Sunday, 16 November 2014

2013-2014 General Project Update


As most visitors to our site now drop in here to the BLOG first, and as most have already travelled through the main web site, we thought we’d do this short BLOG to point folks back to probably the last annual report we’ll be doing on the main section of the site; the 2013-14 section..... Link below.
Being the last, we thought we’d cover a full ‘year in the life’ of the project, including some stuff that has already been reported and some that occurs each year, giving a fairly general picture of the project in one hit.
We intend to continue reporting what we are up to through this BLOG which is much easier for us as we can upload information as and when things happen.
We’ve dropped a sample of the pictures below that you’ll see and read about in the report if you decide to have a look.
It brings things almost right up to date as at November 2014, but with much more to come over the winter.
We have just received the all-clear on this years health checks and will be depositing roach into the river at a number of locations, yet to be finally decided, in December 2014 and February 2015.
We’ll be moving the one year olds from the tanks, also in February, to the stews once we have emptied them of adults.
We have our eye on the reinstatement of a small lake at the head of our stews at Bickton, which we are just sorting out the logistics and consents for. In this, we hope to generate a full and healthy, and self-sustaining population of roach through seeding it with various ages and sizes of our own fish. This will then enable us to collect spawn each year and deposit it for hatching directly into the river. We will also be able to net and release a proportion of the adults every few years as they increase their own numbers. With luck and good management, it could turn into our very own little silver mine..... So, fingers crossed.
So, much more to come. Keep watching this space.

Once again our spawning boards proved irresistible to the roach.

                                   Some of 'em Whoppers...

What an uplifting sight...

Hatching begins after ten or twelve days.

Then they start popping out all over.

A net full of sparklers.

Trev releases another net of roach above the once famous Ibsley Bridge,
now probably better known for the decline of roach in the area.

This is just one of a number of roach caught from the Avon
in our 2014 annual fundraiser match.


 

 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

ANNUAL FUNDRAISER 2014


WOW!.... What a doo... The best ever!
As many of you will have gathered by now, a common thread running through the project is just how much we worry about every little detail. And, while we are constantly reminded of the generosity and ongoing support we have, it never stops us fretting. We can even worry about not having enough to worry about.
However, maybe it’s our ‘worry and anxiety’ that sometimes fans the flame of our ‘attention to detail’ which is possibly part of what has brought the project to where it stands today, but far be it for us to blow our own trumpet.

We are always trying to guard against disaster – however, there are some things we can do nothing about, other than adapt, embrace and simply run with it. This year has seen plenty for us to get our worrying heads on for, starting with the Barbel Society deciding not to join us in partnership in these events any more, but to concentrate on their own fundraising activities, and the loss of Somerley as our match venue. Furthermore, we had to move the event forward a week as we were unable to have the dining room at the Tyrrells Ford Hotel on our usual first Saturday in October. 
This, incidentally, is already booked for next year – Saturday 3rd October is already ours.
We can all get a little blinkered and stuck in a rut from time to time, and sometimes only when forced to take stock and appraise the true worth, significance and merit of certain elements does their true level of value reveal itself.
It seemed that as one door was slammed shut in our faces, nearly every other door in the valley fell off its hinges for us.
We are choosing to view it all as a dose of ‘Natural Selection.’
Woe betide us should we ever contemplate relaxing thinking all has been taken care of. If ever we do, we brace ourselves for the deafening crash of disaster at something resulting from our wretched complacency or neglect. Fortunately though, we remain on a lucky streak – or is it a lucky streak?
The initial disappointment of the fishing venue was countered by Christchurch Angling Club, Ringwood and District Anglers Association and Southern Fisheries. They all rallied round and gave us permission to fish Upper and Lower Severals, Avon Castle, Bickerley Mill Stream, Upper and Lower Winkton and The Royalty Fishery...... WOW!
Attendance this year was down on last years’ all time best by only six, and this seems to be due to the change in date – we had no idea of the significance of keeping the exact same weekend for the doo.
The match was fished by a good number, but as usual there were plenty of wanderers about just for the chat and the tea drinking. The social side of the event is becoming increasingly appealing.
Conditions meant that the fishing was pretty hard (but then this is the Avon, after all – yet we always blame the conditions). However, for the second year running and only the second time in the event’s history, roach featured in the catch returns – some of which were taken from stretches we have stocked..... Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? (Although, it might not have anything at all to do with our efforts, of course. There might simply have been a miraculous and coincidental natural recovery of the species in the river..... So some might have you believe..... Hhhhmmmm!)
This is what it's all about. A sparkling Avon Roach.
Despite conditions, there were some nice fish caught, and the Royalty
didn't disappoint with this splendid barbel for James Van-Gowler.

