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.
The link will take you to an excellent 1 hour lecture entitled 'Trout Grow on Trees', describing many of the techniques that we use to improve our fisheries, and the ecology and biology underpinning these methods.
2022-2023 river work
The working parties continue with their efforts for this close season. We have spent three week days on the new Bibury Coln stretch - and the impact can be seen in the sequence of photos (to follow). We have taken a choked reedbed and re-established the water course with a cleared, deep channel that now reaches down to the original gravel instead of a lose slurry of clay and silt, interwoven with tough roots.
2021 - 2022 river work
Basically, the river teams get together every Thursday from October to March, with a weekly update of venue and tasks from Andy Killingbeck, plus postponements notification in the case of bad weather. Rain, unless in sufficient amounts to make the rivers dangerous, does not count! Wear rugged outdoor clothing, wellingtons and bring waders if you are happy to enter the river. Make sure you have thorn-proof gloves, preferably that work well in watery conditions. Lunch - don't forget lunch!
The team is friendly and full safety briefings are given when required. Great care is taken when felling trees and branches.
If you would like to come along, then contact Mark Purvis in the first instance, email@example.com.
2021 river work
Deputy River Secretary’s report
We approach a new river trout season with the rivers again full of water and the aquifers recharged. Flows are currently all above normal for the time of year, and in some cases notably high, in a repeat of the conditions of winter 2019/2020. This is great news for the season ahead of us and we can only hope that flows will remain strong through to the summer.
The current high water table will make fishing and accessing the river a challenge in the early weeks of April, especially on the Coln which is the slowest of our rivers to drop. Please take great care before attempting to take vehicles off road while the ground remains waterlogged. Be careful too when wading in the strong spring flows. Even the smallest of our streams have holes that are over chest-wader depth.
Winter work programme
During the winter the fisheries team has visited twelve different fisheries and committed 150 man days to the maintenance of our rivers. Photographs from most of the work parties are available on the club’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/713045315505625).
A lot of the team’s work is regular maintenance, trimming back the annual growth of bankside willows, alders, hawthorns and brambles, and clearing any trees that have come down through the winter. We do our best to balance the opening up of access for fishing with the enhancement of the habitat for wild trout and other wildlife.
Large logs can be recycled as flow deflectors to introduce in-stream features. This one is on the Ampney Brook and we hope it will create a nice new pool in what was a wide and shallow run.
On the Coln at Whelford, we protected the bank from erosion using stakes intertwined with willow. The brash from routine maintenance is used as backfill material. Over the winter this structure will trap silt and protect the bank. The woven willow structure will also be a great habitat for trout fry.
We have done a lot of work on this stretch during the winter and probably opened up an additional 33% of accessible fishing.
You will also find fishing access on our two stretches of the Leach significantly improved after three days’ work there.
The water quality on this stream is probably the highest of all our waters and wild trout stocks are very healthy.
At Abbotswood we spent a couple of days opening up the stretch of the Dikler upstream of Upper Swell mill pond. It remains a tricky bit of fishing but much more accessible than before and again water quality is excellent as the spring-fed stream rises from the aquifer less than a mile from the top of our water.
Our longest fishery is the Windrush at Sherborne and you will find that access has been greatly improved, especially in Birch Copse, following three days’ work. This water fished consistently well in 2020 with good catches of wild brown trout reported. Also on the Windrush, you will find that access has been significantly improved at Widford, downstream of the bridge.
Visitors to the ECT water on the Coln will now have access to some new water with the true right-hand bank now accessible upstream of Moss Bridge, which should please the right-handed casters. We were able to help keeper Jon Welch clear out some massive willows that had fallen into the river here.
Please read the rule book carefully and pay close attention to instructions about parking and access. We do not own our waters and most are on short leases. We rely on the goodwill of our landlords for continued access so please be considerate at all times to anyone you meet on these private estates. Please also be considerate of other members; fishing pressure has been considerably higher during the pandemic but we have more than 30 miles of fishing available so there is plenty of room for all.
Remember too that there is a daily catch limit of eight trout, regardless of the size of fish caught, and once this limit has been reached you must stop fishing for the day. This is essential to avoid over-fishing on our precious wild trout fisheries.
It is also imperative that you keep accurate catch records and submit them in a timely fashion, both on the day where requested and at the end of the season. We are heavily reliant on the data from these returns to manage the fisheries. Please also feel free to contact any of the club’s officers if you have any questions about the club and its waters. We are always pleased to receive feedback, comments and suggestions on the fishing.
Our bookable fishing is, by its nature, limited in availability, especially on the Kennet. The club officers make every effort to ensure the fishing is shared equitably amongst members and that as many members as possible get the chance to access these premium fisheries at their preferred times. It is extremely helpful if you can offer alternative dates when requesting fishing and please be understanding if your preferences cannot be met. Don’t forget, the club has access to more than 30 miles of river fishing, all of which enjoy good mayfly hatches and healthy stocks of trout.
I would like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution from all the fisheries team this winter. Conditions were incredibly challenging with high water from the end of October onwards, and flooded conditions either side of Christmas. In addition to the Assistant Fisheries Officers Graham Rutson, Bill Haine and Tony Bostock, I want to recognize the contributions from Andrew Fullerton, David Furniss, Duncan Young, Dave Whittles, Peter Doble and Robin Carr. I also have to thank Andy Killingbeck for his fantastic efforts week-in, week-out in leading the work parties, keeping us all safe and towing a few of us out of trouble.
Finally, a quick word of thanks to our former Rivers Secretary David Reinger who inspired and guided the fisheries team. His knowledge of the Cotswold rivers is without parallel and his enthusiasm and energy infects us all. He has proven a kind and understanding mentor to me as I try to learn the ropes of the River Secretary role. His are big, if somewhat leaky, waders to fill and I’m grateful to have his continued support and guidance as I attempt to do so.
Mark Purvis March 2021
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.