Roach stocks in Britain’s most popular canals are set to receive a boost with the launch of a forward-thinking project.
The Canal & River Trust has revealed its plans to entice thousands of lapsed canal anglers, among them an initiative aimed at producing more roach for anglers to target.
The Grand Union Canal will be the first place where the Roach Restoration Project will be trialled. Thousands of pounds are set to be invested after numerous angling clubs complained that stocks on the waterway were in serious decline.
It is hoped the scheme will be rolled out nationally if it proves to be a success.
However, rather than stocking roach bred on fish farms, the project will instead go about working to protect fish already in the canal and encourage them to spawn with the help of specially designed mats on which they can deposit their eggs.
The inspiration for the scheme has been taken from the highly successful Avon Roach Project which was set up by Budgie Price and Trevor Harrop back in 2003 to help reverse the decline in redfins on the Hampshire Avon.
Detailed plans for the project are yet to be finalised, but the CRT’s National Fisheries and Angling Manager, John Ellis, hopes it will help bring more anglers back to canals.
He said: “The quality of silverfish angling on many canals is in decline, particularly for roach. We want to reverse that so that those who fish on our waterways can expect lots of bites.
“We need to reduce predation by removing some of the zander in the canal and provide fish with adequate shelter before building the mats to help stocks increase for the future,” he added.
Work is set to begin in the Milton Keynes and Northampton area, spreading to other stretches later if the project proves a success – but John pointed out that not every stretch requires attention: “The areas we will be concentrating on are those where a lot of match anglers like to catch silverfish. We won’t be removing zander from the whole canal circuit, as on some sections they are the prime target of lure anglers.”
The charity is in talks with the Angling Trust and Environment Agency to help fund the project with cash from their Angling Improvement Fund, but it is also appealing for help from the public.
To donate towards the scheme go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/get-involved/appeal or call 0303 040 4040.