Monday, 19 December 2011

Dereks Red Letter Day

one of Salford Friendlys members Derek Kenyon sent me this write up on a recent day out - well written and some lovely fish. Enjoy!

Red letter day

Every now and then you get a special day, for me it maybe flying, climbing or fishing.  
That's what get us out of bed in a morning and gives you something to think about on a cold winter's night.

My Cousin Jim came up for a few days which gave us chance to catch up and get some fishing in, something we'd not done together for over 30 years.  As Jim had not fished the Ribble before, and it had been fishing well a trip up was planned.  Unfortunately all best plans can’t determine what the weather will be like and unfortunately the river was pushing through and it was blowing a gale. Jim would have been happy fishing next to the cars, but I was keen to walk up to the top pegs which had been producing and lend them selves to some great float fishing.  I knew high tide was around 10am so by the time we got there at 12o'clock I expected it to be running off.
After 2 hours and no sign of it dropping, we were starting to loose heart I only managing to catch a few small Dace and Jim was struggling to hold bottom on the feeder.  We decided not to stick it out so call it a do and try our luck in another swim.

Plan B was to head back and fish the large slack next to the car with a view to staying on in to the dark.  I was impressed how up beat Jim was as he’d not had a bit up to now but he was convinced that we would be more successful fishing the slack water. Jim cast his cage feeder filled with liquidized bread and a pinch of flake on the hook just a few road lengths out. Within 10 minutes I was amazed to see him guiding a lovely 1.8lb Roach over the net, his best ever.  The photo said it all, with a smile that made him all the keener to fish on in to the dark. 

 I was now felling a lot more confident and sure enough first chuck I soon had a lovely Roach on the bank, although not as big as Jim's it was well received.  The night didn’t bring the expected net full, but Jim did end up with another two lovely fish with my just catching one more. Not a bagging up day but still well worth the effort and no doubt I will be tempted to fish that slack more often.  

Friday we only had a few hours to play with so a short session was planned on my beloved Irwell. I was keen to show Jim a few pegs and hopefully land a few nice Chub or even one of the elusive Roach, but yet again the weather had other ideas, with the river pushing though. Not easily put off a plan B was called for.

I’d mentioned previously that I’d had some quality Roach to 1.8lb out of my local pit up in the Sandhills. This had been one of our old play grounds as kids and Jim had not been back since, so didn’t take much convincing that it would be worth a visit.  Although the clouds where heavy we didn’t think it would be necessary to take the brollys, that proved to be a big mistake as we’d no sooner sat down as the heavens opened up.  Hail, rain and funnelling wind the lot, still we stuck at it and soldiered on ever the optimist.  30 minutes into it with not a bite AND still peeing it down I was starting to thing I made a bad call. 
Then out of nowhere I’d got a decent fish on, perhaps this would salvage the day!
As the fish broke the surface I knew it was a good one, careful playing and a few anxious moments and I had a cracking pristine Roach on the bank.
At 1.15lb it didn’t quite make the magic 2lb mark, but it’s certainly the best fish I’ve ever caught, and one I will never forget.  Maybe next time I’ll get that 2lber or maybe not, that’s what keeps us going, gets us out of bed in a morning.  Those special moments, the ones that come out of the Blue when you least expect them to. Two personal best in Two days Can’t be bad.

Thanks Jim for sharing that special moment.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Drinkwater Park Restoration Plan

Since we were kindly granted the fishing rights on the 6 lakes within Drinkwater Park complex we have slowly been assessing the fish stocks and what steps are necessary to bring the lakes up to a reasonable standard.

There are 3 main lakes,
Drinkwater Park
Kingfisher Lake

Plus 3 smaller stock ponds which you can find if you go exploring - we also control the angling rights on the river Irwell downstream from the motorway to Agecroft Rd Bridge

We've inherited some cracking little fisheries.
Kingfisher is rammed with roach and rudd, plus a few nice carp, tench and pike
Waterdale has a similar variety of fish but is very heavily weeded in summer. It also contains some lovely BIG carp which are great fun to target off the surface in the summer.
The three stock ponds contain all the usual suspects including some decent sized brown goldfish.

