Thursday, 17 November 2011

King's Lynn PAC Christmas Bash on the Ouse

King's Lynn PAC are having a Christmas social with a difference on the Ouse at Ten Mile Bank (left) on Sunday, December 11.

It's a roving predator comp, with a £250 first prize plus £50 for the biggest fish.

Have a look at their blog for more info here.

The latest lure fishing gimmick..?

A clippy-on thingammy that makes the line "pulse"..? Who reckons that one's going to catch on then.

Monday, 14 November 2011

In pictures: 36lbs scottish pike to Kevin Martin

The following e-mail has arrived at PAC Towers from scottish angler Kevin Martin. It comes after rumours of a near 40lbs pike from an un-named loch - Kevin has now sent us two pictures of the fish.
"I caught a 36lb 2oz pike on the 12th of this month with rod and line using dead bait a 12 foot zenith pike rod a bait runner 60 reel and 20lb braid using (full eel) my wife and I were fishing a loch in scotland that I would prefer not to name as we are the only two people who have permission to fish it," he said.

"The fish weighed 37lb 5oz weighed in my fox landing net the nets weight is 1lb 3oz when wet. We used digital scales and non digital scales to weigh the fish. The fish was clean hooked in the upper lip and was returned to the loch unharmed.

"I have been pike fishing for 20 years and this is by far my pb, it would be grately appreciated if you could list this catch on your website as its a massive achievement for me after so many years angling."

Kevin describes himself as a big chap - 6ft and 20-stone. Clearly a big fish, as you can see from the second picture. 

EA averts major fish kill on Norfolk river

A major fish kill may have been averted on Norfolk's River Wissey after the Environment Agency deployed aerators to boost oxygen levels in the river.

Fisheries officers stepped in after fish including more than 50 large bream, roach, tench, perch and pike  were found dead on Wissey Pools, near the Wissington Sugar Factory.

Tests revealed low oxygen  levels, believed to have been caused by low flows during the ongoing drought. The Wissey is shallow, particularly upstream of the pools where there is a large, silted mere.

The EA has placed aerators near Wissington bridge and further downstream on the Hilgay village stretch (pictured). Experts are now monitoring oxygen levels in the river daily.

Lure match aims to build bridges between anglers

A lure match is being held at Ferry Meadows, at Peterborough, on Saturday, November 26, as part of a project to integrate Eastern European and British anglers.
It's being organised by Rado Papiewski, the Angling Trust's Building Bridges project manager. Registration will start at 8.30 am with fishing starting from 9.00am - 1pm.
"Prizes and barbecue will take place at 2pm so we will have some time to discuss the catches and exchange some experience," said Rado.
Entry is £10, plus £5 day ticket. For more information or to book a place, e-mail . Click here for more on the venue.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Farewell to much-loved Norfolk bailiff John Block

Pentney Lakes, where John Block was the much-loved warden

Norfolk's countryside lost one of its true characters when John Block lost his battle with cancer, writes Chris Bishop.

He was as old as the hills and he lived on steak and potatoes, washed down with the odd whisky or two, in a cabin in the woods at Pentney Lakes, where he was on-site warden after retiring from farming.

John wasn't a man for the indoor life. He knew the wildlife above and beneath the surface like the back of his leathery hands.

His wry observations on life and the many anglers who crossed his path peppered our bankside chats like buckshot - not to mention the occasional brush with officialdom.

"You won't catch 'em here - they're all over there," he said countless times, pointing off to some distant swim. "I keep telling you boys you're in the wrong place but no-one listens to Old John."

With his ancient spaniel Mr Fonty plodding along behind, he did his rounds on an electric mobility scooter for the last  couple of winters as age and illness finally began to overtake him.

This silent mode of transport meant he could creep up right behind you and make you jump out of your skin, before he'd disappear in a fog of cigar smoke, laughing like a drain.

Not so long ago, he'd be thundering up the Coast Road to Hunstanton on his Harley Davidson on fine afternoons. He never took his 'Hawg out when it rained.

But he'd be out beside his beloved lakes through the worst of the winter, pondering nature's comings and goings with our rag tag crew even when he knew his days were numbered.

His vice-like grip had loosened a notch or two when we shook hands at the end of last season. "Don't you worry, I'll see you come September," he said.

John died on October 29, surrounded by his family. When I heard he'd left us, I thought about leaving a wreath in the Barbecue Swim, but somehow that wasn't John. I went fishing elsewhere, leaving the pike in Pentney in peace.

As dusk fell over the Fens and I wound the baits in, the geese cried like they were mourning a lost friend. I poured a whisky, mouthed a toast and threw the rest in the river, before I packed the rods away in tears.

John left a lasting mark on many anglers. His funeral is at Mintlyn Crematorium, near King's Lynn, on Wednesday, November 9 (4pm). Family flowers only, donations to Cancer Research UK.

