Stockings put UK rivers in top form


Anglers are being told to expect the best start to the river season for years as some of the UK’s most popular running water fisheries report perfect conditions.
Spells of warmer weather during the closed season have seen barbel, chub, roach and bream spawn early nationwide, meaning they’re now hard on the feed, with experts predicting a bumper start to a ‘season to remember’.
But the good news for river enthusiasts doesn’t stop there. The Environment Agency has just revealed its official stocking figures for last winter which show more than 300,000 fish have been introduced into our rivers.
Fishery managers and tackle shop owners on the banks of rivers such as the Avon, Stour, Wye, Swale, Dove and Derwent, have revealed that fish have dropped back from their spawning grounds and are taking up residence in the known hotspots.
All-rounder Bob Roberts has spent the closed season filming barbel feeding underwater for his new DVD Barbel Days & Ways Volume 3 and over the last week has observed barbel in many of the North’s most popular fisheries feeding like mad.
“I’ve spent the last few weeks watching fish in venues such as the Dove, Derwent and Swale and these fish are ravenous, so anglers are in for a real treat,” said Bob.
Anglers in both the Midlands and the South will also be rubbing their hands in anticipation after learning that both Paul Woodward, who runs Woody’s Tackle on the banks of the Wye in Hereford, and Nigel Gray, owner of Davis Tackle in Christchurch on the Hampshire Avon, believe that anglers would be mad not to fish the opening week.
“Expectations for the start of the season are sky high here because all the Royalty’s barbel have finished spawning and are back in all the hotspots, including Greenbanks, Pipes, Trammels and Nelsons,” said Nigel.
“But it’s not just barbel that are on the feed – a big shoal of carp to over 20lb have taken up residence in Parlour Pool and big shoals of bream, chub and dace can be seen throughout the fishery,” he added.
The River Wye at Hereford produced some of the biggest and most consistent match weights last season and this year promises to produce more of the same.
“Many anglers don’t like the opening week because the rivers are often out of sorts and the fish are spawning, but the Wye is going to be on fire and anglers should look to make the most of it,” said Paul.
Experts at the EA’s Calverton Fish Farm in Notts are not only confident that their recent stockings will boost sport considerably, but that the predicted warm summer will provide ideal conditions for good growth rates from this year’s spawning and high fry survival going into winter.
“Our stockings and the recent conditions have combined to give the rivers the best possible start to the season and the future looks brighter than ever all over the country,” said farm boss Alan Henshaw.