January & February 2011

Twice Frozen, Flooded and More Fish.

The work on the floating fish refuge continued into January where possible and the wait for the frozen water to thaw eventually came. The structure and buoyancy on the floating refuge had now been completed and plastic trays filled with earth to take plants were ready to be installed. It was decided to take advantage of the clear water to get the island floated and continue the remaining work by boat. Old tree branches had been strung together, weighted and hung in the water between the sides of the refuge to offer some protection to the fish until the plant roots had taken over. The decision to float the refuge with the break in the cold spell appeared to have worked as shortly afterwards the pond was frozen again, stopping any chance of finishing the job in hand.

The fish however, seemed to have survived the prolonged frozen periods to date, although with the issue of a fact sheet from the Angling Trust on Frozen Lakes, advice had been sought. Investigations have been started in a lake aerator, not only for the summer months, but to help keep the lake, ice free during cold periods.

The club had held a couple of matches on the pond in the new year with the stock of Rudd feeding well in both. It had been commented upon about the growth of the fish since they had been stocked. A total catch weight of just over 40lb of Rudd came in around late January.

Early February saw some heavy rainfall putting the Loddon and Blackwater rivers into flood. This had been the first time since the fish had been stocked that the flood waters had breached the banks of the pond. Reports from the residents of Swallowfield Park, indicated that only a couple of places had been over topped and that the water level was only very shallow. It seemed that the installed fence had also worked to a degree and that no fish had been found around the fence once the water had subsided.

The first weekend of February allowed some more work on the fish refuge, with two end sections being covered with mesh to take the planted trays from a previous working session. As this is being written, only the center section remains to be finished along with the planting of some Yellow Flag Iris seeds saved from last year and some sedge grass from around the pond.

Although the Rudd had fed well through the winter so far, enquiries from committee meeting with regards the stocking of some skimmer bream came to hand. It was suggested that these would also feed throughout the winter months giving a little more variety and sport to those fishing. It had been agreed to look into the possibility taking into account the remaining fish still to be stocked, the increased fish numbers given last years spawning and the potential for this years spawning. Advice had come back from Martin Moore on the questions asked and it was suggested that around 100 Skimmer Bream should be fine.

The 15th February saw 25 Skimmer Bream up to 1lb in weight and 75 6" Skimmer bream go into the pond, along with 10lbs of Perch that Martin had been putting aside for such an instance. The Perch where of a good size and over the "growing hurdle" that afflicts this particular species. These would hopefully start to control the Rudd population in the future and also feed during the cooler weather.