Tuesday 30 September 2014


WOW!.... What a doo... The best ever!
As many of you will have gathered by now, a common thread running through the project is just how much we worry about every little detail. And, while we are constantly reminded of the generosity and ongoing support we have, it never stops us fretting. We can even worry about not having enough to worry about.
However, maybe it’s our ‘worry and anxiety’ that sometimes fans the flame of our ‘attention to detail’ which is possibly part of what has brought the project to where it stands today, but far be it for us to blow our own trumpet.

We are always trying to guard against disaster – however, there are some things we can do nothing about, other than adapt, embrace and simply run with it. This year has seen plenty for us to get our worrying heads on for, starting with the Barbel Society deciding not to join us in partnership in these events any more, but to concentrate on their own fundraising activities, and the loss of Somerley as our match venue. Furthermore, we had to move the event forward a week as we were unable to have the dining room at the Tyrrells Ford Hotel on our usual first Saturday in October. 
This, incidentally, is already booked for next year – Saturday 3rd October is already ours.
We can all get a little blinkered and stuck in a rut from time to time, and sometimes only when forced to take stock and appraise the true worth, significance and merit of certain elements does their true level of value reveal itself.
It seemed that as one door was slammed shut in our faces, nearly every other door in the valley fell off its hinges for us.
We are choosing to view it all as a dose of ‘Natural Selection.’
Woe betide us should we ever contemplate relaxing thinking all has been taken care of. If ever we do, we brace ourselves for the deafening crash of disaster at something resulting from our wretched complacency or neglect. Fortunately though, we remain on a lucky streak – or is it a lucky streak?
The initial disappointment of the fishing venue was countered by Christchurch Angling Club, Ringwood and District Anglers Association and Southern Fisheries. They all rallied round and gave us permission to fish Upper and Lower Severals, Avon Castle, Bickerley Mill Stream, Upper and Lower Winkton and The Royalty Fishery...... WOW!
Attendance this year was down on last years’ all time best by only six, and this seems to be due to the change in date – we had no idea of the significance of keeping the exact same weekend for the doo.
The match was fished by a good number, but as usual there were plenty of wanderers about just for the chat and the tea drinking. The social side of the event is becoming increasingly appealing.
Conditions meant that the fishing was pretty hard (but then this is the Avon, after all – yet we always blame the conditions). However, for the second year running and only the second time in the event’s history, roach featured in the catch returns – some of which were taken from stretches we have stocked..... Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? (Although, it might not have anything at all to do with our efforts, of course. There might simply have been a miraculous and coincidental natural recovery of the species in the river..... So some might have you believe..... Hhhhmmmm!)
This is what it's all about. A sparkling Avon Roach.
Despite conditions, there were some nice fish caught, and the Royalty
didn't disappoint with this splendid barbel for James Van-Gowler.

As well as fish there was much nattering, mingling and tea drinking.
The match winner is the one with the best specimen fish (based upon its weight as a percentage of the species record) caught on the day and while we would all love to see one of our events won with a clonking roach, and while the first released of ours could now be nearing the pound mark, we had to settle on a substitute – a chub of five pounds four ounces taken by regular attendee and avid supporter from the start, Bob Gibbs. Well done Bob.
Match winner Bob accepting the coveted trophy from Trevor just before the auction.
There were a few comments on the night about the risk of Bob's shirt
setting off the smoke alarms...
The evening was once again a roaring success, with probably the most popular meal we have ever had, followed by the auction of an eclectic array of almost seventy lots going under the hammer, from guided fishing days to original artwork, books, rods, reels, handmade floats and so on.
It is impossible to describe the atmosphere on the day and in particular the evening. The ‘feel-good’ factor is off the scale. And, as people return each year friendships are formed and reinforced; newcomers are warmly welcomed and just fit right in, and the general buzz of the whole affair is utterly priceless. We just love it. Or are we being a little biased?
Us two (Trev and Budgie) trying desperately to hide any pre-match nerves.
The reality, however, is that our stomachs are knotted with needless anxiety.