And lastly the main Drinkwater Park Lake which sadly contains very few fish. We've had a couple of good sessions earlier this year before the weed took hold, but the lake has some serious issues which need to sorted out before it can be called a good fishery again.

Drinkwater Park main lake used to hold a great stock of carp, tench and crucians - until about 5 years ago when a departing angling club decided to take the fish with them. A very sad event that should never have been allowed to take place on what is in effect a public park lake.

The lake has now got a great stock of jack pike and tiny perch, but the roach and rudd shoals are not numerous and the numbers of carp tench and crucians depleted to such low levels that its not worth fishing for them. On warm sunny days over the summer it was possible to see small shoals of bream, tench and the odd carp basking - but the numbers of fish could always be counted on one hand - which is a crying shame on a 3.5 acre lake.
Another issue that we've been able to identify is that the dam wall is cracked and that water levels on an already naturally shallow lake have dropped by about 12 inches - resulting in the deepest part of the lake having a maximum depth of about 3 feet.

Its only a strategically placed plastic bag and a couple of buckets of clay preventing the lake losing another 12 inches of water as the crack is big enough to put your hand in.

The combined effect of less fish stirring up the silt, the shallower water and bright sunlight reaching the lake bed has now manifested itself in a lake which is chokka with weed in summer and crystal clear water all year round which leads to the remaining fish stocks being heavily predated upon in winter when the pond weed dies off. We also have to contend with the weed rotting each winter adding to an already deep layer of silt.

All in all - its not a great state of affairs. However there are many of us who can remember this lake during its heydays during the 80's and 90's when it wasn't unusual to catch bags of 10 to 20 tench and crucians on a summers evening. With a little thought, planning and commitment we reckon that it shouldn't be too difficult to start turning back the clock.

There is at least a base level of silver fish, but their not easy to catch and its only during the coldest months is it possible to get nets like this.
We also have evidence that the tench which escaped the previous nettings have successfully spawned.

We've been asked to provide the Forestry Commission with a wish list of requests no matter how costly or far fetched to see what can be achieved in an ideal world and how these requests can be met in the real world considering budgets, practicalities etc

As the fish stocks and general state of the other 5 lakes are quite good, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on the main lake as its nearest the carpark and the one most people would fish given the right conditions. Once we have the main lake back on track we can make small refinements/changes to the other lakes as and when needed.

This is the general order of events which we envisage will return the fishing to its previously excellent level

1. Create a clay bund in front of the cracked dam wall - this will protect the integrity of the existing lake and allow the concrete dam behind to be repaired.
The end result will be the raising of the water level by about 12 inches.

2. Rake the deeper areas of the lake bed during the winter months and then applying Siltex (hydrated lime) to the deepest areas of the lake. By raking the weed out it will enable the siltex to work better in the silted areas.
The result of the raking and application of Siltex will be to deepen the deepest part of the lakes creating better holding areas habitat for fish during the colder months of the year. If we can get another 6 inches depth in some parts of the lake - then we will end up with a fishery which is 4ft 6" at its deepest rather than the existing 3ft.

3. Seeding of the lake with Zooplankton and re-invigorating the bottom end of the food chain by the addition of nutrients to the lake.
We intend to add hessian sacks containing well rotted horse manure at strategic points around the lake in March to encourage to growth of algae and zooplankton, as the lake is currently crystal clear and doesn't have large numbers of invertebrates despite the heavy weed growth in summer. This re-invigoration of the algae and zoo plankton should make the water less clear benefiting the food chain, and also giving fish more cover and confidence in the open water.

4. A netting of Kingfisher Lake is planned in the New Year to remove some of the excess numbers of small silver fish. These fish will be re-stocked in Drinkwater main lake provided the netted fish pass EA health checks.
By introducing fish prior to the summer spawning period - we will have a larger stock of breeding fish in the 2012 season.

5. Salford Friendly Anglers to raise funds for a re-stocking of tench and crucians in the autumn of 2012.
We will be holding a series of fund raising events over the summer of 2012 to purchase fish for Drinkwater Park Lake and also the Old River Irwell at Irlam.

