Commercials close their doors for the good of their stocks… and fantastic fishing follows

“Rest without a doubt helps the fish during this challenging period”

Commercials close their doors for the good of their stocks… and fantastic fishing follows

by Angling Times |

A NUMBER OF forward-thinking commercial fisheries recently closed their doors to anglers, to allow their stocks to recover after a hectic 12 months for the sport – and now they are reaping the benefits.

This style of fishery management is something specimen carp fisheries and syndicate waters have been doing for years, but for commercials it’s a new move.

AN EYE ON THE FUTURE

One venue which made the decision to close recently was Old Hough Fishery in Cheshire. Owner Mel Sykes noticed a decline in match weights and knew something had to be done for the long term.

“I’ve been running fisheries for over 10 years, and this year the fish just needed a break,” he said.

“After they spawned, match weights were well down, 60lb winning contests where 150lb would normally be needed. Last year we were unbelievably busy, and day-ticket sales are still higher than ever. There’s been so much pressure on the fish and they were acting unusually. Only the smaller ones were being caught – the larger ones sulked.”

Mel took the decision to close the whole fishery for three days and stopped matches for two weeks.

“The last thing we wanted was fish sitting in keepnets, and I’m pleased to say that now we are fully open again and weights are back to normal,” he added.

“Closing the fishery again is certainly something we’ll be looking at doing in future. I won’t set a specific date for next year, as you could miss when fish spawn, but we’ll keep an eye on things and be ready to close if they show signs of distress.”

Old Hough Fishery, reaping the benefits of a short break
Old Hough Fishery, reaping the benefits of a short break

‘OBLIGATION’ TO LOOK AFTER STOCK

Monkhall Fishery near Bridgnorth has just reopened after a three-week closure, to allow its fish to recover after an intense spawning period and months of topsy-turvy weather. Ben Stanford took on the fishery eight years ago, but this year was the first time it was decided to close the complex.

“We’ve had warm spells followed by cold, then warm again, as well as hailstorms and prolonged heatwaves. Add to this the fish spawning very vigorously over an intense period and it’s unsurprising that they showed signs of distress,” he said.

“The first port of call was to remove angling pressure.”

he act of spawning places great stress on fish, which leaves them more vulnerable to infection. Closing fisheries for a few short weeks gives them time to feed up and regain their strength
he act of spawning places great stress on fish, which leaves them more vulnerable to infection. Closing fisheries for a few short weeks gives them time to feed up and regain their strength

PRAISE FOR THE ANGLERS

Ben closed the fishery for three weeks, during which time it was closely monitored. Oxygen levels were boosted and the fish fed high-quality food to help them recover.

“We ran a net through small sections of our lakes to do a health check,” he said.

“At first, it was apparent that a few fish were showing signs of stress, but by the end of the three weeks they were back in great shape.”

With the fishery now open and fishing well, Ben was keen to praise the anglers for their great response to the closure.

“Everyone respected our decision and showed just how much they care about the welfare of our fish,” he added.

“It was great for us to see, as we feel a moral obligation to look after our stock and do everything we can to take care of them.”

Andrew Ellis, an independent fisheries consultant, explained why giving fish a rest can be such a productive move.

“This time of year is by far the worst few months for the fish,” he said.

“After the stress of spawning, they need to recover, and they do this by feeding. If they’re being caught during this period, it adds to this stress, which in turn leads to a greater chance of their picking up infections and diseases.

“Add to this the varied weather we’ve had, and it’s one more thing to unsettle the fish.”

Andrew praised fisheries that closed their doors, and believes this is a practice others should consider adopting.

“Rest without a doubt helps the fish during this challenging period,” he said.

“Fish are at their weakest at this time of year and are feeding to recover, so by closing you give them the best chance of doing so.

“I’ve found that these days most people want to look after their fish better, rather than simply stocking more and more.”

DISSOLVED OXYGEN IS KEY TO HEALTHY STOCKS

LOW levels of dissolved oxygen in the water is a major cause of fish deaths, but this can be spotted early by using an oxygen meter.

Fisheries consultant Andrew Ellis explained:

“Having one installed will make a hell of a difference at this time of year. Although a good one will cost around £600, the investment could save a lot more than that in fish.

“Aerators will oxygenate the water, but simply leaving these on without knowing the impact they’re having isn’t always enough.”

Getting oxygen into the water is vital at this time of year
Getting oxygen into the water is vital at this time of year
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