Falling water levels prompting fears over fish welfare

Angling is bracing itself for yet another summer of severe drought, following the second driest spring recorded for a century.

Concern is sweeping the sport after Met Office figures revealed many areas of the country had less than half the expected rainfall in March, April and May.

Some fisheries and rivers are already suffering with falling water levels the likes of which would only be expected in the height of the hottest summers, prompting fears for fish welfare and general angling conditions over the coming months.

Two of the worst affected areas are the Midlands and South East, with just 30 per cent of the expected rainfall for the period. But it’s East Anglia that’s on the brink, having received only 21 per cent of the usual rainfall during spring, as Sarah Thomson, of Norfolk’s Barford Lakes can confirm.

“We’ve had to close our match venue, Colton lake, because it’s dropped by 6ft,” Sarah told AT. “It was originally a reservoir and the local farmers are so desperate they’ve pumped water out of it for the fields. It’s made it unfishable from a health and safety point of view and the fact that you can’t get keepnets down into the water.

“Our other lakes have dropped a bit but they’re not too bad, although the aerators are on and we’re monitoring the fish. We just need rain and lots of it as soon as possible,” she added.

Also suffering in the dry conditions are the nation’s rivers. Particularly badly hit are the rivers Teme, in Herefordshire, and Slea in Lincolnshire.

The Teme has seen a mass fish rescue after a section of the waterway ran dry, leaving fish trapped in small pools of water – a scenario the Environmental Agency is warning we could see much more of as the lack of rainfall continues.

“We are concerned that the continuing dry weather may affect more wildlife, including fish and plants in and around rivers and lakes due to reduced water levels on stillwaters and low flows on rivers,” said the EA’s fisheries technical specialist, Chris Bainger.” We are monitoring the situation closely and, like the issues on the Teme which saw levels drop and fish left stranded, will act quickly to alleviate such problems if they occur.”

The EA is urging anglers to  report any fish that they see in trouble due to the dry spell through its 24-hour incident hotline – 0800 807 060.