Monday 25 February 2013

Hydropower - Environment Agency Consultation ends March 2nd

This is just a quick, but very important one.  The Angling Trust is urging all anglers out there (AT members or not), to respond to an Environment Agency consultation about their "best practice guidelines" for potentially destructive and controversial Hydropower schemes.  The public can add comments to the consultation without logging in to the EA website, which will help sway decisions made about future legislation imposed upon the operators of these schemes.

This type of electricity-generation scheme looks set to become more widespread in the UK but through both water abstraction and the fish-mincing turbines which are driven by water flow to generate electricity, such schemes pose a massive danger to both resident and migratory fish stocks and the quality & availability of river fishing.

This particular consultation focuses on setting water flow rates & abstraction limits and it's important that angling, fish stocks and other environmental issues are given utmost consideration when setting these limits.  As anglers we need to ensure that opinion swings in this direction, which is why the Angling Trust has offered advice on how to respond to the consultation, to ensure we're all pulling in the same direction. 

Please take a few minutes to read through the information and guidance on the Angling Trust website and follow the link to respond to the EA consultation, which can all be found here:

Be quick though, the consultation closes on Saturday 2nd March.

Fish deaths caused by Hydropower turbines

I'm all for us producing "green" energy from non-fossil fuel sources; it's an issue the whole world needs to address immediately, but surely when a means of generating power is damaging to the environment in other ways, it can't be considered "green"!  Killing wildlife, preventing migration, disrupting natural river flows and potentially drying up spawning grounds, in my view is neither "green", "environmentally-friendly" or "sustainable".

As anglers, we need to stand united, vehemently against the construction of these hydropower sites, which produce a preposturously low amount of electricity.  The Environment Agency has identified 26,000 sites nationwide which are suitable for hydropower installations.  So even if you don't think this issue affects you, it WILL be considered at a river near you!  Even if all 26,000 proposed schemes are introduced, their combined output will constitute less than 0.5% of the country's electricity needs!  There are far more viable alternatives which aren't nearly as destructive.

Towards the end of last year the Angling Trust's legal arm, Fish Legal, won a landmark case on behalf of anglers to stop the construction of a hydropower scheme on Sawley weir on the river Trent.  The fishing on this section is controlled by Pride of Derby, of which I've held membership for over a decade.  I'm delighted that Fish Legal were able to take on this case on behalf of the club and its members, and won.  This action alone has justified my Angling Trust membership, which I have taken out every year since the Trust was formed (I was an ACA member for years before that). 

It shows the power and influence that a unified body for angling can use and although everything the Trust does may not be in every anglers' personal interest, the many benefits to angling as a whole are clear to see.

There will be a lot of companies looking to make a lot of money from these hydroschemes so they will be very determined to get them pushed through, but if we are vocal against it and stand together, we can stop them.

Saturday 9 February 2013

The Best of my Barbel fishing from last Summer

New Years resolution:  Update my blog more regularly!

Three-quarters of the river season has already flown by since I last wrote, which is extremely slack of me, but hopefully there are still a few people out there interested in reading, so I'll update on how my Summer fishing went and then I plan to do a small post on what I've done since (unfortunately not many fish to write about since November!), by which point I should be back in the habit of writing on here more regularly.

The good news is that the fishing I did over the Summer was generally excellent!  I concentrated on a single river, the Derbyshire Derwent, and on a single species, Barbel.

The regular rain certainly helped this Summer, keeping the levels topped up and keeping the barbel feeding confidently.  So many times in the past 4 or 5 seasons, I've heard anglers moaning - on the bank and on the internet - about the low river levels making barbel fishing difficult.  Personally, I never moaned because I still managed to find a good few fish, but I must say that sport was definitely better this season with a bit of extra water and colour in the system.

I've recently published an article on FishingMagic covering the tactics I employed last year and I have an idea for a magazine feature ready for the beginning of the 2013/14 season too, so I won't cover any of that here but all of the fish were caught using large open-end swimfeeders filled with groundbait, mixed pellets and hemp, in conjunction with long mono hooklengths and a mixture of baits.

As usual, my barbel sessions were short, after-work affairs where I started in daylight but fished on into darkness.  I caught a lot of barbel in the 8 to 10lb bracket, with a few going a bit larger.  I was also very pleased to land a pair of smaller fish though.  People I speak to on the bank have shared my concerns over the seeming lack of small barbel in our local rivers.  Regular floods in the Summers surely haven't helped with recruitment, but there does seem to be a distinct lack of fish below 6lb in the Dove, Derwent and Trent.  So, when I had my first barbel double hook-up, I was glad to see a pristine smallish barbel drop into the net.  After a bit of a struggle I also landed the second barbel without letting the first escape!  What a surprise, after landing nothing even close to this size for quite some time, both fish were like peas in a pod!  Two fish of around the 4lb mark which were obviously of the same year class and probably shoal-mates.  They were both fighting fit and after a quick snap which was sadly blurred by a raindrop on the lens, they were quickly returned to hopefully become the next generation of Derwent heavyweights.  You can now read my article - "A Summer of Barbel" - on Fishing Magic.

Double hook-up landed!

Here are some of the best shots of a number of 8-10lb barbel that I landed last Summer:
Summer Barbel
Summer Barbel Fishing
Quality BarbelBarbel
Big BarbelSummer River Barbel
River Derwent Barbel

For the first time I took more than three double-figure barbel in a Summer which, considering that I maybe fit in 15 to 18 sessions averaging 4 hours each, I don't think is bad going.  These fish went 10lb 1oz:

Double Figure Derwent Barbel

10lb 7oz:

10lb Barbel

10lb 8oz (which I later realised was a recapture of the fish above, 17 days later):

Big Summer Barbel

And to top off the lot, I managed to land myself a new PB!  This fish was landed about an hour before the double hook-up above, from the same swim.  Clearly the larger Derwent fish aren't in such an abundance that they only mix with individuals of a similar size and year class, as these fish must surely have been shoaled together to be caught from the same place in such quick succession.  The fish put up an epic scrap, one that I was sure I would lose at several points, which I've described in the FishingMagic article.  The fish weighed 13lb 1oz and added almost 2lb to my personal best.

13lb 1oz Double Figure Derbyshire Derwent Barbel

Other Species

The only brief distraction I had, in terms of other species, was a couple of very short sessions tench fishing.  I chose to fish with the most simple tactics, and used the Lift Method in the margins to land a few hard-fighting tench.

A mallard close to my float on Brierley Park Pond

I also used a centrepin reel on a stillwater for the first time and thankfully landed a fish on it too:

Tench caught using the Lift Method with a Centrepin reel

I have another article pending about my trips to Brierley Park Pond, where I caught these tench.

That wraps up the highlights of my Summer captures and my intention is to be back in the next few days to summarise my Autumn & Winter fishing so far.

R.I.P. Terry Lampard

Between me starting to write this post and me publishing it, I was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of one of greatest specimen anglers of all time, Terry Lampard. His captures and achievements over the decades speak for themselves and, having never met him, I can't add much that hasn't already been said elsewhere. What I can say is that he was an inspiration to a great many anglers - myself included - and widely revered & respected. Never one to shout his own praises, Terry was understated and humble, possibly even unaware of just how good an angler he was, or of the number of anglers he inspired.

Terry's death is a very sad loss to angling, but his contribution to specimen fishing over a great many years will ensure he will never be forgotten. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Ian Welch has written a brief and eloquent Obituary of Terry Lampard on FishingMagic which explains a little about his life and summarises and some of his captures and achievements.