Loss of a great fishery

Jonathan Sutcliffe-Bland

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Has anyone elses catches declined on their favourite fishery over the last 5 - 10 years?

Having cut my teeth on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Bradford since the age of 11, I'm now 47. I'm a retired match angler. I'm also a dedicated cut angler. I've fished canals far and wide, from Holland to Loughborough to Lancaster to Nottingham to Doncaster to Wakefield to Beverley to Manchester ? You get the gist. But my all time favourite is my stomping ground of Bingley, West Yorkshire. 10 or 11 years ago I was consistently catching 50lb+ bags of Bream, Bream to 7lb+, Ide to 3lb+, Roach to 2lb+, Pike to 16lb+, Perch to 3lb+, Hybrids to 3lb+, Carp to 31lb+, 30lb+ bags of Roach, 365 eyes ? in a storm on the whip with a rubber caster ? Micro species of bullhead, loach, ruffe, and gudgeon. Featured in IYCF, AT, and AM. But then things started going downhill. With David Senior RIP around Easter 10 years ago we used to count up to 1000 Bream on my local stretch on a sunny day, that steadily dropped. Year after 500. Then 100. This year the shoal was 6 fish. Ghost Carp were aplenty, biggest caught was 24lb 5oz, mine 21lb 7oz, now zero they've all gone? Bream all but gone, Perch had a good couple of years but have gradually deteriorated, Pike were in plenty but now just the odd Jack, yet Roach are thriving? Or were. Talk of Otters taking Bream, Goosehander taking pound Roach, and Carp taken for the table. Do others think this fishery could ever recover or am I wasting my licence money? Do I need to take my begging bowl to Calverton fish farm and the C&RT? I've even thought of buying £500 - £1000 of fish out of my own money as it has great sentimental value. Sorry, so it's now two questions, can it recover? Has your fishery sadly died of death?

Tight Lines Jonathan
 

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Silverfisher

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Fortunately I'd say most places I fish have stayed much the same or improved over the time I've fished them. Others have changed but not for the worse just different. That said as I've only been fishing properly for about 16 years I suppose places haven't had the chance to differ dramatically yet as only the Thames and a couple lakes have been regular venues for me for that long or even near that long.
 

Me and my lad

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Nature finds away back but sometimes needs a helping hand. I was a member of a council pond and catching was easy enough, even to the point of targeting species. Now you need to fish in an evening as it getting dark to get a bite. Last winter I had a small 6lb carp on punch...the only carp caught in a 6 week period. This from a fishery that would garauntee a few bites even on the coldest day. Hopefully a new stocking will help
 

ukzero1

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The club lakes seem to be doing alright, so far. The last match before 2nd lockdown was won with a 78lb mixed bag (no Carp). We have never had any Pike in the lakes and I'm wondering if this has made a difference. We are going to do a small restock of Tench, Bream and Roach but this is to cover for the losses due to 'natural' deaths, Herons, Cormorants and Mink, but on the whole, the lakes are O.K. and pest birds are under control, so are the Mink.
 

Zerkalo

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Canals in general around here I have never known to offer 'great' sport but there used to be a head of Gudgeon that have disappeared.

1) Cadbury's Private Lake, Bournville. A bit of speculation on my part as it has been years since I've fished it. Apparently it was loosing a load of water so they started topping it up possibly 'illegally' from a nearby stream. It had a good head of 'Wild Carp' that were probably original Quaker stock although was also a very weedy venue. Now I'm not sure if it's even there anymore as I no longer have the rights to fish it.

2) Edgbaston Reservoir, Edgbaston/Birmingham City Centre. This used to hold a good stock of Roach back in the 80s so I'm told but even when I started fishing it in the 90s they were no longer there. Cormorants are blamed. Although the Bream are still there.

