John Bailey's Roach Obsession Diary

John Bailey

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Roach Obsession Diary. 6.45pm 13/1/2021

JUST talking about fishing tonight, and a real 13th and no mistake. After Monday’s chub, hope springs eternal, so I was out there for three hours once the frost lifted. I’d gone alone in the rain and had moved six times down the top straight. Not a sniff of a fish, and the flake on a size 10 didn’t even raise a crayfish. Reasons to be grateful!

Each move down I had been feeding dribbles of bread cloud, a slice of white, ground between my hands so it broke up and drifted beautifully down the slow-moving river. I felt I was doing things right, and I was happy to merge into the flow of it all when without preamble the tip sailed round a good foot, and would have continued, had I not struck into fresh air. I was shocked. Gutted. Shaken. I cast again. Flick. Nudge. Wham bam. A second biggie missed. Beside myself now, I lost my head and cast right back. No thought beyond a feeling that disaster could not strike again and of course, as you already have guessed, it did. Another slam round and strike into nowhere.

Of course, too late, I reacted. I ran to the farm and returned with the float rod, which I wielded down the run for a further hour. I got back in drenched, fishless, chastened. Everything I should not have done, well, I did. After that first bite, I should have taken stock, and either gone straight for the float, or perhaps moved to a size 8. Or even freelined. Anything but trust to luck.

Now I just don’t know about any of it. Roach? I somehow doubt it. Those bites were too barnstorming for the shy, picky, loves of our lives. Chub, then, 90%. But one fish fooled three times? Or a small group of fish I might well have scared to kingdom come? What to do? Tomorrow I have to be back but with what plan? Float and mash? Maggot attack? Follow today’s plan but get it right?

I’m feeling better, somewhat. But the first bite for weeks produced a “7” chub 48 hours ago, and I know there are BIG fish about. It’s the sort of situation where you do not want to miss a bite or three. I need that glass of red!
 

John Bailey

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Can I reply to Liphook, and especially Peter Jacobs, by saying how much we all appreciate the work put in on this. It only reflects how vital these questions are, and that we are at something of a crossroads. I think it is helpful to examine how other, similar countries handle things, and I do not feel we come out well.

So much depends on what you want to happen, and how and where you want to fish. If you are happy with commercials and carp waters, otter-fenced off from reality, then perhaps there are few clouds on the horizon. As is obvious, my sole desire is to see natural fisheries and wild fish flourishing, and it is evident that little is being done nationally, especially in the coarse world. As Peter has said, the AT does not have the knowledge to do things in this arena, and the EA largely seems disinterested.

Frankly, I have not got a clue what to do about this. Giving the EA more money, I sense, would result in more waste and little positive, beneficial action. I have compiled an enormous list of how money has been wasted here in the East, and giving them more money would surely just see that list grow.

I am very aware that in the UK we talk forever and do next to nothing... and of course if a million of us objected to the EA, it would still continue its own sweet way. I am an old man in a hurry and anything that can serve my objectives well, I will support to the death. ( On that score, here at FM, we do have a scheme on the way which may provide a blue print for future action.)
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 5.30pm 14/1/2021

So, okay, Enoka isn’t holding a roach, and it’s a chub that has brought down our average size, but I’m pretty pleased with myself nonetheless. The rain started way before dawn, never let up, and put our session in jeopardy. I knew that, given the cold and wet, any trip out would be short, given the endurance span of wife and dog both. The river, too, was up a foot with growing colour, and a faint heart would have passed on the day.

But, stoked up by yesterday’s cock-ups, we went for it. For twenty minutes I walked the “hot” 200-yard stretch, pretty well featureless as it is but still looking for clues. I was looking, in fact, for any piece of water close in to the reed margin where the current was as close to still as possible, certainly without whorls, or boils, or churning creases. One rug-sized piece of water stood out, placid to the point of still, the perfect fish haven. I put in a conker-sized piece of crumb as loose feed, cast out a knob of flake (on a hook changed up to a size 8) and lodged the rod on the net draped over the rushes. Five-minute wait, five-minute fight, three-minute weighing and recording, and we were back in front of the fire well before the hour was out.

Difference a day makes!

