Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Barbel Society: Research and Conservation projects

In the last five years, the Barbel Society has funded, or part-funded, the following projects, supporting both habitat work of real conservation value, and positive research into barbel and barbel fishery management;

Stocking of the River Dane; following pollution of the river, the BS made a grant to a local club to help establish barbel populations.

Stocking of the River Aire; the BS made a grant to a small club to help improve barbel populations on the river.

Stour Barbel Project; in partnership with local clubs and the EA, the Society raised over five thousand pounds towards habitat improvement works on the river, involving the reintroduction of gravels, and construction of fry bays.
Work on a weir at Throop was recently completed, with the help of 2K from the Barbel Society, and further works are planned.
The EA and the BS placed 9000 small barbel into the middle reaches of the river in the last three years as part of the project.
A further 1000 barbel were stocked into the Stour in 0ctober 2012, and plans for further fry bay construction are in hand for completion in 2013.

Arborfield Weir Project; the Society provided several thousand pounds worth of gravel and materials to support this EA led Award winning project on the River Loddon.

Bransford Project; The Society worked in partnership with the EA and consultants to skylight a stretch of the Teme near Worcester, bringing life-giving light to the river, as well as providing improved bank stability. Unstable willows were pollarded and coppiced, and woody debris placed in the river, along with planting of fresh willow pollards to retain bank collapse.

Funds from the BS were also utilised by the Severn Rivers Trust for other habitat works on the Teme. A second phase of this work is planned for 2013.

St Patricks Steam Project; the Society paid for a fish survey and report on this Thames tributary, and will support the resulting habitat works.

Bournemouth University Research Projects; the Society has funded a major piece of research work, which involves a review of all current barbel research work, and also some tank experiments into competition between barbel and other species, both of which have now been published. The University is also carrying out a scale reading study, using scales provided by the EA and BS members. This study will be the largest of its kind, and will provide information on growth rates and population structure for many UK rivers.
A database of all available barbel-related research is to be compiled over time by the University.

More work is being carried out in partnership with Queen Mary College London on barbel diet, which will involve further analysis of scales and this will use complex techniques to establish the proportion of natural food, angler’s baits and crayfish in barbel diet.
The analysis of the scales for the barbel diet research is being carried out in early 2013, with a report expected in the autumn.
Growth rate analysis work on the Teme, Kennet and Hampshire Avon has already been completed, and scales from barbel on the Trent and Severn are being collected next season for further study.
The Society has committed funding over the next three years, 4K per year, in support of a PhD project at Bournemouth University which builds on the work of Karen Twine on the Great Ouse, but will involve work on more rivers, and will look at current populations and the factors affecting barbel recruitment, as well as more work on barbel diet and spawning habitat.

Barbel and gravels; the Society is helping to fund a PhD student at Southampton University researching the effects of barbel foraging on gravel mobility and structure.

River Cherwell Project; the Society has worked in partnership with the EA and The Wild Trout Trust, providing funding to provide instream cover for fish on this Thames tributary, in the form of large tree trunks, woody debris and live hanging willows.

Hampshire Avon habitat works; using funds raised in conjunction with the Avon Roach Project, the Society has removed redundant iron pilings from the river, and has several thousand pounds earmarked for further habitat improvements. Consent has been given to construct a fry bay for the benefit of coarse fish fry of all species, and this will be completed in Summer 2013. Further work is planned on the Avon, in partnership with the Avon Roach Project and the Wessex Chalk Stream and Rivers Trust, all supported by the Environment Agency and local fishing clubs.

River Lea stocking support; The Society is funding the stocking of 400 small barbel into a sidestream of the River Lea, in order to monitor their spread and survival and to help boost the local barbel population. The fish will be stocked in Autumn 2013.

Barbel Society Handling Code; with help from film maker Hugh Miles, the Society has produced a DVD to help educate anglers in the safe handling of barbel, which will be provided free to clubs, tackle shops and other outlets, as well as online and on Youtube.