As well as fish there was much nattering, mingling and tea drinking.
The match winner is the one with the best specimen fish (based upon its weight as a percentage of the species record) caught on the day and while we would all love to see one of our events won with a clonking roach, and while the first released of ours could now be nearing the pound mark, we had to settle on a substitute – a chub of five pounds four ounces taken by regular attendee and avid supporter from the start, Bob Gibbs. Well done Bob.
Match winner Bob accepting the coveted trophy from Trevor just before the auction.
There were a few comments on the night about the risk of Bob's shirt
setting off the smoke alarms...
The evening was once again a roaring success, with probably the most popular meal we have ever had, followed by the auction of an eclectic array of almost seventy lots going under the hammer, from guided fishing days to original artwork, books, rods, reels, handmade floats and so on.
 
It is impossible to describe the atmosphere on the day and in particular the evening. The ‘feel-good’ factor is off the scale. And, as people return each year friendships are formed and reinforced; newcomers are warmly welcomed and just fit right in, and the general buzz of the whole affair is utterly priceless. We just love it. Or are we being a little biased?
Us two (Trev and Budgie) trying desperately to hide any pre-match nerves.
The reality, however, is that our stomachs are knotted with needless anxiety.

Then the starting pistol is fired and the soup is served. The clock ticks.
Us two still smiling along with our table guests from left to right
Jimbo, Richard, JimBob and Peter

Fantastic supporters one and all.

Another table of regular supporters. See what we mean about Bob's shirt?

Charlie on the left making sure he gets his hand up early for the start
of the auction - or is it growing out of the top of Bruce's head?

The noisy table. What a great bunch...

Table full of smiles, alcohol and great food;
and pockets full of cash - what more could we ask?

Then one last look at the auction table before battle commences.

Then Roy gets the auction going and we hold our breath...

Trev helped with the auction and the high sprited banter was delightful,
especially when he was trying to flog something with him in it like the 'Angling Artists' book
 
All in all, and including the auction, raffle, donations etc. the event has raised a staggering £6000 for the Avon Roach Project.
It is the generosity shown at these annual fundraising events that helps remove the financial burden of running The Avon Roach Project. Not only are we able to run the project day to day financially unencumbered, but have been able to excavate all the stews the project will need. We now have nine at Bickton.
In addition to this we are able to take a lead role or participating contributory role in much needed habitat reinstatement and restoration initiatives on the river, vital for the ongoing success of our roach.
We are due to be involved in a couple of fairly hefty ones, if all goes to plan.

Now it is an Avon Roach Project only event, we were able to produce a small display stand showing what we get up to and where the funds we raise are spent.
We also have our eye on the reinstatement of an old, almost dried out and overgrown, pond at Bickton which will add yet another string to our bow by allowing us to create an environment in which we can generate a self-sustaining population of our Avon Roach for cropping every few years and delivering throughout the river as well as collecting spawn each year on our boards and letting this hatch in the river. This is aside from what we will continue to do with the spawn in the tanks and fish in stews.... A kind of ‘blanket-bomb’ approach.
We are currently enjoying one of the best years ever, with huge numbers of tiddlers in our tanks along with great numbers of two and a half year olds in four of our stews. These will be approaching adulthood by the time we release them this coming spring. This will be the biggest deposit we have made so far, and we are really looking forward to it. We’ll be sure to get a few pictures to show you all on this site...... Best start getting those batteries charged up and that sack of 5893782949-GIG memory cards ready...
Some of our 'Toddlers' in one of our stews at Bickton, still always pleased
to see us, especially if we are carrying the feed bucket. We collect spawn
from these each year on our boards (they clog four of them with thousands of eggs)
and transfer it and let it hatch in the river.

