Homegrown barbel to help boost stocks on top river

Lea fishery manager grows on ‘predator proof’ barbel in his back garden!

The manager of one of the country’s most prolific river fisheries has introduced nearly 200 barbel into his local waterway after hand-rearing them in a purpose-built tank in his back garden for the last three years. 

Andrew Tredgett is the proud owner of Kings Weir Fishery in Hertfordshire and since 2016 he has been growing-on barbel fry in a bid to improve stocks of the species on the waterway.

180 barbel between 1lb and 2lb were stocked_1.jpg

This week 181 barbel between 8oz and 2lb were released into the Lea at Kings Weir by Andrew with the help of Environment Agency officials, and each has a much higher survival rate than smaller barbel fry.

Andrew said: “I’ve got mixed feelings really, but I’m ecstatic to finally get to the stage I was aiming for.

“I’ve been feeding these barbel by hand every other day for a long time so it’s sad to see them go, but bigger barbel have now been released into the fishery and they have a much better chance of surviving to help sustain and repopulate the current numbers in the river. 

“We first decided to do this as we felt that too many small babel were going into the rivers and weren’t surviving for very long due to factors such as predation.

“A lot of people said it would never work and that I should leave the Environment Agency to sort out fish stocks, but we have now proven them wrong.

“The growth rates of the fish we have reared have been very impressive, and the hope is that one day one of these fish can break the venue record or even the national record.”

Andrew’s hard work mirrors the Environment Agency’s annual ambition of helping to improve barbel stocks on many other rivers across the country. 

Predation and poor spawning grounds seem to be making the biggest impact on barbel survival rates on smaller rivers and other factors do come into play, although EA officials agree that the stocking of larger barbel could start to make a significant difference. 

Kye Jerrom, who is a Team Leader for Fisheries, Biodiversity and Geomorphology at the Environment Agency, said: “Over the last 10 years we have been helping to improve barbel stocks at locations on the River Ouse and Ivel, plus other venues that don’t necessarily have sustainable barbel populations.

“Earlier this year we introduced barbel well over 30cm in length and approaching 3lb – the largest barbel we’ve ever stocked.

Kings Weir Fishery owner Andrew Tredgett releases barbel he's grown-on over the last three years.jpg

“Our recent PhD studies have shown that barbel numbers are being impacted most heavily by poor spawning and poor fry survival, which in effect means the populations are struggling to support themselves.

“We are doing a lot of work to turn that around by improving spawning habitat, building fry refuge areas, creating fish passages and of course stocking.

“These bigger barbel have a much larger survival rate than the fry and they have also been dye-marked with a blue agent.

“We want to take advantage of anglers fishing for them to learn more about their growth, survival and spread.”