Monday, 30 December 2019

2019 - Pollution, Mental Health and Trout

Pollution, Mental Health and Trout

2019 draws to an end today and with it a whole year of experiences both on the river and off it. With the world becoming more aware of pollution by the visibility of it on our screens, in our media and on our doorstep there has been plenty of talk and even action surrounding it. But the problem only seems to get worse, regardless of what any numbers a statistician can throw at me the problem has continued to rise. Recycling numbers may be up but that is because there is more and more garbage out there to be processed. The number of fly tips and pollution incidents continues to rise and despite all the awareness surrounding pollution people continue to turn a blind eye to it. Now the majority of my readers will share a similar mindset to myself so will know this is a problem but how do we connect, how do we really wake up the people who see the problem, recognise the problem then do nothing. And the culprits, when will someone step forward and take responsibility to prosecute them or change a law so that fly tipping regardless if it is council or private land is an offence regardless who pursues the prosecution.

I personally monitor a few of my local rivers and have featured in the local news for my reports on it and the lack of action both the EA and the councils make regarding it. I clear a catch grid constantly due to a lack of access the EA have due to the council not monitoring its double yellow lines (ie cars park in front of the EA access gate) and the amount of household rubbish, weed growing kits and other fly tipped items that are dumped into that very small section of river is shocking, it can make the river rise 5 feet above its usual depth from pure rubbish build up, the woody debris obviously builds up then behind the black bags and linoleum. It is hard dirty work but to maintain the health of the river it is work that must be done, the passage of fish is blocked which affects spawning, the increase in the depth of the water from its usual 2 or 3 feet depth to 7 or 8 feet puts them at risk of diving birds especially when they move off the frozen still waters.

The end of 2019 has been a tough time as well. Fishing is a wonderful aspect in helping people maintain a healthy mind yet when the close season comes and your opportunities have been non existent since the 23rd of September you do, or at least i do, find ourselves slipping into a murky corner of our thoughts. On top of that i faced disciplinary procedures at work which, without going into too much detail, were about actions i did to protect my staff from danger, that dragged on for several weeks before i was given a first & final warning. During that time my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and has still, even now, not received any treatment, just scan after scan while the decide how to deal with it due to its position and, i guess, rarity due to the solidity of the mass. With my time being split between work and home and i'd say more of the former i struggled with my mental health. Remember mental health isn't depression, anxiety or anything else, mental health is your emotional and psychological well being. I wasn't sleeping well, i lacked motivation, i worried about the affect of losing my job would have on my family. I worried about my Dad and what was happening or the lack of. And with that, i had no escape, no place to go, nothing to take my mind away from it all. Just slipping into a dark corner in my mind feeling a hate towards myself, a doubt in myself and my actions. Questioning myself constantly if i was right or wrong. Being there in a river, feeling the cold water press against your legs, the nip in the air as a breeze blew downstream, the trees rustling gently as they swayed. The sound of birds singing and their wings beating as they flew by curiously. The whispers the rivers spoke as it flowed smoothly by and the shouts they made as they battered boulders. The popping noise of a fish taking a fly from the surface and the splashing sound of a fish as it fought when it reached the net.

I had none of that, i had everybodies christmas to deal with, the repetitive comments about my height, the same colours of concrete and tarmac, the hustle and bustle of people and traffic. The constant shouting at inquisitive children just wanting that one small toy to make them happy but yet left them in tears instead. The walking in the rain to work at 6.30am dodging puddles while dry drivers ignored you as you waited to cross. The drunks, the druggies and the threats. I've isolated myself, not spoken to many people when we'd normally talk rubbish for hours whether in person or on social media. And all this hidden behind a wry smile so everyone thought you was ok, so that no one would ask the question. Are you ok?

Before then however, there was fishing, not as much as i would have hoped but you know, enough. And though i didn't get any monsters i did get to fish with my daughter alot more, which is amazing, to anyone who questions it its much more about the fishing, the questions she asks and how much she learns and matures after each trip is profound and i can see why my dad took me as a child. We had big rainbows and some decent trout but all of them stories are in the blogs i have already written. What you get here are the statistics behind my trips and then some pictures. So how did my year compare to the previous seasons?

I had 16 days out, yes only 16 which is the least of any year since i started in 2015, 4 of them on the Irwell itself again the least time i'd been on there.. I averaged 9.6 fish a trip totalling 154 fish, 19 of them on the Irwell averaging 4.8 fish a trip. So how does this compare?

Overall out of 5 years it was 3rd in the catch rate per trip but was at the higher end showing good progression especially but then again i hadn't fished the Irwell as much and the 2017 numbers were severely hit by the pollution that year. So looking at the Irwell in 2016 i averaged 10.2 fish per session dropping down in 2017 when i averaged 2.4 fish a session and furthermore in 2018 a mere 0.6 a session. Thankfully improvements have shown with 4.8 fish per session which is a stark rise compared to the 2 previous years.

Diversity has dropped however, with no roach or perch for 2 years now compared to 108 in the first 3 years. Another year without a minnow totally 2 minnows in 3 years compared to 38 in the first 2 years. The first drop in chub totals from the average of 3 to now just 1, which is a reason i don't target them on my rivers over winter.

So overall, fish catch rates seem to average at 9.9 per session, anything less has only been in my first season where i was learning and in 2017 where the pollution incident happened. Diversity has dropped, showing trout are the hardiest of the species given we say pollution is a cause in their decline and not mention the black death till next year. And Irwell catch rates have risen dramatically possibly showing it is finally back on the road to recovery.

Don't forget to check my youtube channel: Irwell Fishing
and i hope to see you all again in 2020.


1 comment:

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