Monday, 23 April 2012
I looked out of the window, rain lashing down with thunder and lightning, did I really want to go fishing in this? A few minutes later the storm had passed over and the sun was out once more. I arrived at the Marsh and was immediately disappointed to find it was busy, in fact I nearly kept driving but no. I got out of the motor and had a look around, the swim I’d had the Tench from last time out was taken as was my second choice however another favourite was free. I had a quick word with the carper next door, he seemed OK, friendly enough but it was quite obvious he wasn’t the chatty type. That suited me down to the ground. Mind made up I lugged my gear into the free swim and began tackling up.
Normally I’d get the rods out before anything else but with threatening clouds passing away to the east I decided to put the bivvy up and make sure everything stayed dry first. The rods soon followed; a chod rig and pop up maize cast about 30 yards to an emerging lily bed and a balanced boilie was cast along the margin to my left. This rod was baited with a dozen free boilies and three big balls of groundbait while the other had five big pouches of maize spread over it. I was a little self-conscious as it seemed every move I made was being scrutinised by two chatting carpers on the northern bank. Unseen by them was a large bow wave just off the pads, that had to be a Carp? I felt confident I was in with a chance of a fish tonight. I whiled away the daylight hours with a float rod and maggots and as usual caught a stream of silver fish; starting off with two nice Roach of about 8ozs, after that the fish got steadily smaller.
Darkness crept over the Marsh, the bats began swooping and the first owl of the evening hooted. I packed up the float rod for the night then topped up the bait on my two other rods. I figured as it was dark I might as well get into my kip bag and have some sleep. Hopefully I’d be up at dawn and back on the float rod.
The night was cool, dry but uneventful although there were a couple of fishy sounding splashes from the vicinity of the lilies. By 0515 I was up and out with the float rods having recast both rods and topped up the groundbait. I still felt in with a chance of a Tench or Carp in this early morning period. I used maize as bait on the float rod as it is inedible to the silver fish and kept a regular stream of palm sized balls of groundbait going in, one a cast. If ever I switched to maggot the Rudd and Roach were on it instantly. By 0900 the sun was up high and I’d given up my chances of the fish I was after. I decided to cut my losses and have an afternoon fishing elsewhere.By 1230 I was pulling into the car park of the “puddle” and it was déjà vu as I encountered another packed car park. An impromptu match was taking place which cut down my options considerably. I managed to find a shady swim I’d fished before that was a little out of the way and enabled me to be anti-social and fish in peace. Unfortunately the fish weren’t playing ball, the only ones in the swim were under an overhanging tree and wouldn’t be tempted out. After a couple of hours fishing I’d managed two small Roach on maggots and that was my lot, however the match was drawing to a close and my options were increasing.
I found a group of carp enjoying the afternoon sun and they were right onto the mixers I threw out. That would do me, a few fish then home for tea! The carp were moving around, patrolling the bushes, taking the odd floater en route but not over confident. What I should have done was feed them for a while and get them really feeding confidently but I was impatient. However it wasn’t long before a nice mirror took the bait and I had a bend in the rod…for a few seconds before the hook pulled. Half an hour later, another take and a repeat performance, I began to get that feeling…
I still hadn’t managed to spook the fish though, they were still drifting around and still slurping down the odd floater. Finally another take and a fish which stayed on! It was a small common but by that stage I didn’t care. It bombed up and down the margins for a bit then rolled over and allowed me to draw it towards the net…then the hook pulled out! I literally laughed out loud. But still the fish were there and one was considerably bigger than the rest. By this stage I was too disparate to try and single this fish out but there it was to my left confidently taking the mixers on the edge of a bush, all I had to do was swing my freelined bait out and… My bait landed straight in the bush and in the ensuing commotion the fish bolted in a boil of water. At this point I admitted defeat.
Some may have noticed I edited my post last week. The Broads Authority took offence at me accusing them of knowingly poisoning the water, (which of course they didn’t). Their solicitor sent me an email threatening legal action and advised me to speak to a solicitor of my own. What I should have said was the Broads Authority is knowingly carrying out work that many people believe will lead to a potentially toxic algal bloom. However it’s worded, the BA knows the risks and is doing it anyway. I’ve continued my correspondence with personnel at the BA including the CEO Dr John Packman. I asked him what he would do if there was a repeat of 1969 but so far have had no reply. The man heading the dredging project Mr Rob Rogers has gone quiet, only issuing the Environment Agency’s press release by way of an answer.
So gentlemen, now we’ve established that you read this (I’m humbled…); If your work goes wrong and there is a big fish kill, will you resign? Once again I ask, is it all worth the risk?
