Avon Roach Project switch focus to barbel stocks

Trevor and Budgie to help boost barbel populations on iconic Hampshire Avon

Avon Roach Project switch focus to barbel stocks

by Angling Times |

THE men behind the hugely successful Avon Roach Project have said they now plan to use their expertise to try to help boost stocks of barbel on the famous waterway.

Trevor Harrop, who along with Budgie Price has overseen the rejuvenation of the southern river’s redfin stocks over the past 15 years, said his team have already begun identifying potential spawning sites for barbel with a view to improving them and helping improve recruitment over the coming years.

He told Angling Times:

“When stocking roach in a mill stream on the river we found a classic chub and barbel spawning area and this will be our pilot site. We aim to carry out gravel enhancement work, and monitor our progress.

“We’ve also mapped other spawning sites across the river and are analysing them to see which may need improving. The work could be as simple as getting in with wellies and kicking the gravel over or may include installing flow deflectors or even jet cleaning the gravels.

“These are commonly used practices for trout and salmon which, like barbel, require clean gravels to spawn. So why wouldn’t it work for barbel?

“Historically, periods of natural flooding have resulted in cleaner gravels the following seasons and better numbers of barbel, so we can try to replicate this effect ourselves.”

The Avon Roach Project will be helping boost barbel numbers next
The Avon Roach Project will be helping boost barbel numbers next ©Shutterstock

VITAL TEAMWORK

Trevor’s team will be working closely with the Environment Agency to begin with and said the success of the ARP has gone a long way in helping to forge important working relationships.

“The EA will be monitoring our progress and keeping a close eye on the work, so that we don’t make any negative changes to the in-river habitat, but our track record is strong in these areas, which has given us an element of trust. While this won’t be an Avon Barbel Project as such, we aim to help the species natural recruitment in the river and boost their numbers,” he said.

“In a time when there are unneeded petitions for otter controls, why not see if we can tackle the other factors that are impacting barbel populations and actually make a difference?

“All our rivers need a little TLC, and the little things go a long way. Through our work with the roach it was so rewarding to see the big impact that just a little helping hand can have.”

“All our rivers need a little TLC" - Trevor Harrop
“All our rivers need a little TLC" - Trevor Harrop

SAFEGUARDING FUTURE

Trevor and his team’s plans have been roundly welcomed by barbel anglers, including southern specialist Pete Reading, who has fished the river for 40 years and says that any work to boost habitat and recruitment will help the long term future of barbel year classes for generations to come.

“Barbel fishing on the Avon has changed. Back in the 1980s I’d catch 100 barbel in a year. These days, I might catch 60 in a year, but they’ll be bigger fish. There’s a sustainable population, but any extra help is welcome, particularly work to improve habitat. This will benefit not just barbel, but all species, from dace to salmon. It’d be great to see more fry bays put in, as well as trees and flow deflectors to keep the gravel cleaned. It will bode very well for the future of this great river.”

Pete Reading with the Hampshire Avon record barbel
Pete Reading with the Hampshire Avon record barbel
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