Floods: Stay positive

The angling world has been advised to ‘stay positive’ after UK rivers and stillwaters were hit by the worst flooding in 250-years.

The heaviest rainfall in December and January since records began has seen many of the sport’s most popular and prolific waterways rendered ‘no-go areas’ for anglers across the nation.

At the time of going to press the Environment Agency had issued 16 severe flood warnings in the South East and South West, where rivers such as the Thames had burst their banks and made it impossible for anglers to distinguish the boundaries of the river, let alone actually fish it.

But leading fisheries management consultant Dr Bruno Broughton doesn’t believe that the recent floods spell all doom and gloom for river fisheries. "River valleys were forged by the processes of flooding, bank erosion and silt deposition, and most fish are adapted to deal with conditions that appear quite hostile to us. Many seek out areas of lesser flow and often migrate to side streams or bays out of the full force of the current. This may take them to flooded areas that, in normal conditions, are dry land, but they tend to find their way back again as flood waters subside.”

He added: “In winter floods, river fish are more likely to enter flooded lakes and ponds than stillwater fish are to take their chances in the raging rivers. Most coarse fish will behave this way, notable among them being small pike and bream. Where the floods have reached garden ponds, some of the ornamental fish may swim out with the receding water and enter flowing water, although this tends to be a feature of warm, summer floods when fish are far more active."

Bruno’s words will come as welcome news to not only anglers, but also the numerous fisheries and tackle shops affected by the flooding.

“The Thames is situated about 200 yards across the fields from the shop  but the water has been right up to the top of our doorstep and the road into our village had been closed for over a week,” said Wayne Gray, manager of Fat Phil’s Angling Centre in Oxford. “This is the worst flooding we’ve seen in the 19-years the shop has been here.”

Anglers on the rivers Wye and Severn have also been left frustrated by the sheer volume of water that’s pumping out of their banks across many counties including Worcestershire, Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Middle Severn Angling is situated by the River Severn at Bridgnorth, and owner Alan Holmes said: “The end of the river season is a vital time for us as most of our business is made up by anglers going out before the traditional break, but I fear this just isn’t going to happen - and that goes for countless other shops like me.”

Many of the UK’s most popular stillwater fisheries have also been effected by the floods with surging river levels forcing the temporary closure of many waters, some of which have been out of bounds to anglers since January. One of those is the award-winning specimen complex Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire.

“The water levels are as high as I’ve seen them and by the end of these floods this will be the longest we’ve ever been closed.

“We are situated on a floodplain, which puts the fishery in a very vulnerable situation. The water levels are so high that you can’t determine the boundaries between the lakes and it’s just not safe for anglers,” said fishery manager Chris Blunt.

If you need to call the Environment Agencies Floodline call: 0345 9881188, plus you can keep up to date with local flood warnings and notifications by visiting: www.environment-agency.gov.uk