Winter work: getting ready for a new season

While there is still the chance of an occasional grayling outing, winter is the time for getting our trout streams into shape for the season to come. As part of the Cotswold Flyfishers’ Fisheries Team I’ve been working throughout the off-season out on our Cotswold rivers on our annual programme of maintenance.

Most of the work is regular maintenance, trimming back the annual growth of bankside willows, alders, hawthorns and brambles, and clearing any trees that have come down through the winter. We do our best to balance the opening up of access for fishing with the enhancement of the habitat for wild trout and other wildlife.

This year has been a challenge thanks to a succession of storms that brought down trees and left us battling high water. Nevertheless, necessity is the mother of invention and those fallen trees yielded large logs that can be recycled as flow deflectors to introduce in-stream features.

Here on the Coln we protected the bank from erosion using stakes intertwined with willow. The brash from routine maintenance is used as backfill material. Over the winter this structure will trap silt and protect the bank. The woven willow structure will also be a great habitat for trout fry.

The least enjoyable part of our winter work is discovering just how much litter our fellow citizens dispose of in our rivers. This was a day’s haul from the River Churn below Cirencester.

From April, we will be back fishing for trout again and I can’t wait. We’re taking bookings now if you’d like to book a guided day on the Cotswold rivers or a casting refresher ahead of the new season

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