Trout stream working party cure for January Blues

January 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

January is known as the most depressing month; the Christmas and New Year celebrations are history, while many cold and wet days are ahead, before the early signs of Spring banish the Winter Blues. With the first working party date reached in my diary, I was keen to get down to my syndicate trout stream, to see what work was needed to make 2017 better than last year.

2016 had seen a collapse in the fishing on this Hampshire chalkstream, a report of trout left stranded in a field following floods, big pike, mink, crayfish, plus major work by the farmer to construct a new bridge and build up the banks, had all combined to give new members a very negative impression of this once prolific fishery.

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With only four of the thirty members available on such a dour, drizzly morning, we decided to carry out some tidying up work on the upper stretch, starting with a flow deflector that had been planted using fresh willow cuttings  a few years before to stop bank erosion, where there had been a cattle drink.

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Willow will throw out roots into any wet surface, the cuttings, pushed vertically into the gravel, have grown to form a solid living barrier, that has been laid like a hedge, speeding up the river, which has in turn gouged out a deep fish holding run from the once shallow gravel.

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Untouched for a couple of seasons, these alders were in need of a severe haircut with the chainsaw to allow easier casting and fewer lost flies, while the team also cleared underwater obstructions.

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Dragged to a central point, the trimmings soon began to pile up, but a fire, started despite the miserable wet conditions, was soon burning furiously, acting as a focal point for an impromptu warming coffee break.

Talk of an electrofishing survey in the coming months, when any pike caught could be relocated, followed up by a plan to restock with brown trout on a piecemeal basis throughout the season, was encouraging news. Pest control had also accounted for fifteen mink and about six thousand invasive signal crayfish, the only down point on a positive day, being that the chief bailiff had forgotten to bring any potatoes to bake in the ashes of the fire. Maybe at the next working party?