Well, we have finally had weather with some resemblance of Summer! It’s been a long time coming and from cold it’s seemed to have gone straight to hot! And clearly the fish have noticed this change to, with mass spawning taking place.
I headed back to Parsonage Farm Fishery, in hopes for maybe a few Tench. Same method as usual, a little hybrid feeder on my trusty quiver and Tincaberry groundbait, a good mix, and hopefully with the heat the Tench would fancy some berry flavoured goods!
Within 30 minutes of baiting up and fishing, the tip had smashed round, and a very un climaxing fight began, with the Tench almost giving up with barely any fight. However great to get off the mark!
This beauty weighed in at around 3lb. With sadly a bit of damage to its upper lip, it was swiftly returned.
Unfortunately, the next few hours just provided constant line bites, never developing into anything. It’s always frustrating to see the rod tip moving so much but to no avail.
I opted for a change of tactic, others on the lake seemed to be catching well on float. So I quickly put the only float I had on! And hoped for some more Tench.
Using just corn on the hook, and casting just past the first ledge a few metres out. Similar to where other Tench where being caught, I was hopeful. Although I saw what seemed to be millions of Rudd buzzing around in my swim!
Providing a challenge to get past them, however catching these beautiful small fish really made time go by quickly, and it’s not long before you lose count!
I possibly forgot about Tench fishing while catching these scale perfect little fish one a chuck, and really just forgot about taking photos. Sometimes it can be such a joy just to constantly catch like this. no matter the size of the fish. Especially sitting in the sun, catching one a chuck proved to be a great way to spend a day.
Before I knew it, my alarm went off and it was time to head home!
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!
Hi guys and welcome back to another JT Carpers blog, we hope your all keeping well and getting out onto the bank as much as possible!
This week we have a little recap of a session we done with our children last month when we were allowed to meet up with another household outside, we decided to go to Tylers common fishery for a few hours on their match lake to try and get a few fish for the children, defiantly not for our own benefit whatsoever 🙄. Unfortunately, upon arriving at the fishery all the lakes were booked out for matches apart from the Specimen Lake, with the main aim of our trip to be quantity over quality (size) we decided to give this a miss and go onto Puddledock fishery as we know they have a few lakes on site which are of a high quality and very likely to catch.
Upon arriving at the lake, we decided to jump onto ‘The Snake Lake’. We weren’t going to be fishing all day as our children are still young, I’m sure it wouldn’t take long for them to lose interested if we were there all day.
So, upon arriving we decided to have 1 float rod each using simple maggot tactics and then 1 method feeder rod each to target some of the carp. The day started off somewhat slow and we were beginning to worry we would be forever taunted by our children about our lack of fishing skills.
Finally, Jack hooked into the first fish of the day, a lovely little roach that saved both of our blushes and made us look awesome to our children, true fishermen with unbelievable amounts of skills!
With Jack bringing in the roach to no end it started to become apparent that this was very much a one-sided affair and I needed to catch something or forever be reminded by my children and Jack and his son that I was the only one to not catch.
BRRRINGGGGGGGGGGGGGG, my bite alarm screamed from out of nowhere and I was into a carp on the method feeder, after a short scrap and letting the children have a go as much as possible without wanting to lose the fish, we had landed the only carp of the day, Hooray everyone was happy!
So, with a few hours of getting the children out of our partners hair and having some fun fishing we decided it was time to call it a day before the weather took a turn for the worse. All in all a very success day, a few fish under our belts and looking like we actually know what we are doing to our children we went on our merry way.
So once again, thank you so much for reading the blog, we appreciate all the support as does everyone from the Essex Anglers team.
Frant Lakes is a beautiful fishery on the border of Kent and East Sussex. It has eight lakes-two of which are the speci lakes (lakes 7 and 8). It will always have a special place in my heart as it is the first fishing venue my other half took me to.
My last two trips there have resulted in seven fish being caught. We have only ever been out on speci lake 7 where it has a nice couple of features you can fish to-there are snags and lilly pads out in the middle and over to the far right a small island.
I booked a 48hr session over there in April and I was determined to rely on myself to find the fish rather than just cast out to the edge of the snags and hope for the best. Got myself all set up-2 Sonik Vader RS rods, my brand new Sonik SKX bite alarms (a big improvement on my first alarms, Saber) and my Leeda pod. Unfortunately the weather was all over the shop and relatively cold and the fish were not showing. No splashes, hardly any fizzing on the water-nothing.
