THE summer’s record temperatures and low water levels brought many problems... but a big bonus is being uncovered on many rivers.
A rare double spawning of most species was achieved successfully boosting stocks.
Environment Agency fisheries officers have been netting the sheltered areas of the marinas in the lower Severn and Warwickshire Avon to record pike and zander but they encountered very high congregations of small fish.
Chris Bainger, technical officer with the EA, West Midlands, said: “Numbers of the fry where so numerous we did not have time to process all the fish other than the pike, zander and perch, so it is difficult to judge how many fish but it must have run in tens of thousands.
“Fisheries officers observed that there were two distinct sizes in the fry: there were fish at 50 mm (2 inch) and many at 25mm (1 inch). Species included roach, chub, bream and bleak.
“This confirms that with a warm summer and no exceptional flood events, many fish could have spawned twice, once during the traditional spring period and then again later in the summer.
“In September monitoring teams carried out annual juvenile netting surveys along the Severn, Teme and Avon. They observed similar results with many fry, and too many to fully process.
“They also recorded two distinct sizes in juvenile barbel, suggesting that they also spawned twice this year.
“They also observed that the young of year one fish appeared to be bigger than other years, suggesting that the fry were growing more quickly in the warm conditions.
“It’s good news for our rivers as we will have a very strong year class that will provide excellent fishing in a couple of years’ time.
“Let’s hope the winter rains are kind to these juveniles, and that these fry go on to strengthen our fish populations in the Severn catchment,” Chris added.
Double spawning less likely in rivers
Independent fisheries consultant Ian Wellby of Blue Roof Ltd, added: “It is quite biologically possible for fish to spawn more than once because as soon as the eggs are laid the fish start to grow eggs in preparation for spawning the following year, but if the water is warm enough they can be tricked into breeding again earlier.
“It happens more frequently in stillwaters but with river water temperatures higher than normal I’m not surprised at these findings by the EA.
“Nature has evolved for young to be produced at the optimum time for their survival but of course arriving later in the year the chances of these fish surviving the winter are so much smaller.
“They would be far more vulnerable to winter events like flooding and extra cold conditions and shorter food supply.
“We have had some difficulties already with the sudden plunge in temperature to freezing from warm killing off lots of algae in still waters and the resulting biological decay de-oxygenating lakes and fish deaths taking place.
“A similar thing can happen with major thunderstorms which can cause big fish losses for similar reasons,” Ian concluded.
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