A project to rejuvenate roach stocks in a river that was regarded as the best in the country for the species has gathered pace this week.
The Hampshire Avon was once renowned for its shoals of redfins and attracted anglers from all over the UK, with 3lb-plus specimens reported regularly before sport drastically declined several years ago as a result of predation.
In a bid to bring back the glory days, the Avon Roach Project was created, with the founders using a simple tactic to reach their goals.
Rather than stock roach bred on fish farms, spawning boards were constructed in the waterway to give the shoals an area to despatch their eggs. These are then removed and held in a growing pond until they hatch and are big enough to be safely reintroduced to the river.
Thousands of fish have been restocked since its creation in 2005 and one of the most significant moves to date occurred when officials released a large number of small roach at Ibsley Bridge – the stretch that threw up a record-breaking 3lb 8oz and 3lb 15oz brace to Colin Gilson less than a decade ago.
Operation coordinator Trevor Harrop is delighted at the progress made to date and he told Angling Times: “Our main aim is to revive roach stocks so that anglers can visit the venue and once again catch big bags of them.
“The sight of netfuls of healthy, adult Avon roach that we’ve grown from eggs going back into the river is something very special, and the positive catch reports we had before the start of the closed season certainly suggests our work is having an effect,” he added.
Clubs and fisheries throughout the country have also taken advice to conduct similar operations to boost roach stocks on other venues including the Severn, Warwickshire Avon and the Bristol Avon. Environment Agency Fisheries Specialist Andy Martin has commended the approach: “This sustainable method of rearing of roach and the creation of a spawning habitat is addressing some of the key impacts that are causing problems for coarse fish stocks.”