Then the starting pistol is fired and the soup is served. The clock ticks.
Us two still smiling along with our table guests from left to right
Jimbo, Richard, JimBob and Peter

Fantastic supporters one and all.

Another table of regular supporters. See what we mean about Bob's shirt?

Charlie on the left making sure he gets his hand up early for the start
of the auction - or is it growing out of the top of Bruce's head?

The noisy table. What a great bunch...

Table full of smiles, alcohol and great food;
and pockets full of cash - what more could we ask?

Then one last look at the auction table before battle commences.

Then Roy gets the auction going and we hold our breath...

Trev helped with the auction and the high sprited banter was delightful,
especially when he was trying to flog something with him in it like the 'Angling Artists' book
All in all, and including the auction, raffle, donations etc. the event has raised a staggering £6000 for the Avon Roach Project.
It is the generosity shown at these annual fundraising events that helps remove the financial burden of running The Avon Roach Project. Not only are we able to run the project day to day financially unencumbered, but have been able to excavate all the stews the project will need. We now have nine at Bickton.
In addition to this we are able to take a lead role or participating contributory role in much needed habitat reinstatement and restoration initiatives on the river, vital for the ongoing success of our roach.
We are due to be involved in a couple of fairly hefty ones, if all goes to plan.

Now it is an Avon Roach Project only event, we were able to produce a small display stand showing what we get up to and where the funds we raise are spent.
We also have our eye on the reinstatement of an old, almost dried out and overgrown, pond at Bickton which will add yet another string to our bow by allowing us to create an environment in which we can generate a self-sustaining population of our Avon Roach for cropping every few years and delivering throughout the river as well as collecting spawn each year on our boards and letting this hatch in the river. This is aside from what we will continue to do with the spawn in the tanks and fish in stews.... A kind of ‘blanket-bomb’ approach.
We are currently enjoying one of the best years ever, with huge numbers of tiddlers in our tanks along with great numbers of two and a half year olds in four of our stews. These will be approaching adulthood by the time we release them this coming spring. This will be the biggest deposit we have made so far, and we are really looking forward to it. We’ll be sure to get a few pictures to show you all on this site...... Best start getting those batteries charged up and that sack of 5893782949-GIG memory cards ready...
Some of our 'Toddlers' in one of our stews at Bickton, still always pleased
to see us, especially if we are carrying the feed bucket. We collect spawn
from these each year on our boards (they clog four of them with thousands of eggs)
and transfer it and let it hatch in the river.

These are some of our two and a half year olds in one of our stews which
are due for release back into the Avon this coming spring 2015.
This is one of four stews with this population density, all of which are going
to be released in February or March - unless Mother Nature has another tantrum this winter.
None of this would be possible without the support and amazing generosity shown at these annual fundraising events, so from the very depths of our hearts we thank you all.
We’d like to sign off by thanking everyone for their support, both at the event and up and down the country, who donate financially or with their physical help, or who simply write and email us with wonderful messages of support and encouragement.
Our project has also been enjoying the best year for press and media coverage which helps spread the word and encourages further support for what we are trying to do.
We had a lovely article written in The Times newspaper by Brian Clarke which told our story very nicely. We also appeared on SKY TV’s ‘Tight Lines’ with Keith Arthur, and were delighted with the final cut of the film as again it told the story nicely and accurately.
Following this, the BBC asked if they could come and do a little film for the news, which they did, and made a good job, considering the amount of time we filmed for and the eventual telly time.
It amazes us that we can spend four hours filming and talking for just two minutes of telly; an editing nightmare.
What we are most pleased with is the gentle, accurate way the story has been told. We are very protective of the purity of what we do and never want it overdramatised or sensationalised, as has been done in the past.
It is still, after all, simply a couple of nutcases with a potty idea having a go...... But we do still sometimes have to pinch ourselves.
And all we want is that one day the very existence of healthy numbers of roach in the river will speak for itself.
The links to the SKY and BBC films are below:-
Tight Lines