Hundreds of venues across the UK are benefitting from a bumper stocking boost that’s made up of the biggest and best fish the Environment Agency has ever produced.
Both rivers and stillwaters up and down the nation have or will soon receive mint-conditioned fish from the EA’s very own rearing facility not only improve sport for anglers, but also secure the future of some of the sport’s most popular and cherished waters.
Rivers such as the Aire, Medway, Lea and the Great Ouse have already seen thousands of fish released with more planned for other popular venues in early 2015.
It’s exactly the same story for countless club-controlled stillwaters and syndicate venues that will benefit from the extensive winter stockings of species such as barbel, roach, tench, dace, chub and crucians.
This week Angling Times joined a group of EA experts for a day and not only discovered just how river venues are stocked, but also talked to the man who’s at the helm of the EA’s Calverton Fish Farm in Nottingham that’s stocked over 10.5 million fish into UK venues in the last 25 years.
“The quality of the fish we’ve produced has certainly been the best ever, both in terms of size and condition,” Said Alan Henshaw, Team Leader at Calverton Fish Farm.
“A number of factors have contributed to this as the weather was perfect throughout the summer and there’s no doubt that these fish will provide great sport for anglers, but also improve fishing for years to come.
To supply enough fish to meet demand the EA rely on its state-of –the-art rearing facility, which is funded by revenue generated by rod licence money and with just six staff and only 18 acres to accommodate huge volumes of fish, efficiency is key to the facilities success.
Richard Pitman is part of this team and he knows only too well what is required to keep the nation’s anglers catching.
“We have orders for the next three years and we take this into account during the spawning process as we then have the right percentages of the species to stock into venues for the coming season,” he said.
“If the river is flooded we cannot stock fish so some winters it can be difficult, but we always we do the best we can to ensure that all those that request help with stocking get it whenever it’s possible.”
Most of the fish (80%) of the 400,000-plus which are reared each year at Calverton will go into running water venues.
The Great Ouse is one waterway which has benefitted tremendously from stockings over the past two seasons with the input of around 15,000 fish.
This winter alone saw more than 3000 barbel put into at least five stretches including the famous Adams Mill near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, the venue which holds the species record with a 21lb 1oz barbel caught by Grahame King back in 2006.
Milton Keynes Angling Association, who run the stretch are more than grateful for all the hard work. Chairman Trevor Johnson said: “Despite being a big club we couldn’t afford to pay for all this work and the fish so we are grateful to the EA said Trevor.
The river has already started to show improvement with anglers reporting catches of small barbel which were introduced last year.”
During the same week, 1500 roach and skimmers also went into the River Lea Navigation stretch at Ramney Marsh in London, an area of river which has also undergone much improvement over the past couple of years. Richard McGarry, Treasurer of the River Lea Anglers Club who run the stretch between Ramney and Enfield Lock said: “We are delighted to get this stock boost for our members and also on a section where we are planning to hold matches in the future.”
STEP BY STEP
1. Fish are held in tanks when they are ready to leave the farm for stocking
2. They are netted and then counted by hand using a small flume
3. They are then moved into special oxygenised tanks on the back of a truck for transportation
4. Fish are checked during the journey and on arrival they are netted by hand and scale checked
5. Finally they are put into large buckets to be introduced into the venue
Stockings In Numbers
80 - the percentage of fish leaving Calverton to UK Rivers
400,000 the total number of fish reared by Calverton every year
10.5m estimated total number of fish stocked in UK venues the last 25 years
18 the maximum number of months a fish spends at the farm
Average Percentages of EA stockings by species:
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