Old Bedford River crisis latest from the EA

Environment Agency officials have responded to concerns over the state of the Old Bedford River - a once-prolific drain in the Fens, where fish surveys have shown a 90% decline in silver fish stocks.

"The fish survey carried out in the spring this year showed a decline in the number of silver fish caught," the EA said. "This does not necessarily mean that there has been a decline in fish stocks per se, just that that there were not so many caught in the survey areas.

"There were some large tench, large pike over 20lbs and big perch caught in the survey. We believe the silver fish were shoaling around Welches Dam. We will continue to closely monitor the fish population in future surveys."

Yes, there were a handful of large fish caught, during surveys carried out at five locations on the Bedford. Anglers have been catching a few as well - like this 19lbs sample pictured above, caught by PAC member Mark Ross.

But roach and bream can't all have cleared off to Welches Dam, because the sluice downstream of Welney Bridge remains closed most of the time.

And the issue of siltation in the lower reaches, resulting from muddy water being allowed in from the tidal Ouse via the sluice at Salters Lode to replenish levels after abstraction, is a disaster waiting to happen.

When the Bedford suffered a catastrophic fish kill in 2002, the experts blamed a build-up of silt. Toxins were released after the bed of the drain was disturbed by heavy rainfall. The same experts recommended dredging, and this took place on the Welney stretch the following year.

There's anecdotal evidence water was being abstracted from the drain at the height of this summer's drought.

The EA went on: "There has been a really dry summer and we needed to balance the demand for water for irrigation of food, public consumption and the needs of the environment."

How about an investigation into exactly where the water's going..? Who's abstracting it and why can't irrigation reservoirs be topped up during the winter, to tide farmers through dry summers.?

The EA also said it operated an ongoing dredging programme. This winter, it plans to clear a 5km stretch of the upper drain at Sutton.

"We should return to the Salters Lode sction in the next two to three years," it adds. "However, we are reviewing the condition of this stretch to assess whether there is a more urgent need to do works before the planned cycle."

Locals who know the water believe it needs action now, with dredging to restore depths to 6ft before a re-stocking programme.

Click here for our story on fears for fish stocks in the Bedford. More on this soon.

Pikelines is on the presses, out soon

Presses roll.... Pikelines is at the printers, meaning it will be winging its way to members next week.

One highlight is Dilip Sarkar's investigation into the cased pike claimed as the River Wye record - the true story behind the headlines, in an incredible tale that made the Daily Mail.

There are one or two thought-provoking pieces on tactics, plus all the usual news, views and reviews from the PAC.

Keep an eye out for the postman (or postwoman, or postperson...) if you're a member. And stand by for another cracking read.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

New fears for fish stocks in Fen drain

Fish numbers have fallen by 92% in a once prolific Fenland drain, which is under threat from over-abstraction and siltation.

Surveys carried out by the Environment Agency earlier this year show stocks of roach and bream have almost completely collapsed in parts of the Old Bedford River. Few adult fish remain in isolated pockets around Welney and Welches Dam.

Despite this, EA officials have allowed turbid water from the tidal Ouse to flow into the drain all summer, to restore levels after abstraction by drought-hit farmers.

Large amounts of blanket weed have also been pushed through the sluice, prompting fears fish could be wiped out completely in the lower reaches.

The Bedford was dredged in 2003, after a catastrophic fish kill claimed thousands of pike, tench and silver fish. Experts blamed toxins released from silt on the bed of the shallow waterway, which was disturbed by a heavy downpour.

Now the bottom end of the drain has silted heavily upstream of the sluice at Salters Lode, near Downham Market. Reed can be seen growing in the middle of the channel, while parts of the lower reaches are also covered in blanket weed.

PAC anglian liaison officer Denis Moules, who represents pike anglers on the Lower Ouse and Fenland Fisheries Consultative, has fished the drain since boyhood.

“I would like to see it restored to its former glory,” he said. “That means silt removal from Salter’s Lode, and blanket weed removed from sections where it’s abundant. It needs re-stocking but they can’t just put fish back in if they’re just going to be lost again.”

A report compiled by the Angling Trust’s Eastern Region Fishery Forum warns: “During the summer, levels in the Old Bedford reduce to danger levels during times of heavy irrigation. We suggest that much of this abstraction is indiscriminate and unsupervised and water stored in reservoirs is not being used by farmers.

“The situation is being made worse in that low water levels are being replenished by dirty water from the tidal Great Ouse. This silt-ridden water has once again reduced the depth in the lower reaches and the drain is now shallow and half its normal width.

"Added to this, mitten crabs have now entered the drain with the tidal water and are present in great numbers."

Regional chairman Kelvin Allen said trust officials hoped to bid for government funding to restore the Bedford. Clubs which control fishing on the drain want dredging to be carried out from Salters Lode towards Welney, restoring depths to 6ft.

They are also calling for an investigation into abstraction by farmers and whether levels could be replenished from other sources than the tidal Ouse.

+++ Click here to download the report from the Angling Trust's regional forum. So far, the EA has not responded. More on this story soon.