With the clocks changing and the evenings shorter, Picks Cottage Fishery is now closed for the 2018 season. As the seasons come and go, I always like to look back at what has been achieved during the year. Many in the trade will agree that this year has been challenging (to say the least!).
Unlike the scorching Summer we experienced, Spring started with a torrent of rain which never seemed to stop. Washed out roads, lakes close to bursting point, and mud. So much mud. When the rain finally decided to stop it decided not to return. Drought like conditions and the lowest water levels we've experienced in recent memory reminded us just how precious a thing water is. Of course there was the World Cup which no one will forget (dependent on your choice of beverage) - thankfully we can't complain about our performance for once! Many tackle shops and tackle manufacturers certainly felt the pinch this year. Rod license sales have dropped again and fewer children are reportedly enjoying our sport. There are certainly challenges within fishing currently.
But that's enough doom and gloom. We're not used to sitting on our hands so we decided to do something about it. Improvements across the complex have been record breaking this year. With the support of the Angling Trust (AT) and Environment Agency (EA), we've successfully delivered numerous improvement projects this year. Working in partnership with the EA and AT has resulted in substantial investment across the complex yet again. With projects match funded by ourselves and supported with Rod License income, there's never been a better incentive to renew your license next season. Since its inception, the Angling Improvement Fund has re-invested over £1.3 Million of rod license money back to the sport. Innovative projects are being delivered across the country via the Angling Improvement Fund, and we couldn't be prouder to be involved. I feel the fishing has really improved at our complex so I'll give you the full run down of what we achieved this year.
The Match lake certainly benefited from last years stocking of Bream, although the newly stocked 1-2lb Carp remained largely uncaught until the latter part of the Summer. We increased the nutrients this Spring with an application of horse manure to encourage fry survival on this lake. The blooms of daphnia were incredible, and judging by recent surveys, the plan certainly worked. One Summer Bream, Roach and Perch are in abundance from our initial surveys. I'm looking forward to the winter when we can carry out a full survey to judge the success and survival rates of this project - with some luck we'll have a few juvenile carp although my gut instinct is that the other species which spawned prior the carp may have dominated due to their sheer numbers.
The Doughnut Lake has been given a new lease of life with the 10lb+ Match stock transfer and of course the Wels Catfish which arrived following our Barrow Lake refurbishment. The weed is certainly clearing due to the higher stocking density and coloured water now present. For the first time we'll be able to apply Siltex (calcium carbonate/chalk) on this lake to reduce silt levels. As a rule, crystal clear, weedy waters are difficult to apply Siltex to. The treatment acts as a fertiliser and blanket weed would quickly accumulate which is not what we want. This is a long term project and nothing will be achieved overnight, but we're certainly making progress with half of the lake now weed free. Short of draining the lake and bringing in diggers at incredible expense, this natural, chemical free approach seems to be working. We'll be netting the Doughnut this winter to crop any fish under 10lbs and above 20lbs. There's two reasons for this. Number 1, we want the Doughnut to be a good 'doubles' water for anglers looking for quicker bites. Number 2, the sheer quantity of fish in the Doughnut currently will not be sustainable if we want our fish to flourish and grow. Cropping fish is a great fishery management tool as it ensures fish remain healthy and provides a risk free source of fish for other lakes at our complex.
The S Lake had a challenging year with low water. As one of our lowest lying lakes, it's the last of our lakes to receive any water. Having to close the lake this Summer was a sensible decision given the pedigree of the lakes stock. I've never seen so many 20's caught as we did this year however - and many at record weights. The newly installed swims have been on my to-do list for quite some time so it's a relief to see them finally installed. They certainly look the part and really make landing fish less of a struggle. We're yet to achieve an S lake forty however! This is our next target now the swims are out of the way. We're debating a netting on this lake to remove any fish under 15lbs to provide more room for the larger residents. By reducing the number of fish there will be more food available and who knows, Split-Fin mite just make the 40lb mark. Sadly the Big Grey (last caught at 37lbs) yet again failed to make an appearance this year. It has been several years since it was last captured and doubt has certainly crept in by myself and anglers. I think we can assume it's sadly passed away at some stage - although I would gladly be proved wrong. Several anglers have reported seeing this fish in the water so who knows.
The Barrow Lake has finally been refurbished this year with a complete drain down and extension. We have two very large puddles currently, so fingers crossed we have an incredibly wet Winter. Subject to filling the lake, we'll be stocking this lake with Carp and making it available to members in Spring 2019. My plan is to create a 'social water', available to hire by small groups of like minded anglers. We'll install parking behind anglers swims, and possibly a BBQ/Campfire area to finish it off - great for your next carpy social with friends. Keep your eyes peeled on facebook if you'd like to stay up to date on this soon to open lake.
The Float Pond has turned into a real labour of love for us this year. Nurturing the 1-2lb carp stocked earlier this year has been a real learning curve. Seeing how carp react in a protected environment with regular supplementary feeding produced fantastic results. This week we netted this pond and discovered the largest resident weighed 6lbs! All of the carp have now been relocated into the Match lake, as we change our focus next year to raising Crucians and Tench. This little pond has altered our whole way of thinking, and the lessons learned will be used across the entire complex. Mighty oaks from little acorns so they say!
So that's a summary of 2018 at Picks Cottage Fishery - lots of ups and downs but overall another fantastic chapter in our story. Talking of little acorns, I'm pleased to announce that myself & Mrs Roddick will be expecting our first baby in May '19. Given that May is one of our busiest months at the fishery, I apologise in advance if I seem somewhat knackered next year! I've been informed that the new arrival won't be a fishermen - although I have other intentions naturally. Thank you once again for everyone's support this year. I hope you all enjoy your Winter fishing should you be brave enough, and wish you all a very happy new year.