These are some of our two and a half year olds in one of our stews which
are due for release back into the Avon this coming spring 2015.
This is one of four stews with this population density, all of which are going
to be released in February or March - unless Mother Nature has another tantrum this winter.
None of this would be possible without the support and amazing generosity shown at these annual fundraising events, so from the very depths of our hearts we thank you all.
We’d like to sign off by thanking everyone for their support, both at the event and up and down the country, who donate financially or with their physical help, or who simply write and email us with wonderful messages of support and encouragement.
Our project has also been enjoying the best year for press and media coverage which helps spread the word and encourages further support for what we are trying to do.
We had a lovely article written in The Times newspaper by Brian Clarke which told our story very nicely. We also appeared on SKY TV’s ‘Tight Lines’ with Keith Arthur, and were delighted with the final cut of the film as again it told the story nicely and accurately.
Following this, the BBC asked if they could come and do a little film for the news, which they did, and made a good job, considering the amount of time we filmed for and the eventual telly time.
It amazes us that we can spend four hours filming and talking for just two minutes of telly; an editing nightmare.
What we are most pleased with is the gentle, accurate way the story has been told. We are very protective of the purity of what we do and never want it overdramatised or sensationalised, as has been done in the past.
It is still, after all, simply a couple of nutcases with a potty idea having a go...... But we do still sometimes have to pinch ourselves.
And all we want is that one day the very existence of healthy numbers of roach in the river will speak for itself.
The links to the SKY and BBC films are below:-
Tight Lines
BBC
 
 
 

 



Monday, 7 July 2014

CORMORANTS


The next stage in the cormorant issue is underway with the introduction of three Fisheries Management Advisors (FMA’s), employed by the Angling Trust and funded by anglers’ Rod Licence revenue, together with a new area licence allowing and encouraging greater flexibility for fisheries being able to work together for greater effect.
They are in place for a twelve month period, after which the effectiveness of the policy change will be assessed by Defra, the Angling Trust and others involved in this issue. We expect to be included in this.
Ministers have confirmed that if, after this trial period, monitoring of the combined need for lethal control exceeds the current national limit of 2,000 cormorants (and up to 3,000 for short periods), the limit will be reviewed.
The FMA’s are working hard up and down the country, and are in no doubt about the scale of the task ahead of them.
They will need everyone to get involved and take part. They will need a high level of uptake and energy; and the early signs are good, with a great reception so far. This needs to continue.
As is often the case with anything like this, those who have been at the hub of it for so long need to show a deal of stamina, and we think we have done just that, in bucket-loads. This now also applies to those who have simply sat and watched and waited. It’s easy to get tired and weary of what seems to be yet another hurdle to overcome, but the fact is, unless we in angling all get our fingers out of our arses and wake up and start working together for the common good, our sport is destined for suicide by apathy.
Two of the FMA’s came and presented at our local Wessex forum and I (the Trevor half of the ARP partnership) was asked to give a ten minute talk on the background to the campaign, how we have reached this stage and an introduction to them. I didn’t leave anyone in any doubt about the seriousness of the situation and the burden of responsibility that rests on all our shoulders.
In fact, ears were pricked; eyes opened and attentions grabbed with hard facts and subtle poignancy.
It was suggested afterwards that it would be an advantage if I could deliver the same introduction at all the forums around the country just ahead of the FMA’s presentation. This, of course, would be out of the question due to Avon Roach Project duties.
Two options were to either have what I said written and read out ahead of the FMA’s, or make a little film of it.
Well, would you believe it? Great mate and ARP supporter from day one, Hugh Miles offered to make the film with us.




It's not as easy as it looks...




Talking’s done... Now off to make it interesting and spool through
the outtakes – yes, there were a few...

