Since last year’s member’s meeting and work party, there’s been a bit of a reshuffle of positions within the management team. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve managed to fill all the vacant roles and together now look forward to meeting the challenges that the next few years will bring. Due to his increased commitments to the NACA committee, in his new role as Secretary, Dave Nelson has had to give up his position as Fishery Manager. I’ve taken on this role and now represent the fishery on the Wensum Fishery Action Plan (WFAP) committee. I’ve also joined the bailiffing team, as of last season and if I haven’t bumped into you on the banks yet, I’m sure I shall in due course.
Many thanks to Dave for all his time and efforts to help improve and further the future of the fishery, though he isn’t really leaving us, as he still comes along to the meetings to lend a hand and give advice where needed.
Tony Forster has stepped forward and taken on the position of membership secretary and we all wish him well in this new role. Many of you will already know Tony from the river bank and/or work parties, where Tony is always keen to get involved. Jeremy Hulbert has taken on the role of Treasurer of the fishery and our thanks go to Gary Pearce for his years of perseverance with the fishery’s accounts. Again, many of you will know Jeremy, who lives in the Mill House at Costessey and is also a keen participant in fishery events. Steve Duckett, as well as being a stalwart of our bailiffing team, has also recently volunteered to become our permanent minute’s secretary, an undervalued role that we’ve found has become an increasingly important one.
Riffle remediation work
ompleted in the Spring of last year, the lengthening and redressing of the riffles, including the ‘filling in’ of the boat channel has dramatically increased the flow over the gravels and in theory, at least, should greatly improve the chances of our fishery producing greater numbers of ‘home grown’ fish. Our thanks go to the Environment Agency for carrying out these works and also for the promised stocking of 250 2 year old barbel, planned for spring 2010. These stock fish from Calverton Road Fish Farm, Nottingham will be dyemarked for identification during surveys and also via catch reports, with the co-operation of our members. The increased size of 2 year old fish, hoped, will bypass some of the predation/survival issues in comparison to fingerling stockings, which historically only seem to provide a 1- 1.5% survival rate to adulthood, in the Wensum. Towards the end of last season, two barbel of 2.5 lbs and 2 lbs were caught on trotted baits. These are ‘home grown’ Wensum barbel (and almost certainly Costessey barbel, at that) and although it’s difficult to assess the amount coming through, its great news, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
Gravel Jetting and Barbel Spawning.
Due to the riffle remediation work being completed in early May last year, there was no need to jet the gravels, as they hadn’t had a chance to get clogged up with silt, sand and sediment. There is, however, an ongoing need to undertake this practice on at least an annual basis, at the moment. The gravels throughout the Wensum can easily become compacted in time and a chemical reaction within the substrate results in a concreted effect, which is obviously going to prevent the barbel cutting redds in which to spawn. The EA have been undertaking this work at several locations up and down the river for a few years now, to increase the chances of successful fry recruitment. It is possible that in the near future we will be able to work alongside the EA fisheries team and with our own equipment, increase the size and depth of the targeted areas. This is something that I’ll be pushing for at the Wensum FAP meetings and hopefully with a committed approach, I’ll be able to bypass or fast-track some of the red tape legislation that currently prohibits our participation.
Heavy flooding unfortunately followed last years’ barbel spawning attempts at Costessey, as it did after both attempts the previous year. Let’s all hope for less inclement weather this May and June.
While many of you were still ‘basking in the afterglow’ of the end of last season, the management team were out on Sunday 15th March, attending to matters on the riverbank. The large pile of wood and general debris above the cattle drink has been disposed of and various signs have been installed at both the Costessey and Drayton stretches. Four Mink rafts were also installed and I’ll go into this in a little more depth in the predation section.
Our annual members work party for this year will once again be divided between Costessey and Drayton and will largely focus on attending to various health and safety issues identified during the H&S Audit that I undertook with Chris Oakley in January.
A 9am start, with Costessey to be the assembly area on Sunday 31st May. We hope to see good numbers turn out again. Last year saw an encouraging amount of people getting ‘stuck in’, with the majority of members managing to turn up. As you are all aware, we all do this voluntarily and an annual commitment of just a few hours work shouldn’t be too much to ask for now should it? We are arranging a post work party barbecue at Costessey, for those that attend, which will give us a chance for a social chat in scenic surroundings. Members can get more involved in various ways.
- Attend the members meeting at Bawburgh Village Hall on the 28th of May at 7:30pm – to hear more about these developments and have a chance to raise your own questions.