About 5 hours later we had the lake to ourselves after the other anglers left. An hour after that I saw a fish, splashing away over to my right in the next swim. I thought right you, you’re mine! I reeled in my right hand rod, stuck a fresh 12mm Mainline banoffe pop up on my hair rig and made up a PVA bag using my Crafty Catcher 15mm chocolate and nut boilies and casted out to the swim on my right (having the lake to yourself has some advantages I guess!). Then I sat back and waited. 40 minutes later my bite alarm on the right screamed off and I was on! He took a while to bring in as he decided to take me into the snags but I got him and landed him all by myself. Beautiful common weighing in about 14lb if I remember rightly. That day I felt a bit more like an angler.
The weather has been extremely frustrating with frontal systems sweeping in that seem to produce air temperatures more applicable to early Spring than mid May. Normally by this time we would expect that the summer visitors, such as the bass and smoothhound are well settled in our coastal waters. The signs are good with the fish showing in some areas, but they do not appear to be widespread on the East Coast at the time of writing.
I decided to chance my arm at one of my local marks for a crack at an early bass. It was to be an extremely speculative session lasting all of fifty minutes or so of actual fishing time. I had allowed myself forty minutes of travelling time, which was a bit optimistic with the Lowestoft Town Bridge a notorious traffic bottleneck to negotiate, but I managed it. The chosen venue was the Lowestoft South Beach, which is a shallow sandy beach bordered by a concrete promenade that stretches into the distance towards Pakefield. There is ample parking along the main road route. I would be fishing two hours from high water.
The weather during that early morning session broke the mould as it was windless and warm as the Sun’s rays broke through a thin veil of cloud. The previous day had been cold with gusty winds blowing from the North turning the sea into a churning vindictive maelstrom.
The tackle requirements were simple and I could travel a light, with a rod and all of my other tackle and equipment contained within a bag hung from my shoulder.
I chose to use my Anyfish Anywhere 12 foot lure and bait rod which will cast up to 90 grams and my small Akios 555SCM multiplier loaded with ten pounds monofilament line and a twenty pound casting leader. For a rig I used a single hook running paternoster with a two ounce Breakaway Flattie pattern lead and at the business end I tied a size 1 Mustad offset Aberdeen match hook. Bait was lively ragworm purchased three days earlier at the Gorleston Tackle Centre.
The moment had arrived for my first cast to catch a bass in 2021, and I lobbed the bait out thirty metres into the flat calm sea. The fish are often in the calmer water behind the rollers or they congregate in the vicinity of a feature, such as a gulley, depression in the sand, a patch of stones or a breakwater; all of which hold food. This being the case it is good practice to observe the beach at low water regularly, but be aware that storms can alter the topography of the fishing mark. When I fish using a light hand held rod I stand parallel to the surf line so that the line is at ninety degrees to my rodtip.
I did not have to wait long for my first take as the tip of the rod violently wrapped around, similar to the take of carp in a commercial fishery. A sharp strike and I was into my first bass of the year. It swirled on top of the water and made for the sanctuary of a nearby breakwater. After a delightful couple of minutes of furious swimming and thrashing on the surface I guided the fish onto the shore. It was small and plump, but measuring in at 40cm it was a very satisfactory result. A good point to make here is that this fish taken on a standard surfcasting rod would not have provided such enjoyment, as the fish would have been overpowered and not allowed to show it’s true mettle. Twenty minutes later I landed a second bass of a similar size and this fish was trapped because of its own curiosity. I always try to overcast when fishing light and gradually retrieve the end tackle by recovering a small amount of line every so often, and this is done not so much as to give movement to the bait, but to disturb the bottom raising a column of suspended sand near my bait. The idea is that the curious fish will investigate the disturbance. This tactic dictates my choice of the Breakaway Flattie lead as it is designed to achieve this effect.
After landing the second fish it was time to pack up, but it was a case of mission accomplished so I was quite pleased how things had worked out. The fish were in residence and I had caught a couple which had been returned to the sea, so roll on the next session.
The next session turned out to be four days later and again it was to be a short session of about two hours actual fishing time at the South Beach. This time the conditions were totally different and the weather had reverted back to its changeable pattern, and the wind was fresh and blowing from the South East. The sky was grey and overcast and that was no visible sign of the Sun’s warming rays. The sea state was choppy and surf was rolling in, hopefully providing perfect conditions for a bass hunt. I was fishing the middle part of the flooding tide. The tactics were exactly the same as during the previous session, but this time I choose to use a two hook paternoster with shorter snoods because I expected fish to feed freely in the prevailing conditions. I was quickly into fish taking one of 35cm the first cast on a cast of about twenty five metres. A short while later I hooked and landed a slightly larger fish of 40cm.
I started to get a number of bites which were distinctly different to the violent wrap around takes of the bass and these comprised of the lifting and settling of the lead usually following the retrieval of a small amount of line when displacing the lead. I ignored a couple of the bites expecting a bass to grab and swim quickly off with the bait, but nothing happened. I finally struck at one of the bites as the line slackened and was instantly into a fish which was not so dramatic nor vigorous in its attempts to escape.