 
The link to the film is below.

A few weeks after their presentation at the local forum, the two FMA’s, Richard Bamforth and Jake Davoile, came and visited us here at Project HQ, then on to our stews at Bickton, and we were delighted at their enthusiasm and energy. They deserve everyone’s support; and indeed need everyone’s support, as without it they will be unable to deliver what we all need them to.
Details of these guys can be found on the Angling Trust web site http://www.anglingtrust.net/page.asp?section=1031
Please, give your support. Encourage the application for cormorant licenses on all fisheries with a problem through your clubs, syndicates, river keepers and land owners, and encourage as many as possible to take part in what may be the last chance we get to make the difference we have all been bellyaching about for so long.
If a fishery has a problem with cormorant predation but there has been no licence application then the assumption will be that there is, in fact, NOT a problem.
Doing nothing is no longer an option.
I mention in the film, our ‘Biodiversity in Danger’ document and that it can be found on our web site, so for convenience we have duplicated this copy on our CORMORANTS section of the main web site and dropped the ‘Biodiversity in Danger’ document below it.
The link to our CORMORANTS section of our main site is below:-

The link to the film is below:-


 
 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

April 2014 Roach Release



While Mother Nature is always quick to stick a foot out and trip us up should we lapse in concentration or preparation, this year we were just about ready for her, despite the appalling winter conditions and the worst floods in the history of mankind leaving any thoughts of a casual meander into spring well and truly kicked into touch.
Instead we were running around like headless chickens thinking it would take months, years, even an eternity for the river to return to anywhere near normal. Then it was as though someone pressed the fast forward button.

Talk about mess with your head.... One minute we are staring into ten feet of crystal clear river rocketing over golden gravels (enough to make anyone stop in their tracks and look again), then we are seeing the river dropping like a stone; all helped by the explosion of marginal weed growth and the trees popping buds and unrolling this years’ leaves slurping up their fair share of it.
So, with the planned release of this years’ roach from stews to river due to take place in May, we were able to bring this forward to the middle of April and before the fish were due to spawn.
It has always been a fault of ours and this project to try to do too much in a short space of time, and while much of what we do is governed by nature and the seasons, we decided to take our time and release only one stew per day, instead of trying to get them all done at once. And, what a difference it makes to be able to enjoy the days at a leisurely pace with plenty of tea, laughs and great company.
Netting commences. We know they're in there, yet still these faces say it all.
A relaxed Jim Allan of the EA in the foreground, with Trevor and Budgie open mouthed,
breath held and deaf to the world waiting for that first glint of silver.

As the lead-line is taken up, the roach are revealed. Eyes pop out, jaws hit floors and our
collective sighs of relief could probably be heard from space.

A week later and Andy Martin of the EA and Trevor begin the gentle, but purposeful
draw of the net in an adjascent stew where hopefully will be revealed 'Roach Soup.'

Even though we know what to expect; and even though we do this stuff every year,
as the net is drawn up, the united gasps of delight and surprise along with the feelings of
contentment, satisfaction and fulfilment make all the blood and sweat, mud and mozzies,
ice and floods, bruises and stings seem a world away from this moment.

The roach are carefully transferred a few at a time from the net to bins to be carried to the
EA truck and a well oxygenated tank for transportation to the release site on the river.

A typical roach. From egg to adult and one last cuddle before being taken to freedom in the Avon

The nettings do throw up the odd surprise, and while we always encounter plenty of Stone Loach
(prompting the predictable jokes about renaming it 'The Avon Loach Project'),
this year we bumped into this extraordinary minnow. We thought it might nudge the British Record.
Just look at how many fingers long it is - four and a half inches.

Mainly, we get what we came for though - our own adult Avon Roach.
Spawning tubercles are clearly visible on the two larger fish in this net.

This where we just drop a column of roach pictures in. As we have said before on this site,
we are never quite sure just how many pictures of roach folk want to see, so we'll just keep going.

Each and every one of these charming little silver nuggets, so lovingly cared for,
treasured and looked after from egg to adult carries the hopes of so many - if only they knew...
Perhaps best they don't.

