The club is proud of the activities carried out by its work parties. The work parties are made up entirely from volunteers drawn from the membership, and are supervised by the Fishery Officer and his team. In 2008 and 2014 the works carried out by the clubs Fisheries Team won them the 'Wild Trout Trusts River Enhancement Awards' (Amateur Category) for works on the River Dikler at Abbotswood and more recently, works carried out on the Sherborne Brook.
Most work party activity is carried out over the winter and is maintenance-driven, but encompasses River Habitat Enhancement Projects. However, the club also enters into partnership with other associations and agencies to implement progressive fishery management programmes that benefit the club's fisheries in particular, and the wider environment as a whole.
An important consequence of the club's commitment to carrying out so much of this vital maintenance and development work independently is a significant cost saving, when compared to paying agencies or contractors to carry out the work. To have a fallen tree removed by The Environment Agency, for example, can cost £2000 - just tot up the number fallen tress removed by our work parties last season in the case histories below.
The club is able to pass on this cost saving to the membership in the form of significantly lower subscription fees than would otherwise be the case. As a result we are able to offer a lot of high quality fishing at a very reasonable cost.
Tidying up the Sherborne Brook, November 2019
Cutting back overhanging trees on the River Coln, November 2019
Grayling Stocking at Sherborne Brook, May 2019
The Club has carried out a stocking of a total 4,000 baby grayling at various points along the Sherborne Brook.
For many years the Club has been concerned about Windrush grayling populations. Environment Agency (EA) fishery survey results have shown a considerable decline since the mid 1980s. This decline is now manifest on other rivers - a recent report highlighted the problem on the Wylye.
The decline of grayling presented an interesting conundrum: wild brown recruitment on the Cotswold rivers appeared to be OK, but grayling recruitment and the recruitment of some coarse fish species, notably barbel, had become very poor. One theory, based on German research, pointed towards the fact that grayling and barbel were spring rheophilic spawners, and that high nutrient levels from sewage discharges were causing spring algal blooms which smothered the eggs in the gravel.
During the extensive work that the Club carried out on Sherborne Brook earlier this year (See this page, below: February 2019), it became clear that the brook had what looked like good habitat for grayling, and great potential for a successful stocking. If a spawning population could be established in the brook there was a good chance that the fish would eventually drop downstream and repopulate the Windrush. Why hadn't they done this already? Fish passage between the brook and the river wasn't easy - a very constrained fast flowing channel. The Club’s work opened up the access to the brook for all species. If the project was to stand a chance of success, however, some grayling were needed to kick start it. After discussions, both within the Club and with external stakeholders, a proposal was put to the EA and, thanks to a lot of hard work from all those concerned, the Club has got some grayling.
The Club is absolutely delighted to have got this off the ground. Whether it will be a success only time will tell, but it is further evidence that the CFF is not just about catching more and more fish.
Sherborne Brook, February 2019
Some before and after pictures of the work carried out by the work party at Sherborne Brook on 16-02-19. Click the pictures to enlarge.
Just prior to the Christmas break the fishery team completed the fourteenth work party since Andy Killingbeck joined us on the 1st September. Eight separate large woody debris deflectors/cover blocks were put into the Whelford Coln and Beat 1 at Dudgrove. This is part of a huge volume of work undertaken on our Coln, ECT and Sherborne beats.
The planning of the work programme has been undertaken by David Reinger in consultation with the Landowners on respective beats. Execution of the work has been directed by Andy Killingbeck with assistance from David Reinger, Bill Haine, & Graham Rutson who comprise the current fishery team. They are grateful for additional days provided by Tony Bostock, Richard Knowles, Paul Madden, David Mustade and Robin Carr.
The fisheries team is now taking a well deserved break until they commence work again on Thursday 10th January 2019. River levels permitting work parties will take place routinely on each Thursday throughout January, February and March. Details can be obtained by members wishing to participate from David Reinger 07967975907.
River Coln, WhelforD, November 2018
The aim of the work was to narrow an over-widened channel and relocate a bur-reed bed (Sparganium) to the far bank margin. The result is a two-stage channel with the river topping over the far bank margin when flows are higher. At lower levels the flow is now concentrated to create a self-cleaning channel where it is hoped high quality water plants such as water crowfoot (Ranunculus), starwort (Callitrache stagnalis) and fennel pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) will again flourish, and inwhich trout may create redds this winter.
99 stakes and 24 heavy duty faggots were put into the river. For each stake a metal bar had to be driven through layers of stone (sledgehammer and aching muscles). The metal bar then had to be persuaded to come out of the stone, before using a post rammer to drive in the wooden stake, down through the hole made by the metal bar.
In addition, multiple trailer loads of tree branches were loaded, transported, then unloaded into the river to use as back-fill.
A good team effort and we return for more of the same in a week's time.
various work party activity on the river coln at Whelford.
Much work has been carried out on the Coln over recent years. This includes bank protection measures as well as introduction of in-stream structures to gouge out deeper pools and create good marginal and varied habitat within the water course.
Constructing a new jetty at Cornbury Park Lakes March 2016
One of our very popular and productive Mayfly Waters. Other than regular bank and instream work, the club in conjunction with several other agencies completed a major project in 2015 on the section downstream of Stratford Bridge. This involved introducing meanders which were removed in the early 2oth Century as part of the Agricultural development Programme.
Various Work party activity on the river dikler at abbotswood.
This work followed many years of neglect due to poor farming practices upstream, the impoundment of the river within the Estate and general and uncontrolled overgrowth of vegetation. This resulted in the river being in very poor condition and filled with sediment. Work carried out by the Fisheries Team over a 3 year period resulted in the Club winning the Wild Trout Trust national Habitat Restoration award in 2008.
various work party activity on the river leach
This is an extremely productive river, particularly at Southrop. It holds a great number of wild fish but is challenging fishing and one fishery that the more determined fly fisher may wish to visit. The Middle Leach has had some significant work carried out on it in 2015, some of which was carried out by the Fisheries Team, some in conjunction with the WTT and some by Private Contractors. The water at Little Farringdon offers excellent access and has a reasonable population of both wild and stocked fish. The river above the main road is wild trout only.