Drought conditions have been officially declared in the South East. Two days before Christmas, when most are manically dashing around, a chance to bury “bad news” was seized and it was quietly revealed that the water company concerned had not been measuring groundwater levels accurately and that steps to preserve water should have been put in place some time ago. I am not sure it would have made much difference as we still need two winter’s worth of rain in the next three months but it is a little disconcerting that those who legislate on our valuable water supplies could make such a simple mistake. It may have been decimalisation that caught them out or possibly the ruler was upside down, we’ll never know, but it’s a worry.
Our second day shooting threw up lots of birds but a smaller bag. Half a dozen Woodcock are currently in residence, along with plenty of Partridge in the top strip of maize but in four hours bumbling up and down the river valley we saw only half a dozen duck. Don’t know where they are and I haven’t heard much lead in the air on other ponds in the vicinity so I guess others are experiencing the same.
John Wilson was here the other week and caught a few Roach and Grayling; this week we have had Keith Arthur and the “Tight Lines” team from Sky Sports down to have a go. Cameraman, soundman and assistant all turned up in their own top of the range Audis, paid for by my subscription while Keith follows on in his ten year old white van packed full of fishing tackle. The Roach fishing isn’t easy at the moment with low clear water but he caught a few and Arthur, like Wilson ,is an easy going bloke, a good talker and knows his fishing.
The diploid Brown Trout eggs are eyed up and on the cusp of hatching and in the river the Brown Trout are feeding sporadically now that the rigours of spawning are done.
We have had our annual visit from CEFAS, an afternoon going over our records of fish movement, mortality and medicine and an inspection of stock and operating practice. CEFAS are a sensible bunch and regularly roll their eyes at some of the questions they are required to ask. We must be one of the smaller sites on the Fish Farm register, and now that we no longer stock other sections of river and only supply rainbows to another registered fish farm there our very few records to peruse. But boxes must be ticked so the CEFAS man met with The Bio-Security manager, Assistant Bio-Security manager, Fish diseases man and The Transportation director all positions currently held by yours truly. It is never a problem and titbits about what is going in the fish farming and fishery management world can often be gleaned. Of chief concern to CEFAS is VHS Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia a notifiable disease in Salmonids that is present in mainland Europe, to date there has only been one outbreak in the UK which had the effect of closing the whole of the affected river system down, an outbreak in the Great Lakes of North America devastated a thriving population of Char. VHS can be carried by water and also by birds so it is a miracle that we have escaped further outbreaks. Disinfecting nets, boots and tackle is one step that can cut down the risk of infection but the increasing number of anglers fishing overseas both Game and Coarse, heightens the risk of infection and not all will wipe their feet on return. We have agreed to host a disinfection point for boots and nets.
Problems with transportation persist, EU mandarins issued edicts stating that all animals “en route” should be given sufficient drinking water and comfort breaks to keep them in mid season form. Quite right for Cows Pigs and Chickens, but the same rule also applies to fish; a box must be ticked stating that we have transported our fish with sufficient drinking water for the journey and regular stops for sustenance, bowel evacuation and exercise.