6. The EA are looking at the possibility of supplementing any re-stocking we undertake with crucian carp from their fish farm at Calverton. True crucian carp are becoming a rare species - and a lake such as Drinkwater Park is an ideal environment to build a strong population of crucians as it has the potential to provide excellent habitat and doesn't have an existing large stock of common carp with which they might interbreed.

7. Create new fishing pegs and restore the existing ones. There are currently only about 19 pegs on the lake - none of these are structures just areas of clear banking. We have no intention of building staging to fish from as we think that it would detract from what is a lovely looking lake. The Forestry Commission would like us to install aggregate pegs on the banks covered in plastic mesh to stop people kicking the stones/gravel into the lake. This will enable grass etc to grow through giving a much more natural look. The real benefit of this will be to have defined fishing pegs on the bank which don't become muddy swamps during periods of wet weather.

If you would like to get involved in the Drinkwater Park Project - drop us an email at let us know  We think its a very achievable project with tremendous upside from an angling and community prospective.

With the help and assistance from the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency, Bury and Salford Councils we hope to restore this lake to its former glory. All suggestions - recommendations - opinions will be very welcome as we are nothing but enthusiastic amateurs.

The very latest news is that the clay to create the protective bund for the dam wall was delivered this morning - and a forestry commission digger will be on site in the next few days.

Also a pallet of Siltex has been delivered to the Phillips Park Barn and is ready and waiting for us to rake the lake and start spreading it - has anyone got a boat we can borrow???

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Great News -Irwell Barbel!

Back in 1990, a hundred barbel were released into the Irwell as an experiment to see if they would survive and breed in our dirty old river. Sadly, most died and the few survivors never really established themselves as breeding colony to re-populate the river. Maybe they did breed - but variable Irwell water quality would have quickly killed off any eggs or fry.
There have been tremendous improvements in water quality during the last few years - so the EA have decided to start a four year re-stocking program to try to establish a breeding population of fish in the river.

The first couple of hundred fish were stocked this afternoon at two points along the river, with more fish to come next year and the year after. Great news.

The fish are this years fry, and we hope that they will grow over the next couple of years.

And here they are in their new home - IRWELL BARBEL ! :)

Monday, 31 October 2011

Plan C

Plan A - A match on the Irwell in the City Centre of Manchester - scuppered by a local hotel objecting to us fishing.
Plan B - A match on one of our club lakes - scuppered by Bury Council denying us car parking close to the venue, and a number of anglers pulling out in the run up to the match.
Plan C - A day on the Ribble with some mates - sitting on the riverbank in the sun, catching some quality roach and dace. A most enjoyable day out.

I've never been a match angler - and other than fishing various fundraisers for I've not got any intention of really getting involved. So if anyone would like the role of match secretary for Salford Friendly Anglers please get in touch and the job is yours.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

October Kick Sampling With The Riverfly Partnership

Today we held our second kick sampling training day on the Irwell with the Riverfly Partnership. Blessed with some autumnal sunshine 10 new samplers joined the ranks of the Salford Friendly Anglers Monitoring Initiative on the Irwell.

We have now covered 13 sites on the Irwell between Rawtenstall and Manchester City Centre, 2 sites on the River Roch, and 2 sites on the Bolton Rivers. We're looking to expand the number of sites on the Bolton Rivers and the Roch in the Spring when we hold a third training day.

Our course tutor Louis Kitchen delivered yet another informative and engaging session, firing the enthusiasm of all involved.

The AMI has only been running for a couple of months now - notable discoveries include fresh water shrimps as far downstream as the city centre of Manchester, and Stoneloach as far downstream as Littleton Rd. This is great news for the Irwell - as these species are slowly finding the water quality of the river improving to their needs.
It seems as though the expensive works at Ringley WWTW to install ammonia and phosphate removal facilities are now paying big dividends in terms of improved water quality and the associated improvement in habitat.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

River Irwell Old Course Match Oct 2011

This match was another grueller - so many many thanks to all those who turned up and added another £40 to our re-stocking fund. We've now got £100 from the last two matches - given the quality of the fishing - we cant thank those who have supported us enough.