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Another clonker John. Have you now resigned yourself to targeting the chub on this stretch or hedging your bets tackle and approach wise?
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 10.00am 17/1/2021

It has been rightly pointed out that this is becoming more the diary of a chub quest, which is undeniably true. I have never held out huge hope of contacting roach, either on this stretch where they are thin in numbers, or in this weather, which has been foul. Yesterday, I set off into the Snows of Kilimanjaro (which is ludicrously heroic given this is Norfolk) and in temperatures of 1.5 degrees, and caught not a thing, chub or roach. Today, air temperatures have clambered to a dizzying 3 degrees, but with a river full of snow-melt, I’m not brimming with confidence. If lightning strikes, you’ll hear from me.

Mind you, roach can surprise you. January 1974 (?) I was fishing this very stretch about a mile beneath the cottage we are “squatting” in now. A dreadful Easterly wind was blowing up river, all but cancelling out the flow. There was ice on the margins and the banks were iron hard. Dusk was well settled and I hadn’t had a bite since 2.00pm, when right by my feet a huge roach swirled. It was easily identifiable as one of the super roach of over 2.12, common in that period, and it was sucking down a piece of crust that had risen from the bottom after a small baiting-up. I sat alert as a hawk 'till 7.00pm but the fish never took my flake. Had I not seen that that phenomenon I would never have believed it.

February 1976 (?) and the Wensum valley was locked in ice and high pressure. The river was summer-level low, crystal and morgue-like dead, it seemed. Yet, on a shining bright morning, roach ace of the day, Jimmy Sapey, trotted maggots above Lyng Mill and had four roach for over ten pounds. I’ll be honest and say that took some believing 'till similar occurrences came my way. We all know the conditions we relish for a big roach attack. It is just the roach don’t always follow our rules.
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 5.00pm 19/1/21

I'll be quite honest. For the last week, I have felt anything but well. I haven't got myself tested for you-know-what because we are living alone and secluded in our remote cottage and I am not seemingly getting worse.

Tiredness seems one of the biggest issues. I feel just so weary, and yet an hour on the river appears to lift me. Tonight, we went downriver after a whole handful of blanks upstream, and all I experienced was a series of crayfish plucks... I’m as certain as I can be these were not fish. The clouds thickened, the wind picked up, and rain came in waves, very cold, almost falling as sleet, pecking the back of my hand like an angry chicken. The walk across the flood meadow was not fun, and I wonder now if I am falling into an old trap... that of feeling guilt if I am not on the river in conditions remotely favourable.

Perhaps the title of this diary is more apt than I thought when I chose it weeks ago. I am dangerously back to my old twenties self and the time when I could not bring myself to miss a single night on this very stretch. It is vaguely unsettling the way the wheel has turned its circle again and I find myself back in 1973 or 1974, enslaved to this desolate piece of water. The main difference of course is that the roach are not here to play the long waiting game with me.

Do I continue, or give in and act with the sanity my age demands? Do I say boo to age and illness, and get back there whenever I can? Do I need the dream of this to propel my legs, make my heart beat? Do I get back upriver where the crayfish seem far less a problem, and sit it out for these odd, stray chub which can be very big indeed? For now, I’ll light the fire, draw deep breathes as the night blows at the windows and think myself lucky that at least I do not feel the need to fish 'till midnight any more.
 

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Make a good Guinness Stew for yourselves, have a few hot whiskeys and keep the Manuka Honey going into you each day. Don't give up your challenge, we all want to hear you succeed.
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 9.00am 23/1/2021

My last entry was a couple of days ago, bleakly complaining that I wasn’t well, feeling tired, and generally being whingy. Truth to tell, I have been far worse since, forced to spend time actually lying in bed... which is NOT me, I hasten to add. The lure to fish has fortunately not been strong. The flood still makes the land and the river hard to differentiate, and this morning there is more snow lying, which all adds up to snow-melt to come. And we all know what that means... days of collapsing water temperatures and comatose fish, even chub.

I have opened my emails for the first time in 48 hours too, and have found a PDF of an Angling Times piece on the capture of an amazing 3.08 Avon roach, and the conclusions to be drawn from it. I’m eating now for the first time in ages, reading the piece, digesting both words and eggs, and find I have a mind whirling with things to say. Let me get my addled brain in some sort of order and, if you allow, I’ll be back. For Roach Obsessives, this is important stuff.
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 10.00am 23/1/2021

Okay then. I’ve had a long hard look at the Times column entitled The British Roach Restoration... hmm. How honest do you want me to be? It would be easy to lie low and let things ride in peace, but I guess I am an old man in a hurry, and that really would not do! Remember, I am not trying to be controversial here in any way. I am just telling things as I see it, and indeed have seen it for many years. Anyone who follows my writings will have read some of this before, but in this dire winter, these really are words from the heart.