- Attend the work party on Sunday 31st of May – to do some pre-season maintenance and have a look at the river to inspire you for the new season. 9am Costessey Point car park.
- Write an article for the next newsletter – you’ve got all season to think about this one.
- Support the EA in their work by reporting any spawning activity you see taking place – see elsewhere in this newsletter for information on this project.
Members’ Meeting 2009.
There will be an annual members’ meeting at Bawburgh Village Hall again this year on Thursday 28th May at 7:30pm and members are encouraged to attend. We will be giving a brief slideshow presentation, a demonstration of good handling practice for barbel and specimen fish, presenting a few small trophies for some of the season’s more notable captures and generally updating everyone on developments and plans for the fishery. It has been suggested that the limited use of keepnets for the temporary retention of silverfish species, would be beneficial to some of our members and this is an issue that we’d like to discuss with the general membership on the night and have a vote on. It has also been suggested that we look into having our own fishery merchandise available and I’ll be able to update you on this at the meeting and get some feedback from you, as to whether there is a potential market for say, T-shirts/polo shirts/caps etc.
Any members having ideas or suggestions as to better ways of running and/or improving the fishery are encouraged to come along and speak up or write to me, preferably beforehand, if you want your ideas discussed at the meeting. There will be a bar on, so sorting out a designated driver is recommended!.
Health & Safety and Maintenance matters.
To come in line with the NACA’s H&S programme it was necessary for two members of our bailiffing staff to attend a two day brushcutter training course this year, funded by the ‘Awards for All’ grant funding programme that Dave Nelson set up for the NACA. This will enable us to keep on top of maintaining access and definition of paths, etc. around the fishery. The course was attended by our head bailiff Chris Smith and myself.
I’m currently working on putting together a bankside vegetation, planting and maintenance programme that will involve Graham Solly (one of our members and a professional gardener), Chris Smith (our head bailiff), Graham Gamble (EA fisheries) and myself. Anyone interested in getting involved in this or contributing in some way is encouraged to get in touch.
In recognition of the continued support and as a show of gratitude for the now several hundreds of pounds given to us by our sponsor: Kingfisher Tax Consultancy Ltd, we have unanimously voted that Clair Rylands (MD of KTC Ltd.) be given an honorary Ketteringham’s members ticket for the coming season.
The increasing illegal use of the river by canoeists has prompted us to install a sign at the cattle drink, reminding said canoeists that legally, they have no right to be using the water. If a stretch of river is non-tidal and non-navigable, as ours is, boat/canoe users require the permission of both riparian owners. This is a difficult law to enforce that is akin to trespass law, but with a vigilant approach we should be able to decrease their numbers, especially those of organised tuition parties, of which there were a few last summer.
As mentioned earlier, four mink rafts have been installed on the fishery for the observation of and ultimately, trapping of our furry foreign interlopers. It would be very helpful if any sightings of mink, by members were reported to me or one of our other bailiffs/members of the management team. This will be an ongoing programme involving Paul Gambling, a water vole specialist, who is supplying us with the rafts, traps and clay (observation) trays, as part of his own programme, which involves the whole of the Wensum and various other catchments. An informative talk /demonstration on mink observation, tracking and trapping was given to a few of us at the fishery, by Paul and we look forward to working with him in the future.
Our Cormorant culling programme/licence is also ongoing and my wife Clair has now been added to the licensed shooters, to give me a hand. Any member that would be willing to help out in this department, that currently holds a valid shotgun certificate, owns a shotgun and has shooting liability insurance, i.e. BASC membership, please contact me to get more information.
The increasing prevalence of otters on our river is taking its toll on our fish stocks, but very little can be done on this front presently, as they are the most protected mammal in Europe. It is extremely important that dates and times of sightings of otters and photos of fish carcasses found on the riverbank, be reported to the management team, so that we can at least attempt to collate information and keep records.
New NACA Website.
Ketteringham’s Fishery will have its own area on the new NACA website that we’ll be able to update as necessary and will include for example a gallery, catch reports, forthcoming events, etc. By the time you get this newsletter the new website should be online, but having had a sneak preview of it, for contribution purposes. I’m sure that those of you that have access to the web will find it much easier to navigate than the old site and generally it has a much more updated and professional feel to it. Well done to all those that put it together, especially Dave Batten and Chris Oakley.
Tight Lines and remember, ‘It’s only fishing!’.
Fishery Manager, NACA Ketteringham’s Fishery.