3) Himley Hall, Dudley. Seems pretty well known around here for how good it used to be for Crucians. Carp were stocked a few years ago and the Crucians have all but disappeared within years. It was again before my time when the Crucians were there but it seems the Tench still are.
 

rudd

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Its been going on for years.
Suffolk Stour and River Gipping are shadows of their former selves.
Alton water went down hill fast but is making a recovery.
North sea absolutely devastated, Cod stock's will never recover but other species on the rise such as dog fish.
A local club owns a massive drain which was the best Tench water in the country - Otters changed that in under two years as well as illegal netting in adjoining dykes.
 

GUCANGLER

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Has anyone elses catches declined on their favourite fishery over the last 5 - 10 years?

Having cut my teeth on the Leeds Liverpool canal in Bradford since the age of 11, I'm now 47. I'm a retired match angler. I'm also a dedicated cut angler. I've fished canals far and wide, from Holland to Loughborough to Lancaster to Nottingham to Doncaster to Wakefield to Beverley to Manchester ? You get the gist. But my all time favourite is my stomping ground of Bingley, West Yorkshire. 10 or 11 years ago I was consistently catching 50lb+ bags of Bream, Bream to 7lb+, Ide to 3lb+, Roach to 2lb+, Pike to 16lb+, Perch to 3lb+, Hybrids to 3lb+, Carp to 31lb+, 30lb+ bags of Roach, 365 eyes ? in a storm on the whip with a rubber caster ? Micro species of bullhead, loach, ruffe, and gudgeon. Featured in IYCF, AT, and AM. But then things started going downhill. With David Senior RIP around Easter 10 years ago we used to count up to 1000 Bream on my local stretch on a sunny day, that steadily dropped. Year after 500. Then 100. This year the shoal was 6 fish. Ghost Carp were aplenty, biggest caught was 24lb 5oz, mine 21lb 7oz, now zero they've all gone? Bream all but gone, Perch had a good couple of years but have gradually deteriorated, Pike were in plenty but now just the odd Jack, yet Roach are thriving? Or were. Talk of Otters taking Bream, Goosehander taking pound Roach, and Carp taken for the table. Do others think this fishery could ever recover or am I wasting my licence money? Do I need to take my begging bowl to Calverton fish farm and the C&RT? I've even thought of buying £500 - £1000 of fish out of my own money as it has great sentimental value. Sorry, so it's now two questions, can it recover? Has your fishery sadly died of death?

Tight Lines Jonathan
 

Ken the Pacman

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Fish stocks of the shoal species always follow cycles and the shorter the lifespan the more obvious it is for example a canal can be full of Gudgeon one year and a couple of years later they become a rarity, same with Dace,Roach etc. Tench carp and bream barbel chub etc. live longer but are often less in numbers so as the stock ages there are less numbers and in some cases seek new homes for various reasons. Newly introduced species tend to increase very quickly often to the detriment of existing species and it can take longer for a balance to form,a good example of this was Roach spreading through Ireland.
If large species like carp are introduced it will always have an effect on existing species unless the water is very rich in natural food when the effect is less noticeable.
It sounds like the OP had a water near its peak as a fishery with the fish stated but unless you take to artificial means by stocking or just feeding the existing stock its rare for a natural fishery to maintain that peak,more likely it will deteriorate then recover a bit, add in pollution,avian predation etc. and it may never recover because ideal spawning years only show up about 1 in 5 years at best and a lot of the bigger species treat spawn and fry as just another food source.
 

fredradac

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Know how you feel, I still cannot quite believe how cormorants decimated my beloved Ribble 25 (?) years ago and how frustrated I felt with the EA who basically sided with the RSPB even though it is us anglers that pay via rod licence fees. However, mother nature does indeed work in wonderful and mysterious ways and the Ribble again is well worth fishing.
PS - still feel that the EA are as much use as a chocolate fireguard!
 

