"Destocking is the way to improve sport"

A FISHERY that took the unusual step of removing thousands of fish in a bid to boost match weights has this week revealed how the radical decision instantly transformed the venue’s fortunes.

Bay Malton AC’s Border Fisheries has become a popular choice with anglers in recent years, with many choosing to target the Match Lake at the Cheshire complex.

But a sudden and unexplained drop in form led to members calling on the owners to increase stocks to redress the situation. Rather than bow to pressure, however, staff researched a number of possible solutions and found that the falling catch returns could in fact be linked to there being too many fish in the lake. The Environment Agency was called in to help with a major netting operation aimed at assessing the stocking levels and the results proved a real eye-opener.

Venue manager Stewart Godber said: “The first sweep of the net alone in a nine-peg section of the lake produced almost 2,000lb of carp and silvers, and by the end we had netted over 10,000lb! The biggest fish were rehomed and since then the lake has hit top form. The final match before the destocking was won with under 10lb and soon after we reopened it took 123lb to secure first place!
It definitely proves that destocking is the way to go to improve sport.”

This is a sentiment shared by fellow fishery owner Colin Bartlett, who runs the hugely popular Lake John in Essex. Triple-figure weights of silvers are commonplace at the Waltham Abbey venue, but Colin is adamant such nets wouldn’t be possible without regular destockings.

“It is paramount to the continued success of Lake John. I have not purchased any fish in over 10 years and I have either given away or sold stock annually for the past 15. Every fishery would benefit from a netting survey - without it they are just guessing what’s beneath the surface, or they simply don't care,” said Colin

Leading fisheries management consultant Bruno Broughton explained why the practice of thinning out stocks can prove so beneficial. He said: “When waters are over-populated fish can easily become stressed by the restricted space and stop feeding as a result. Destocking may appear counter-intuitive, but it is a successful and under-used technique.”
*For free advice on destocking, call Bruno Broughton on 01952 691515.