The answer to the puzzle was a plump flounder in superb condition and this first one was followed by two more, with all of them falling to the slowly retrieved bait technique.
I was very pleased to see a flounder or two as I rarely catch them during my sessions on the open beach targeting the larger species. I have had good bags of flounders from this beach before during the late Spring and early Summer period but not recently.
I topped the session off with a fine plump bass that measured 49cm and probably weighing somewhere in the region of three pounds. The bass hit the bait hard and went ballistic when hooked, by first swimming quickly through the water one way and then running in the opposite direction as I played it and applied pressure. The rod took on a dramatic bend as the fish tried to escape taking a bit of line against the drag. Gliding it in with a wave was an exciting moment, as it thrashed about on top of the water before finally submitting to pressure. I carefully lifted the fish by hand and held it while admiring its beautiful silver profile…what a great looking fish! After a quick photograph the fish was carefully returned to the water, and after a few seconds of recovery it flicked its substantial tail and headed back out to sea. All the fish I caught were carefully returned to the sea.
I finished the session with the smallest bass of the day, and my two hours of angling bliss had ended, as it was time to head for home as promised. This light tackle fishing for bass is addictive and most coarse anglers who fish for tench and carp will have appropriate rods and reels amongst their kit, so it’s a great opportunity to try something different. For me, it won’t be too long before the sound and smell of the sea and the dreams of the silver bass tempt me to fish again; perhaps tomorrow?
Next week my fellow blogger Alan Stevens, will entertain you with his recent sea angling adventures from the shore in South Suffolk, and it is sure to be a great read.
With the amount of rain we have had lashing down, it really does put you off Fishing, certainly put me off driving a fairly long way to try and catch some Tench, instead, I stayed at home, warm and dry, and when there was a break in the conditions had the short stroll to my little local pond which has been providing me plenty of fun and bites recently with the numbers of Fish in it, and definetly some true surprises.
My approach for fishing a small pond like this would normally be a light float setup, then fishing over micros with soft expanders or corn on the hook. However, I just used what I was going to go Tench Fishing with, which was a hybrid feeder, with a sweet berry groundbait mixed with micros and corn on the hook. Sure on a small pond, a few fish would fall to this sweet mix.
In the past from this pond, I have had hybrids, Carp to around 5-6lb, and seen even bigger at, a few doubles which is a shock! But these small ponds do throw odd shocks. They do have some crucian/goldfish hybrids too, which are always lovely fish to catch. And I’m sure there is other species in here I have no clue about.
My plan was only to spend an hour, maybe less here just between the rain as a way to get out and catch a few Fish. If I got one, I was happy, I setup, and had a short underarm chuck, and straight away a few fish where there with indications on my feeder straight away. Always a great sign!
From then, the tip went round in my first bite of the day, and I connected to the Fish! A small, perfect condition common carp.
The one thing I so often find with these little ponds, is the the fish are always in such beautiful condition, no damage on them at all, and they have the tendancy to be a bit scrapier than your usual little Carp too! Which really adds to it, especially on a light rod, these little Fish will try and dart into the reeds and snags and really make a go of it. Afterall, a lot of us grew up fishing these little ponds, catching fish like this, and it’s always fun to roll back the years and do it again. Especially if you do have venues like this on your doorstep.
Back to the action, well, it got a bit quiet, clearly the disruption from this guy had caused a few others to back off maybe, and it was a quiet 10-15 minute wait. And then the tip went round again, for another little energetic Carp. And again, another 15 minutes or so, I managed another one.
So, for under an hour, 3 little Carp, I was quite happy, and satisified the fishing bug for the day! And for a day where I was just on a quick run out, I can’t complain. However, next week, onto a change and hunting some more Tench!
It’s safe to say that this year, I’ve been out of the carping game. Over the winter I dedicated my time to some pike and river fishing. Once the weather warmed up, I was overloaded with revision for my A levels and only managed to hit the bank once for a quick overnighter at my local park lake. That session resulted in 3 lovely looking fish, two of which were caught in the last hour out of the 26 hours that I was fishing. Last weekend, I finally managed to catch up with my friend Jack and catch a few carp.
The previous night, I had made up some spod mix. It consisted of crushed up God’s Gift economy boilies, whole 11mm regular Baylys Baits God’s Gift boilies, breadcrumb, pellet, and some leftover white rice from dinner. I gave it all a good soaking of Secret Sauce Glug+ to add even more attraction, it’s not only a glug but also a liquid food & Lysine Amino Acid. When adding many boilies to my mixes or crushing them up, the economy boilies are fantastic. They’re affordably priced but still offer lots of attraction. I think that by using them in conjunction with the regular boilies, it can make the regular boilies which I will use on the hook stand out more too. I also made up a stick mix and a few pva bags which consisted of crushed up God’s Gift boilies, pellets, and Glug+.
