Minutes of Consultative Meeting held on 23rd Jan 2021
Present David Hawley, Kelvin Allen, Hugh Bunker, Seumas Halliday, John Wadham, Chris French, Andrew Pattison, Martin Barnett, Dougie Price, Ray Torrington and Paul Thomas
Apologies None Received
Matters arising from the previous meeting
Illegal activities on the Grand Union around Northampton. Paul Thomas reported following further discussions with Neil Stafford, the issues seem around Stoke Bruene which sits on the border between the respective EA areas. However the issue is compromised by not having any formal reports to either Police for EA. Paul agreed to instigate some form of joint patrol, subject to covid restrictions and will report back.
Regional/National AT update.
Kelvin presented the following:
Broads Hoveton Great Broad legal action with the EA and NE
A permit was granted by the EA on 23 July 2020 for the installation of the barriers.
In November, the High Court quashed NE’s permit to erect two nearby fish barriers at Hoveton Great Broad. They were described by the Angling Trust and EA Fisheries experts as “environmentally disastrous”.
The Environment Agency (EA) is now taking enforcement action against Natural England (NE) for erecting two additional fish barriers without permits in the Norfolk Broads. The EA said that the wildlife regulator had installed the new barriers at Hudson’s Marsh and Gravel Dyke without flood risk permits and that they had referred the matter to their enforcement team to investigate further.
Fish Legal have clarified that in terms of the barriers planning permission that was granted to Natural England by the Broads Authority in 2014, under reference BA/2014/0248/FUL that condition 2 remains.
With the referral to the 2014 environment assessment para 8.5.24 which warns that, “If these impacts are assessed by Environment Agency fisheries specialists as being significant, bio-manipulation will not proceed”
Does Natural England have an anti fish agenda you may ask, clearly they seem to be dominated by protecting designated species regardless to the impact of wider native species. Play around with nature and there are always consequences.
Both BASG and AT have attempted many times to find compromise with Natural England on this matter, declared mitigation measures have been dismissed by leading national fisheries experts and the IFM. One can only hope that discussions between the respective CEO’s may see a new light and bring sense.
Ongoing debate with EA on pollution poor enforcement actions with Water Companies
AT launched Anglers Against Pollution campaign
East of England growth, challenge to our environment with little policy on water.
Recent consultancy water resources assessment around Cambridge states no further ground water
Kelvin attended a meeting discussing a 50million cube fenland reservoir for 2030.
AT received much praise for its work on angling within the pandemic. This has increased AT individual membership up by over 2000 since Jan.
Modelling from Welland Rivers Trust on community engagement for river Wensum.
Rod Licence sales now 15% above last year, 17% on revenue
Significant Impact from COVID
Coaching to continue in 2021 and 2022 program agreed
BBC Countryfile feature now impacted by covid lockdown.
Evidence remains that the actual illegal poaching is minimal in volume
The momentum from the HLF is now about evaluation and as such a large scale survey of the angling community in the spring of 2021, which will be driven by a flyer as drafted below.
Hugh Bunker provided a verbal update on the work of the FBG team. Sadly Hugh is currently awaiting back surgery and is on light duties. He reported that covid continues to impact on the work of the agency, with all monitoring activities on hold. Jake Reeds has produced two excellent video clips of his exploits on the Welland tracking Bream and Roach. These are available on the following links.
Roach on the Welland
Bream on the Welland
Enforcement continues on the rivers, but they are not currently visiting stillwaters. The team attended the fishery at Stanwick Lakes recently following some concerns with fish health.
The team are currently supporting 4 active club FIP bids, which again need more time to deliver within covid restrictions and as such the March time budget timescales may need some flexibility.
There remains concerns with the spread of floating penneywort on both Nene and Witham and the need for anglers to abide by check clean dry.
Any feedback to Calverton fish farm best email
Face Book Page Link below.
A round robin discussion on enforcement highlighted the following:
Ray Deeping St James reported that little issues existing on the Welland. His club had introduced a new day ticket registration scheme and would share details with the forum. Action RT to share process.
Dougie reported that the clubs struggled with the limited number of bailiffs on the ground.
Andrew reported that nothing warranted concern was seen in is patch.
The EA enforcement team are out and about and do have the ability to issue tickets for SAFFA related offences However little is being reported. This is backed up by the report from the 6 VBS folks patrolling across the Nene Valley, with very little to report.
They have recently completed a number of stocking programs across the area.
Welland Catchment Report
Chis highlighted the activities of the WRT, which included:
Their unsuccessful bid into the green recovery fund.
River Quash siltation scheme
Burley Estates flood modelling
WRT are planning on a community engagement scheme documenting memories of the Welland and if any anglers have material he would welcome their input.
Chris has created a catchment storyboard following national CABA principles. This has the potential to map fishery ownership along the river as a useful aid. Action KA to discuss further with Chris on the potential to link AT fishery mapping into this.
John provided a written update following the meeting.
Following the recent heavy rainfall, the water level in Rutland Water is gradually rising. I would guess that the sheer volume of flood water entering the South Arm from the River Guash would at least equate one full time Anglian Water pump! The tops of the arms have consequently become very coloured.
Weed Beds (macrophytes).
