Following in the footsteps of the very successful Avon Roach Project started by Budgie Price and Trevor Harrop in 2007, we’ve launched our own mini-project to improve the natural recruitment of roach in the Wandle.
Given the right habitat, roach are prolific spawners: the average female produces 20-30,000 eggs, and their young thrive in lakes and streams all over the UK. Unfortunately, the Wandle’s concrete and steel banks deny the frisky roach the willow moss and roots they love to use as a bed for their eggs, and the natural regeneration of roach stocks is constrained.
So this year we are trialling the use of artificial spawning habitat (swags of Christmas tree netting and old keepnet mesh stapled to the underside of an untreated scaffold board) to see how the Wandle’s roach take to the idea of synthetic weed.
If all goes well, we will increase the number of boards in future years, and start moving the egg-bound boards to roach-starved areas of the river, as well as some of the side quieter side-channels to create roach nurseries for the young fry.
For the first part of this project, Steve Dedman spent last Bank Holiday weekend crafting four fine floating rafts for the frisky fish to use for their most intimate acts, and Steve, Steve, Jez, Jim and Will met by Shepley Mill to launch the first of the spawning boards.
The concrete wall was drilled, a rawlbolt locked in place and the board secured to the bank with three feet of galvanised chain.
More boards followed at Merton Abbey Mills and the Wandle Piscators’ lake at Cannon Hill Common, where the lake is being used as a control to check the design of the board.
If you’re wandering the Wandle and notice some fishy activity around one of our roach boards please let us know: email@example.com