A devastating fish kill has wiped out the entire stock of one of the UK’s most secretive lakes ¬ and deliberate poisoning hasn’t been ruled out.
Colnemere, or simply ‘The Mere’ to specimen carp anglers, nestles deep in the Colne Valley, and even though it imposes a strict ban on fishing due to its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it has been poached by some of fishing’s biggest names in order to target its most famous resident, named the ‘Black Mirror’.
But the carp fishing world was dealt a further hammer blow when the corpse of the fish, regarded by many as ‘the holy grail’ of carping and last banked at 51lb 12oz, was discovered, along with another common estimated to be over 60lb, big eels and record-shaking tench and bream.
The Environment Agency took water samples from the West London venue and, although the tests are currently inconclusive, it’s believed it suffered a lethal oxygen crash after an algal bloom that was caused by the stormy weather.
But a few dedicated anglers who illegally targeted the water admit they were in constant conflict with wildlife enthusiasts and are of the opinion that there’s a chance the fish didn’t die of natural causes.
“This is terrible and devastating news for carp fishing. It’s like the biggest and most precious diamond in the crown jewels being lost forever because the Black Mirror was an icon and an inspiration to so many,” said one of the anglers who fished ‘The Mere’ for many years, and wishes to remain anonymous.
“We’ve been in constant conflict with bird watchers, so I’ve taken my own water samples that have been sent away for analysis because I want to be 100 per cent sure that the lake wasn’t poisoned and there’s been no cover-up.
“It wasn’t all about the Black Mirror though, because there were so many other life-changing fish of many different species, and it’s a real tragedy.
I just hope this wasn’t done deliberately.” ‘The Mere’ was recognised as the ultimate carp fishing challenge and was secretly visited by some of the sport’s elite, who spent years trying to locate, let alone catch, the famous ‘Black Mirror’.
“Anglers won’t believe what we went through just to get a glimpse of those fish, and I know many great anglers who nearly gave up,” said another carper, who also didn’t want to be named.
“’Extreme’ isn’t the word. It was like an SAS mission because you’d be fined thousands of pounds if you were caught fishing, so the use of bite alarms and bivvies was restricted.
“Anglers would cut out secret hideouts in the bank, paint their rods black and stash boats in the undergrowth just to have a chance of catching these fish. I’ve had some of the most uncomfortable nights of my life at that place, sleeping just inches from the water, but it was worth every minute and, when I say that, I know I speak for all of the other guys that have fished here.”