Saturday, 25 August 2012

Old River Irwell Irlam Restoration Plan

Back in November 2011 we embarked on our first major restoration project - Drinkwater Park Lake near Agecroft. We set out our objectives and the seven steps we would undertake to achieve them. I'm glad to say that our hard work has made a huge difference, and I will write a full update when the full year is up in November 2012.

12 months after making our first enquiries, we were finally granted the angling rights on the Old River Irwell in Irlam in May 2012. Now we have the task of restoring a water which lost most of its fish to a dreadful pollution incident in 2008 and has struggled to recover. Many of the pegs have fallen into a terrible state of disrepair, and the bankside willow has overgrown to such an extent that many of the pegs are inaccessible.
The stream which runs drains out of the Old River has been allowed to clog up with woody debris resulting a slowly rising water level in the Old River which has started to drown out many of the pegs.

Fish stocks are low, as previously good stocks of carp, tench and bream were wiped out back in 2008 when the over the course of a few months large amounts of sewage entered into the Old River from misconnected sewers, and a large proportion of the fish died. A few roach pike and perch seem to have survived the pollution (which is strange seeing as though perch are normally the first species to belly up when water quality deteriorates) but the fishing is currently very poor.

However - its not all doom and gloom, the water quality in the lake seems to have recovered. The EA tell us that they have sorted out 16 of the 17 sewage misconnections they have found in the local area. There are large amounts of fry in the lake. Its possible to see Kingfishers feeding on the fry every day, so they must be nesting in the area, and I found this lovely little newt in the bankside undergrowth yesterday.

We've also have offers of support, time, materials and fish stocks from the EA and the Salford Council in order to get the place back to some sort of semblance of a fishery again.

You cant tackle a project like this without a starting plan - so here is ours for the Old River

1. Sort out fluctuating water levels.
The existing fishing pegs are regularly being swamped by the fluctuating water levels on the Old River. These fluctuating water levels are being caused by the exit stream being blocked by large and small woody debris, so when it rains, water is being held back in the Old River rather than flowing away down hill via the exit stream. It should be possible to maintain a reasonably constant water level by clearing the first 100yards of the exit stream from blockages. However we have to be carefull as the exit stream runs through an SSI so anywork we do will have to be minimum impact on the surrounding woodland.

The benefit cleaning out the run off stream will also have the effect of preventing the filth from a combined sewage overflow backing up into the main water body - one of the main causes of the 2008 pollution incident.

2.Repair fishing pegs.
The constant wetting/drying of the fishing platforms has caused many of them to rot beyond repair - there are 36 pegs on the Old River, and the majority of them are in a dangerous state of repair. The EA have generously offered us treated timber to repair the fishing stages.

3. Cut back Willows and bankside vegetation.
The bankside vegetation is seriously overgrown - more than 50% of the pegs are inaccessible - and need a good chainsaw attack to get to them.

4. Restock with fish.
We have held a few matches on the Old River, and held a few pleasure sessions to see whats left after the pollution. Roach seem to be making a comeback with lots of very small fish, perch and pike seem to be thriving - however the once prolific tench and bream seem to have been completely wiped out in 2008.
Salford Friendly Anglers have so far raised over £1000 through our restocking fund matches, a couple of VERY generous donations, and from our collecting tins which are located in various local fishing tackle shops and pubs. We also have the promise of fish 5000 from the EA. We have also put in an application to Salford Council for a grant from the Salford Communities Fund to help with restocking.

Our overall intention is to restore the fishery to being a venue where a family can come for an afternoons fishing and have the reasonable expectation to catch a fish or two of different species. Not stocked to the levels of a commercial fishery - but a venue where an expert can have a good days fishing - and a novice can catch a few.
At present - even the so called experts are struggling to catch anything other than a couple of tiddlers.

It isnt an impossible task to return the Old River to its former glories - however as with most things in life it cant be achieved without a little time and effort.......................

So on Saturday the 18th we started off with a little bit of our time and effort ----- well actually alot of time and effort.
On the hottest day of the year, a few of us gave up a day to make a start - a proper 9 to 6 day of hard graft.

The EA delivered timber to the Boathouse pub last week, so theres no time like the present to make a start.
And our first task was to drag out woody debris from the exit stream, to release water being held back in the lake.

The amount of junk blocking the stream was incredible - but half an hours work with nothing but a garden rake taking out 3 blocked pinch points has resulted in the water level now being 6 inches below, rather than level with the top of the wooden pegs.

