THE work of the River Lea Project in trying to revive depleted fish stocks is due to be highlighted on prime-time BBC programme Countryfile.
Countryfile cameras are due at Kings Weir Fishery in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, showing the unique barbel rearing project in which fingerling barbel are being grown on in a tank.
The venue was once famous for barbel, pioneered by the late, great Fred Crouch.
This scheme is run by Andrew Tredgett, son-in-law of long-time owner Barbara Newton, who lives by the fishery. He is pictured above with a small barbel reared to stock into the venue.
The visit by Countryfile, early in November, is a deserved reward for some terrific conservation work in recent years, as Andrew explained to Angler’s Mail.
Andrew, a 32-year-old garage manager, explained: “Sadly the fishery and the river generally had gone into decline since its heyday when it was possible to catch as many as 30 chub over 4 lb in a session and barbel were plentiful.
“I decided that something needed to be done to improve things, as new juvenile fish were coming through, so we managed to get a number of groups together to plan a strategy.
“I was particularly concerned that too much clearance work was done on our fishery and it needed to be returned to more like its natural state with plenty of cover for the fish.
“One of the biggest problems is the build-up of silt since they had to rebuild the weir which has slowed down the flow of the river, and this covers the gravel and makes spawning for barbel difficult.
“I felt that re-stocking the river with baby fish wasn’t really the answer since their survival rate is small, so I decided to grow some on in a large tank that I acquired for the back garden.
“I bought a number of fish in different size classes from 4 to 12 inches and although I suffered a few losses at first, they are now growing on fine and I plan to release them around December next year after clearance from the Environment Agency when they will be in the 1-2 lb category.
“I reckon I have 140-150 fish which I will initially put in a back stream so they can acclimatise better.”
Andrew continued: “We had a meeting of the River Lea Project group yesterday which included the EA and we are planning to apply for funding for more work on the river including ways of narrowing parts to increase the flow, cleaning the existing gravel and building new gravel beds.
“Predation has been less of a problem in the last year or two with fewer crayfish and cormorants for some reason and there only appears to be one otter on the Lea system with no evidence of fish being taken although we do have the odd mink.
“My plan for the tanks is to try to breed actual barbel from the river itself as they are slightly different from those elsewhere being shorter and more stocky.
“This would involve capturing barbel, collecting eggs and artificially fertilising them.
“I also hope to rear some roach and chub and have already put in a couple of roach spawning boards from the Avon Roach project into the back stream.
“Thus far I have mainly relied on fundraising events, the latest of which is our bi-annual weekend fish-in on the weekend of October 27 where for once we allow night fishing – somebody has come from as far away as Holland for this in the past.
“If we all pull together let’s hope we can get the river back to something like its former glory,” he concluded.
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