On Monday 21 March, 2022, a healthy quantity of fish were removed from Abbey Fields Lake. This activity was completed under the direction of Fisheries Manager Jon Wall of Jon Wall Fisheries and Anthony Simmons from Leamington Angling Association.
This is a task that is carried out approximately every year, although because of Covid it has not been possible to do so for the past two or three years.
As before the fish were carefully removed by Seine netting, and transported to John Wall Fisheries, in oxygenated 1 m3 tanks. Once there, the fish are sorted, health-checked, fed and prepared for distribution to restock ponds, lakes and pools in the area and potentially across the UK.
Because the Lake is so shallow, the nets were laid from the boat and by people hauling them. Once positioned, the net is then hauled into the edge of the lake from where the fish can be removed. Inevitably a lot of submerged branches and other debris has to be removed carefully so that the net is not damaged. This year as well as a haul of branches and twigs, a skateboard was recovered.
Whilst talking with Anthony Simmons we learned that Finham Brook, which was running clear on Monday, has a population of Brown Trout and Signal Crayfish. The Brown Trout in Finham brook can grow up to about 30 cm but generally are a lot smaller. The Signal Crayfish in Finham Brook can grow up to 5 to 7 cm. Elsewhere in the right conditions they can grow to 15 cm.
The native population of European Crayfish had been declining since the early 20th century and Signal Crayfish were introduced to the UK in the 70s. It was intended that they be farmed as food, especially for Sweden and Finland. They are an aggressive invasive species and, unfortunately, also carry the disease that was eliminating the native European Crayfish. It does not help that Signal Crayfish are less likely to succumb to the disease whilst in European Crayfish it is generally fatal.
In the lake it is extremely unlikely that there are any Crayfish as they do not like the silty/muddy water. Similarly, there are no Brown Trout in Abbey Fields Lake. They much prefer fast moving, well oxygenated, clean water as is found in streams and rivers.
Abbey Fields Lake has a variety of fish living in it, mostly Common Carp and Mirror Carp and these were what were netted on Monday. It seems that some other species do live in the Lake – a single Koi Carp was netted and there are reports of other types of fish living there as well. It was even suggested that goldfish get ‘rehoused’ when they become too big or are no longer wanted. It is not a good idea to ‘donate’ them to the Lake as they will not like the murky waters, and they also might introduce unwanted diseases to the healthy population of existing residents.
Jon Wall advised that he and his team were hoping to remove about 500 lbs /225 Kg of fish. Because of the regular removals of the fish in previous years, the fish taken today were in good shape and size as well as being in a good range of sizes. Monday’s fish were anything up to about 5 pounds each, which is why we have seen the large mouths at the duck feeding station. Some of the Mirror Carp will be taken straight to Ryton Pools and the rest to Jon Wall’s offices for subsequent redistribution.
- The fish are not harmed and are transported in special containers in oxygenated water to keep them healthy.
- Signal Crayfish, as any other wild creatures, will defend themselves and can give you a nasty nip or bite with their very strong claws.
- You need a licence from the Environmental Agency to catch Signal Crayfish.
- You are not allowed to handle European Crayfish without a license from Natural England and you will also need a licence from the Environment Agency.
Article and photos by David Emsley.