Our volunteers strimmed back the nettles from the footpaths, and the ten pegs we decided to tackle. Once the vegetation had been cleared back the poor state of repair of most of the pegs became apparent - however, 9 inch tannalised boards supplied by the EA, and lots of 6 inch nails soon made them safe.
Sounds easy when your writing it on a blog - but was real hard graft on the hottest day of the year so far.

We raked out many of the snags/ironmongery/rubbish from these first ten pegs - and had to launch our club boat twice to retrieve the rake from immovable objects. Henley on Irwell - with a plank for an oar.



 Plenty more work to do over the winter clearing out and repairing the old pegs.

6pm soon came round, and a welcome pint in the pub before we went home...... I cant thank the members who helped out on the day enough - for a real hard days effort.
Bob Morris, Barry Carney, John Polding, Emma Pickergill - thank you, thank you, thank you.

The EA in addition to donating timber towards the reconstruction of the fishing pegs have promised to kick start the restocking of the Old River in October 2012 - with an initial restocking of
500 tench
500 crucian carp
1000 skimmers
followed by a further restocking in Feb/March 2013 of
1000 tench
1000 crucian carp
1000 skimmers
These fish will be little hand size fish. Salford Friendly intend to restock with larger fish in order to create different year classes, however this will be dependant on the success of our bid for grant funding from Salford Council.

If we can have a good turnout for a winter workparty - we should be able to complete most of the work in a day.
I will email all members when we've set the date.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Sea Trout From The Roch

One of our members has recently caught this magnificent 21" trout from the River Roch - a tributary of the Irwell.
My money is that its a sea trout what do you think?

If any of you catch what you might think is a sea trout or salmon from the Irwell, or any of its tributaries - please please please take a scale sample from the fish and contact
The EA are adamant that there are no migratory fish in the Irwell system - despite growing photographic evidence to the contrary.
The EA can prove whether a fish as been to sea or not by analysing the growth rings within the scale.
When we can prove that Sea Trout are running the river again, the amount of grant money available to us will dramatically increase.
We are constantly working to get fish passes installed on the 3 main barriers which block the fish from accessing the Irwell: namely the 3 locks on the Manchester Ship Canal at Irlam, Barton and Mode Wheel.

Scale Sample - Scale Sample - Scale Sample !

The last recorded salmon on the Irwell system was in 1856 - get out there this autumn - you could get your name in the history books!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Maceys Match

A great day - lovely weather and some cracking sport. Maceys is a small commie at the end of Gigg Lane in Bury and has been a favourite fishery of mine for many years.
After many rock hard fund raising matches - todays event was meant to be something of a depart from our usual hard fayre on natural venues and canals.
The highest individual match weight so far this year was only 7lb and we were confident that this barrier would be smashed today.

Heres the full result

1. Paul Smith  29lb8oz
2. Bob Morris  7lb
3. Duncan Mottershead 6lb4ox
4. Ian Goodwin 6lb
5. Mike Duddy 3lb12oz
6. Ray   3lb4oz
7. Julia Mottershead 2lb4oz
8. Jordan 1lb
9. Eric Owen 1lb

Well done to Paul Smith, who had a great net of carp and chub taken on method feeder and pellet waggler from peg 2 - fished tight up to the far bank
Everyone else struggled to find the carp, but some good bags of silver fish were shared out.
Many thanks to everyone who turned up.

Well done Jordan - first three hours without a fish - then a good run later on in the match

Next Saturday the  11th August - were holding a roach/pike fish in on the Old River in Irlam - turn up at any time you like, find yourself a peg and fish! Nothing more than a social - the pubs on the riverbank and it sells nice food too.

Next Wednesday the 15th August - club meeting at the Kings Arms Salford. 7.30pm

Sunday the 19th August - match - Old River Irlam - usual format. 9am draw.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Upcoming Events

Hi everyone

This coming Sunday the 5th August - were holding a match at Maceys Fishery which is at the end of Gigg Lane in Bury - its NOT a fundraiser - as we have to pay peg fees to the fishery. It will run to our usual format - draw 9am, fish 10 til 3. £10 all in.
Maceys is a great little mixed fishery, and everyone should catch a few for a change.
Please contact if you would like to book on.

Saturday the 11th August - were going to hold a day on the Old River. A bit of whatever you fancy, general coarse fishing - with a few people targeting Pike.

15th August - OUR NEXT CLUB MEETING at the Kings Arms, Salford. We will be having a discussion about the changes we would like to make to the Old River now that we have the lease.

Sunday 19th August - Fundraising match on the Old River.