I wrote for the Anglers Mail for forty-plus years, and we were brought up there to hate the Times with a vengeance. Silly. Illogical but it was entirely the same on their part. Forget Celtic/Rangers, City/United, the Mail/Times rivalry put all these loathings into the shade. I cannot imagine the rejoicing at the Times when they heard of the Mail’s demise, but it must have been like Christmas there - a normal Christmas that is! That all said, I read British Roach Restoration without throwing up my breakfast, so here goes.

First, I know and like Trevor Harrop of the Avon Roach Project, and Tim Ellis of the Wensum Working Group, and I respect their work hugely. I count Dr Roach Everard as one of my true friends so, you see, there is nothing personal in any of what I will say now.

Second, I have written a review on the ARP book so I will be brief here. I think the Project has been a game-changing stroke of genius and industry. My only reservations are that it is hard to replicate, as Tim Ellis has said, and I see the genetic purity issue that is so central to ARP in a more relaxed light. The Times article was sparked by the capture of this extraordinary 3.08 roach, and this might or might not have been the outcome of ARP successes. What is sure is that the years of ARP struggle cannot have done harm, and very probably have done much good... however, there are other factors that could come into play.

Third, it is ironic that the Times should have used a picture of John Wilson with this piece. A major reason that John moved to Thailand was the fact that river roach fishing in this country was, and is, shot to hell. I witnessed John many times being ridiculed by fishery scientists because he questioned their overriding emphasis on riverine habitat. As Mark Everard says, of course dredging did most of our rivers huge harm, and of course river restoration cannot do anything but good, but John saw that this is a million miles from the only problem... after all, John and I spent many years catching many and huge roach from almost outside the dredgers’ buckets.

Fourth, the Environment Agency saw there was a huge problem with river roach well over twenty years ago. So did all the anglers. So did all the conservation bodies like the so-called Wensum Working Group. The inescapable fact is that whilst there has been endless hand wringing and river restoration, by and large, the present Avon peak apart, the decline in river roach populations has continued to be precipitous.

Fifth, I could talk knowledgeably about any one of a dozen East Anglian rivers, but I’ll stick with the Wensum for obvious reasons. In terms of water quality, habitat and insect life, the Wensum is as good as it has been in my fifty-plus years on the river. Yet there are still tragically few roach, fewer each year if it comes to that. Is it not obvious that putting all our faith into habitat improvement has not worked... apart from providing schemes, projects and jobs for the scientists? Again, it is this aspect of the river roach landscape that drove JW to distraction and to Thailand.

Sixth, sticking with Wilson, he was right way back then and he is right now. We pussyfoot around the problem. Yes, let’s engage in river restoration. Yes, let’s fight abstraction and water quality issues. But let’s get roach back into rivers and then let’s protect them. Yes, the ARP has shown one, admirable but difficult way this can be done, but there have to be simpler ways that we can all adopt... as we have done in places on the Wensum. Over the years I have seen more riffles and ORSUs (Off River Spawning Units) and fry refuges initiated than I can count, and not one has had lasting effect. Getting back to some of the basics of river management in the Fifties would not be as bad a thing as some scientists schooled in the Habitat University might think.

Seventhly, I know I am unpopular with many fishery scientists and their disciples, just as Wilson was. The fact is that there are many grass roots anglers that agreed with John, and still agree today, but have been continually ignored, ridiculed or patronised. To adopt a slogan I hated but will adopt now, it is time to “Give Us Our Roach Back”. And then protect them of course. I take on board all the principles of the fishery scientists and see their value. All I am asking is that these very scientists relax their position and think what else so obviously needs to be done.

Eighthly, I’d love to get a better picture of river roach UK-wide. I know what is happening in Wessex, East Anglia, parts of Scotland and so on, but it would be good to know what is happening to all the rivers I have fished... the Dane, The Weaver, The Nidd, The Trent, the Aire, the Wey, the Witham and so on forever. Are we catching big roach everywhere, somewhere, or pretty much nowhere? It would be good to establish a big river roach map so all of us know what the true, whole picture is.
 