Last Saturday - 9 of us fished winning weight was 1lb of tiny roach caught on bread punch by Paul Smith. Second was Bob Morris with 15oz of fish on pinkie, Mike Duddy 3rd with 4 tiny fish for 2oz on pinkie.

Salford Council still arent responding to our requests for a lease on this water, depsite the fact that we have secured EA funding for pegs and access improvements.


To make things a little more interesting - we're going to leave the Old River alone for a while and hold our next match on the main River Irwell in the City Centre of Manchester on Sunday the 30th Oct. The city centre is currently fishing very well for roach chub and bream, on the old match length near the Campanile Hotel and we think 30lb will be needed to frame.
We've scouted out 20 pegs - which will go very quickly on a first come first served basis.

And Salford Council - tut tut - your letting your residents down. Seems like were going to have to have a chat with some of our friends in the local press.
Please contact to book on.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Angling Trust North West

As you all know I am a big supporter of the Angling Trust - my view is that angling needs a unified voice to speak for us in a climate where so many people and groups seem to be bashing angling from all sides.

Please take a look at

and also

Lastly please add the links to your websites and blogs - angling needs all the help it can get.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Were going to hold another match on the Old River at Irlam on the 8th October - you're welcome to join us.
Draw 9am at the Boathouse Pub, Ferry Rd, Irlam M44 6DN.
Fish from 10 til 3.
Cost £10, £5 for juniors.
(Top Hat optional)
The EA are going to conduct a sonar survey of this water on Wednesday the 5th, so our match will tie in nicely with the work they are doing to revive this water as a decent fishery. There is even talk of money being available to renew the fishing pegs!.

The weights were low after the last match, but I reckon that now we've fished it our tactics will be amended and we will be more successful this time.

If you've never fished this venue before and want to give it a try - pls contact me and i will give you all the info I can.

Monday, 29 August 2011

River Irwell Old Course Match Aug 2011

Salford Friendly Anglers Society are in the process of being granted the lease for the River Irwell Old Course in Irlam. Once a loop of the main river, now a still water after being chopped off by the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal.
This water suffered a terrible pollution incident in July 2008 when raw sewage backed up from a drain and overflowed into the Old Course killing thousands of quality tench, bream, carp and silver fish.
As a consequence the controlling club, Boathouse Anglers lost the majority of its members and no longer controls the water. However - there are a few chinks of light - and local kids have started catching silvers on a regular basis, some big eels have been caught, and pleasure nets to over 10lbs have been reported.

Salford Friendly Anglers Society decided to hold a fund raising match on August Bank Holdiay Monday and we cleared out about 10 overgrown pegs a couple of days beforehand - together with the already accessible ones to give us a total of about 20 fishable pegs.
16 of us turned up this morning.
I drew peg 33 at the deeper end of the lake and had a little roach on single pinkie first put in on the 6m line. A few more followed and after about an hour i had a dozen fish in the net and was well out in front of the others. Sadly there was another 3 and a half hours to go where i didnt get another bite.
The Boathouse Pub
My 12 fish for 8oz!

Most people caught, though the weights were low. Ken was the clear winner with 1lb13oz of roach on punch bread. In second was Chris Carr with an eel of 1lb3oz, then in 3rd Paul Carr with 1lb 2oz of little roach.
Not big weights, but people caught along the entire length of the venue.

The landlord of the Boathouse pub very kindly made a donation to the stocking fund and provided chips and sausage butties back in the pub after the match - many thanks.

Despite the low weights - most had a thoroughly enjoyable day - which we hope to repeat on Saturday the 1st October. Your welcome to join us.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Peg Clearing For The Match 29th Aug

We've been out this morning in torrential rain clearing 20+ swims for Bank Holiday Mondays fishing match.
Many thanks to Bob, Pete, Matthew and Bob for their time and hard work.
Nettles strimmed, weeds raked, lilys cleared, branches lopped, and pegs cleared.
Recent catch reports show good nets of silver fish being caught so hopefully everyone who turns up for Mondays match will catch.