Monday, 16 April 2012
Since my last post the situation in Norfolk remains worrying. At the end of last week the Environment Agency were called to Catfield dyke which enters Hickling broad’s western side. Literally hundreds of thousands of fish had taken refuge in the dyke to avoid the Prymnesium toxin present in the main body of water. These fish were literally suffocating due to lack of dissolved oxygen in the narrow dyke. It’s a little frightening to note that these fish would rather suffocate than enter the toxic waters of the broad. The good news is, thanks to the swift and efficient action of the EA, who manned pumps round the clock to keep the water aerated, a major fish kill was avoided, this time.
Dead Fish are still surfacing out on the broad; apart from the shoal fish, Roach and Bream many predators too. In fact Perch to five pounds and Pike to thirty five pounds have been discovered over the last few days. These are truly massive fish by anyone’s standards. For every dead fish that surfaces, how many lay undiscovered on the bottom? I don’t know a great deal about Perch but that Pike must be somewhere in the region of fifteen years old and would have defied all the odds, survived predation by it’s own kind as a juvenile, survived the attentions of anglers, survived predation by Otters as an adult and survived the outbreaks of Prymnesium toxin which “Coincide” with dredging work. Now imagine a scenario where an adult Tiger (for example) resident in a nature reserve, was poisoned by the deliberate actions of the authority controlling the reserve. It couldn’t happen could it??
THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED BY REQUEST OF THE BROADS AUTHORITY SOLICITORS.
If there’s anyone reading this that hasn’t sent an email of complaint, please write to one of the following;
Or write to your MP, like I did;
Dear Mr Ruffley,
You may remember that this time last year I wrote to you expressing my concern about plans by the Broads Authority to dredge Heigham Sound. You were kind enough to write to Dr John Packman of the BA and included his response in your reply to me (this was actually a copy of a press release the BA issued at the time). To recap, there is historical evidence suggesting that dredging leads to a bloom of the deadly Prymnesium Parva algae which is toxic to fish. The BA dismisses this evidence as “coincidence”.
Although the BA were forced to scale back their original plans they have gone ahead and dredged. As I write this on 14th April a bloom of toxic algae has indeed occurred, as predicted and fish are dying right now. The first occurrence of dying fish was on 2nd April. The toxic water on Hickling Broad forces fish to flee into boat dykes and 25000 fish were rescued by the Environment Agency team led by Steve Lane. These fish were released into the river at Potter Heigham. The EA advised the broads authority to stop dredging right then but the BA ignored this request. A similar situation has occurred over the last two days and hundreds of thousands of fish have been forced off the broad and into Catfield dyke. The EA team are working round the clock to aerate the water and keep these fish alive. The Environment agency has reacted brilliantly and deserve much credit but how much will this be coasting the taxpayer?? As I write, the BA have still not suspended their work.
These fish deaths have occurred about two miles from the work site and the Broads Authority are claiming that this indicates that it has nothing to do with their work. This shows total ignorance and a lack of understanding of water movement by tides, currents and flow. One only has to look at the colour of the water at the northern end of Hickling broad and the change in colour is obvious, indicating visually that sediment is indeed being carried through the system.
It is arguable that this dredging work is necessary at all, anglers who have visited this area since the late seventies state the water is no more shallow now than it was back then. Even if we take a leap of faith and agree that dredging is necessary, it is universally accepted that there are safer methods of doing the work, suction dredging as opposed to the BA’s antiquated clam bucket and crane. It is also universally accepted that it would be safer to work through the winter months when low water temperatures restrict the growth of photo plankton. Once again the BA has ignored this advice.
We now have a situation where the metaphorical horse has bolted and all we can do is wait to see just how bad the fish kill becomes, we could be on the brink of an environmental disater. In 1969, the fish in the upper Thurne system (the river above Potter Heigham, Hickling Broad, Heigham Sound, Duck Broad, Martham Broads and Horsey Mere) were completely wiped out and it took a decade for the system to recover. No fish means no Otters, no Bittern, no Grebes etc. No wildlife will have a drastic effect on the local tourist industry and the local economy in general.
This in itself is extremely upsetting to those of us that cherish the unique environment of the upper Thurne system; the fishing, the bird life and the scenery. To think that the Broads Authority were warned of the consequences of their actions yet carried on regardless is infuriating. To quote from the BA website; “ The Broads Authority was set up in 1989, with responsibility for conservation, planning, recreation and waterways”. Conservation is first on the list but the last thing prioritised in this instance.
Mr Ruffley I urge you to please do whatever you can, by talking to your colleagues in parliament or the Broads authority directly to; A) Ensure an immediate and permanent ceasing of the dredging work and B) hold those that have been negligent to account.