smiffy

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I can only go by what I’ve witnessed with my own eyes. My local river has, over the last thirty years, seen masses of Cormorants, reintroduced Otters, mink by the thousands, abstraction that almost makes the river flow backwards. We now have started to see gooseanders on the river. Signal crayfish,pollution, escapee Carp, spawning ground destruction and now global warming,apparently.
But there are still plenty of fish to be caught. The river has had its up and downs over the years but , one way or another, it recovers. Don’t ask me how, under that barrage, but it does. There are sections where you could catch net Roach all day in winter that are now devoid of fish thanks to Cormorants but there are others that never held fish in winter that now do.
Many years ago I used to fish matches on a lake alongside the like of the Vincents,Bob Nudd,Nick Larkin and lots of the Essex squad. The first winter we fished it you could not buy a Bream or skimmer for love nor money despite everyone putting in shifts trying to catch them. The whip and bits won every single match. The next year the place was solid with Bream and skimmers and the whip didn’t even come out of the bag. Strange, but waters can be fickle sometimes.
I‘d say, keep your fingers crossed and see what develops. Some are fighting for survival but you may see a complete transformation over the next few years.
Just to add. The recoveries are natural. No intervention by the EA or clubs that I’m aware of. The EA did try a disastrous attempt to reintroduce Barbel but that’s it. The EA brought down the team that were trying to restore the Wensum Barbel. They made some nice gravel bars with shingle in an attempt to create flow that the Barbel need. A few years later and there was no sign of Barbel whatsoever but the Chub and Dace population exploded. Every cloud I guess.
 
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Silverfisher

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The one fishery I have fished since virtually day one (probably never again now it’s gone syndicate ?) has certainly changed over the years but more of a sideways change rather than for better or worse. Up until maybe 5-6 years ago it’s stock was mostly roach and perch with a decent head of rudd, a few tench and a sensible number of carp. The carp were mostly upper singles, the tench low singles, the rudd and perch typically small and never over 8oz but the roach were of a very good stamp and you’d catch multiple pound plus fish a session. Over the last few years the tench and rudd have all but gone as have most the pound plus roach and the perch numbers have dropped. But the stamp of the roach has still been very good maybe even improved and their numbers have really increased with the lack of rudd competition and on the perch front save from when you occasionally stumble across shoals of wasps you can now get multiple 1-2lb plus fish a session. Plus the carp are now all doubles. So it’s certainly a different fishery to what it was but just as good in my eyes.
 

JayD

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I too have fished the Leeds and Liverpool canal since I was 11, I'm now 70. It was mainly in Leeds from the basin up to Wellington Bridge. Minnows, gudgeon, the occasional roach, at first. Move on a few years and the chub started to show. Along with the roach, they were the main species, for about 3-4 years. I remember finishing work one Saturday dinner time, and calling at Atkinsons tackle shop in Armley for my bait for the Sunday. I walk home down the tow path to Wellington Bridge, and saw a shoal of chub must have been 100+, from about 8oz, to 3lb ish. I ran home and got my gear, and caught the bus back, The shoal had disappeared, and someone had left the paddles open on the lock so it was flowing like a river. I ended up trotting a stick float down the boat channel for a half dozen chub, and a few roach. Then the bream started to show, we used to watch a large shoal of them, followed by a very big, confused roach, from the carpark where I worked over looking the canal. Then over the years, the perch numbers increased, as the chub decreased, I suppose it was the competition for food. Then during the late 70s, through the 80s, bigger bream showed. I remember a match being won with 2 bream for about 13 or 14lb. They were probably from a stocking of bream around Rodley just before Leeds and Liverpool championship in the early 70s. The 80s through the 90s to the 00s, saw the tench showing, along with more pike, first around the Kirkstall area, and slowly moving down to Leeds centre. By this time the river had become cleaner, and the canal got both fish from there, as well as those moving down from the higher reaches. The carp are now established, and it's like an aquarium, although it's very weedy in places. As you can see, it's been constantly changing, I think back in terms of the roach years, the chub years and so on. Although it's a manmade waterway, the stock levels are pretty natural. I can't remember many major stockings, apart from the bream I mentioned, a few trout, and I think some carp around Saltaire.
The sad thing about it now, is that once it was controlled by the L&L canal Association, where every club from Leeds to Gargrave, all had access. It's now broken up into sections, run by various clubs, and the rest needs a Waterway wanderer licence, It's hard to know who runs what, and I've often found myself unintentionally 'poaching'.

