Lure

The Nine Pit Challenge

Well after a night carp fishing which I caught a couple at stupid o’clock in the morning, I had already decided to make the Sunday a perch session on the lake. As I was packing up a knew I need content for a blog, why not turn this into a challenge.  On the club waters I was at has nine pits. So, I decided I need to catch at least one fish from each lake. So, starting at seven in the morning and having to get away at two in the afternoon, I had seven hours to catch from nine lakes ‘simples’.

As I was going for Perch originally on the day, I decided to stick with them in hope that they would be in all the pits. My weapon of attack for this would be my six foot 0.5-to-6-gram rod, 1000 reel loaded with 5lb braid and a 4lb fluorocarbon leader with a size 6 Gamakutsu 325 hook and a 1-gram weight on a Texas set up.  I went small as size was not going to be an issue in what I had challenged myself to do. In fact, I hoped that it would help. First lure of choice was a Gunki Tispy lure.

rod

Bear with me on this as the pits will be out of order and there is no pit 7.

My starting point was pit 9, I had fished for perch and caught out of here before, the lake is shallow full of weed and with lilies at one end, I started walking around casting on the margin’s deep spots and through the holes in the weed. Always the way is that it is full of small carp that were cruising the surface and making their way to the sunny end of the lake where all the lilies are. Typical I am not carp fishing and they must know it. Anyway, after a frustrating half an hour and no fish I moved to the second pit.

pit 9

Pit 5 is the next one to pit 9. This is extremely small and an underarm cast you could cover the lake. At about four to five foot deep and has cut away trees and large roots going into it, these were my first port of call. Dropping the lure in on the first retrieve I had a knock, second cast a large knock but no take at this point I decided to remove the tail of the lure just in case it was too large and quickly has a take that fought and then fell off.  I moved slight around the corner and casting against some reed and a hit on the drop. This time no mistake and the first perch and the first pit down. One hour down six hours to go.

5 perch

Pit 4 was next along, this is u-shaped and just solid with weed and again the carp were cruising through the upper layers, with two lakes with carp cruising I should have gone back to the car and got out the stalking rod with some bread crust, but I did not. So, after about twenty minutes I went onto the next pit, to returning later thinking I would get as many pit’s out of the way quickly.

Pit 2 is just a small bowl that has weed and swims that need repair, not actually sure if anyone fishes it, had a few casts but did not get the feeling that there was fish in there. So on to the next one.

pit 2

Pit 1. This is the main carp lake of the complex with weed around all the margins but clear in the open water, at one end there are some snag’s, so I headed there first. Nothing hit the lure, so I started heading around the lake trying all the margins. Getting frustrated I pulled off and headed back to Pit 4.

Once back at pit four, I decided to drop the lure in between the weed and the edge and blow me got hit and taken by a little fellow, so with two and quarter hours of fishing I had two fish. Woohoo. Now I headed over to Pit 8 which I believed would have been the hardest pit.

perch

Pit 8. This is a large reservoir that is just clogged up with weed, down the far end there is a little inlet that has a few snags to cast at, so I was hopeful a nicking one there. First cast snagged on the retrieve at about a foot out, it started moving slowly as a small branch appeared slowly into view. At this point intuition played a vital role as I had the urge to flick my head to the right as the hook hold gave way at the rig flew past my head imbedding itself into the hood of my coat. Wow that close to another hospital trip. The hook snapped as I removed it from the coat, so I had to re rig my set up. Now I downsized the hook to an 8 and put on an FFS finesse lure. I moved a couple of swims down and caught another little fellow. So, at three hours in I had three fish. On to the next pit.

weed

Pit 3. This is a small pit which predominantly is carp but the day before I had a few knocks on the lure rod so I headed to the spot by a few lilies to see if I could nick one, after half an hour and one knock I trudged off to pit 6.

Pit 6 being a long pit which has a few lilies at one end and a small reed bed the other I headed for the lilies first, had nothing so I went to the reeds and again I had nothing. Time was now really against me, but I was to have a bit of luck as the morning had been sunny, but it was now clouding over and a little bit of drizzle. With this I headed to the last lake that I had not visited which is a small reservoir with and island where I had carp fished the night before.

I cast close to some snags and got a hit and bought the little devil to the surface and to the bank so that was four banked only five to go.

