Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Project has visitors!

Mr Warren Slaney recently visited the Erewash........

We’ve all done it. Driving down the motorway we see a bridge coming up in the distance. Perhaps it’s a river bridge…and a sign confirms its name. As you cross over it you sit up in your seat and flash glances while keeping your eyes on the road in front as your family rolls its eyes in unison. Between Junctions 25 and 26 on the M1on the border between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire is a bridge, a sign and a river called the Erewash. The bit you we see as you speed past has been fitted into a straightjacket by the Civil Engineers but further upstream and down this little river now has friends. Dennis has very kindly offered to show me around and one Sunday morning in June we found ourselves walking down a busy road on the way to the river. Breaking left we are immediately in a flood plane with the river up in front defined as a twisting double row of willow, poplar and thorn. Steep banks and a meandering channel would have my Geography teacher ticking the lower river box and she would be right. This is a coarse fish zone and to confirm this my guide points out half a dozen chub who see us high up on the bank and turn their black tails downstream. What is interesting is that the group who now look after this river are all fly fishermen with a wish to one day see trout amongst the coarse fish. The gleaming beds of ranunculus are interspersed with ribbon weed and there isn’t too much algae so there is hope.Around the corner comes a thick set spaniel followed by a beagle followed by Mick. We shake hands and my questions pour out; I want to know more. Mick does his best to answer me by drawing on the hours, months and years of walking this stretch. If this group had titles Mick’s would be a do’er. He proudly explains what it used to be like, before all the hard work started and shows me the results of their labour. From what I gather the river here and there was blocked almost completely by urban rubbish in the form of barrels, pallets; well you name it. Now lets get one thing straight, this isn’t chalk stream but it does have advantages. The local EA, once they realised that these men were serious, came and tested the water because the top boundary is defined by a sewage farm. The local Wildlife Trust is on board and they are coming to see how they can help. When someone takes the trouble to do something quite often their enthusiasm is infectious.A female sanitary product hangs from a branch well up in a riverside tree telling me use the high water to dump the ‘rags’ they are paid and trusted to dispose of properly. I’m not allowed to muse for long as someone spots a pink pelvic fin that’s attached to a golden flank, with a forked tail and head with whiskers. Three more barbel hang below a submerged willow tree leading us to discuss large woody debris and cover. The group have control of a tributary and a piece of upper river with a history of trout so this could be a good mixed fishery to pay back the hard work dished out. One thing is for sure these men aren’t ‘fly-by-nights’ with a short term aim of piling in the stock browns, they want to do it right, to build from the bottom, up. They have the long term health of the river in mind. As we walk back to the car, under the M1 with its wonderful graffiti on the walls, it occurs to me that there must be a hundreds of miles of river like this with thousands of fishermen just waiting to get stuck in. The Erewash Restoration Project could be a blueprint for maximising the potential of any river, anywhere, rather than turned their backs and saying it can’t be done. No pressure Lads!One thing is for sure, if I was a small brown trout, a barbel, chub, perch or water vole I would be healthier and better off thanks to this group.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008


If you have any photographs relevant to the Erewash and the project I would be interested in hearing from you. I am also interested in documentation from the past concerning the river and it's fisheries.

Nutt Brook

The Nutt Brook flows into river at the project's stretch. The Nutt Brook flows for 500 metres alongside the Erewash until it disappears from view. It suffers at them moment from shading for most of it's length. It has a firm gravel bottom, and has reasonable plant growth where visible. The brook would appear at this stage to offer suitable gravel area from spawing Brown Trout to make their redds, but this would have to be surveyed further.

The brook is rumoured to hold a small population of Brown Trout, with reports of anglers catching them from time to time. The brook is only fished on occasion. Any photos of fish caught from the brook would be very welcomed, and would help substantiate reports of trout from the brook.

I for one believe that the Nutt Brook would make an excellent trout fishing, albeit a challenging water requiring a stealthy approach. Extensive work is still needed to make this dream a reality.

Kick Sampling

Mick and Del carried out an Invertebrate sample on the river using the kick sampling technique. A variety of invertebrates (trout food) were discovered. It's encouraging to see the river does support a healthy population of invertebrates, it would be interesting to carry out more systematic sampling of the river at different locations along the restoration stretch.

Work in progress

Work has begun in earnest on the river. A number of working parties have taken place. The depth at various different locations has been determined. LWD (large wood debris) has been removed. Working parties have been meeting at the river near Moorbridge lane on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings.
The Environment Agency have offered their support to the project following a visit to the River on the 27th February.
A copy of their letter is below:
River Erewash Trout Restoration Scheme - Following the site meeting held on the 27.02.08 attended by the Environment Agency Fisheries Department and representatives from the River Erewash Trout Restoration Scheme, I am writing to offer the Environment Agency’s technical assistance in delivering this project.The intention of this scheme is to try to restore a self sustaining population of brown trout (Salmo trutta) to a stretch of the Erewash around Trowell. Having visited the site to gain an idea as to the physical characteristics of the river in this area and the influences on this stretch, a number of short term objectives were agreed.Firstly we need to look at the water quality within this stretch because as to my knowledge, there are at least three major sewage works within or upstream of the stretch. Whether the quality of water discharged from the works is good enough to sustain trout is the initial concern. I would always be wary that although the quality at the time of sampling may be suitable, pollution events caused by these works are always a possibility. This stretch was subject to a pollution caused by Langley Mill works during October 2007 during which, large numbers of coarse fish were killed. Although records show that these events aren’t of annual occurrence, it does highlight the vulnerability of the river.I would hope to undertake general water quality analysis in the near future. If the results of the sampling indicate that the site is able to sustain trout, further investigations can proceed.If water quality analysis conforms to the standards for trout then we can assist the restoration group with mapping of the physical habitat on the stretch and following this, areas of suitable habitat can be surveyed for the presence of trout.You have already approached a number of organisations to put forward your intentions including The Wild Trout Trust. It would also be beneficial to inform the Trent Rivers Trust as they may offer further technical advice.I shall be in contact when I am able to secure a date for water quality analysis and further to that, possible habitat and fish surveys.
This is a positive step for the the project. The Wild Trout Trust have also offered their support, and look set to fund an Advisory visit.