Thursday 16 April 2015

Roach Project Filming with SKY TV 'Tight Lines'

Off the back of having delivered the greatest number of roach to the river in the projects history in March, we were quietly confident that the day filming with Sky TV Tight Lines crew on April 1st was going to deliver some suitably impressive fishy shots and sequences.
Having been stunned to silence at what we netted from the adjacent stew we were really looking forward to revealing the contents of the final one to be netted and delivered to the river, knowing there would be at least the same number, maybe even a few more.
Although we have been filmed a few times now and are far more relaxed with it, there is still an element of distraction, apprehension and self doubt (after all, who in their right mind wants to watch and listen to us two?) – starting every sentence with errrr or um, tripping over some fresh air, looking straight down the camera lens having just been asked to walk past it and pretend it isn’t there...... Then there is the absolute certainty that the moment it’s all over and the car doors slam and we all drive off home a whole barrel-load of profundities pour into the mind that you wish you’d thought of while the cameras were rolling.
It turned out that this day was to be no different, but with the skill of the director, Mike, the know-how of cameraman Ben and the steady, calmness of Keith, along with the snipping and cutting and skilful editing, we think they have made us look almost normal, but you can judge for yourselves as we have included a link to the film further down this blog entry.
All joking aside, it’s a real privilege to be asked to do a film for telly, and a wonderful opportunity to continue spreading the Avon Roach Project word.
Stills and captions and blogs are a great way for us to tell our story, but a well made film gives it a whole new level and pace and we are very lucky to have both.
The main thing is it shows the river receiving yet another dollop of thousands of our healthy adult Avon roach, which is what it’s all about. It also captures the great atmosphere of enjoyment, pride and fulfilment we can’t help radiating in this amazing bumper year for the project.
All in all the day went really well and we thoroughly enjoyed it, and once again have to offer our sincere thanks to our great mates for their help on the day; ever dependable Jim Allan who was the expert with the net, the pipes and oxygen – and cool shades; Jim Wreglesworth and of course Dickie Howell and his brother Martin. They all continue to make our lives so much easier.
This was the final one of five copious releases we have made this year and is very close to one of our annual spawn collection locations, so once again ensuring we always give more than we take.
Once the delivery of the fish was complete and the final sequence shot, we were treated to tea and the best banana cake this side of the universe by the land owner Peter and his wife Sandy back at the house.

Rain was forecast for later in the day, but we still started with a ‘tea break’ and a laugh – just to lay the foundation to the day. Then it was on to the chosen stew to get started. Budgie led the way and made Cameraman Ben and Director Mike carry all their own gear.

                                                 A quick portrait photo for the blogs and press.

                                                                   Trev getting wired for sound.

                                Last touches to the sound equipment – and everything is ready to go.

                                     Last run through the format.

            Keith does his opening introduction sequence to camera.

             The net is laid around the edges of the stew in readiness and Trev explains what’s going on.

Cameras were clicking away all day, not only for personal and press stuff, but for the documenting of the history of what is happening here....

                                           Ben picks his spot...

                                         And we’re off. Jim Allan and Trev begin drawing the net in.

Once the two ends of the net meet, there is a slight relaxation in nervousness. We’re all thinking ‘there’d better be some bloody roach in there...’

Jim Wreglesworth gets the other end of the net and Jim Allan takes in the lead line..... Tension mounts... Breath held, knuckles white, mouth dry, excuses ready...

Then this little lot reveal themselves. What a haul of roach...

This is a reminder of what they looked like two years ago when they were put in the stew as little one year olds from our tanks.

Martin Howell takes over on the net as Jim Allan passes Trev the roach for placing into the barrels.

Ben continues with the loading of the roach into the barrels while Mike tries for some underwater shots with the GoPro camera on a pole.

Then it’s off to the truck and the oxygenated tank, where the fish would be happier and less stressed..... If only we could tell ‘em...

Time was fairly critical here with so many fish in the barrels, so we just got on with it.

                                                                         What a net of roach...

                                                                      And they just kept coming.

                              Cameraman Ben managed a few close-ups, poking in where he could.

                                         Once again, stunned silence at the sheer number of roach.

Once the filming and photo’s of this bit were done, Budgie and Keith set about telling each other jokes (or should that be fishing stories). Then it was off to the river.

Then it was almost the entire sequence in reverse. The roach are put back in the barrels for depositing back into the river.

                                                                  Jim hands Trev the first lot.

                                                                         The smile says it all.

                                               Trev tries not to stumble and fall in (he is pretty clumsy).

                                                           The first net-full get their freedom.

      There were enough nets of roach to be able to do, and re-do, all the talky bits for the film as we went.

                                 Smiles of amazement all round.

The feel-good atmosphere at dropping so many roach back into the river was impossible to hide.

                                              Last deposit for the camera, then it was science time...

We had separated about fifty roach so they could be measured and have scale samples taken for comparison with existing EA data on Avon roach taken from fish before our project.

We have taken this little sweetheart from egg to this, and just before being given her freedom, she plays yet another part in Avon Roach history.

Jim Allan carefully removes a couple of scales from each fish, which were then placed in individual envelopes and sealed. The size of the individual was written on the envelope.

It will give us a direct comparison with growth rates of our roach to those in fish from the river before we started our project.

No harm done, but a valuable source of directly comparable data. They were all then released into the river to join their friends. So, if you meet a three pounder in fifteen years time with a slight graze on her shoulder, say hello...
The link to the film is below...... We have also been a little indulgent and put the link to the film we made with them back in August below that, in case anyone wants a double helping of us (unlikely, without some strong medication and counselling).

Tight Lines April 2015

Tight Lines August 2014
Through one thing or another, there have been some temporary gaps in our inlets to the first stews we reinstated and we have long suspected that some of our roach have tip-toed out and have set up home in our feeder stream as we have noticed roach of various year classes living here. And we know the local herons always show an interest.
We have always seen the odd group of small fish which are not always obvious as there are all kinds of places for them to hide such as the huge pipes under the access paths and a lot of weed growth, and it’s not something we take much notice of as we have enough water to stand and stare into which we know to be full of fish, but lately we have suspected there may be more to this stream than we realise.
One of the things that has caught our attention is the presence of one year old roach in the haul when netting the last two stews, which were only excavated a few months prior to us stocking them with roach from our tanks two years ago, meaning that these little roach can only have come in through the inlet pipes from the stream as larvae, or indeed from the main river which feeds our stream – it’s that larval drift again, a vital element in what we are doing in the river, as when our released roach spawn this larval drift, along with adult migration and displacement will, over time, colonise areas we haven’t been able to stock our roach for whatever reason. However, little did we think we would be the beneficiaries of it in our own stews.
The other thing it highlights is that if we give these little critters even half a chance and the slightest of opportunities they’ll grab it with both fins. It also demonstrates the huge significance of these off-river back waters and streams as vital fry and juvenile habitat.
It all goes to show just how adaptable our roach can be when they get the chance.... Isn’t nature wonderful (sometimes)...?
As we sign off now we can report that all the first round of spawning boards are in the river, and we have been taken completely by surprise through the extraordinarily warm weather sending water temperatures rocketing and light levels soaring with a low, clear river meaning that the roach have already started spawning ten days earlier than we anticipated, and for only the second time we have known. So, the starting pistol is fired and off we go... Watch this space.
Finally, you can now follow our movements on our Facebook page – yes, us on Facebook. Who’d have thought...? Us embracing modern technology eh? There’ll be radiograms in automobiles next.      Please visit and give the page a ‘like’ and a ‘share.’ Link below...