5th January 2021

End of the year 2020

Early in December we pumped out our stock pond and sold on the carp which we had collected over the course of the season, together with those that we managed to net. With the cold weather beginning to bite that was extremely hard work and left all of us suffering for a couple of days. Still the purchaser was happy and we have since concentrated on a final clean down to remove the remaining rudd etc and then a slow refill so that we are now ready for any doubles and twenties that get caught during 2021.
Overall, including the small carp caught by anglers during the season, we have removed close to 200 carp, plus, at least a tonne of rudd. We intend to continue with our policy of getting our anglers to retain all carp under 30lbs so that we can examine them before deciding whether to move them to the stock pond or allow them to grow on in the main lake. It is my target to get the overall biomass down to a level where our current stock of attractive, scaley forties grow on and rapidly become fifties and sixties. My impression, from speaking to our anglers, is that they want to catch big fish but, even more important, that they want those fish to be special creatures with attractive scale patterns. As most of you will know we have a stack of fullies, heavy plate scaled and Linear’s which would make cover photos for most magazines (if there were any magazines now). In order to produce the stock that our anglers wish to see we need to continue to give those fish room to grow. Who knows, this policy might even see one or two really big fish emerge over the next few years?
For the winters of 2018/19 and 2019/20 we had very little rain and very mild weather. The lake only just managed to fill up and the garden stream was just a trickle. At the time I didn’t really give it too much thought and just appreciated the lack of mud effecting my work. However, looking back, it suggests that it may have had some major disadvantages. Firstly, the lack of rainfall meant that, over the course of the two years, the groundwater reserve fell to dangerous levels. This manifested itself by the farmers being banned from watering their crops and those crops being left to perish in the fields. The more direct result for us was that the springs totally dried up and then the hottest summer since records began in 1900, combined with the drought to evaporate the water from our lake. I now also realize that this lack of winter water, over such a long period, meant that we didn’t get the normal amount of flow through our lake so we didn’t get the usual water changes which meant that any nitrates and ammonia build ups were not being cleaned away. This may well explain why the fishing became very difficult to catch and some of the fish didn’t fight as hard as they usually do. I’m VERY pleased to report that the spillway is running well and the garden stream is back to its normal winter flow. Hopefully this will carry on well into the spring.
On the predator front the news is brilliant. Our netting produced hundreds of large mouth bass, with some being around the 7lbs mark. We also found dozens of big perch so we are hoping that, with the rudd thinned out, these predators will consume most of the carp fry as well as controlling their own numbers.
Before the lake completely filled back up I raised the spillway slightly and that is now showing to have increased the overall volume of water by about half a million gallons. Hopefully, with a more “normal” summer, this should help as we approach autumn.
We are now at the point where we need to start cutting and floating off the old reed stems. Last year I cut them early and piled up the cuttings but, by the time the water was running, they had started to rot down and were difficult to float off so this year I’ve gone back to previous practices and left the work until after Christmas.
Once that is done it’s then back to clearing and burning the final sticks and branches from the hedgerows and a very small amount of swim work. Once again the drive will need top dressing but that will be done bit by bit.
It had been our plan to install a bore hole to allow us to pump water into the lake during summer but the end result of the corona virus lock downs has been that we haven’t been able to earn anything for a large part of 2020 so, I’m afraid that has ended up on a back burner and will stay there until we have sufficient funds. I’m sure that there are others in worse situations than us and my heart goes out to them but none of us can take a chance and spend money that we’re not sure that we’re going to get back.
On a personal note, my fishing during the first half of the ear was incredible, purely because the lack of anglers gave me freedom to fish when and where I wanted. It allowed me to wallow in my captures of fifties and sixties plus the big bonus of my first ever seventy. Unfortunately that came to a sudden end at the beginning of July and, partly because of my eye problems, I’ve hardly picked up a rod since. Unfortunately the eye op didn’t quite go according to plan so we are now left to wait and see if it settles down over the next few months. Add to that the effect of powerful blood thinning tablets and bivvying up in severe cold weather is simply never going to happen. Hopefully I might get a chance to wet a line when the weather improves but we shall have to wait and see. At least I’ve got an excuse for not posting photos of hundreds of massive fish.
Whilst writing this it is worth being aware that, with covid19 still affecting us and the unknown results of Brexit, everyone traveling into or through Europe must have full travel insurance. I’m sure we will receive more detail but the things to consider are health insurance, to cover you for illness or injury, breakdown and accident cover for your vehicles and the obvious holiday insurance to cover you in the case that you are prevented from traveling for any reason. Let’s hope none of it is needed but far better to be prepared.
On that note I will sign off for now and wish everyone a great 2021. God alone knows what it’s got in store for us but with the help of family and strong friends I’m sure we will survive.
Be lucky.