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I'm glad John could read the Avon Roach Project book. I borrowed a copy and found it unreadable, full of waffle and severely lacking in facts. Where's the proper analysis of the Avon roach situation? The EA surveys? Anglers' catches? Where's the evidence that the ARP has had any effect whatsoever? Why is the book so vague? My professional background of systems analysis screams for some proper science not unfathomable anecdotes. The nonsense about the 'genetic purity' of Avon roach continues but where's the science to back it up, given that the roach stocks from a number of stillwaters escape into the Avon regularly and that the old A&DRA used to transfer roach, dace and grayling at will around our local rivers.

The biggest single change to the Avon in the last 60 years is the cessation of mechanised weedcutting which doubled the volume of water, raised the water temperature in summer and provided much-needed cover, food and protection for the roach, and that factor alone has probably had more effect on Avon roach stocks than anything else.

The story of big roach in 'Wessex' (God, I hate that term!) is complex and everchanging. My most local river, the Stour, still has some big roach but very localised. The upper river Stour has a fair few small roach but pounders are scarce (2lbers were regularly caught in the 70s and 80s), the middle river, Wimborne to Blandford is largely unfished and may have a pocket or two of big roach (possibly near where Ray Clarke caught his record) but generally lacking in ALL fish, and the lower river from Wimborne down is patchy, some big ones here and there, plenty of small ones on some stretches but often hit hard by cormorants.

The Frome has very few roach left as I see it, one or two monsters but you'd be hard-pressed to catch any from almost all of the non-tidal reaches, something that wasn't true 40 years ago. Very few in the Piddle either.

Even the Avon is complex; quite a few from Salisbury through Britford and Longford, some around Fordingbridge, not much around Ringwood at all, and Sopley/Winkton a Mecca but hammered to say the least. Not much evidence of big ones on the Royalty.
 

Hugh Bailey

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I know it’s not scientific and just anecdotal, but my experience on the Wey and Thames over the past few years has been that they are pretty much full of roach. Mostly small, but with some developing year classes and there are now decent numbers of 6-12 oz fish. I don’t fish enough to beanle To give a view on larger roach but I’ve had them up to well over 1lb and I think anyone who knew what they were doing would be able to eclipse that pretty easily.

I know there have been some limited stockings on the Wey but I don’t think much has go into the Thames and there are seriously large numbers of fish in it from what must be natural recruitment. Both rivers are lightly fished compare to eg the 60s - certainly the Thames you very rarely see anyone and most that you do are after carp, barbel or predators. There are als very large numbers of roach in the Basingstoke canal which connects indirectly to both and I’m pretty sure most of these are natura.

i haven’t seen otters on the Wey although I would guess they are there - I don’t suppose there are any on the lower Thames. Cormorants affect both- not in large numbers but I’ve seen 3 fishing the wey at once - again in the 60s you would never have seen 1 let alone 3. Not mass predation but significant- doesn’t seem to have impacted numbers much. There are heathy populations of pike in both - roach sessions are nearly always interrupted by them. Both rivers also have loads of bleak (Really loads!).

Something right must be happening for these rivers to be like this - just not too sure what it is.
 

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I am no expert but I believe that now there are three main issues:

1/ there is a massive decline in insect life, both in water and on land. This has hugely effected numbers of fish and birds. Massive overuse of insecticides!

2/ the above problem is worsened by the swarms of signal crayfish that now inhabit our rivers, canals and lakes, they deprive the remaining fish of the already lower amount of insects.

3/ cormorants. They are everywhere and are virtually uncontrolled. If they ate small birds instead of fish there would be huge public outcry and the RSPB would help and not hamper!

Of course there are other issues apart from the above such as: abstraction, fertilizers, birth control pills, dredging, poor flood plain management, new housing, over enthusiastic bank clearance, water companies with profit as their top priorty, more and more boats on our waterways - the list is endless. In reality the EA is failing continuously!
 

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With so many problems facing water quality and fish stocks (don't even start on migratory species), it gives every culprit both big and small, the opportunity to point over their shoulders at the one behind. "It's not us, we make hardly any difference, it's them over there".
We go round and round in circles.
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 8.30am 25/1/2021

Another night of thick frost here, and now bright sunlight has made me think this is a day for work with just perhaps a wander out at dusk. We’ll see, but what I cannot put aside are Mark Wintle’s recent Avon Roach Project comments. I think I have always been a supporter of ARP, Mark, although a cautious one. I have always believed anyone who does anything concrete to help roach should be applauded, and I have no doubt about the integrity of motives here.

