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Angling Trust chief executive, Mark Lloyd brings you this week’s blog.

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CORMORANTS, SEA STOCKS AND RIVER FISHING!

ON WEDNESDAY this week Martin Salter and I were in Westminster for a day of meetings.  First we had a photo call with Charles Walker MP, who is Vice-Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Angling Group, to launch our new dossier of destruction – a 10,000 word report into the impact of cormorants and goosanders on our fisheries. 

This hard-hitting report will be reported in next week’s Angler’s Mail and available on our website to download from Monday.

Then we met with a Welsh Labour MP to talk about our Severn Barrage campaign and to raise concerns about Peter Hain’s ridiculous claims that the turbines will be fish friendly.

We had lunch with a trade member of the Angling Trust to talk about new membership benefits, before meeting up with the National Mullet Club and taking a delegation to meet Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and to urge him to take action to protect our marine fish stocks, particularly in nursery areas such as estuaries.

Although the Minister had only got to bed at 6.30am, having been up all night negotiating fisheries policy in Europe, he was very attentive and interested in what we had to suggest.

By 8pm on Wednesday evening, Martin and I were exhausted, but we were still excited about our day’s fishing on Thursday, which took us to the Wilderness on the Upper Kennet (which was the setting for many of the scenes in Passion for Angling, still one of the greatest fishing programmes ever made).

As it happens, we were doing some filming for www.fieldsportschannel.tv to talk about fishing and the work of the Angling Trust. The programme should be aired in the next few weeks and I’ll let you know when it is.

Mark enjoyed a session on the Kennet – which has more water now!

As you’re probably aware, I’m more of a fluff-chucker than a maggot-drowner, but I really enjoyed the day, and caught a few small but perfectly-formed chub and grayling trotting maggots through some of the slower water.

It was great to see the Kennet with some water in it, as it was nearly bone dry this time last year after two winters of drought and over-abstraction.

The Angling Trust has campaigned to stop water being sucked out of the Kennet catchment to supply Swindon (where it is discharged into the Thames, rather than back into the Kennet), and we are hopeful that this will soon stop.

Although we did some laying on and ledgering for perch, we didn’t get any interest from them at all.  Surprisingly, we also didn’t get any problems with signal crayfish, which can be a nightmare on the Kennet.

Several of the fish we caught had cormorant damage of one sort or another and Martin was very concerned that we didn’t catch more fish, despite good conditions.  It’s only one day, but it seems a combination of low flows, crayfish and predators may have taken their toll even on this otherwise very healthy habitat.

This is a familiar story from around the country and days spent fishing like this remind me how much work there is for us to do to protect and improve fish and fishing.  They also remind me how much I love fishing on beautiful rivers with good friends.

 

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