Fish back in Bradford beck

electrofishingThe Environment Agency recently did an electrofishing survey on Bradford Beck – here are the (encouraging) results:

Bradford Beck at Cemetery Road = 51 Brown Trout and 50+ Bullheads

Bradford Beck near A657 Road Bridge (upstream of gauging station) = 15 Brown Trout, 8 Bullhead and 14 Stone Loach (plus there were three other Brown Trout seen but not caught)

Clayton Beck at Leaventhorpe Lane Stables = 16 Brown Trout and 44 Bullhead

It appears the beck has made a full recovery following the almost total wipe out below Bradford four or five years ago.

(PS The photo is NOT from Bradford Beck, it’s a generic electrofishing photo I had)

More new fish passes – at Burley Mills Weir and St Ann’s Mills Weir

St Anns Mills fish passTwo new fish passes have been opened at Burley Mills Weir and St Ann’s Mills Weir on the River Aire alongside Commercial Road in Kirkstall, Leeds.

The passes have been built by the Aire Rivers Trust in partnership with Leeds City Council and the Environment Agency.

The Burley Mills Fish Pass, located in attractive surroundings, can be seen from the public viewing point at the weir.

The £400,000 Kirkstall project was funded by Defra’s Catchment Restoration Fund which is administered by the Environment Agency. Leeds City Council will be taking ownership of the two fish passes.

The fish passes will enable the current fish populations of brown trout and coarse fish to move freely past the weirs to find the best places to feed, shelter, spawn and grow.

In the longer term the two fish passes will be a part of a chain which will allow salmon and sea trout to reach their historic spawning grounds upstream in Leeds, Bradford and the Craven District of North Yorkshire.

The weirs at Kirkstall have been a barrier to upstream movement of fish for around 200 years and the fish passes will not only improve fish stocks but will also improve the general ecology of the river.

Kevin Sunderland, Chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust, said that water quality improvements over the last 40 years have led to improved fish populations and this has meant that fish passes have become necessary to allow the river to reach its full potential. He also paid tribute to the help and co-operation which the Trust had received from various departments within Leeds Council and thanked the Environment Agency for providing the necessary funding and technical advice.

Neil Trudgill, Fisheries Technical Specialist at the Environment Agency said: “We are delighted to have worked with the Aire Rivers Trust on this project and congratulate the Trust on completing the project early and under budget.

“Angling is very popular in Leeds city centre and these passes will help improve our fish populations to benefit people and the environment. When fish are able to move freely up and down rivers, they are also less vulnerable to the occasional accidental pollution incidents that still occur in our rivers.”

[Environment Agency Press releases, this Press Release]

Fish in the River Aire

River Aire Fish 2012

Kevin Sunderland, our Chairman, had been busy. He has produced an excellent paper on fish populations in the River Aire. The latter part relates to each species of fish and where it can be found. The first part is a bit more general and may be of interest to those who aren’t particularly fish people.

An edited version of this report appeared in The Naturalist  No 138 (2013).

Rodley fish pass in the Yorkshire Post

Promises of a new wealth of fish in our waterways

The Yorkshire Post carried a nice piece about the Rodley Fish pass, here is the text…

Rodley Fish PassUntil recently the possibility of salmon and sea trout swimming in the Aire seemed as likely as pigs flying in the sky. It has been almost two centuries since the people of Leeds, Bradford and the surrounding countryside have had the pleasure of observing, or indeed catching, such creatures. But this is about to change.

The Aire Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency now agree that salmon and sea trout, along with eels and brook lamprey, will begin repopulating the Aire within the next five years.

It is the region’s industrial legacy, in the form of a series of more than 20 weirs coupled with poor water quality that has prevented migratory fish from reaching the upper river. During the industrial revolution, the Aire was pumped with waste from factories and urban centres, and as recently as the late 20th century, outdated sewage treatment plants prolonged its water pollution problems.

But now, thanks to better regulation and de-industrialisation, water quality has improved and is no longer a limiting factor for fish. Even in urban centres like Leeds, grayling, a fish which seeks out the cleanest water, have been spotted.

Freshwater trout now breed throughout the Aire catchment area, right up to where the river rises at Malham. Downstream, the Environment Agency has caught sea trout weighing up to 8lbs, and recorded up to 25 salmon an hour at Knottingley weir.

As fish have returned, so have otters and heron. Otters have been caught on CCTV at Granary Wharfe in Leeds city centre and are increasingly common in the upper catchment area.

The return of salmon and sea trout to the upper river is now prevented only by a handful of man-made weirs. Pete Turner, fisheries officer at the Environment Agency, says: “Ten years ago you might have looked at it and had your head in your hands, but actually it’s happening. Structures and passes are being built.

“The River Aire’s my river. It has its issues, but we’re putting in place what we think is the right thing.”

Kevin Sunderland, chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust, is equally passionate about the river’s fisheries. He says the possibilities for salmon and sea trout will change after the biggest remaining challenge, the weir near Knostrop sewage treatment works in South Leeds, has been developed.