...and some more roach.

... and more roach. OK we'll stop now.
We have released roach into four locations on the Avon this year; including East Mills, for which we’d like to thank owner Peter Durber for his support, and one lot just a stone’s throw from the iconic Ibsley Bridge, once famous for its roach. We’d like to thank Ringwood and District Anglers Association and Rae Borass for their support and consent for this.
The main lot were delivered to Fordingbridge Recreation Ground where we were joined by a bunch of project supporters and a local press photographer. We were also joined by our great mate, Hugh Miles, who filmed an underwater sequence to add to our little film, of the roach going back into the river. He was also pretty handy with the stills camera on the day.

The Avon receives the first barrel of roach.

The slacks above Ibsley Bridge were perfect for the release of some of our roach.
And with up and downstream migration together with displacement in high water and larval drift
from the spawning of these fish, they can go some way to filling in the gaps themselves from here.

The poignancy of Trevor releasing yet another net-full of roach above Ibsley Bridge
was revealed shortly after when he mentioned that it was from this very spot that he had
caught his first ever two pounder, a cracker of two pounds eight ounces, many moons ago;
a nice link between the glorious past, the present and the hopeful future.

A week later and it was off to Fordingbridge, another historical stronghold for roach,
and Trevor delivers the first of many fairly staged deposits of roach.
The local press were there to cover the story. It all helps keep the project on everyone's radar.
Hugh got in there too to get some more BLOG pictures.

Hugh films the underwater sequence of the roach swimming from the net
to be added to the film he is making of the project.
As our project has evolved we have learnt an enormous amount, and are still learning, and around every corner there seems to be something else we have to deal with. However, one of the constants is the ongoing assistance and support we get from our mates at the Environment Agency.
Not only do they handle all the health checks for us each year, but also help with the netting and transportation of the roach from stews to river. They come armed with all the equipment we need, including tanks, nets, pumps, pipes, oxygen, expertise and most importantly a willingness to just get in and help.
The first two nettings were done under the guidance and with the help of Jim Allan, who we are sure is amphibious. The last netting and delivery to Fordingbridge was very ably assisted by Andy Martin, a very worthy substitute on the day, as Jim was on a training course.
Thank you guys; project life would be much harder without you.
We would also like to thank our ever dependable friends Dickie and Martin Howell, who help us with the Bickton stews all year round, and who never let us down.

We are never alone in what we do (unless it's raining or a bit chilly, or the pubs are open or there's
footie on the telly..... Just kidding.) Here we huddled together for a group shot for the press.
In the front from left to right is Trevor, Budgie, Barry Abbott and Hugh Miles.
Back row is Phil Nixon, Andy Martin, John Yetton, Martin Howell, Dickie Howell and Colin Gilson.
Between us we managed a very efficient series of nettings and delivered an impressive number of roach to the river.
We were, once again, surprised at the difference in sizes of some of the roach in the stews, with a few being more than twice, even three, four or five times the size of some of the others. And, we know they are all the same age as these are the first crop taken from these stews, which up until we reinstated them were dry.
We were also very encouraged to see spawning tubercles on some of them, meaning that, hopefully, if they settle down, they could actually spawn in the river within weeks of their release.
This has always been the aim, and we are delighted to have been able to give them the chance this year, despite this looking doubtful for a while due to the floods.
Even though this is the end of a cycle and we can all let out a huge sigh of relief, it also heralds the beginning of another, aside from the ongoing care of our one and two year olds in the other stews. We currently have our spawning boards in the river ready for the next lot, so fingers crossed, and breath held.

 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Storms and Roach Movement

 
Well, here we are in full ‘late winter panic mode.’ Not helped by the tiresomely stubborn and bothersome jet stream that has spent the last six weeks plonked right over our roof, bringing the worst rain and floods for more than a billion years.