All these activities require funding, which has been provided in the past by the generosity of major tackle manufacturers, tackle shops, fishing clubs, Barbel Society members and the angling community.

Pete Reading July 2013

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Time to talk


It's been very hot up here today, so generally a lazy day apart from a little grocery shopping.
Anyway 7pm and we decide to sit outside and have a bottle of Cote du Rhone to see the evening out.
We get to talking ,as you do occasionally after 40 years of marriage, and start thinking of our anniversary holiday, but whilst we do that, we suddenly think about how quiet it is tonight!
Well apart from the Wednesday gathering of motor cyclists down at Willingham Woods car park and cafe. We can hear them whining around the local Wolds on their Japanese bikes, the relatively close by open roads are ideal to test the skills and speed of the biker boys, and occasionally through our village at well above 30mph speed limit!
The Lincolnshire road death total is about the same as last year up to the end of June!!

Bird sound is virtually non existent, apart from the dozen or so swifts acting like hooligans, and shrieking around the sky above us taking in the insect life.
No sign of swallows or martins, no song thrush, no blackbird, no sparrows chirping their tuneless tones in our bushes,almost nothing but the occasional monotonous sound of the solo wood pidgeon.
We're not certain if everybody is experiencing the lack of bird life we are, or if it's just personal to us, perhaps a result of our sparrowhawk pair.
We are aware that our feeder seeds are not being eaten at the usual rate, perhaps the birds are in  in the fields?
We start thinking of the last time we saw the hoards of fledgeling sparrow around our pond, and the greenfinches,robins, dunnock, tits and wrens, we've not seen for sometime.
There are plenty of starling in the area, but even they are not doing their night flight as usual, and the pair of linnet visit our pond very quickly before twittering off with there dipping flight.
Something is not right.
I think we(I) may be falling into the anglers trap, no fish so it must be otter, so no birds it's the sparrowhawk...I don't know!
We shall have to see how the rest of the year progresses before jumping to any conclusions, it doesn't seem at all right at the moment though.

40 years of marriage !!

Our anniversary trip was talked about because our Russian visa's turned up this morning.

Russia River Cruise - Waterways of the Czars map

Our trip will take us to Helsinki where we shall spend 3 nights, we then travel along the coast by train to St Petersburg where we join our "Viking" river boat for a 13 night cruise to Moscow.
No rods will be taken.
I will report on that trip, but somehow I will need to  try and fit in some fishing ,because before our cruise we have a weekend in Milton Keynes for a reunion with my ex Abbey National collegues, a trip to London with the ol'boys of the International Drinking Society, a week near Stirling, and a couple days at the Gunton Arms in Norfolk.
So far, late October to the end of the year are free of away trips.
Perhaps  a trip to the Severn is in order for a try for the zander and barbel......we shall see.

Monday, 22 July 2013

What a plonker!!


When we visited the Hastings seafood and wine festival last September, I made a suggestion that perhaps we should visit next years Whitstable Oyster Festival just to see what it was all about, and being Essex folk the other side of the big river was never on our visiting list.
Anyway back in January I remembered my suggestion and booked this last Saturday and Sunday in the Marine Hotel Tankerton a nice double room overlooking the sea with a balcony. Just a brisk walk from the harbour where the festivities would be based.

Plonker me? Yer the bloody festival is next weekend the dates were confirmed in February after I booked!

So we have missed this saturday


The Landing of the Oysters, the Parade and what’ was going on in the harbour and at the Beer Festival.

and this


 Today brings the epic Oyster Challenge and Mud Tug. 

Anyway we enjoyed Whitstable, a very quaint town with quite a variation of architecture, for some reason veering towards Dutch design  and a very good "High Street" with no real sign of the "brands"
The hotel and it's food and drink were very good, but Plonker number 2 spoiled part of the Saturday for me anyway,I tried another oyster and within 3 hours I was talking to God through the big white speaker.