At both Knostrop and Crown Point, a smaller weir between Knostrop and Leeds Railway Station, new moving weirs will be built as part of the £50m Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme. Construction is due to begin this year and is scheduled to be completed next year. It means that if the rains are favourable, salmon and trout will be able to reach West Yorkshire’s great cities.

“Knostrop is the killer,” says Mr Sunderland.

“I’ve seen salmon and trout there trying to get up. It’s the shape of it. It projects out at the bottom, which make it very hard for the fish to climb.”

Beneath Leeds Railway Station itself, the river flows under the Dark Arches, a complex of massive underground channels, roads and walkways belonging to Network Rail, which is working with the Environment Agency to ensure fish can get through.

Mr Sunderland believes minimal intervention will be required. “It might just be a matter of bolting in some boulders to slow the current and give the fish somewhere to rest.”

A couple of miles up the river, the Aire Rivers Trust has been building two fish passes in Kirkstall with support from Leeds City Council and Defra’s Catchment Restoration Fund. Its weir at St Anns is now operational and work is underway at Burley Mills.

Last year the Environment Agency completed a new fish pass at Rodley, between Leeds and Shipley which is owned and maintained by Yorkshire Water. Between 2015 and 2020, Yorkshire Water will be investing £10m on a further 20 barriers to fish passage on Yorkshire rivers and their tributaries.

Neil Trudgill of the Environment Agency says: “The fish bypass at Rodley is an essential step in the recovery of the river’s fish populations.

“The naturalised design will provide a passage around the weir as well as a habitat in which fish and other aquatic life can actually live, feed and grow.”

Further upstream, at Hirst Weir in Shipley, members of Bradford Amateur Rowing Club are working with the Environment Agency to raise money for repairs to the weir. Work on designs for a fish pass, which will be installed as part of the project, is underway.

But although progress has exceeded expectations, there’s still work to do. For example at Chapel Haddlesey, the tidal limit of the Aire, and Armley Mills, next to Leeds Industrial Museum, the building of fish passes has stalled due to interest in hydro energy projects.

The Environment Agency has already produced a design for a fish pass at Armley Mills, but the scheme is on hold while Leeds City Council evaluates the site. There is no completion date for the project yet, and currently no schedule for construction.

However, at Armley, Chapel Haddlesey and elsewhere, developers of hydro projects are obliged to build fish passage into their plans.

Knottingley Weir remains one of the biggest barriers to fish passage on the Aire and Calder river system. Migratory fish are able to ascend the weir when it floods in periods of heavy rainfall, but their progress upstream can be delayed for months in dry summers. A new fish pass has been mooted.

More work on our waterways can be expected. Under the Water Framework Directive, the Government is committed to a self-sustaining population of migratory fish in the Aire and other Yorkshire rivers by 2021.

Kevin Sunderland, chairman of the Aire Rivers Trust, says it is on track to beat that target. “The river’s set to impro ve to a standard which couldn’t have previously been considered possible.”

 

Barbel stocking in the Aire…

Fisheries experts will be stocking 6,000 barbel at several locations in Yorkshire this week as part of the Environment Agency’s ongoing plans to develop and restore rivers in the region.

All reared at the Environment Agency’s fish farm, 3,000 barbel will be stocked into the  River Aire at six locations between Kildwick and Thwaites Mill.

These rivers have suffered from poor water quality and habitat loss in the past, but a concerted effort by Yorkshire Water, industry and the Environment Agency has helped turn these watercourses around.

More information here on the EA website.

Becknik 2

The next Becknic is at 2pm on Sunday 13th Oct towards the beginning of the Beck in a rural spot near Thornton.  Eddie has arranged singing and story-telling.  The site is nice and clean so no litter pick needed!  Bring your picnic blanket or folding chair  and of course your picnic.  a flyer is attached – pass on to your friends and family.

Becknic 2

Chub, chub and yet more chub!

For the fisherpeople in our midst – from the Telegraph & Argus:

http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/sport/10525816.Angling_Lines/

KEIGHLEY AC

Last week’s River Aire competition, organised by our club, produced a string of fine performances as anglers tested their skills in low water levels.

Steve North weighed in with 12 chub, two trout and a perch to win the evening match. Although the winning margin was only 1lb, it was enough to earn him top spot and the £25 first prize. Robin Pickles and Mick Metcalfe tied for second place. The Aire continues to fish well, with reports of large numbers of brown trout and grayling being caught on mixed maggot. The club are encouraged by barbel beginning to show in the river, indicating the success of a targeted restocking programme conducted jointly with the Environment Agency over recent years. Canal fishing is also proving popular. One club member netted a 7lb bream near Silsden. Roach and skimmers have also been taken in good numbers by anglers using poles baited with maggot. A five-hour open match will take place on Sunday at Silsden. Competitors are asked to meet at Silsden Bridge at 8.45am. Call match secretary Darren Watson on 07795-243332 for details.

