Anglers are being urged to help safeguard stocks in rivers and stillwaters as record-breaking temperatures sweep the UK.
Over the last couple of weeks, both the Environment Agency and leading fishery consultants have been inundated with phone calls, emails and messages via social media from fishery owners, clubs and anglers worried about the havoc the intense heat could bring to the nation’s fisheries.
Temperatures reaching almost 100°F were recently recorded in the South, and it’s this extreme heat and the oxygen-related problems such conditions can bring that have already claimed many casualties, including species such as carp and roach at some commercial fisheries.
And, as we enter a time of year that’s notorious for producing weather conditions that combine to present some of the biggest challenges to maintaining a safe environment for stocks, experts are calling for fishery owners, clubs and anglers alike to be vigilant and act as the eyes and ears that will play a vital role in protecting fish in the coming weeks.
“The phone literally hasn’t stopped. If it isn’t anglers and fishery owners reporting fish in distress, I’m being asked what can be done to prevent the hot weather from harming their fish,” said Steve Barnes, owner of Suffolk-based Quiet Sports Fishery Management.
“I’ve no aerators left – I’ve lent them out to heavily-stocked commercial fisheries that are struggling because these hot, humid conditions are sapping the oxygen from their waters.”
Meanwhile, AE Fisheries boss Andrew Ellis has also been assisting fisheries reporting oxygen problems, adding that anglers play a vital role in saving the lives of fish at this time of year.
“The stark truth is that many of these waters that have massive problems at this time of the year just have too many fish,” he said.
“Maybe the owners haven’t managed their waters correctly and carried out the proper surveys, weed cutting and maintentence in the winter to avoid problems in the summer.”
“It’s a very challenging time, especially with the temperatures that we have been experiencing.
“Fisheries must take daily readings of dissolved oxygen levels at their waters and use their aerators through the night and not just during the day,” he added.
“Anglers spend so much time by the water observing fish and their behaviour, so they are often the first to notice any fish in distress. It’s vital that they report this to the owner, the Environment Agency or a fisheries consultant.”
It’s not just stillwater fish that have faced problems brought on by soaring temperatures.
Many of the nation’s rivers are running low on water, and with some species still preoccupied with, or recovering from, spawning, it’s important to handle and retain fish correctly.
“Whether you’re a pleasure, match or specimen angler, it’s vital to show fish the utmost respect under these conditions,” said river fishing legend Dave Harrell.
“If you’re using a keepnet, make sure that it’s fully submerged and in flowing water, and never leave fish in there from dawn till dusk. That’s a recipe for disaster.
“Keeping fish out of the water just for the sake of a picture can often be the most harmful procedure of all, so make sure all your camera kit is set up and ready to go before you start your session.
“And, finally, if you’ve landed a big chub or barbel, don’t just drop it into the shallows and expect it to right itself and swim off.
“Hold it in the current and ensure it’s fighting fit and ready to go back, even if it means getting a wetting yourself.”