Monday, 14 September 2009

Wild Thing!

I have just returned from one of my favorite rivers in the UK, The Derbyshire Wye. I was lucky enough to be invited to fish on a tributary the Lathkill which runs through the Haddon Estate, by kind permission of Lord Edward Manners. I have been involved with this stretch of river for a number of years and have watched with admiration how the river keeper, Warren Slaney has transormed this water from put and take fishery into a wild trout utopia!

Warren and his team have undertaken a widespread programme of habiat restoration and stopped stocking the river some years ago. The results have been spectacular and the production of wild fish has been nothing short astounding. The river has been narrowed, had weirs removed, woody debris has been installed, spawning gravels re-introduced and bankside vegetaion allowed to flourish. The river is a shinning example of what can be achieved when everthing falls just right. Lord Edward Manners deserves special mention, for he has embraced this project with great gusto and has also supported changes in land management to benefit the river.

Many might say Haddon and the Lathkill are a one off and are on a scale small enough where all the variables can be controlled. However if we take a look around this isn't quite the case and many clubs and associations are also Going Wild.

The River Derwent Angling Association (Co Durham) took the decision a couple of seasons back to go wild. The results have been very encouraging an increase in catch returns and members.

Closer to home Kirby Stephen AA also undertook a similar approach in 1995. Recognising the increased interest in wild fishing and the savings to be made by not stocking, the KSA committee agreed to 'Go Wild'. Catch returns have been very encouraging showning that the club do not need to stock with adult fish. Catches have also increased per hour of effort as have number of juveille fish. Membership remains healthy aswell as have day ticket sales.

I will be the first to admit that this approach may not always be suitable due to habitat and water quality problems. However if there are no bottle-necks to wild fish production, surely going wild is worthy of some serious consideration?

The picture above is of a stunning Lathkill wild fish and is very much the product of the hard work of Warren Slaney and the Haddon Estate. Keep up the good work Warren!