All I can say is… ‘WOW! What a doo…’
Our tenth and final annual fundraiser was held on the 5th October and was attended by a record seventy seven guests. Our minds were well and truly blown, and for all the right reasons.
As we mingled and welcomed folks on the evening, we were overwhelmed by an amazing sense of fulfilment as we discovered that many of those who had fished the friendly match throughout the day had actually caught roach from the Avon; the biggest being a whopper of three pounds three ounces. There were also five two pounders taken and loads of pounders plus a million others of all sizes, meaning all kinds of ages from throughout the widely spaced stretches we fished.
It was wonderfully satisfying and quite emotional to be able to deliver my after-dinner update and talk about an Avon full of roach and reflect on where it all started – with Budgie and me, elbows on knees, on a muddy riverbank asking ourselves ‘what can we do?’... as we pondered the fish stock survey showing roach numbers below critical mass and unable to recover unassisted… Then hatching our initial plans to try to grow some roach in a bathtub.
Now we are seeing the river in the best state in terms of its roach for a generation and perhaps on its way back to the ‘glory days’ we all thought had gone forever.
Perhaps the most encouraging signs for us, and indeed the river, are the roach that are showing that are too young to be ours and even more significant is that roach have shown in the fry sampling surveys, proving that what we started is being carried on naturally, which was the whole idea of the project.
The recovery has been steady over the years and enhanced by a few low-flow weedy summers and calm winters; plenty for us anglers to bitch about, but perfect for our roach.
We have achieved a level of success far exceeding our wildest dreams, with healthy roach population densities now throughout the river once again. Larval drift, displacement and natural migration will ensure that even the areas between our deposits we haven’t had access to will benefit from our efforts, albeit slightly more slowly.
We have another two years of roach in the system which will be stocked next March and the March after as they approach their third birthday (and there are thousands of ‘em), and we’ll continue improving the habitat and maintain some of what we have already created.
The evening meal and auction were just as special as the fishing with proper boys grub of steak pie and roast potatoes and an auction table creaking with wonderful lots donated by wonderful folks.
Although this was the last fundraiser gathering, we have provisionally booked the hotel for the same Saturday next year for the Avon Roach Project book launch, the first rough draft of which is almost complete and just needs a winter of fine tuning and honing – probably to secondary school standard - before we commit to paper.
Wish us luck…
Words cannot describe the level of emotion Budgie and I felt on the day and we’d like to thank everyone who attended, and everyone who simply just support our efforts… You are awesome!
A very happy, and surprised, Paul Gurton with his magnificent three pound three ounce match winning roach.