John.
 

Jonathan Sutcliffe-Bland

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I too have fished the Leeds and Liverpool canal since I was 11, I'm now 70. It was mainly in Leeds from the basin up to Wellington Bridge. Minnows, gudgeon, the occasional roach, at first. Move on a few years and the chub started to show. Along with the roach, they were the main species, for about 3-4 years. I remember finishing work one Saturday dinner time, and calling at Atkinsons tackle shop in Armley for my bait for the Sunday. I walk home down the tow path to Wellington Bridge, and saw a shoal of chub must have been 100+, from about 8oz, to 3lb ish. I ran home and got my gear, and caught the bus back, The shoal had disappeared, and someone had left the paddles open on the lock so it was flowing like a river. I ended up trotting a stick float down the boat channel for a half dozen chub, and a few roach. Then the bream started to show, we used to watch a large shoal of them, followed by a very big, confused roach, from the carpark where I worked over looking the canal. Then over the years, the perch numbers increased, as the chub decreased, I suppose it was the competition for food. Then during the late 70s, through the 80s, bigger bream showed. I remember a match being won with 2 bream for about 13 or 14lb. They were probably from a stocking of bream around Rodley just before Leeds and Liverpool championship in the early 70s. The 80s through the 90s to the 00s, saw the tench showing, along with more pike, first around the Kirkstall area, and slowly moving down to Leeds centre. By this time the river had become cleaner, and the canal got both fish from there, as well as those moving down from the higher reaches. The carp are now established, and it's like an aquarium, although it's very weedy in places. As you can see, it's been constantly changing, I think back in terms of the roach years, the chub years and so on. Although it's a manmade waterway, the stock levels are pretty natural. I can't remember many major stockings, apart from the bream I mentioned, a few trout, and I think some carp around Saltaire.
The sad thing about it now, is that once it was controlled by the L&L canal Association, where every club from Leeds to Gargrave, all had access. It's now broken up into sections, run by various clubs, and the rest needs a Waterway wanderer licence, It's hard to know who runs what, and I've often found myself unintentionally 'poaching'.

John.
I remember Idle & Thackley getting 200 small Carp in the late 80s, catching them as a teen, but then all the cover being cut back sending them all hiding for years to come.

Saltaire got the old Bradford park pond fish about 10 years ago but most were ravaged by goosehander a few years later.

We had loads of trout up at Morton, maybe these would make a good stocking for winter?

I'm a firm believer that the fish use the locks to move about. As the amount of boats has vastly decreased over the years coming through Bingley I'm guessing this is having a negative impact. Coming up the fish have Dobson locks, Field locks, Hirst locks, and Dowley Gap over six miles. Coming down there is over ten miles free of locks until it hits the five rise. I just hope 2021 brings staycation boats and fish with it, be it from Lancashire ?
 

JayD

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One illegal stocking I knew of, was back in the late 70s. A local club had a match on the Witham, and loads of eels were caught. Some bright sparks thought it would be a good idea to pinch a dustbin, fill it with eels, and dump them in the L&L near Canal Road. There were a lot of puzzled and angry anglers around for some time after. Eels and size 22 hooks, on 8oz line don't really go together.

John.
 

NoCarpPlease

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Taking Ken the Pacman's point - over 40 years of fishing I've seen pretty much every natural venue that I've fished change a lot in that time - sometimes with obvious causes and sometimes not. From your description of the canal at Bingley in the OP, it sounds like all the species reached a peak and then died off over the same period, rather than one species replacing another with short dips between.

