It had to happen sooner or later…despite scientists insisting it was impossible for stillwater barbel to breed Angling Times has unearthed evidence that they can.
Anglers fishing Staffordshire commercial Heronbrook Fisheries have begun catching baby barbel and venue owner Neil Dale is convinced his resident barbel have managed to successfully spawn a whole new generation of fish for his customers to enjoy.
These small barbel, the first examples of the species ever born in a stillwater fishery, would appear to be thriving, with fishery regulars catching lots of them as part of match and pleasure weights.
The unique development looks certain to reignite the contentious argument surrounding whether the species should ever be stocked into lakes, a debate which has split angling down the middle for the better part of a decade, with traditionalists like the Barbel Society dead against the practise and keen for the EA to put a stop to it.
But numerous commercial fishery owners have bee all for it, claiming the species offers their customers superb sport as part of mixed bags.
“I’m overjoyed that I’ve got barbel breeding in my pools. It’s fantastic,” Heronbrook owner Neil Dale told Angling Times.
“Richard Lofthouse, an angler fishing in a club match caught 20 baby barbel last week and another angler also discovered a handful in his landing net which he inadvertently scooped up when netting another fish.
“I think this answers those who claim that barbel shouldn’t be stocked into stillwaters because they can’t thrive in them. My barbel are as good and as healthy as any from a river. I don’t believe nature would allow them to reproduce if my lakes didn’t provide them with a healthy environment. This vindicates all those who’ve chosen to stock them in stillwaters,” he insisted.
Neil thinks that the abstraction licence that allows him to divert some water from a stream through his lakes has helped encourage the fish to spawn.
But the Barbel Society have this week stuck by their guns insisting that barbel in lakes remains an unnatural phenomenon.
“Barbel will always breed where there’s shallow water running over gravel and if all the other necessary requirements are met. It sounds like this fishery has managed to recreated the necessary conditions just like the EA’s Calverton Fish Farm does,” suggested BS chairman Steve Pope.
“It remains a shame that a wild river fish has ended up stocked into man made waters to meet an artificial demand, but it’s a curse of the 21st Century. Fishing for Stillwater barbel is fishing without a soul,” he argued.
The Environment Agency will continue to allow the stocking of barbel into stillwaters based on an assessment of each individual stocking application received.
“Although barbel is a river species and requires flowing water to spawn, they can survive in some still water fisheries. We can give consent for barbel to be stocked in still waters, providing there is a habitat for them to survive and thrive,” explained an EA spokesperson.