Never go back

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gibby

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From the mid 1960's to to the mid 70's I used to fish the River Darent, a small stream in Kent that flows from Sevenoaks into the Thmes at Dartford. It was a gem of a stream. Crystal clear, gravel bed, traling weed in which I caught chub to four pounds, roach to a pound, cracking dace, the odd wild brownie and hordes of gudgeon.

From my home in Bexleyheath it was a long ride on a green line bus and even further on my push bike with a knapsack across my back and the rod strapped to to the cross bar but it was worth it as it was there I learned my watercraft, to trot a float, to keep quiet, to use a centre pin, to appreciate the wildlife and understand that fishing is much more than mere catching.

Hadn't been back for thirty years, but on an afternoon off yesterday, thought i would return for a nostalgic walk and perhaps check out some swims for the weekend.

Wished I hadn't and stuck to my memories. The river was dead. the gravel bottom was covered in silt and reeds covered the banks. The flow, even after last month's torrential rain was down to a trickle and it was barely a yard wide and a few inches deep in places.

Thiry years ago i could have seen shoals of roach, dace and chub. yesterday - nothing. Even the shoals of minnows (a sign of health in any river) were gone.

Dooes it mattter? - just down the road from where i used to fish is a commercial thats crammed with fish, has nice level banks, trimmed back trees, toilets and even a cafe. perhaps I'm just a sad old git, but can't help feeling that something valuable and irreplaceable has gone and we are all the poorer.
 

Ady

Formerly Adymon
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Mar 3, 2007
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shame that! "global warming" possibly?

My cut has gone from 40+ pegs 5 years ago to about 5 now, nearly unfishable in those pegs too, the reed growth is phenomenal, soon i dont even think i will recgonize those pegs :(
 

sburton1

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Dec 16, 2005
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Neglect and extraction pumps used by farmers have killed off many small rivers.
A few years ago, I had a walk down the River Ryton near Bawtry, opposite the Charnwood Hotel for those that kmow the area. About 3/4 of a mile upstream form the bridge an extraction pump was sat there sucking water out by the gallon. Strewn all around the surrounding area were old oil filters and waste oil. The oil had just been drained onto the surrounding soil approx 15 ft from the river. I informed the EA. Whether they did anything is anybodies guess.
 

Minipeace

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May 25, 2007
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Gibby I feel for you.
Around 5 years back I treated my father to a season on Newlands ticket fishing the windrush at Witney.
Now this little part of the river my father used to fish. He told me about this part going back over 30 years, lots of stories about the chub and roach and how lovely the river was.
Our first trip was shock and what the hell!!
The river was shallow, narrow and where it was once 6ft its now 2ft. All the weed has gone and looking at the banks and the old fence line you could see where the river once run.
Never saw a single roach but caught a few chub and barbel in the holes but the amount of chub that once was found there are gone and the barbel seem to have grown in numbers.
Not global warming but as a local chap told us 'its the water company'.
The more houses built the more water is taken from our rivers. Our local stream ran dry last year and we found out that a water company had gained permission to take all the water and pipe it down to London. This was after the EA spent thousands on the stream and guess who gave the water company permission [:(!] I took pictures of the stream with NO FISHING signs and a dry bed. Not one local paper wanted to know .
Good news is its now running again but very low, no fish, no bird life and I know its going to run dry again[:(!]
 

gibby

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Global warming is obviously a factor, but in my view, the main problem is abstraction by the water companies to supply housing development. I know this has happened to the Medway (with no protest from the EA) but with the Medway being that much bigger, the impact is not as marked as it is on the smaller rivers.

Heard a slick PR guy from Thames Watter on Radio 4 last month saying that the recent heavy rains would not necessarily mean an end to water shortages this year as the 'infrastructure'could not cope. This is bureaucratic speak for 'we need to pay dividends to our shareholders and increase our directors bonuses. Therefore rather than repair leaking pipes and build more reservoirs we would rather drain water from our rivers and impose hosepipe bans'.

Don't know about other MD members think, but the combination of climate change, greedy water companies, housing development and a toothless EA may mean that the next generation of kids won't enjoy the river fishing I did.
 

ubat

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Dec 19, 2005
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Well gibby, I would tend to believe that Global Warming is the usual scapegoat and we have seen some rain this year, scratch that, scratch housing developments & EA.

Big businesses rule, more spin then a thousand MPs, should never sold the water!
 
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