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Kennet Hatchery update
Club News

Kennet Hatchery update

To update members on the Kennet Hatchery, Stuart Brown and I attended the Grand Opening yesterday. and were much impressed.

The funding was obtained from various sources, including Thames Water’s £20,000 (I know, I know) and the Society will be fully supporting this project in future. We have entered into a financial commitment for the next five years and will provide as much practical help as possible. Members can, of course, contribute individually, details in a previous post.

To elaborate on their excellent flier, the basic reasoning is that crayfish eat recently hatched eggs while the fry are still immobile, either in the gravel, or, in the case of roach, wherever the eggs were laid. As mobile fry stand a much better chance of survival, the idea is to strip a small number of Kennet fish on the point of spawning, allow the eggs to hatch, feed them until they are mobile and then release 70% of them, probably at about a month/six weeks old. With the number of eggs that fish produce, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of fry. The other 30% will be grown on for a couple of years before release. This will all be done in the natural sequence – dace first, then roach, followed by barbel and chub.

This approach worked well on a smaller scale, with the grayling fry that were released, some at Hambridge, a few years ago.

Hambridge is high on the list of release sites and I will be walking the banks with Del Shackleford shortly to choose the best spots.

All this was suggested by Calverton, the EA fish farm. They release all their surplus fry in to the adjacent River Trent, which consequently has a very high fish population. One result of this is that despite two nearby tributaries having crayfish, in this part of the Trent the fish/crayfish biomass ratio has swung so heavily in favour of fish crayfish are now a rarity.

Different topic – I also met the EA Fisheries Officer who used to cover Crabtree. He approved of us placing Christmas trees, not only are they good shelter, but apparently roach love spawning on them.

Ian Campbell