ANGLERS are being urged to look out for spawning river fish in a major new survey being conducted by the newly formed River Anglers Conservation Group.

The RACG are after anglers everywhere to report fish spawning sites and activity they have observed.

They are looking for every species from barbel to bleak plus unusual river species like catfish and tench and the non-fished for lamprey.

The fish spawning survey form is available on the RACG website and can be accessed and completed by anyone.

Chairman Matt Marlow explained: “We are interested in all species of river fish and want to have as wide and accurate a record as possible of where spawning sites exist and how much activity is taking place.

“The group are concerned about the way on some rivers there seems to be evidence of good spawning behaviour but then very poor recruitment of new fish from resulting fry, whereas in other places more limited spawning leads to the healthy maintenance of fish stocks.

“We devised this survey so we can get as much detailed information as possible about spawning behaviour and river locations across species, which will aid further research.

“This research will help determine causes of events such as siltation of fish spawning sites, and algal growth from fertiliser run-off which destroys eggs so we can then prioritise our projects to the areas in most need.

“We are currently undertaking gravel jetting and spawning habitat work on the rivers Lea, Colne and Bristol Avon, with other such projects in the planning stages.

“Although the survey was not devised with the issue of possible changes to the Close Season in mind, one by-product might be to establish more detailed information about the exact time of year different river species spawn and whether this varies significantly around the country.

“The RACG has not yet taken a view yet on whether the Close Season should remain as it is, changed in some way or abolished.

“I went to a well attended Midlands forum of the Angling Trust recently where the issue was discussed and virtually everyone in the room had a different point of view.

“I would say that our founder members generally take the view that some form of seasonal break is justified to give the river environment and the fish a rest but that the current dates are very arbitrary.

“Any change though, should be based on concrete research not just opinion,” he added.

The fish spawning survey which doesn’t take long to complete can be found here.

It asks people to record the date and time of day of the fish spawning.

It also asks for the species observed, number of fish involved, any particular features of the site, the exact location which can be added by a link to Google maps, and if possible the air and water temperatures.

Anglers can join the RACG now for just £4.99 (usually £9.99) at www.racg.co.uk/join

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