Environment Agency netting reveals Braybrooke pond secrets

January 24, 2019 at 4:54 pm

Two successful spawning years at my local Jeanes’ Pond in Braybrooke Park, had resulted in a dearth of small roach, rudd and perch crowding out the upper levels, eagerly attacking anglers’ baits meant for bigger fish. With the controlling club in close contact with the Environment Agency, it was suggested that the answer was another netting operation. The first, three years ago had seen the removal of thousands of small fish from the pond, resulting in members catches including many more quality roach and rudd.

With temperatures in single figures, I arrived mid morning to find the netting well under way, with two Agency operatives up to their chests in freezing water. The net had been walked round the pond, until it met the fixed end, then slowly drawn in to a tight circle, the bottom of the net drawn up to trap the fish.

Hand nets were continually dipped into the boiling mass of fish and passed up in a fireman’s chain to a water tank on the back of the Agency Landrover, all fish over 3 oz being returned, under the watchful eyes of club members.

Several larger fish were evident in the bulging net, this pike the first to taste freedom again.

Proof that the roach, rudd and perch were not the only successful spawners, was this young pike.

Often seen, but rarely caught, this white Koi must have had a rude awakening from its winter sleep.

Another exotic, a gold Koi, emerged from the depths of the net, this fish had not been seen all season and was assumed taken by poachers, that had been leaving out unattended night lines attached to bank side bushes.

Yet another pike from a water that was said to have no pike when I joined the club. A 10 lb pike was landed this season, on two different occasions, having taken anglers’ fish. If the pike and perch do their job, netting sessions may not be needed in the future.

Just one sample of the fish taken with one dip of a hand net, perch, roach and rudd clearly visible.

A rough estimate of 7,000 small fish were placed into oxygenated water tank, ready to be transferred to a small lake near Aldershot 15 miles away, that has been heavily predated by cormorants.

Once the EA men were satisfied with their catch, the net was sunk and the base lifted out to allow the remaining thousands to swim free, the job done with such care, that there were no visible casualties.