However, I have always expressed concern over the concept of ”genetic purity” of Avon roach that has been such a mantra of the Project. Mark says that over the years many roach have found their way into the Avon and presumably tampered with the genetic pool. I have always said the same about rivers I know about, especially the Wensum. In my lifetime, many thousands of roach have come into the river from all the adjoining pits, either transferred there or finding their way there in floods. In the floods of 2019/20 over over a thousand roach up to a pound were flushed into the river from one pit alone... and most were eaten.

As a kid in the Sixties, I witnessed van-loads of roach moved from other Norfolk rivers to the Wensum, and in places these formed the backbone of the 1970s roach boom, I am quite sure. I have incurred the wrath of the ARP by saying that sensible stocking of rivers with suitable roach is a viable solution (providing they are then protected) but I stand by my belief on that one.
Does the future of river roach matter when society, politics, and the economy are going to hell in a handcart? Well, I have to say it does. If everyone dedicated themselves to improving the things they hold dear, then the entire planet would gradually reap enormous benefits. If we turn our backs on our rivers and fish commercials purely, we are surely giving up on what most of us came into the sport for... the love of natural fishing.
 

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Surely a diverse genetic range gives any population greater chance of survival/thriving? We've seen this purity argument used to stop the stocking of rivers with diploid brown trout, with the EA actively encouraging the stocking of the non fertile eating machines that are the tripods - utter madness!!! I'm not going to attack the ARP as they are doing something when everyone else just sits back and moans - the apathetic angler syndrome that I have referred to before - but the potential for increased genetic diversity is not always a bad thing. It's not like anglers want to DNA test their roach they just want them to be roach and doing nicely thanks!
 
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Roach Obsession Diary. 8.30am 25/1/2021

Another night of thick frost here, and now bright sunlight has made me think this is a day for work with just perhaps a wander out at dusk. We’ll see, but what I cannot put aside are Mark Wintle’s recent Avon Roach Project comments. I think I have always been a supporter of ARP, Mark, although a cautious one. I have always believed anyone who does anything concrete to help roach should be applauded, and I have no doubt about the integrity of motives here.

However, I have always expressed concern over the concept of ”genetic purity” of Avon roach that has been such a mantra of the Project. Mark says that over the years many roach have found their way into the Avon and presumably tampered with the genetic pool. I have always said the same about rivers I know about, especially the Wensum. In my lifetime, many thousands of roach have come into the river from all the adjoining pits, either transferred there or finding their way there in floods. In the floods of 2019/20 over over a thousand roach up to a pound were flushed into the river from one pit alone... and most were eaten.

As a kid in the Sixties, I witnessed van-loads of roach moved from other Norfolk rivers to the Wensum, and in places these formed the backbone of the 1970s roach boom, I am quite sure. I have incurred the wrath of the ARP by saying that sensible stocking of rivers with suitable roach is a viable solution (providing they are then protected) but I stand by my belief on that one.
Does the future of river roach matter when society, politics, and the economy are going to hell in a handcart? Well, I have to say it does. If everyone dedicated themselves to improving the things they hold dear, then the entire planet would gradually reap enormous benefits. If we turn our backs on our rivers and fish commercials purely, we are surely giving up on what most of us came into the sport for... the love of natural fishing.
I don't doubt the ARP's motives, hard work and dedication at all but the book is a disappointment. It could and should have revealed the full story behind the Avon roach populations, with the full story of the surveys and what they tell us, where the stocking had an impact, or not, the cyclical nature of the populations etc.. The ARP were offered MILLIONS of roach for the Avon but the god of purity got in the way. The danger now is that every big roach from the Avon is somehow credited to the ARP which is nonsense eg the AT article.

I have followed the Frome's and Stour's fortunes over the decades and analysis of my diaries provides a framework for the bigger picture. The Frome had, so I'm reliably told, many very good roach in the 50s and 60s but was hit with a catastrophic cyanide pollution in 1965, restocked with AVON roach in 1968, these fish distinguishable from the native ones (orange/red tail tips) by the blue/black tail tips, and soon started breeding as the river recovered - the dace fishing of the early 70s when I was too inexperienced to take advantage was beyond belief - and these strong year classes from the early/mid 70s showed strongly in the early/mid 80s before collapsing by the late 80s as we witnessed the same shoals of roach get fewer but bigger year on year until there seemed to be few if any left yet some were left and the roach populations revitalised in the mid to late 90s. This indicates a cycle of roach populations, one mirrored slightly later on the Stour which began to do very well from about 1984 onwards until the peak in 1990 (Ray Clarke's roach), but again with subsequent resurgences eg 2010 (collapsed again 2011 (cormorants!) but coming back, maybe). There were earlier good cycles of roach on the Stour especially on Throop and above but the massive dredging 1972/74 did it no favours.
 