The only similar experience that I've had is the Upper Great Ouse - specifically a venue called Radwell:
Before my time - back in the 60s and 70s - it was an out and out roach and dace river. Someone catchign a chub in a match warranted people coming over to see it weighed in.
When I started fishing it in the early to mid 80s it had transformed in to a chub venue ... fish averaging just under 2 pounds or so. A few other fish but not worth targetting in a match. Over the following 20 years the chub grew and became fewer in number, and there were a couple of noticeable peaks of dace and small roach - which then disappeared after 3 or 4 years. This was good because it made more pegs potential framers. Over this time the barbel population grew and then waned.
By the early noughties the river was very hard on most days - very few small fish of any species and a few lumps being the target. It really became a total drawbag lottery and therefore the club stopped running matches there and it became the domain of specimen hunters, I was lucky enough to win the last match I fished on there in about 2003 with 6 chub for nearly 30 pounds.
fast forward ten years and reports started coming in of some good catches of roach and dace. The fish had come back - despite the healthy population of otters and cormorants locally. And so the cycles continue - there are lots of perch, including some big fish, and a few very big chub - but it's mainly a roach and dace river now.
So the canal may well come back - but it might take a while ....
 

Jonathan Sutcliffe-Bland

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One illegal stocking I knew of, was back in the late 70s. A local club had a match on the Witham, and loads of eels were caught. Some bright sparks thought it would be a good idea to pinch a dustbin, fill it with eels, and dump them in the L&L near Canal Road. There were a lot of puzzled and angry anglers around for some time after. Eels and size 22 hooks, on 8oz line don't really go together.

John.
Armley? I used to manage the catering at Farnell. Earlier this year a new member caught a 7lb eel below Bingley three rise. I sadly found it dead the next stretch down a fortnight later.
 

JayD

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Armley? I used to manage the catering at Farnell. Earlier this year a new member caught a 7lb eel below Bingley three rise. I sadly found it dead the next stretch down a fortnight later.
Yes Canal Road in Armley, near the Armley Mills Industrial museum, not far from Farnells. Not fished there for years. There was an old loading shed on the opposite side of the canal, where we used to get roach and perch in the shade of it's corrugated iron roof on sunny days. I was passing the other week so had a little recce, I was surprised to see a part of it still standing after all these years. It was old and dilapidated when I was a kid, so wouldn't like to guess when it was built. I stood for a while, remembering what it used to be like, and wondering if the fish were still in residence, but never saw any 'fishy' signs.
During lockdown, my wife and I have had a few walks on the canal side at various places from Leeds to past Rodley, some lovely walks. Ironically, it's one of the reasons I don't fish it as often, the towpaths are so busy, with joggers, walkers, cyclists, and it's become a popular commuter route into Leeds.
I can't blame them, if I had to choose between the busy road traffic, and the canal bank, I'd do the same.

John.
 

Jonathan Sutcliffe-Bland

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Yes Canal Road in Armley, near the Armley Mills Industrial museum, not far from Farnells. Not fished there for years. There was an old loading shed on the opposite side of the canal, where we used to get roach and perch in the shade of it's corrugated iron roof on sunny days. I was passing the other week so had a little recce, I was surprised to see a part of it still standing after all these years. It was old and dilapidated when I was a kid, so wouldn't like to guess when it was built. I stood for a while, remembering what it used to be like, and wondering if the fish were still in residence, but never saw any 'fishy' signs.
During lockdown, my wife and I have had a few walks on the canal side at various places from Leeds to past Rodley, some lovely walks. Ironically, it's one of the reasons I don't fish it as often, the towpaths are so busy, with joggers, walkers, cyclists, and it's become a popular commuter route into Leeds.
I can't blame them, if I had to choose between the busy road traffic, and the canal bank, I'd do the same.

John.
Listerhills hold matches at Armley boatyard.
 
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