Weed Chokes South Pond: Matches Abandoned From September 2020.
You may have noticed the rapid growth and spread of weed in South Pond during late spring and into early autumn of this year. Some of the invasive species have been identified as Parrot's Feather, Water Milfoil and blanket weed. We assume they have entered South Pond from either being dumped into our water after private ponds were cleared or flowed in from the North Pond. We have had four successive seasons of weed but managed to cut and control fairly adequately, until this year. A mild winter, warm, wet spring and hot summer produced optimum growing conditions in the shallower water. Cutting and raking margins when wading cleared some weed but its growth was too vigorous.
Cutting from the boat had the same results. Weed regrew quickly and with such density that we could no longer match fish. Even pleasure fishing was seriously curtailed. Fish were being lost or landed with mouth damage as they were played through the weed.
The South Pond looked neglected and abandoned. In short it had become an eyesore instead of a pleasant amenity for Bishops Waltham. Club membership urged the Committee to act.
The Committee investigated ways to reduce the problem. Our stocking licence would not allow the suggested introduction of grass carp to eat the weed. European carp are not indigenous (unlike Crucian carp), so the Environment Agency (EA) would block the idea. Introducing herbicides is banned by EU law (and therefore UK law) and we were reluctant to introduce a blue chemical dye to curb weed growth. The water would turn a lovely blue but as we flow into the Upper Hamble, the EA would prohibit its use.
We were left with cutting and removal as an option but on a contractual scale. However, the weed would return next summer, so we were looking at a double booking. Contractors estimated £4000+ for 4-6 days work. This is way beyond our small club's finances. We needed a cheaper option. Providence lent a hand. 'Prof' Paul Moriarty was pole fishing one summer's day and fell into conversation with a visitor from Chichester who was having a wander around the town and lake. Naturally, weed became the focus. Our visitor revealed Chichester DAC had used a contractor to clear weed that year. It sounded a good lead and Steve Edge subsequently contacted the secretary of CDAC who passed on details.
WeedCutter Ltd began working on October 26th to remove surface and rooted weed. They arrived from Chelmsford before 8:00 am. Ross the boat driver worked tirelessly the whole day and even removed large snags including, ropes, branches, trunks and an exterior door that may have been dumped from the Abbey ruins. The heavily studded hinges and metal frame suggested this. At this point I will publicly thank 3 members in particular. Prof Moriarty and Roland Palmer toiled for the whole day and Luke Martin who also worked alongside them. They barrowed the weed and snags from where it was dumped on swims to the perimeter bushes. The Club thanks them for their hard work and club spirit.
The committee appealed for help a week in advance and 24 hours before the day. We have a membership of around 80. Only 3 offered their help and these were guys who are not 100% fit either but worked hard. Where were those members who were not working or at school or not too infirm or unwell or shielding? Steve Edge could not work having had a full knee replacement two weeks before! The majority of our fit retirees were significant by their absence. You would have been outside, distancing was possible, Covid issues could be managed. We have members who like to fish, complain about conditions and lack of committee action but do not help. I know this is common in all clubs. My gripe is that when committee takes action, membership fails to support the projects. Labour is always provided by the same 5 or 6 who are committee members and are of pension age. The odd exception has been mid summer when more members turn up for a shift or two. This is our perennial problem. If you want to fish in pleasant surroundings, then help us to help you by attending as many work parties as possible.
Our funds are now depleted. The weed cutting was completed in a single day instead of the contracted two days and we received a discount from the company. However, we will need to fund a second cut next summer when the weed is growing. We will need to seek other funding sources during the winter. Our maintenance program has had to be revised. Our intention to repair swims; raise swims and path heights to alleviate flooding has been pushed back until funds improve. We will then need much labour to complete these projects. In the meantime, regular inspection to clear outflows or adjust boards may reduce flooding.
Hand Car Wash is no longer a concern
When the hand car wash was being set up we raised our concerns about possible pollution from run-off with the EA and and Winchester CC Environmental services. Following visits to check we have been assured that all of the correct drainage is in place which was checked and approved by Southern Water before the concrete was laid. Also social media conversations about dead ducks, other dead wildlife and pollution caused by the car wash are all spurious. The dead birds were all the results of road collisions. The oily patch on the water was caused by algae in the water. The only outstanding issue is that it does not yet have planning consent. This is being applied for retrospectively but does not raise any concerns for pollution or wildlife.
Memberships being processed by post
Memberships are being processed by post to ensure that Covid distancing rules are observed. Renewals and new memberships are all being processed.
December and January activities
At the time of writing (early November) matches are cancelled until further notice. Check our web site www.bwpfc.org.uk for the latest information.
Joining the Club
If you are interested in joining the club please contact our membership secretary Cathy Naylor on 07934-895513 for an application form. Alternatively, applications can be made by downloading a membership form from the website and sending, with an SAE, to our membership secretary (details on the form and on the web site). Membership renewals and applications are only being processed by post. The membership year runs from mid-June. Membership renewals and applications for the 2020-21 season are now open.
Membership is open to anyone who lives in Bishops Waltham, plus a number of Associate membership places (for those living outside the Parish). Priority is given to Parish membership (especially juniors), but anyone living outside of the Parish wishing to join should contact Cathy for an Associate Membership place.
Club web site
For more information about the club and its activities, the club's web site can be found at: www.bwpfc.org.uk
Steve Edge and Barry Jerome