The EA have promised us a large sum of money towards this water - towards the renewal of fishing pegs and providing disabled access - on the proviso that the council grant us the lease. We've been banging on Salford Councils door now for nearly 6 months regarding leases - and have yet not made much headway. If significant progress in not made by mid September we will  be asking all members to write to the appropriate councilors.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Fishing Match - 29th August 2011

Were holding a fishing match on the River Irwell Old Course in Irlam on bank holiday monday. (its a still water).
Draw 9am. All in 10am fish til 3pm.
Cost £10.

Limited pegs please book on in advance via

The Society are thinking about taking this water on, so this match is being held to help us find out a little about the water and the level of fish stocks. We know it was polluted in 2008, but there have been good catches of silver fish taken recently - plus some really BIG eels.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Salford Friendly Anglers Monitoring Initiative

Saturday the 23rd July was the first training day for our new Anglers Monitoring Initiative (AMI) on the River Irwell . 12 of us took part - and we had a great day.
What is an Anglers Monitoring Initiative?
An AMI is an initiative which is spearheaded by The Riverfly Partnership where anglers form a co-ordinated group to collect invertebrate samples from the river and use the data collected to monitor and thereby help conserve the river environment.
Anglers as "guardians of the river environment" are in an ideal position to monitor the health of the river we fish - especially on a river such as the Irwell which is disregarded by many locals as a leisure facility.
Whats Involved?
We have identified a number of strategically important sites along the river and we will monitor insect and invertebrate numbers on a monthly basis at these points to form an overall picture of the rivers health. Each sample takes about half an hour to collect so we have recently trained 12 of our members to carry out these samples on a training day held up at Burrs Country Park - training provided by Louis Kitchen from the Riverfly Partnership.

Our data is being collected by members of the Salford Friendly Anglers Society, but is then being utilised as part of ongoing research by Dr Adam Moolna of Manchester University and also by the Environment Agency.
What do invertebrates tell us about the river?
In a healthy river most of the pollution sensitive invertebrates should be present. Declines in water quality are reflected in the declines in abundance and numbers of different invertebrates present as some are more pollution tolerant/intolerant than others. Monitoring on a monthly basis provides seasonal baseline data from which severe changes in water quality can be easily identified.
What happens if there is a decline in water quality?
All of our monitoring sites are registered with the Environment Agency, and the EA set trigger levels in the numbers of invertebrate populations which indicate severe decreases in water quality. Our AMI has been given a call in procedure which will allow early action to be taken by the EA should set trigger levels be reached.
What will the monitoring achieve?
This AMI on the Irwell, used alongside data collected by the EA will ensure that the biological water quality is checked more frequently and widely, and that action is taken at the earliest opportunity should any severe declines in water quality be detected. Evidence collected by the EA suggest that increased monitoring activity provides a deterrent to unlawful polluters.

The data collected by the Salford Friendly Anglers AMI is being collected and co-ordinated by Dr Adam Moolna of Manchester University. The University intend to use the data we collect to assist the project work of a number of PHD students who also will be conducting chemical analysis of the river water.

We hope to expand the number of sites we monitor across the whole catchment area over the coming 12 months - and will be holding a second training day at the beginning of October. If you're interested in taking part in this initiative please contact us at and book yourself a place. We already have people interested in sampling the Bolton rivers, the Roch, Irk and Medlock but would love to expand the numbers of sample points on all the Irwell basin rivers.

Taking a kick sample

Counting ther bugs we find
Sore heads but smiling

Some of the bugs are amazing when viewed at high magnification.

Everyones a winner

Sampling will take up half an hour of your time on the first weekend of each month - we provide the training and kit - so come and join us.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

River Irwell Anglers Monitoring Initiative

I'm very pleased to tell you that our application for a lottery grant to fund an Anglers Monitoring Initiative on the River Irwell has been successful.

We will be holding our first training day on Saturday the 23rd July - which is being organised by the Riverfly Partnership and Salford Friendly Anglers Society.