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Roach Obsession Diary. 5.00pm 26/1/2021

A wander down the river, a cast here and there, but still badly under the weather and happy to get to the cottage and talk roach with Liphook, Wintle and all.

So much I agree with. Strange that in any other branch of natural history and recruitment, scientists want a diverse gene pool rather than a shrinking one. Why are river roach such an exception to this I wonder?

Mark talks about the god of purity and I have to agree. In my lifetime, there have been many stockings of the Wensum with non-Wensum fish, some from rivers and some from stills. My experience suggests that nearly all of these have been successful PROVIDING there has been some measure of cormorant deterrent as well, certainly this century when the problem became acute. Interestingly, these restockings have fared as well in stretches of the Wensum that have not been restored as in those that have. We like riffles, deflectors and woody debris, but as far as I can see, roach are not so particular.

Quite a few contributors have mentioned their rivers, where roach get happily to an average of eight-twelve ounces but then struggle to top the pound. This might of course be a lack of food. However, on the Wensum I am convinced that fish this size are deliberately targeted by cormorants, and a fish has to be very lucky to make it from ten ounces to two pounds, say four or five winters. The odds are stacked against its survival, though a few do make it through of course.

Finally, at least as we all agree, ARP DID something. Whatever the niceties of genetics, Trevor and the team put fish in the river, and that beats talking and data collecting hands down in my view. On that score, here at FM we have a cunning plan for a more positive future. Watch this space please!
 

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I noticed similar on a water I keeper over - the cormorants seemed to deliberately target the largest of skimmer bream - those that they could just about swallow. Now was that because they made easy prey or because it was a tactic of biological economy? Once we jumped through more than a few hoops and got a licence to cull our 6pa (!) it certainly made them easy targets for a 22lr. I cringed when watching Winterwatch on TV when they extolled the virtues of the cormorant on the Bristol Avon and then showed one struggling to swallow a fair sized salmon. One thing many, particularly Wild Justice, fail to appreciate is that the entire UK has been man managed since the last ice age - some of it very badly since the industrial revolution! The thought of rewilding may initially sound like simple sense but actually it's definitely not with a massively overpopulated small area such as ours where there is inherent mass competition on all kinds of levels, many of them unseen. We must not let the pendulum swing too far. We should manage the predator prey ballance whilst reducing pollutants and improving land, water and air use systems and their management - there's that word again "management" - I am not referring to the 'middle management' ethos, such as can be seen in civil service, that burdens us with dogma! I am referring to a sensible and holistic approach. I have a dream....that common sense becomes less of the rare commodity than it currently is!
 
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Molehill

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Yes, but try convincing 90% of the population who hang on every word from "you know who". Last summer I counted a flock of goosanders hunting on the mid Severn, they were 60 strong (I counted 3 times and took the nearest estimate).
Even simple back of a fag packet arithmetic makes for disturbing numbers and the goosander is another recent species. Then add cormorant impact.
It isn't all about our fish stocks either, kingfisher, heron, otter all depend on good stocks to take them through the lean winter months, if stocks are depleted surely they suffer as well?
 

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A quick question for John if he picks this up...

Do you associate the improvement in water clarity to be an inadvertent, contributing factor to the demise of the big Roach?

I don't even know of this is the case on the Wensum but up here on the Trent the rise in the Cormorant population has pretty much followed the 'improvement' in water clarity and surely this makes life easier for our feathered adversaries to catch their prey?

The Trent was a prolific Roach river back in the days when you couldn't see your ankles when wading calf deep and I can't help but associate the colonisation of the Cormorant with the improving clarity of water and I use the term 'improving clarity of water' as opposed to 'cleaner' as we all know that our rivers are running with various chemicals that are undetectable to the eye and defy their generally pleasing appearance.

I found this on an old memory stick from 2008 which was taken at Gunthorpe Weir, they're bold and I dread to think the sheer tonnage of stocks consumed since...

ctt.JPG


I'm very much enjoying the diary so far and hope it continues (in good health!) to a magical conclusion against all the odds.
 
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