These have gradually declined but, unlike previous years, despite periods of very strong winds, have remained rooted and even following recent cold weather are still to some extent flourishing. This has offered not only cover for the fish but has ensured that plenty of food, present in the weed is available to them.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the rotting down of this vegetation will offer a more suitable habitat and provide enough detritus for blood worms to thrive: thus, possibly, leading to increased buzzer hatches in the future.
These wonderful fish continue to prosper on the existing diet. The average size of the fish is now over 5lb and like the rainbows are best caught on something floating but, appear to be more catholic in their choice. They have been caught on floating fry and sugar cubes and some on sub-surface patterns. As we now put the fish back, it is very hard to determine what the main diet consists of. Fry and snails have always been present in the water: but the newcomer is the shrimp and I think it’s fair to say, that this may well account for their rapid growth rate and survival. Our catch and release policy towards these wonderful fish has also certainly paid dividends. The fact that they have been more widespread this back end, may well be due to the extended duration of weed beds.
Lock Down No. 3.
We should now take this opportunity to thank Anglian Water for continuing to stock the reservoir and taking a positive attitude in allowing Angling when safe to do so.
Eventually, following the spread of the new, easily transmissible Covid 19 virus, Anglian Water terminated fishing access to their reservoirs. This made a good sense as it appeared, that despite Rutland being in a lower tier area, many anglers were coming from far and wide to fish, in contravention of government guidelines.
The mollusc – Dreisenna Bugensis – has now become established at Rutland Water. Anglian Water have requested that all anglers take great care in preventing this species of freshwater mussel from becoming established elsewhere. The mussels and their larval form are very easily carried in bass bags, drogues, landing nets and in the cleat of one’s boots. So, it is essential to comply meticulously with “Check, Clean Dry”. These have had a very serious impact on the ecology worldwide by virtue of their fecundity and remarkable ability to distil the algae from large volumes of water per day. Their accumulation can also cause serious blockage of pipework.
These molluscs appeared to have had quite a dramatic impact on the ecology of the reservoir. By virtue of digesting the phytoplankton they have caused the water to become very clear. This has allowed considerable light penetration which appears in turn, to have engendered an abnormal increase in the macrophyte growth. This extensive growth harbours a good food source in the form of the shrimp Dikerogammarus Haemobaphes (not Killer Shrimp). In addition, it offers the resident fish population some cover and thus, protection from the impact of predatory birds.
November and December saw some of the best bank fishing experienced at this water for many decades. On a number of occasions, as many as 80 to 90 bank anglers were on the water at any one time. This, arguably, approached the biggest attendance since the reservoir opened to fishing in 1966! Many quality rainbows were caught within a few metres of the bank: mainly on shrimp patterns with rainbows up to 7lb recorded. The slightly lower water level enabled reasonable safe access to the shore immediately below most of the rock cladded banks. The North bank being was the most productive due to the greater availability of bank space.
Stocking during lockdown.
Anglian Water continued to stock fish at all sites throughout the pandemic which has ensured good fishing for the future.
On line tickets.
Anglian Water are investigating a proposed online ticketing system which will benefit everyone. Customers will be notified when this is available.
Angling Trust interface
Anglian Water worked in conjunction with many bodies including the Angling Trust in terms of fishing access during the pandemic.
This has been very good and financially very productive at all their still waters but attendance levelled off: mainly due to the pandemic.
Anglian Water have agreed to refund season ticket holders’ loss of fishing time during the pandemic.
John Wadham – January 2021
Seumas gave a report on Pitsford and Ravensthorpe
Intermittent Fishing due to COVID-19
Boat fishing continued productively at both waters through October until November, when boats were suspended due to Covid restrictions although bank fishing continued. Boat fishing resumed at Pitsford in December for fly and predator anglers. Ravensthorpe from 1 to 31 December, when it closes. Pitsford closed prematurely at the start of the January lockdown.
Bank fishing came into its own in the Autumn. October saw some impressive brown trout caught and returned, from bank and boat. From 1st November to March the new bank access restrictions limit how far you can drive on the track, to preserve the surface. There were some issues about the smaller angler car parks filling up and how far people were able to walk to find fish.
A Pitsford brown of about 5 lb; some cormorant damage.
Even so Pitsford’s bank anglers recorded an impressive 5.1 rod average for the week ending 15 November while boats were suspended due to Covid. Water clarity remained good until the deluge just before Christmas, leading to run-off and a rise in height of about a foot. From December, 10 boats were kept available. Trout were still being caught on lures, snakes and nymphs (hares ear, nemo, shrimp patterns) from boat and bank. On the last visit (30th December) you needed to find clearer water in the main basin, the rest being coloured. Mid Northants held an extra bank match in mid-December. The season rod average for the reservoir was 5.7 per return.
Following the Summer doldrums when it greens up, Ravensthorpe fishing recovered in the Autumn with some reasonable catches to nymphs and snail patterns on a washing line setup from mid- October before the November stoppage. Nymphs and snail patterns were working. Bank fishing was effective this Autumn until the heavy rain just before Christmas. Overall Autumn 2020 was much better than the same period in 2019.
Seumas Halliday, MNTFAAOB
Deeping St James has seen a 60% increase in membership sales, with a 70% increase in day tickets. Issues with flood water recently. The Stebbington refuge seems to be working well.
NNAC agreed to discuss reporting incidents at their next committee meeting.
Nene Anglers need would like some additional signs.
All thought the zoom experience worked well and it could a solution for further meetings.
The date of our next meeting:
10th April 2021 via zoom