An update on recent happenings in the club. Firstly Franks has fished very well this year, much better than the last few years. The carp have shown definite growth this year with many up over 2lbs in weight. A number of the old Highfield fish which were presumed eaten by the otter a couple of years ago have unexpectedly been caught, up in weight and in great condition.

Match weights have been consistently good with good bags of roach, bream, tench, crucians – some specimen fish of all species. There’s some really good quality roach and perch in there and a huge head of pound-plus bream along with bigger fish to 6lb+. These will grow nicely over the next couple of years if they have access to enough food. The members I’ve spoken to on the bank are very happy with the quality of the fishing on offer and in agreement with the committee policies on improving the fishing for all.

Following the otter attacks the lake fished very poorly for carp and we have acted to rectify this. We have stocked over 60 new, top-quality young fish which will now grow over coming years. With the numbers of original fish remaining now being revised upwards we will need to manage these with a netting early 2017 where small, old, stunted fish will be removed to increase available food and water quality to ensure those remaining thrive. My own “back of a fag packet” calculation of carp numbers would be about 140 – which most would agree is too high for them to achieve their best.

The silvers bred again very successfully this year and last so there’s again thousands of fish which again will need managing. The last netting in January 2015 removed 716lb of tiny silvers and the fishing improved as a result. These tiny fish are of no interest to anyone, eat a lot of food due to their numbers and affect the water quality and increase the likelihood of a fish-kill if ever we get a long hot summer (or winter freeze-up). By removing them it allows those left to flourish and it is this management that has seen the fishing improve.

We have fed continually this year and the weight and condition of all fish has improved accordingly. This has been controversial in the past with some members believing it adversely affects the fishing. All the fishery professionals that we have talked to advocate feeding the fish and results seem to speak for themselves, condition up, weights up, catches up. The level needs to be right though as all the feed eventually becomes waste which can affect water quality so the balance needs to be struck.

The carp that we bought from Front fish are 3 year groups. We bought a number of small fish about 12oz which were grown on at Myerscough college. These have settled well when stocked out into the lake and are up about 2lb this year averaging about 5lb now. We bought 20 C4 fish averaging 9 or 10lb. These fish have struggled to adapt having been used to being pellet fed twice a day, every day. They lost weight on stocking and have struggled to put it back on. Recent signs are better though and some are now up on their stocking weights. We need to ensure they grow during their young, growing years. The 2 twenty pound Front fish have also struggled to adapt with both losing over 2lb. Again, I expect they will do better once they settle in to their new home and adapt to not being fed twice daily. They have only been caught 3 times between them in 11 months so certainly haven’t been hammered. All these fish should do better next year when the biomass is reduced and available feed thus increases.

The commons that we stocked from Ashmead have adapted better. They are not artificially reared pellet fish and so have not lost the weight the Fronts have, in fact some are already showing decent growth. I expect big things from these fish over the next few years and hopefully many will go through the 20lb mark – they are from one of the best bloodlines around and we’re very lucky to have them. A mirror in Ashmead went from 2lb to 10lb in 8 months! These fished ranged from 4lb to 16.5lb and included 10 doubles. They are very high-backed fish with huge shoulders.

There will be no more carp stocked now for at least 12 months while we assess the fishing and growth rates. Hopefully we can get another 2-3lb each on them next year.

Some exceptional roach and perch have been caught with numerous 2lb+ perch and roach to 1-14. These fish are showing the benefit of the previous netting. In addition to the crucians stocked last year, we’ve stocked 120 of the planned 250 small tench this year – the balance will come next year. It’s certainly not all about carp – we are looking to offer top quality specimen angling for all species.

We recently did a work party on the island stick ups with myself, Ash Cardno, Marcus Holt and Richard Bracey pulling them out and Tom Cardno and Pete Ward helping out on the bank. A really good job done by all removing the surplus. This will hopefully lead to less lost fish in future – well done lads.

The club seems a much happier place now with a very positive vibe and the members all pulling in the same direction. Hopefully everyone sees the improvements over the last 12 months or so and supports the direction that we’re moving. It is worth the membership fee just to sit on the bench and enjoy the tranquillity (while it lasts!).

The matches have been poorly attended this year which is a shame as they have fished well. People have been asking for more to be organised but with only a handful of people fishing them it isn’t really fair on the majority to not be able to fish when the lake is closed for a match, especially at weekends. We need more match/pleasure anglers in the club if this long-standing aspect is to continue – so if you know anyone interested in joining, now is their chance – we already have a number that have expressed an interest for next year. There’s currently enough carp anglers in the club with a good balance so we aren’t looking to increase night ticket numbers (although they virtually doubled this year with the stock improvements - raising additional revenue for the club)

We’ve had a few problems with rules being ignored this year. The rules are there for the benefit of the fish and the other members – there’s nothing in there that’s overly restrictive so please obey them. The rule around the net soak is particularly important to protect our fish stocks. There have been numerous outbreaks of Koi Herpes Virus this year around the country including in Fleetwood – this has the potential to wipe out the fishery, all for the sake of not being bothered to soak your net/sling etc. For that reason we prefer you to use the mats supplied to reduce the risk. The barbless hook rule is another which some people choose to ignore. It is there solely in case a fish breaks the mainline as it allows them to easily lose the end tackle – we have found fish snagged in the stick ups tethered on barbed hooks before now.

We have recently met with the Environment Agency to discuss the plans for netting. Their representative stated that 500lb of stock per acre is the advised level – I would guess we’re currently at about 5 times that so the removal of small silvers will benefit the lake. This netting has been pencilled in for January 2017.
We’ve had a lot of junior members fishing this year with some great catches and quite a few, including my own daughters, getting the angling bug. Please be aware of the rules around bringing your children with you.

Interesting times ahead and I’m very optimistic for a bright future for the club – after a difficult period following the otter predation, the stock is the best it has ever been and is improving consistently. We’ve spent a huge amount of members money on carp (singles, doubles, twenties), tench and crucians over the last 3 years with the fishing improving as a result. The roach and bream are self-stocking but need managing to ensure they thrive and we get enough fish but not too many.

The netting in January 2017 will be very interesting. We’re planning to use the stock pond to try and grow maybe fifty 1lb bream into slabs as currently this is under-utilised. The kidney was stocked with 100 baby carp last year so we’ll monitor these, promote the best ones to the main lave over the next few years and hopefully we’ll get our stock free on-site rather than having to buy fish. The 300 Highfield carp that we bought a number of years ago have started to prosper and a large number are now double-figures. They cost £1 each, the 20 pounders we bought were £720 each -so that’s definitely the way to do it.

Latest update – the fishing has been very slow during December. A mixture of short frozen spells, east winds and high pressure have seen the carp switch off, although the bream have continued to feed. The fish that have been out are in great condition.

There will be a test netting to get 30 silvers for health checks this Sunday -15th January. Full netting will then follow in the next week or two to remove the surplus of small silver fish – no quality fish will be removed.