The Avon up and over.
Budgie's barbel swim...
This is where we usually stop for a breather and a cup of tea while on
Bickton Roach Project duties. The stews are safe from the floods beyond this shed.
And, before we move on, we’d like to take our hats off to the Environment Agency for all the fantastic work they have done up and down the country in dealing with the unprecedented, brutal and relentless weather conditions that have affected us all in some way or another on differing levels, from off-the-scale heartbreaking and tragic devastation, right down to it just well and truly pissing us all off. Despite being run ragged, our EA mates even offered to roll their sleeves up and come and help with any emergency Roach Project duties on their days off. Now, who could ask for more than that?

Yet another of the countless victims of the storms.
I'm sure I've either leant or had a wee up against that tree
while stalking barbel...

Rows of trees beaten to the ground
by the storms.
 


 
 
 
 
And all the time we have had to put up with a telly-box crammed with pompous, ill-informed, glory seeking, political point-scorers, hacking lumps out of them for not spending more money than they actually had to prevent something that has NEVER happened before in the history of mankind. Blimey, what do they have to do to get some credit?
Anyway, off the soap box...
The conditions have put paid to our plans for a February roach release. Instead, we are going to wait for the river to get back within its banks and hopefully get them released before the water warms too much, possibly in May at the latest. Warm water and fish stress and handling can be a lethal cocktail, so best avoided.
We went ahead with getting the roach health checked from three locations due for release; this is courtesy of the Environment Agency who do this for us each year. The health check validity lasts for six months, so hopefully will give us enough of a window to get the release done.
What this means is that the roach will pass their spawning time of late April in the stews rather than the river, which is why we like to time the release as we do to allow them to settle and look to spawn soon after. So, we’ll place spawning boards in all the stews and collect their eggs, then relocate the boards and let them hatch in various parts of the river and in side-streams, then release the adults shortly after. This will mean the river will get what we intended, adults and eggs, but not in the order we’d hoped.
It’s always a wrench for us to have to send thirty roach, which is the minimum number required to be sure of detecting any problems, from each location to be health checked as, unfortunately, this health check isn’t just a squeeze of their privates and a request to cough, or the donation of a blood and urine sample; it means they have to die for the greater good of the rest of the thousands that will be given the chance of freedom and survival in the river.
The roach are checked for all sorts of diseases and fungus to ensure what we put back in the river are in good health and not carrying or suffering from anything horrid that could be passed on or affect the innocent occupants already in the river, and it is very gratifying to have the reports returned giving them a clean bill of health, which we have received in the last few days for all three lots we had tested. It means we are doing it right and giving the rest a fighting chance of survival.
We don’t, however, require a health check to move our roach from a Cefas registered fish farm to another Cefas registered fish farm, so from here at Project HQ to our stews at Bickton. We have, to date, as a matter of ‘good practice’ done so when moving our one year olds to the stews as there are so many of them, and to have them carrying something nasty only for us to look after them for a further two years seemed pointless. However, after all this time, and having never failed a health check, we feel we can now dispense with this and just relocate them to the stews; which we intend doing in the next month.
This was pointed out to us by our friends at the Environment Agency and also applies to our ‘Toddlers’ which you’ll remember are the ones we kept back from the first collection of spawn to grow on in one of our tanks. We split them into two tanks early in 2013 to ease the threat of stunting; and that was pretty much the last time we saw them. The only glimpse we get is a ‘light show’ of flashes as they take the regular helping of red maggots we make sure they never go too long without (about once a week through the summer months).
So, as mentioned in the last blog, we decided to move them to our big stew (stew zero) at Bickton where they can live out the rest of their lives just swimming, sun bathing, eating and drinking and procreating..... What a life?
We have collected and relocated spawn from these fish in the past, by placing  spawning boards over them in the tank at the right time and when they start to show signs, but didn’t expect them to spawn this year as we separated them a little too close to the time they would be thinking about it.