I tried to eat the evening dinner, but it just wasn't working, so I left it and had an early night after having another conversation with God!

Prior to that from lunchtime I had a fair few pints of the local brew Sheperd Neame, I took a liking to their Goldings, and some of Harveys bitter down in the harbour.

Sunday morning,feeling better I trusted myself to a smoked haddock topped with a poached egg breakfast, that filled the space nicely.
We decided to go for a walk towards Herne Bay to get some air into our lungs and although she appeared to be ok, Pauline needed to because last night she drunk the whole bottle of Rioja, that was to go with our lamb cutlets... I hope the hotel dog enjoyed my chops!
Our walk only took us only as far as Tankerton Bay Yacht Club, where we watched the members trimming their sails, rested, turned around and headed back,making our minds up to find a nice place for lunch.
I have to say Herne Bay after Whitstable was a bit of a let down, no real character and certainly no obvious eating venues,apart from the chippy. A typical seafront a bit like Southend but not as good.
So we headed back along to coast to Seasalter, not much there, and then on to Faversham where we found ASK Italian and had our late lunch there. As usual very good and freshly cooked.
I do like the ASK offer, I was in on probably their first venture in Marble Arch when (AS)Kaye and his family opened up under the C&A store, and I liaised with them to ensure they settled into our building, acting as a foil from those in the Company who always wanted space for the store and looked for any reason to complain about my tenants!
I'm not certain the Kaye family still own the company, in fact I'm pretty certain they don't, but they've started up a new venture, which I'm sure will become equally successful.
So back to the Marine for a wash and brush up and some more tastings in the bar until late.
Breakfast, we both went for the full English, again very good quality local products, and then the 4 hour trip home.(62.4mpg)

Lessons learnt by this prize Plonker, that I must check that dates and bookings are lined up and that I must never, ever, ever, try another oyster!!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Otter kill!

Tongue firmly in cheek.

Well they seem to get the blame for everything, so when I saw this my immediate thought was bloody otters.
I was sitting on the patio and heard the urgent alarm call of a blackbird, looked up see if there was a predator about, and put it down to a passing cat upsetting the bird that is feeding youngsters.
Later on a wandered around the side of the house to our last remaining of three water butts with water in, and found this.
Our pair of wood pigeon usually sit on the apex of our roof cooing and cavorting, this was just below that area.

Half of our pair of woodies

You will see it's head is missing and all it's internal organs, but then I thought an otter wouldn't pluck it's prey first, so I put it down to our female sparrowhawk!
I mentioned to Pauline the fact that I had found the dead pigeon and where I found it, and she said she thought she saw a sparrowhawk flash past out of the corner of her eye and down under our front room window. 
She thought nothing more of it, because it was too fast and would probably be long gone.
It was outside again just now on patrol, I was once again warned of it's presence by the blackbird.

A bit of this and that

The garden

I'm pleased to say that the butterflies are now appearing, mostly the little brown jobs that are not staying long enough to identify them and a few cabbage whites, still no ladybirds or any of the itchy bugs!

The pond weed growth has come on leaps and bounds since a winter clean out and the lily looks to be in need of some "root" trimming, a job for later in the year.

After seeing a few twitches under our plum tree, a sharper look through the binoculars through the kitchen window picked out one of our song thrush pair sunbathing. I snapped it through the window glass so as not to disturb it's enjoyment of the sun

