Today we have received a message from EA central, Airstrip One, Oceania. An old fashioned message sent with a stamp but containing a poster that we are to display in a prominent position and three hundred words of fishery management advice on signs of drought conditions, fish in distress and possible courses of action.
One of the principle signs of drought conditions according to the faceless “Inner Party” are ponds that are half full/empty and a sure sign of fish in distress is dead fish on the surface of the water.
Also in the envelope were two sides of doublespeak assuring the reader that aquifer levels were only marginally down on the seasonal averages and there really was very little to worry about.
Accuse me of “Facecrime” but I am incredulous at the claims made by the Government appointed agency. In “Oldspeak” It’s an absolute load of b******s The Aquifers in this part of the valley are the lowest I have seen in my twenty years on this stretch and I have not seen the spring ditches that feed this river rise such a short distance from the river. For the Environment Agency to peddle the lie to the general public that we have enough water in the ground for the coming summer is a disgrace. There are many others who hold this view and are concerned that the Governing body who could do something to protect the amount of water that we have in the ground are apparently blind to the problem.
The Mayfly are still hatching but few fish show interest. After a couple of good weeks in which most fish gorged themselves, most are now sated. We have had some of the heaviest hatches for some years with plenty of Spinners getting back down on the water. The Yellow Sallies are hatching now, which is always an indication that Mayfly time is coming to a close. A few Blue Winged Olives have put in an appearance, and numbers of Sedge seem to be building a few weeks earlier than normal. Some big fish have been lost this week which means we will have a few sulky lumps in the deeper stretches throughout the Summer and several Grayling around the 2lb mark have also been caught.
Our gamecover was drilled several weeks ago, and after a shower of rain earlier in the week has put its nose above the soil, which has now returned to dust. In the water meadows we have another good show of Orchids with at least three different “pinky purple” types. Some of the weed in the river has now broken surface and it may be possible to hold a bit of water up after the weed cut that starts next week. A perennial passage to play cricket amongst the horses and cows of the New Forest takes us over the Avon at Braemore. Last year there was flowering Ranunculus as far downstream as the eye could see. This year the river was down to its bare bones with very little weed showing.
I have a Sparsholt student with me for three weeks on a work placement, embarking on his first year of a Bsc in Fishery Management. The course is similar to the one that I completed a long time ago, although the entry requirements seem to have changed. A Level requirements are similar but there is now no longer a requirement for at least twelve months experience in the industry to gain entry onto the course. This may be because of the difficulty in finding twelve-month placements for so many students. Fewer hours are spent at college and the amount of vocational placements during the course have also been cut, along with the hours spent in college. The Course tutor, who visited last week, was present during my time at the College. The number of courses offered has risen dramatically and large numbers of students now graduate each year looking for jobs in the Fish Farming and Fishery Management field. He explained that most want to work with Carp in France or chase Cats on the Ebro, areas of work that were unheard of when I completed my course. But there seems to be a lot of students leaving college each year, chasing a diminishing number of Fishery Management jobs.