With a bit of hope and with only one and a half hours to go I went back to pit 3, again to the spot by the lilies and after a few casts I had another hit followed by another on the bank. With a spring in my step, I went back to pit 6 to the lilies again and bagged another.

I was now with fifty minutes to go and three fish to conquer. So back to pit 1 and the snags and the weed. I was now just dropping the lure in between the weeds in hope a bite and after a few sessions of removing loads of weed from the lure I had another take.  I was now down to half and hour with two perch to go.

perch 8

Back to pit 2 and casting into the snags dropping it through the weed time was running short, then I had a knock, so I recast and bought the lure back through the same part of the water and this time it was taken. So, I only had one fish to go and ten minutes left.

pit 5

I ran to pit 9 to where this all began and started casting in the weed around the snags. I had a take I was going to do this but unfortunately it came off in the fight, I believe that it was not on the hook and only had the tail.  So, I failed my challenge but what an enjoyable way to spend so time.

Maybe next time I will set up various rods to target various species.

This is all good practice for the #uklureseries that I have entered.

Tightlines to all

#the _bridge_troll

Categories
Bailey Payne Coarse

Essex Tenching

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.

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I also had a Berry glug I poured over the feeder for some extra scent!

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.

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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.

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A Lovely Tench of just shy of 3lb

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!

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5lb Tench, kindly photographed by a nearby angler

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.

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Another fine Tench

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!

Tight Lines all…

My Rod:

https://www.tacklebox.co.uk/rods-en/specialist/specialist-rods/tackle-box-darent-valley-8ft-specialist-quiver-rod.html

Categories
Guest

LRF – Flounder On A Bladed Jighead

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…

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One of the most entertaining LRF target species.

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!

”These jigheads scream flounder, bass and gurnard to me, so I was excited to try them out”

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.

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The Magbite Bladed Jighead

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?

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The Keitech MIni Wag

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.

”a vortex of swirling food, an ideal ambush spot for a bass or flounder”

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.

”There were no bass like headshakes, only the resistance of an angry flatfish!”

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.

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The prize!

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!

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Moody looking creatures don’t you agree?

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.

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See what I mean about looking dorky from this angle?

Thanks for reading. You can find the jigheads and similar items on Jonny’s website –
https://japanjonnylerfer.bigcartel.com/product/blading-skirted-jigheads
The Keitech Mini Wag can be bought here –

https://www.chesilbaitntackle.co.uk/keitech-mad-wag-mini-25-31397-p.asp

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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 Dream

Afternoon all, I hope you are all safe and well on the bank. As anglers we all have that one dream fishing experience, well most of us have a couple. Whether it be fishing for giant Carp in sunny France or a huge Red tail in Thailand. The enjoyment and excitement of actually doing it can be life changing.

I would like to share with you some of my fishing dream which I will be doing this year and in the future. But whatever your dream is make sure you get the most out of it and don’t let it stress you out getting there.

So, up first is my ultimate fishing experience to fish for Sturgeon on the Fraser River in Canada. Now these beauties can go up to 200lbs and more. Staying in a top hotel and fishing for around 7 days (9 days including travel). With wonderful settings and surroundings, what a way to unwind with a friend or family member. Now I have been planning this trip for a few years now (over 10 lol) and have been looking and talking to anglers who have been. I have found an operator who looks good and the reviews are amazing. It is also for a reasonable amount at around £2,500. Cascade Fishing Adventures which are online have all you need to know about your trip. https://www.sportquestholidays.com/fishing-region/north-america/canada/

Up second is deep sea fishing in Sørøya northern Norway for Giant Cod and Wolf fish. The main season for catching enormous Cod is March and April. This is when the massive shoals of Cod travel from the Barents Sea to the spawning grounds located around the north of Norway. After fishing from the boat. I would then hit the shore line for Wolf fish which hide in the rocks waiting for prey.

Finally, but by all means not last is my own trip I am doing here in the UK for a birthday treat with my Dad. After watching Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone fishing on BBC 2, it gave me an idea to travel around the UK to different spots targeting different species from Grayling to Trout. From Scotland to Cornwall, we will travel the country in a camper van and hit some amazing spots.   

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.

Koi Herpes Virus
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.

Gill Mottling

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.

