The Society at Work

 

Fisheries management has come a long way in the last 20 years … Trout fisheries, whether wild or stocked, depend on the physical, chemical and biological quality of the habitat, including good water quality, flows, cover and invertebrate life for food. For wild trout, the need for good habitat may extend throughout large areas of the catchment. However, with increased pressure on water resources, tighter regulation from Westminster and Brussels and the wider public demand for the conservation of all species, not just trout, it soon becomes evident that managing chalk rivers can be an extremely challenging business.

In order to meet these challenges the Society employs a full-time professional team consisting of a fisheries manager, a head keeper and two river keepers, who manage the waters fished by members – all of which are either Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) or both.

Operating in such sensitive environments, the Society has become an integral part of a larger community. After all, the conservation of the chalk stream environment is rarely straightforward; often it requires collaboration and partnership working with the local community, farmers, landowners, local authorities, water companies, conservation bodies and rivers trusts, as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England. For example, at the Winnall Moors Wildlife Reserve, where we fish the Itchen and its carriers at the historic site of Abbotts Barton, we work closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust through a dedicated Fisheries Management Group, providing a high quality fishing experience in a sustainable, more natural environment that’s under constant improvement, based on scientific evidence.

Whilst the evidence we gather through our own annual electric fishing surveys, invertebrate sampling and angler catch records suggests our wild trout populations and fly life are generally doing quite well we take nothing for granted and each year the Society undertakes river habitat improvement projects on at least one of its waters. During the last year, working alongside the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, the Society was successful in securing Catchment Restoration Funding (CRF) for a large-scale project on the R. Avon, which aims to provide a self-sustaining, more natural river system and improvements to important river and water meadow habitats for a number of internationally rare and threatened SAC species, including Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus), Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar), Bull head (Cottus gobio), Desmoulin’s Whorl Snail (Vertigo moulinsiana), Brook Lamprey (Lampetra planeri) and Sea Lamprey (Petromyzon marinus).

The Piscatorial Society is an active member of the Wiltshire Fishery Association and Test and Itchen Association and supports a number of charitable organisations that work to conserve, restore and improve our chalk rivers.

For more information about the Society, please email enquiries@thepiscatorialsociety.net