Our 'Toddlers' spawning in the tank a couple of years ago.
We dropped the water in the tanks and carefully scooped them all up in nets and put them in bags in bins, as we do the tiny ones for moving. We oxygenate the water in the bins, ironically, with live bait aerators, and transported them to their new retirement home.
Good friends and great supporters of the project Dickie and Martin Howell, who help us maintain the stews at Bickton, came along and helped, and we were all absolutely bowled over at the size and health of our ‘Toddlers.’ They were up to seven inches long and as bright and vibrant as any roach we’d ever seen; broad blue and silver flanks, deep red fins and as perfect as if the wrappers had just been removed or they’d just been minted.
First scoop...



And into the bin they go... You might be able to see our jaws hitting
the floor in the background...


We just had to touch a few of the really big 'uns. Don't they look great?
Then, to our utter amazement, we found about a dozen little ones. So they had spawned, probably on the side of the tank, and these were the survivors that managed to not only avoid one hundred and thirty five adults, but also the solids handling filter pump we have running constantly.

Our eyes nearly fell out of our heads at the sight of the first 'Tiddler.'

It’s sights like this that really galvanise our resolve and confirm that these resolute little critters deserve every ounce of help we can give them, as if they can increase their number by almost ten percent in a tank then, who knows, maybe our little spark might one day ignite the flame of recovery in the river.



Trev carefully corners the last few.


The bag in the bin, full of roach, is tightly sealed with a cable tie.















As you will gather through this blog and web site and indeed the project itself, while we carry a stratospheric level of blinkered determination to succeed in making a difference to the river, a common thread is always the balance of highs and lows, and while the work can sometimes appear very unrewarding, dull and repetitive, and fruitless for long periods; full of mud, rain, cold and fish pooh, this is punctuated with moments of enormous fulfilment and wellbeing with events like the sight of two hundred and seventy plump, broad flanked, red finned, adult, viable roach that we have grown from tiny eggs, not to mention their own tiddlers.

At Bickton Trevor and Martin walk the bins to the stew side under the
guidance/heckling from Budgie in the background - fuelled every few seconds
by Dickie who was on camera duty and taking all these wonderful shots.

At the stew with the first bin, and a welcome rest. The atmosphere crackled
with a blend of anticipation, urgency, pride and relief. Trevor still
laughing at Dickie's stupid jokes, his brother Martin, who is used to it all,
and Budgie in the middle wondering why everything has come to a standstill.

We opened the bag and simply had to touch a few more.

It was then a case of tipping the contents of the bags carefully into a net
a few at a time for release into the stew.

The first net of 'Toddlers.' What a sight.

We just had to get a close-up of that little lot.

The second net full of perfect roach. Have you ever seen a more delightful sight?

The roach are carefully lowered and released into the stew..... Aaaahhhhh!

...and another helping get their moment. We're never quite sure how many roach
pictures to cram on this blog or our web site..... So, we'll just keep going...

Have you ever seen more pride and relief pouring from one face?


The final net full go in. Trev reckoned it was difficult stooping that low
as his chest was so inflated with pride.

The 'Tiddlers' went in the stew with their parents.

One of the tenacious tiddlers gets a helping hand.
We’ll collect spawn from these roach each year by placing some of our spawning boards in the stew at the right time, then simply relocate what will be quite a substantial amount of spawn, given the size and number of them, and let the eggs hatch in various locations along the river. One or two can even be placed in the fry bays and habitat restoration sites we have been involved in. We’ll distribute the spawn all over, but not take it to grow our own adults in tanks as we don’t want to run any risk of creating even the slightest genetic bottleneck. We work extremely hard in retaining the genetic integrity of the strain through the way we do things, so the last thing we want to do is stifle it in any way through our own laziness – not something we have ever been at much risk of being accused of

So, by relocating thousands and thousands of eggs taken from our own, along with the spawn laid by the adult roach we have reintroduced through the years we hope that at certain times of year (early May) when these hatch the river will have enough tiny roach being wafted down the entire middle reaches that the species can, in time, once again take a grip and recover.
By careful placement of our adults and relocated spawn there should be nowhere on the river that avoids a helping, however small, of our roach; from Breamore, down through Fordingbridge, Bickton, Somerley, Severals, Bisterne, Sopley, Winkton and down to the Royalty.....Wow! Best stop going on about it and get to work...