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A Bleak Day – Not the Bleak Fish

Thursday 8 December 2011 – Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation, Paper Mill to Rushes Lock

Our Head Bailiff joined the EA last Thursday to survey the stretch of the Chelmer that had recently suffered fish deaths, which now seems to have been caused by stagnant water due to the change in the weather and lack of flow following a prolonged period without rain.

The EA started about 100 yards down from the road bridge below Paper Mills and started the survey by electro netting back towards Paper Mills. A lot of Roach fry were evident, six Eels, several small Pike from a few ounces to 2lbs were seen, and some small Roach, Perch, and Dace were also evident but not in great numbers. Under the bridge and in the mill pool some nice Roach up to about six ounces but again not in large numbers, several more Pike were seen and one of almost 22-25 lbs and just by the bridge a Chub of 2-3lbs was netted. We then went back to where we started to measure the fish that we had netted.

Next we went down river to Rushes Lock.  Some Roach fry were seen but not as many as the upstream run, a small Tench of about a pound was netted but no Roach, Dace or Bream were seen then near Rushes five nice Tench were seen and three of them were netted. A better Chub of about 3lbs was also netted near the lock gates and a few perch of 2-4 ounces were seen, again quite a few small pike were netted. On the way back no fish were seen.

We passed areas where up to 20 Bream used to shoal up and not one was seen, these Bream used to go up to about 6-8 lbs. No Carp were seen. All in all we were very disappointed in the results; the EA did not seem to be as disappointed as they felt that the fry are a good sign for the future.

The EA are considering carry out more surveys and we will be informed of the dates. We will also keep the EA informed of any match results on the river.

Thanks to Ben Norrington and his team for being very helpful. The EA will be providing an independent report in the near future.

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