For those of you who've never heard of an Anglers Monitoring Initiative before:-

They are a a method by which anglers can monitor the biological health of the river. By setting up a programme of monthly testing of the buglife of the river at pre-designated sites we can establish what species of river bugs (pollution tolerant or intolerant) are found a each site, and the average numbers of key indicator species. We will use kick sampling the river bed to collect these bugs.

A high number of pollution intolerant bugs indicate a healthy river, a low number of intolerants and a high number of pollution tolerant bugs indicate that the river isn't as clean as it could be.

By building up monthly data about the insects which inhabit the River Irwell, we will build an independent picture of the health of our river, also be able to identify any pollution hotspots - and also to monitor the river on a long term basis to identify periodic pollution episodes and assist the Environment Agency in their long term restoration plans for the Irwell.

The initial group is going to be tutored by Louis Kitchen of the Riverfly Partnership, and Dr Adam Moolna of Manchester University has kindly volunteered his time to be group co-ordinator.

We will be running the first tutor group on the 23rd July 2011 at Burrs Country Park in Bury, and are looking to hold a second course (as numbers are limited to 12) in September - also at Burrs.

If you would like to join us and take part in the River Irwell Anglers Monitoring Initiative, please contact us via or come to our meeting next Tuesday the 21st June 2011 at the Kings Arms Salford.

The cost of the course is over £300 per delegate including sampling equipment - but thanks to our national lottery grant - we can reduce this cost to only £25 per delegate. If you would like to take part - but cant afford £25 please let me know, and we will accommodate you.

We have intially identified 14 spots along the river where we would like to take regular samples (from Waterfoot - down the the City Centre).

Some of the chaps from Bolton Fly Tyers have very kindly offered to join us to sample the Bolton Rivers (Croal, Eagley and Bradshaw Brook), I think we have a couple of members interested in the Roch, Irk and Medlock - so between us all, we can get a very good set of data covering all of the North Manchester area.

Please join us - it will be a very worthwhile and rewarding project.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Action Irwell: Good News - Bad News

Action Irwell: Good News - Bad News: "Good news ! The River Irwell is currently the cleanest and healthiest its been for over 200 years. Bad news - There are still over 300 cons..."

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Lower Broughton looked like this in 1968- back then as you can see in the photo, North West Water or whatever they were called at the time, did some pretty major flood defence work and created what we now call the Anaconda Cut.
Their only interest was in flood defence, and getting the water out of the Irwell system into the Ship Canal as quickly as possible - wildlife, and fishing just werent on the agenda in those days. No one could imagine the Irwell as anything other than a conduit for the removal of waste.
Fast forward to 2011, and the river in Lower Broughton is now the main spawning ground for the fish which live in the lower River Irwell and Manchester Ship Canal.

The steep flood defences and 5ft high sheet metal pilings aren't aestheticly pleasing but Salford Friendly Anglers Society in partnership with Vertical Vilages (the local residents association), Salford Council and the Environment Agency are actively exploring the possibility of installing fishing pegs along this section of river.

I bet the workmen and town planners from 1968 would be amazed at how the rivers changed since then.

Wouldnt it be fantastic if we could get them to install some river side habitat as well.

Good News!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011


Hi Everyone.

Our main website is a bit of a beast to update. This blogging format is much easier to use and update on a regular basis - so until we get our all singing/dancing website from Salford Uni - this is the place to come for news and events updates.
So latest news is that we had a stall at last Sunday. It chucked it down all afternoon - and therefore visitor numbers were less than anticipated.

Nevertheless - our new banner (check out the photos) and Big Dave pulled in the punters with the charming line of "come and see what we catch on the Irwell.

Thanks to Phil Lee (LIVIA) for getting us on the invite list, and thanks for donating a carved seahorse for the raffle prize. We raised over £70 for club funds. We also made many usefull contacts within the local wildlife/ecology community - Paul even bagged himself an alotment!

Many thanks to Paul, Adam, Big Dave for helping out on the stall and everyone else who dropped by to wish us well.