Koi with KHV often show gill mottling with red and white patches This mottling can Q640

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

Midweek Blues

Afternoon fellow anglers, I hope you all had a great Christmas and you were happy with the fishy bits you received as presents. So, its that time between Christmas and New Year’s. The Turkey has finally run out and looking forward to a lovely joint of roast beef on New Year’s Day.

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I haven’t been fishing since last Wednesday. I know it has only been a week but it seems much longer and I was getting the itch to go. Last night we agreed it would be a family outing. But I found myself going on my own. Even though I love fishing with the kids and family, it was nice to hit the banks on my own and reflect on a busy and unusual year.

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I was in two minds whether to hit the river or go to a club lake. I thought I would check the river first to see how it was. To my surprise it was quite calm and a steady flow in a certain section. I spoke to some fellow anglers who were already battling the cold and felt it was going to be a good day.

I went up river to a nice spot and started to fish. I hit a nice pocket of Roach and pulled in 17 fish, not bad I thought. I also had a lovely Perch which was a nice treat on red maggots. What I did notice with the Roach, is that some had Black Spot. I thought it would be a good opportunity to explain what Black Spot is and how it ends up on a fish.

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Black Spot is a parasitic flatworm that appear as tiny black spots on the skin, fins and flesh of fish. There is no method of control to eliminate this problem. This organism does little harm to the fish. The main problem related with black-spot is the unsightly appearance it may cause.

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What is remarkable is the life cycle of the parasite which is quite complex. It starts when a fish-eating bird (Great Blue Heron, Kingfisher) eats an infected fish. The black spot or worms are released and grow to sexual maturity in the bird’s intestine.

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The adult worms pass eggs with the bird’s droppings. When the eggs reach water, they hatch into free-swimming organisms which then penetrate snails for further development. Finally, after leaving the snails they burrow into the skin of fish and form a cyst. The fish scales surround the cyst with black pigment that gives the disease its name. If an infected fish is consumed by a bird, the cycle starts again.

I hope you found that interesting or useful. Obviously if the fish is riddled with Black Spot, take as many pictures as possible and report it to the Environment Agency. They should then look to see how serious it is.

Until Next time, Tight Lines…….. Happy New Year…….

Categories
Tom Baird

Christmas Rush

Happy Christmas Eve Eve, Hope you are all well and keeping it together. This week is full of emotion and mixed feelings. As most of our county has been put in tier 4, I’m one of the fortunate ones that are still in tier 2. But as I write my blog, I have just learned we will be joining you as of Boxing day.

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Enough of that, this week I was off work as I booked leave. I have an amazing wife who is really organised and we are ready for Christmas, so not much to do. Apart from going fishing and as much of it that I can fit in lol.

Started off on the River Chelmer and had two amazing Pike on the lure. I used bright colours as the water is still up and murky and this seemed to work. Next was a club water of mine and the whole family went as we are all members.

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We didn’t do so well there and Unfortulantly we blanked. Which was a bit disappointing due to the amazing day the day before. But that’s fishing for you and was grateful I was with the family and enjoyed the lunch the wife prepared.

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Today saw me back on the river, this time the River Stour at Dedham and there was a fast flow and it was up. Whilst there I saw a friend and his Son fishing. So, keeping social distancing in mind we fished the same area.

Again, today was a blank as the heavens opened and we decided to pack up. It was great to see my friend Dariusz and his son Lukas. Lukas is fishing mad and has come on leaps and bounds in just a year of fishing.

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The last three days have been great getting out on the bank and enjoyed every moment of it. There was only one bit of the three days that was disappointing and it wasn’t the bit blanking either.

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I bumped into two walkers, who stopped to talk to see how we were getting on. They started talking about how Eastern Europeans have been taking fish out of the Rivers and Lakes around the area. Only if they knew that Dariusz and Lukas are Polish. Now Dariusz didn’t say anything, but it must have made him feel mad.

Not all Eastern Europeans take fish and kill them. Dariusz has always had a licence and knows the law behind fishing. Not even all English anglers know that, as I have met so many without licences. We need to take a look at ourselves before we judge and stereotype others.

Sorry for ending on a bit of a gloomy note, but felt it needed to be said. I genuinely wish you all a Happy Christmas. I hope you get the tackle you wanted lol.

Until next time, Tight Lines……