With my bait and rigs prepared, I was up early and at the lake by 7. Jack had arrived before and picked out a likely looking swim. To our left was a large fallen tree, out in front of us was the island and to our right was a large overhanging weeping willow. Jack had picked the right hand side of the swim which left me with the left hand side which I actually prefer.
I started by throwing a few handfuls of my spod mix about 15 ft out next to the fallen tree. I then prepared my rods. I decided to fish a Ronnie rig with a yellow God’s Gift boilie on my margin spot, and a simple snowman rig with a God’s gift Boilie and 11mm Secret Sauce pop-up towards the island. I fished just a few feet off the island and used one of the pva mesh bags that I had prepared the previous night. Around the island, the bottom is quite firm, so I opted to use a 3oz lead to help drive the hook home.
It took about an hour for the first bite to come. It came from my rod over the baited spot to my left but was rather twitchy, probably because I was fishing slack lines. The fish took me on a short run before shaking the hook, never to be seen again. Although slightly disheartened, I looked at the positives. My rig, bait, and spot were working and the fish were obviously hungry for me to get such a quick bite over quite a bit of bait. I re-cast and threw another couple of handfuls of bait over my spot in the hopes of getting the fish feeding. I’d also brought with me my new spod rod which I was eager to try. After getting the first bite, I decided to spod some bait towards the Island. It didn’t quite go to plan and using the stiffer rod was harder than expected. I think some practice is needed.
While waiting for a bite, Jack and I baited a couple of marginal spots in the swims next to us in case a stalking opportunity arose. We soon noticed lots of swirls coming up along the bank under the willow tree. Armed with sweetcorn, Jack lowered his improvised float setup into place. After a little while, he received a bite from a bream. The bream was covered in spawning tubercles and was oozing milt. We thought that although we had caught a bream, there may be carp feeding on the eggs, so we persevered. Suddenly, a huge sheet of bubbles came up and the massive disturbance patterns came up. We suspected that it was one of the dozen or so catfish in the lake. Jack decided to reel in one of his rods and switch it over to a catfish rig. I’ve never really catfished properly however Jack is quite a competent catfish angler. Unfortunately, nothing came of Jack’s efforts and the fish weren’t playing ball.
I was receiving frequent line bites on my rod to the island and suspected that the fish might be feeding on the bait which I’d spodded just short of my rod. After receiving no indication on my rod in the margin, I decided to move it to just off the island where a few of the spombs landed. I also decided to change the rig on my rod towards the island. I changed to a Ronnie claw rig and used a pink Secret Sauce pop-up as a hook bait.
At around 2 o’clock, I received an absolute screaming take. It was fish on! After a great battle, I had the first fish of the day in the net. It was a beautiful mirror and weighed in at 14 lbs 8 oz. The fish looked familiar and after examining some photos, I realised that it was a fish I’d already caught the previous year. Last year it weighed 12lb 12oz so I was pleased with the increase in weight. I slipped the fish back, and got the rod straight back on the spot.
The fishing around the lake was starting to pick up, Louie who was fishing a couple of swims down managed to catch a nice looking mirror and a couple of other fish were being caught around the lake.
Before long, I was into another fish on my rod towards the Island. It was a very shy drop back bite and at first, I thought that the fish had escaped me. Fortunately, it hadn’t and before long, I had my third fish of the day on the bank. It was a chunky common which we estimated as around 8lb.
Jack was starting to lose confidence in his bait so I offered him some God’s Gift to try. He cast his rig perfectly under the overhanging tree on the island. A fish showed over his spot and a bite was inevitable. Finally, he received the bite he was after. It wasn’t quite the size he was after but it was better than a blank. The action continued all around the lake, Louie who was a couple swims down from us had a bite not long after slipping Jack’s fish back and his rod was almost pulled in.
By about 5, the bites were slowing down. I’d lost one which I think must have been foul hooked because I brought back a scale on my hook. Eventually I received another bite and managed to catch my third fish of the day. It was another common, this time slightly bigger than the previous one and around 12lb.
Jack’s dad arrived at around 6 and brought with him some catfish gear. The conditions were apparently perfect for catfish. Unfortunately, the last couple of hours were quiet. All in all it was a good day’s fishing in good company. I’d recommend getting yourself some Bayly’s Baits, the proofs in the pudding. All the fish were caught using Bayly’s Baits.
Click Below to head over to the Baylys Baits Website. Enter code BB10 at checkout to get 10% off your first order.
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.