2021 Season Report

Another season has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I confess my attention was mostly directed towards writing; I had a sequel to publish. It was unfortunate timing as I normally like to do these things during the winter. Perhaps it’s for that reason that I’ve looked at the Fishery from a slightly different perspective this year.

Every season is a mixture of trials, and this year is no exception. On the plus side, the weather was reasonably kind to us. There were none of the disasters that are becoming increasingly common. The condition of the lakes has been as good as it gets. After years of fighting cattle pollution and endless days of algal blooms and weed clearing, the lakes, especially the bottom lake, can now be described as pristine. Gin clear water and a carpet of stonewort is the perfect recipe for trout fishing – all other things being equal.

Sadly, all other things are not equal. Lack of aquatic insects has become a serious issue, and we are not alone. The mayflies are just hanging on, but there are not the numbers to interest the trout. The pond olives, as far as I can see, are gone! We used to see various up-winged flies during the season, but not any longer. The blue mist of damselflies also seems to be a thing of the past. They are still here but greatly reduced. It’s the same for any insect you can think of, and it’s a national problem. There are isolated areas that go against the trend, but they appear to be in the minority. The daddy long legs were once prolific with us, but now they aren’t, although Cranham cricket pitch just above us is covered in them! I suppose as fishers we see the general loss of insects first-hand, most people are unaware of it. I see this loss of biodiversity as the tip of an iceberg that has the potential to sink us.

Climate change may be a factor in the decline of the insects. It’s certainly a big factor in the increase of mare’s tails. This ghastly stuff is spreading everywhere around the lakes. It has become so prolific it’s choking off the yellow flags. They’re like something from a sci-fi movie, an alien invasion. There is no selective herbicide I can use and trimming them down makes no long-term difference. The weather this year created an exceptional growing season; everything I tried to maintain grew twice as fast. The purple loosestrife around the lakes was taller than me this year, and I’ve never seen that before!

Carol and I send our good wishes to everyone for a Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year to you all. Tight lines!

Peter and Carol.

December,2021, Brook Farm, Cranham