FREE LINE 03 - Page 2

Rob’s Ramblings
Rob Maylin
Bountyhunter Publications
44 Herbs End, Cove, Hampshire
GU14 9YD
Telephone 01252 373658
Facsimile 01252 373658
Mobile 07768 731425
Advertising Sales
Kevin Goss
Also available this month,
Big Carp Issue 260.
Miss it and miss out!
Just a couple of things I would like to report on this month with the limited space at my
disposal, but turn to our news section for lots more items this month.
Firstly, the Oxford Angling Preservation Group meeting, which we have reported on the
past couple of months went off with a bang!! Well done to all involved, and here is what Paul
Harris had to say:
"Top night at the Oxford Angling Preservation Group meeting, and it was great to see so
many likeminded anglers supporting the cause. To all the guys that organised this – Dylan
Harvey, Paul Timmisio, Geoff Waddle, Ben Clifton, Brent Jeffrey, Paul Kitchin, Lee Harraway,
Niff McColl, Matt Britton and Russ Bates (I’m sure I’ve missed someone) – thank you. Your
efforts have not gone unnoticed and now have paved the way for an annual event that this
area needs and deserves. Well done to all involved."
Secondly, and more about this in our extensive new section this month, more otter
problems… Here's a report on Heatherton Pond, one of many to fall foul of otters in recent
"It is regrettable that we must inform our members that Heatherton Pond has been subject
to an otter attack. Over a period of one-and-a-half weeks starting on Sunday January 13th, we
have lost six of our beloved carp with weights of circa 8-14lb. We also lost at least three adult
waterfowl. From our recent netting, we have been able to get a fuller picture of the damage
caused. We have one fish that has major otter damage and a very small handful that have
minor tailfin damage, but all of the damaged fish are still swimming strongly. The very high
majority of stock remain untouched and in absolute pristine condition.
As many will be aware, the UK native otter is a European protected species (EPS) and is also
fully protected under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. You're breaking
the law if you: capture, kill, disturb or injure otters (on purpose or by not taking enough care).
This very much left the Heatherton and wider Earl of Harrington teams with tied hands. The
only options we had available were to survey and deter. We were quick to find the route in
and out of the pond said otter was taking. It didn’t take long to find very distinguishable
pawprints along the brook that runs parallel with the pond. Within a day or two we had setup
motion detecting cameras, and within a short period of time we had captured the otter
entering the pond in the early hours of the morning. We were also quick to clear the thick
growth on the island, which the otter was using to eat its catch.
Heatherton was the last place we expected to see an otter given the distance from the
nearest river, but it has happened. We are truly devastated. This isn’t anybody’s livelihood per
se, but thousands of volunteer hours have gone into HP and its stock – this is our passion and
our love. In some cases, lives revolve around Heatherton Pond. To say that the lake’s
management team was hit hard is an understatement.
The timing could not have been worse, as for the past 12 months plus, the Heatherton
team had been planning to thin out the biomass with the purpose of growing large fish on.
We had already made steps towards this goal with our first netting survey. We had already
agreed as a committee and a team that the moving of 35 fish was what was needed to realise
this plan. This threw a huge spanner in the works and made us reevaluate the situation. First
and foremost, it was decided that not a single fish would be removed until we were confident
that the otter was no longer visiting Heatherton Pond.
Eventually the killings stopped, and there were no sightings to be found on the cameras
that had been set up. After a lot of consultation, we opted to lower this number to 22 – well
in excess of the six carcasses that have been found. To put this in perspective, our fishery
management consultant had advised us to remove 50% of our stock (100 fish) to grow on
large carp, advising this should not have an adverse effect on the number of fish put on the
It is very unlikely that an otter will ever take up residence in the area due to people and
dogs, and the visit is very likely to be an otter travelling further away from its natural habitat
to find food, very likely due to high winter river conditions on the Trent at the time. As such, a
visit is likely to be on a very infrequent basis.
Moving forward, we are in talks with Derby City Council on whether an otter fence is going
to be possible, if we get permission, it will go up – no question. However, being a city park
area, we’re unsure at this stage whether this is a feasible option.
This leads onto the current legal and legislative position we find ourselves in as a fishery
management team. In regards to the European otter, the fact of the matter is humans have
caused this problem that fisheries all over the UK are currently facing, and humans need to fix
it. The current legal stance is simply unfair.
We implore you to look up the Predation Action Group (formerly spearheaded by Tim
Paisley), support their movement and get involved. Our community needs to get together to
make change."
Two shows this month: Five Lakes on the 17th and 18th and The Big One in Farnborough on
the 24th and 25th. I will see you there.


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