I have to say I'm not and never have been a fan of bream and last night, added just a tad more to my disfavour.
Another late afternoon visit down to the valley, arriving at 5pm, this time equipped with an old Daiwa rod recently given to me by Reverend Hugh for assisting in the sale of his fishing gear, matched with the heritage, a porcupine quill and a size 14 microbarb hook.
It was hard work but I eventually got the bream on the feed and must of got 20 of the slimey buggers all around the pound mark in quick succession before I decided ,enough is enough.
One, I found I don't like micro barbed any more than fully barbed hooks and two, that my landing net holds slime better than bream do!
So I stuck a prawn on, put the fly rod together practiced my casting with a fly attached, and let the prawn fish itself.
Funnily enough, no roach, rudd or carp tonight, I think I'll take some hemp down next trip for feed, rather than the micro shrimp pellets I've been using.
Both methods didn't result in any fish and a stiff northerly wind was now biting at the back of my neck so I gave it up at around 9:30.
The net stinks and is crusting nicely in the sun at the moment, I think I'll need a power hose to clean it.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Glad I haven't been down the river yet !

In the valley..again.

The reservoir

It's not really, although I'm sure if George needed to he could make use of it.
It's part of  a run of 4 spring fed lakes, the first being a for trout fishing, the second my usual pond, which is the most mature, then this the "reservoir", dug out just before I came up to the Wolds and a stocked with coarse fish, and then another trout lake, there is another coarse pond further along the spring stream as can be seen from the map, but I've not got down to that yet.

The fishery
At about 6 o'clock I arrived at the most northerly of the lakes, not a soul about. There were 4 vying for space on the trout lake as I passed
So I set up two rods,a sleeper with a roach head on a size 10 hook, no weights, thought I could tempt an eel, just to see if there are any in the waters and the other my usual set up of the cane rod and Heritage for whatever else may be in there now.

The margins were full of basking carp, but I thought I would treat them as bonus fish and try for the other stock.
It is obvious from the surface action there are many..many  rudd, so I've tucked my self into the windward corner and plumbed the depth at about 4 foot. still wary of the carp I'm straight through with 4lb Maxima and I'm laying on with corn,bread and paste.
The first fish on corn is a small roach, so off with it's head and on to the eel line.
I fished until 10pm, loads of smallish roach and some of these !

I think I'm going to have to take the risk, because as the sun set a caught a glimpse of a big red fin reflected in the dying sunlight as a fish porpoised just beyond my rod top, it looked to be a nice roach, so I'll pop down again, either using a light float rod, or maybe my newly acquired fly rod.

Goose shit everywhere!
Not a touch from the carp!
Last light

As for the eel rod, not a movement, but I think I should have stayed well into darkness, to do a proper job of that. I'll need to check if George has a problem with me driving through the farm at 1am !!

Friday, 12 July 2013

Fly fishing!

New acquisition

I've never owned a fly rod, but I've now acquired a Constable of Bromley Wallop Brook 6'9" and an Intrepid Dragonfly lightweight 60, along with a selection of other gear including a creel, and a good number of flies.
It appears to be quite a well balanced outfit, and the knack of casting, despite at least 15 years since the last time I shared a rod on a few trips to the Test, is still there after a short session in the back garden.
I may well take it down to the farm reservoir for a better practice, and to see if I can tempt whatever is taking fly off the surface down there in the twilight. Just need to get some floatant!
Perhaps a stray trout, or maybe a good rudd.
Anyway, it will prove to be I'm sure, good practice for a chub session on the Upper Witham, and who knows what that may lead to in the future..

Today in the garden

Fresh blossom on our victoria plum tree
The first butterfly, a little brown jobby that didn't stay long enough for identification,
 and this!

According to my Readers Digest Field Guide to the Butterflies and other insects of Britain, it's a male Broad-bodied libellula (Libellula depressa). It has a 3" wingspan and it's length is 13/4".
I think I've seen this one just once before, and in the same place around my pond!

