Barbel on the move.
Following on from Dr Catie’s PhD Study, Pete Davies has carried the mantle over, and currently studies the movement of barbel as well as other migratory fishes which include: Shad, lamprey and barbel, for ongoing research with Bournemouth University.
In my own small way I have helped out where possible with catching barbel for tagging and following and locating barbel post tagging. I am happy to report that it is planned for more tagging to take place later this year.
The diagrams of fish movement make for fascinating viewing, with some fish movement surpassing expectations. The barbel are especially interesting, as they seem to have no “common” modus operandi, therefore fish of similar age and size can be seen to eat different things and travel in different directions and for different distances/reasons…?
Scale samples of these fish can determine age/diet and consequently, health and well being to some degree.
Two examples of barbel movement findings are:
1) A large female fish of over 10lbs was caught in the Lower Severn in Oct 2018, where she was resident for that winter. She then started “travelling” in March 2019 with 2 visits to a virtually impassible weir (Diglis). After these sorties, she entered the river Teme in April 2019 and travelled up that river passing 2 weirs only to be found in May (after much searching) several miles upstream at Cotheridge. This is one example of the travels and lengths one fish will go to, to spawn! She was later in July 2019 found to be back where she was caught in Oct 2018 on the Lower Severn.
Epic, by road, the journey is approx 18 miles (one way), by river it would be similar if not slightly more.
2) Three fish of similar age (year group) caught from within a few hundred meters of each other in Oct 2018 took altogether different journey’s. Thereafter, one was last seen/tracked Jan 2019, 20 miles downstream and maybe up the river Warks Avon, heading out of receiver range! Another had travelled half the distance downstream and settled, while the third barely travelled more than 2 miles in any direction away from what must have been “home”. The movement is varied to say the least, the reasons are harder to find than the barbel!
Some of you may already know that I am currently looking after the fishing at a place called Bransford Court on the river Teme. You are perhaps also aware of the partial removal of the weir at Powick, which is downstream of Bransford and the only man-made physical obstacle to fish movement upstream – from the lower river Severn between Tewkesbury Weir and Diglis Weir – into the Teme.
The migration between these rivers makes for very interesting reading. Given the chance, it seems, (as many anglers have said over the years) the fish of the Severn will travel long distances up the Teme and no doubt the Warks avon at Tewkesbury, for various reasons including food proliferation, and certainly spawning migrations.
I now look forward with bated breath, to the incoming data of movement from those barbel over the past winter and ongoing spring. Hopefully this summer we shall see just where and when these epic movements have taken place again. Having access to the Bransford fishery has enabled me to track and trace many different fish over the last several spring/summer seasons. Now the weir has been partially removed the results of last spring/summer were quite exciting, with groups of fish seen spawning, which had most likely came up from the Severn. Some then staying for summer and others moving on.
The studies are ongoing and shall hopefully reveal more as the seasons show themselves, and the fish travel with (maybe) more ease, than they were previously able. I shall let you know more as it becomes available….
All the best for the coming season,
the angling conservationist.
NB, It was planned that Pete and I would hold a table at the Barbel Society Show this coming June, where Pete would produce the latest movement data and graphics, but please rest assured that whenever possible, these findings will be made available to all interested parties.
Thanks to Laura Bullock and the EA for these images!