August to October 2009

The end of the first week in August brought to a close, the main groundwork's on the Decoy Pond at Swallowfield. The mud and silt had been pressure washed from the machines and they were returned just as clean as when they had arrived some three weeks earlier. Time, of which was plenty now, would be need to allow the silt around the banks to dry and firm up, which surprising happen rather quicker than expected. Although the weather did not grace us with baking hot days, the warmth that was available certainly contributed to the process. With the warmth came the emerging plant life once again as if from nowhere. The long narrow reed bed that had been created towards the far end of the pond began to sprout and was soon establishing itself from the existing rootstock. The Lilly beds that had been dug out and broken up, had been put into large tubs and placed at appropriate points around the lake. The tubs would hopefully restrict the spread of the roots over time and be easier to manage in the future.

With the major silt removal out of the way, attentions were now focused on the fishing station construction and the reseeding of the banks. The club had been looking for scaffold boards and poles for some time without a lot of success. It had been planned to construct the swims at the waters edge rather than having platforms that went out over the water. A far greater expense as far as timber was concerned, and with some excess silt still available, these could be back filled and made level with the bank. It would seem that persistence and time usually pays off, and a chance conversation between match secretary Bob Keirle and a customer lead to all of the scaffold planks we needed at a good price along with a membership for the customers son. Again, some of the club members came through with the scaffold poles including the clubs president Fred Holloway and membership secretary Martyn McCarthy.

During the groundwork's, it had been recommended that the pond should be limed after completion. Adding the Hydrated Lime would reduce to acidity to the new pond, mainly caused by disturbing the lake bed and the accumulated silt. On further investigation on the Hydrated lime, its was found to be rather expensive for the quantities required and also cause burning to the skin when applied, especially if damp or wet. A safer alternative was Siltex. Basically a form of microporous chalk that would do the same job. One ton of this would be required as the lake was about an acre in size, and after checking with the Environment Agency and the Fish supplier, the order was placed with Aquatic Chalks Ltd and delivered a few days later. The use of the siltex had been investigated early on in the project before it had been decided to get machinery involved, but knowing what had been eventually dug out, and even with the claims of how good Siltex was, it seems as though the right decision was made.

September and October were spent building the swims around the pond and the raising of the sluice wall. This was made easier by the fact that water we had so desperately tried to keep out in the early days of the project just wasn't around to come back in. The surround of the sluice was raised in height by three bricks to provide a greater distance between the top of the front sluice wall and the bank when the pond eventually filled. For the fishing stations, two or three scaffold poles were driven into the front of each fishing station depending on the overall width needed to support the front boards. The sides of the stations were also shuttered to stop any back fill from falling away. Each of the poles went into the bank some three or four feet, more than enough to hold back the silt that would eventually fill them. Three of the stations had been set aside as disabled stations which required them to be 3.6m wide by 1.8m deep with front rail at least 150mm from the top of the front board. Although these could be fished by anyone some previsions had to be made for the disabled. The water level had been marked off around the pond with a laser level, taking the top of the front sluice wall as a datum and marking a tree or bank to indicate where the water would roughly come to. The stations were then built so that the bottom scaffold board would sit just above the waterline. 


Fishing station construction  Fishing station construction

Late October saw sufficient rain to raise the river levels enough to bring water back along the ditch from the Loddon and into the pond. Both sluice outlets had been open since the major groundwork's waiting for an opportunity like this to present itself. The filling only lasted a day as the rivers naturally subsided back to their previous levels but this was sufficient to give a good indication of the pond and its features that would eventually lay beneath the waterline. The pictures below show the pond about half full. The front sluice hole had now been closed as the water level was up to this point. Any higher and the water would have started to drain out.

 Pond half full Pond half full

With the stations now constructed but not all back filled, the grass seed need to be spread around the banks. Late October was pushing it to be sewing grass seed but 100kg was ordered none the less, and when it was delivered the next day, it was available to spread on the coming weekend. 75kgs were spread initially around three of the banks, with the fourth bank being left out. This had rarely supported any grass in the past and being lined with rhododendrons, may not have taken. The club new that sewing this late may not yield very good results, but the mild weather at the end of October and into November allow the seeds to germinated and grow. Yet another surprise.