Where did all the water go? The river that looked in great shape mid April has been reduced by half following a prolonged dry spell that has bought hosepipe bans to various parts of the country. It’s early season sparkle dimmed by an explosion of blanket weed that hides the clean gravel and swamps the once verdant weed.
Fishing has been hard but not impossible, unlike last season we have experienced some good sedge fishing with the fish feeding hard for a short period most evenings.
I have had a schoolboy with me on his year 10 work experience, and have made the most of the extra pair of hands to get some two-man jobs done. Most of the week has been spent moving fish around the ponds. We have had to have a reshuffle to make room for some Rainbows that we are growing on for our neighbouring big fish water, five hundred pink striped ravenous lumps that grow at twice the speed of our more refined home grown Browns. The lakes in question have had a hard time in recent weeks, the water temperature in the lakes soaring to 24 Celsius sending the trout soporific and reluctant to feed. The temperature in the river is currently around 18 Celsius, although the Mill Stream is now still water and several degrees higher as we no longer have enough water to run it.
The Pond is currently full of fry, mostly Roach, Rudd and Perch with the odd Bream. We have around a dozen Carp left that have been feeding on the surface, along with a shoal of twenty Bream of around 3lb that have broken with type and now look to the surface for sustenance. My son and his mate’s recent fishing efforts resulted in a net full of year old Perch and many many Rudd. There are also Roach fry in the river along with some huge shoals of Minnows.
We were away watching a cricket match in the centre of Basingstoke this past weekend and for over an hour a Red Kite was checking out the ground, they seem to be almost as common as Buzzards around here at the moment unless it is the same one or two who get around a lot. Swallows and Martins are still way down on numbers from a few years ago, while the Ducks who have had later broods have benefited from the warm weather with large numbers of off spring surviving through to adult plumage. Coots and Moorhens have also had a good year, and may need sorting out in the winter months. Coots and Moorhens shot on Vermin day on a stretch of the Test on which I carried out pre college work experience invariably ended up in the pot. Several Keepers would take them home to pluck in front of the fire while watching Crossroads, to be served up at a later date. One retired keeper liked the breasts fried in butter, along with much of his day to day food. He also grew his own tobacco and pitched up in the pub well into his eighties. His son, who is now also retired, was regularly talked off as one of the best keepers on the river and is blessed with carpentry skills that have chucked up a dozen or more fishing huts on the middle Test that could fill a whole series of “Grand Designs”