Following a stock survey that the Environment Agency carried out in January 2023 and the subsequent report and recommendations, it became clear that the fish stock within Shotton Pond were under stress (some species seriously). This report highlighted that a number of species were breeding excessively where other species were showing signs of stunting. In essence, there are physically too many fish in the volume of water available. If this situation was left to continue, one or two species will simply keep breeding and ultimately the fish will kill themselves through lack of food and space. Also, during this survey in January it became clear that although there were adult Common and Mirror Carp present, there was not a single juvenile Carp found in the pond whatsoever - This is very worrying for the continuation of this particular species for instance.
Two things need to happen 1: The volume of water has to increase/rise and 2: The number/amount of fish need to decrease; it is as plain and simple as that. Increasing the volume of water will only be achievable by properly dredging the pond. Cropping the pond which is currently up to four feet deep in silt, although there are a number of hoops to jump through is a relatively straight forward operation.
Once the club obtains the finances for a dredging operation, the pond will indeed be dredged fully. It has never been carried out in full, in memory. Make no mistake, this is a huge undertaking. Every single fish will have to be removed, all the water drained, then plant machinery take out what is around four feet thick of silt. Let the pond refill naturally, then re-introduce the fish. This will be carried out during the winter months so will not impact upon access to fishing too much. This heavy plant work will also be able take out all the snags that are in the pond and will be able to develop the ponds structure installing deep areas as well as shelves and shallows taking this pool back to what it would have been many years ago.
Shotton Hall Angling Club's MAIN priority is the welfare of the fish stock, way ahead of actually catching fish. However, having said that, once the stocks are managed at the correct levels for the volume of water, the fish will thrive. They will physically have more room to move in the pond. They will have more food available to them i.e. less competition and in-turn will actually breed better. The consequence of this will be a good stock of young to adult fish in all species, healthy fish, and breeding fish. The adult stock will also grow larger and this little pond could produce some specimen-sized fish. In future, as the health of various species improves we will also be able to sell stock on to fund and improve the club. As a result of all this, the angling will be superb!
Just over 1000 Bream have been taken from our pond and now reside with our good friends Hartlepool & District Angling Club. Many thanks to everyone in this club, it was a joy to meet you all. These Bream will themselves be far happier and healthier in a larger water where they in-turn will develop more successfully and breed more successfully, and at the end of the day provide greater sport for anglers.
As a footnote to this, not a single carp was found in this netting today. We think they somehow escaped during a couple of periods when the nets got snagged up and they escaped underneath the nets. There were a huge amount of Rudd counted. Many, many superb Roach. Please note, a good number of Bream of all sizes remain in our pond, so Bream anglers do not fret. Not many Tench were caught in this netting, but what there were looked very healthy indeed (they all probably hid in the silt). The rumours of Eels in this pond are 100% true. Another object of this day was to capture the two Koi Carp that are resident as well as the Goldfish which are destined for a local ornamental private pond. Only one Koi was caught in the nets today, meaning one is still loose, as is the one Goldfish (it's about 3lb's). Once the new season starts I intend to provide a prize to whoever can catch the Goldfish and another to the capture of the remaining Koi, details of this will be posted in the coming weeks.
The cropping of fish is a basic and fundamental part of fishery management and will continue indefinitely, with the single aim of fish welfare. Working towards getting the fish stock back to health will provide Shotton Hall Angling Club members with premier angling opportunities unlike anywhere else!