BRADFORD No1 AA

Mirfield’s Paul Clark won the first round of this year’s Calder League with 36lb 6oz of chub on stick float and maggot. Andy Bradley (Gomersal) caught 24lb 14oz of chub and grayling from Cornmill for second, followed by Ultimate Barnsley’s Keith Hobson (21lb 15oz) at Lillands, Gomersal’s Dave Taylor (20lb 4oz) and Ian Fieldhouse (20lb 3oz). Ultimate Barnsley were the winning team on the day. The next round is on Sunday, July 21. Gratrix Dam is fishing well for quality chub and ide on maggot. The River Calder at Lillands and Gravel Pits is worth a visit for chub, grayling and trout. Chellow Dene is fishing well for chub, bream and roach on waggler and bread or maggot. Raskelf will be closed on Saturday for the second junior match of the year. It will also be closed on Sunday for a veterans’ match. Maunby on the River Swale will be closed on Sunday for a members’ match.

LISTERHILLS AA

All nets should be thoroughly dry after each angling session to eliminate the possibility of spreading any fish disease. For Sunday’s match at Pilley’s, the gate will be open at 8.30am for the draw at 8.45am. Work to improve the bankside at this water is ongoing thanks to a small number of members.

BINGLEY AC

We will have a small stand at Bingley show on Saturday, July 20 and members will be on hand to answer any questions about the club. The Wharfe is fishing well for barbel and chub. Coppice is also giving good nets of tench.

Editors Note: (link corrections, adding note and another link)
The full column (and previous weeks columns) can be seen online on the Telegraph and Argus Website It is published with a submissions deadline of Thursday noon, so can appear any time after that, usually before Midnight and appears in the Friday Print editions of the T&A.

Where does your rod licence money go? Barbel in the Aire…

Barbel, aire, stocking

It is a question which I often hear from anglers when they cough up their hard-earned cash every year to pay for their fishing licence: “What does the Environment Agency do with the money?”

Apart from a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, such as flood defence and pollution issues plus administration costs which receive very little publicity, one of their major projects is at Calverton in Nottinghamshire which is the home of a huge fish farm.

The main species bred there are barbel, chub and roach plus many other species and the resulting fish are used to replenish stocks all over the country.

The latest figures released by the Environment Agency show that over the past year more than 400,000 fish will have been released with our region, the North East, gaining the biggest share with 20 per cent of the haul, which works out at around 83,500 fish. The North West and Midlands both collected 15 per cent (63,000).

The numbers of the various species stocked were chub (91,000), barbel (67,000), roach (56,000), grayling (54,000), rudd (46,000), bream (39,000), tench (37,000) and dace (18,000).

I reported recently that the River Aire below Keighley and several other places down to Thwaites Mill in Leeds had had an influx of barbel in the eight- to-nine inch category and these were thriving for fish from an earlier stocking a few years ago are now in the four-pound class.

From an article in The Yorkshire Evening Post on 27 February 2013

Angling, Streams and Fly tying exhibition at Bracken Hall Countryside Centre

Bracken Hall Countryside Centre and Museum (link to website) run by Bradford Museums service has an exhibition on rivers, streams and the art of fly tying in association with a handful of local fly tyers. The subject matter of this exhibition often comes up in fly dressing courses organised by fly dressers guild branches, salmon and trout association local branch meetings or adult education night school courses. And will be of special interest to anglers interested in learning to tie their own flies.
This exhibition runs until 29 April

Bracken Hall Countryside Centre,
Glen Road,
Baildon,
Shipley,
West Yorkshire,
BD17 5EA

telephone/fax: 01274 584140
email: brackenhallcc@btconnect.com

centre opening times

January – March
Wednesday & Sunday only 12 noon – 5pm
April
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday only 12 noon – 5pm

The centre also runs walks and has a regular education program with many schools using the centre.

Skelton Grange Environment Centre open day 10 September 2011

You may be interested in this BTCV ((originally British Trust for Conservation Volunteers)) event at the Skelton Grange Environment
Centre – on our east Leeds water corridor

The annual Skelton Grange Environment Centre Open Day is taking place on 10th September 2011 11am-4pm.

There will be loads going on at our beautiful nature reserve in south Leeds, with green woodworking crafts, charcoal burning, nature trails, storytelling, music, circus skills, pizzas from our wood fired cob oven, a superb cafe with all sorts of cakes and other goodies – and much more!

There is a leaflet attached to this email, and more details including information of how to find us at http://www.skeltongrange.org.uk/friends/open_day.html

Skelton Grange open day

original information from

Rachel Clunas
Aire Action Leeds Project Officer
Fearns Wharf, Neptune Street, Leeds, LS9 8PB
T 0113 281 6804 M 07917 780 151
rachel.clunas@aireactionleeds.org.uk

www.britishwaterways.co.uk | www.environment-agency.co.uk
www.leeds.gov.uk | www.yorkshirewater.co.uk