Looking after our fish.
These pictures of a tench I caught this week, and it is not my first, illustrates how there is a need to improve the welfare of the fish in our waters, most particularly in our large lake at Treowen. This tench has mouth injuries in both sides of its mouth where it has been hooked twice recently. I have caught the occasionan rudd with mouth parts hanging loose even missing completely.
This is clearly not good enough. It is just not acceptable.
Why is this happening?
Two reasons immediately come to mind.
More anglers fishing here.
In appropriate tackle.
We have taken measures to limit the number of anglers fishing out lakes at any one time. Four years ago, on a weekday it was most unusual to see another angler on the large lake. Nowadays it is the rule rather that the exception. Often three at this time of the year. Week ends and bank holidays can often see four members fishing here. Such is its increased popularity.
The fact is that there are in the region of four times as many anglers here than four years ago. That means fish are likely to be caught four times more often.
Barbed hooks are banned by many clubs. On the Wye barbless hooks can make loosing barbel much more likely, specially when a fish has gone into the weed. We will consider changing our rules to effect a permanent ban on barbed and micro barbed hooks on our lakes and rivers alike.
Inappropriate tackle. This is point not just about fish mouth damage.
lines and rods that are not up to the job will lead to frequent line breakages and hook pulls.
A rod should be matched to a line so that the combination makes more possible to stop a fish before it gets weeded. There is no sense or justification in leaving a fish with a hook and piece of line attached to its mouth. Unavoidable it might be on occasions, but this should be uncommon.
A tench that has gone into the weed must never just be hauled out. Letting the line go slack or with just a very light tension for a few minutes will almost always encourage the fish to swim out of the weed.
Tackle that is too strong is far ideal. We all know how strong the lunges of a tench can be. With a relatively stiff rod these lunges will impart more shock forces on a fishes mouth because there is less buffering or shock absorbing effect from the rod. This is my opinion and it might be difficult to prove but I am sure there is more than an element in truth here.
I advise that lines should be matched to the rod and be of a 6 to 7 lbs minimum B S main line and with hook lengths or 6 or 5 lbs ensuring that the hook length will fail first.
Rods should be designed for this type of fishing. Barbel have the toughest mouths ( bar some predatory fish) that come from a life of constantly turning over stones and small rocks on the river bed. A rod designed for casting a 2 to 3 ounce lead or feeder 50 metres is clearly not suitable for tench with their soft mouths developed for feeding in muddy silt. Perhaps a barbel or carp rod might prevent some fish being lost in weeds, or pulled free when weeded, but at what cost to the fish?
I would liked to have thought that we are all caring and careful anglers If I thought that I was responsible for such damage to a fishes mouth, I would not sleep at night.