Richworth closes half its lakes

One of the most popular carp day-ticket venues in the country has closed half its lakes after its stock was struck down by a mystery bacterial infection.

Bosses at Richworth Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire took the emergency measure to temporarily close Brasenose One, Brasenose Two and Hardwick & Smiths Pool last Sunday for an initial period of one month in order to let the stricken fish recover following treatment by specialists.

The incident is thought to be further evidence of the damaging legacy left by last summer’s devastating floods which altered the ecological balance at many lakes.
Len Gurd, fishery manager at Linear, said: “Initially the lakes will be closed for one month and this will only be extended if there are no improvements.

The action has been taken to rest the water and treat any infected fish. A specialist has diagnosed this infection, which can almost certainly be attributed to last summer’s floods, and she is prescribing an antibiotic treatment. The welfare of the fish is paramount and, as a responsible fishery, we must take these steps to safeguard them.”

AT columnist and all-round big-fish angler Martin Bowler has witnessed similar situations at other lakes, and believes the effects of last year’s floods could last far longer than most fishermen think.

“People perhaps don’t realise that the floods we witnessed last summer affected the whole ecology of lakes. It’s possible that they could have had a catastrophic impact on the weed and invertebrates living in those waters.

“Some lakes could take a decade to recover. Thankfully the staff at Linear have been highly responsible in putting the fish first and their forward-thinking stance will ensure that the fish will recover.”

In recent months Environment Agency scientists have been investigating carp deaths and apparent disease outbreaks at numerous venues nationwide, with the cause of most remaining a mystery

However, as Nigel Hewlett, the EA’s technical advisor to the National Fisheries team points out, in many cases the problems can be stress-related.

“It’s difficult to be precise about the cause of the problems at Linear without further investigation but, on a wider basis, the sudden influx of summer floodwater into any lake can cause underlying problems, whether from the organic materials that enter during the process, the change in temperature, or other factors.

“This can result in fish experiencing higher stress levels, leading on to bacterial infections. It’s the same with humans. If you’re stressed due to a high workload, the efficiency of your immune system is the first thing to suffer.”