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Lazy days

As we loafed lazily on the patio this weekend, we wondered what had happened to all the ladybirds and butterflies that only last year had infested our garden.
No sign of either, the long winter that just finished may have caused untold damage to them up here.
No doubt our buddleia bushes, succumbing to the freeze, hasn't helped the situation either.
We usually, at this time of the year, hay making time, actually find sitting on the patio very uncomfortable,   the "thunderflies" are nowhere to be seen either.
Thank goodness, the green fly are very low in numbers, I wonder what the swifts and swallows are chasing about?
The same can't be said about the slugs and snails, they're eating all my salad veggies.
Our song thrush sings all day long when he should be helping us out.
Although my bare feet tell me he's had at least some of them, so he's forgiven... for the moment!
I just hope this lack of insect life it's nothing to do with that insecticide that has just  wiped out the invertebrates  in the Kennet from Hungerford to Marlborough.

It's very hot out here, even under the umbrella,so I'm surprised to see out of the corner of my eye, a toad hopping over the brick paviours and heading to my (currently) dry stream area. I rush in for the camera, dodging snail shells, but I'm told "he's hopped in behind the gunnera".
I'll leave him in peace, it's certainly cooler, and no doubt still damp, as any rainwater ends up down there.
I've not seen a toad in the garden for at least two years, and thought they had also suffered the consequences of the last two winters, much the same as our frogs, which I found after the pond ice melted, trapped during a very quick freeze.
Somewhere in there

So, it's seven o'clock, time to head indoors.
Closing up the brolly I see we have a visitor, a solo ladybird, I'll let it stay wrapped up in the folds for the night.

Murray has won, well done young man, but I'm sure I'll have more interest in the cricket starting this Wednesday, and hope that the Australians are in as much disarray as our press leads us to believe, and they get another thrashing. More time to be spent on the patio with the radio

Oh yes I forgot,talking of hay making, my future dinners is back in the field next door!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Needed to get out

Down in the valley...again
What a cracking day today, had Pimms on the patio awith some pork ribs in a bbq sauce prepared by yours truly. It's promising to be a good few days,so maybe the bbq will come out this year.
Anyway, a bit later on I decided that I didn't particularly want to watch the tennis and shout at Andy Murray, so decided to pop down to the pond for a session from about 6pm until dark.

Took my cane again and the Young's Heritage, along with some CC Moore feeder pellets, some sliced bread,sweetcorn, some of the prawns from the freezer and the CC Moore paste I used on the Wye.

I had cleaned my bag out, and had forgotten  to put the split shot back in the pockets, but I rummaged around in my my float box and found just enough shot to set up the porcupine quill on my 4lb Maxima, straight through to a micro barbed size 12.

It was my intention to give  the farmers reservoir a try this time, but there were a couple of guys already on it, so I decided to go back to the first pond...I wanted to be alone!

A slow start on bread, with a couple of small rudd and roach, so I switched to sweetcorn and decided to fill my landing net with the fish caught. Had a bit of fun with that pulling out mainly roach with the occasional rudd all on sweetcorn.

Had a switch to the paste, prawn and flake and added a few carp, a perch and a tench.
The tench I can say I've now caught 3 times, it's got a deformed mouth so easily recognised, and I would guess it's only a pound in weight, and on the basis I've caught is so often, it's probably the only tench in there!
The carp were all probably in the 6lb to 8lb bracket.

check weight!

All in all an enjoyable 4 hours, the cane can handles these little fish with ease and a tail hooked carp gave it a test, but no real stress put on it.
Next time a visit to the reservoir perhaps and the bit bigger carp.
Home at just after 10pm, in time to share a bottle of white, and to hear that Murray is in the final.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Not a lot

Barbel Society
My mate Rich Frampton who just organised the very best Barbel Show followed my lead today and resigned his position on the committee.
"You can only push mud up hill for as long as it stays in a ball..... "
It looks like Pete Reading will now have even more of the jobs he wants to do!

I'm told by a little bird, that after 3 months of not writing in his blog Tony Rocca is back, has read about my last holiday and has devoted a whole paragraph out of four to me!
I'm beginning to wonder if the poor little man has an infatuation with me and my life, apparently I get  mentions in almost all of his blog entries.