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   http://g.co/maps/ss4ve
Waterdale             http://g.co/maps/bqupe
Kingfisher Lake     http://g.co/maps/fv9rc

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 admin@salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk  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 ! :)