Fish stocks in Welland surprise Agency workers

A SURVEY of fish in the River Welland this week proved that they were not affected by the river draining that took place last year.

The Environmental Agency carried out the survey in a 150 metres stretch of the river in Stamford on Wednesday and were surprised to find quite so many fish in such a small stretch.

They use a method called electro-fishing to stun the fish and gather them into a net.

They then count how many they have, weigh them and check their general condition before releasing them again.

Officer Andy Beal said: “We were concerned about the numbers of fish after the river was drained last year, but the numbers are better than ever.

“We always survey the same stretch of river at the same time of the year to make our statistics reliable, and none of us have ever seen this many fish in this stretch before.”

In total, in two runs of the 150 metre stretch, the team gathered more than 400 fish.

Of these 250 were roach with some approaching the two pound mark and many about the one pound mark.

Another 50 were chub with the largest about five pounds, 80 were dace which averaged at about six ounces, 10 perch, the biggest of which was three pounds and 10 pike, were weighing about seven pounds.

The fishing season in the River Welland starts on June 16, and Environment Agency surveyor Jake Reeds says fishermen in the area should definitely get a spot in Stamford for the summer.

The Welland Rivers Trust is also carrying our surveys on the river, in particular riffles in the upper Welland and is looking for volunteers to help.

A riffle is a section of river that is very shallow.

Volunteers would be asked to place a bucket on the stream bed, stir the gravel with a stick and take a water sample for assessment.

To volunteer contact Chris Stoate at cstoate@gwct.org.uk

Agencies are also worried that the dry weather that we are having at the moment could have a detrimental effect on the river.

Mr Beal said: “It has already had an effect and we think fish are moving to deeper waters, but they appear to be holding their own at the moment.”

Anglian Water has also commented on the weather this week and has reassured its customers that it has plenty of water reserves and is not planning a hose pipe ban.

Managing director Peter Simpson said: “We’ve had the driest spring in more than 60 years and our region is already known as the driest in the country, so it’s not surprising people are concerned.”