Why the Barbel Society are correct today about predation
PETE READING was completely wrong to accuse the Barbel Society of having ‘lost the plot’ with regard to the effects of otter predation on the UK’s barbel populations. The Society has not identified the otter as the sole problem affecting barbel, it has just emphasized the extreme damage that this voracious predator has caused.
Pete quotes data from what, I regard, as fundamentally flawed scientific research. The otter spraint analysis on the Hampshire Avon, by Britton et al, used a crude visual analysis of undigested material such as bones and fish scales. The important microscopic fraction of the spraints, which can’t be analysed visually, was ignored.
Therefore if, for example, a big otter caught a large barbel or carp, ripped open it’s belly and then feasted on soft tissue like the liver, that material, if present in the spraint, would not only remain unidentified by visual analysis, but may almost certainly be fully digested and not found in the spraint at all! Britton et al’s research would not have identified such a kill.
In contrast, visual analysis can be a very useful technique in the study of dietary preferences – by direct observation of what an animal feeds on.
Here, I would differ with Pete
Drop shotting tales
DROP SHOTTING has been bang on for walking our dog (Rover) whilst fishing long stretches of canal and river.
Deep hooking those greedy perch buggers was a learning curve solved by occasionally cutting the line, leaving the hook in when near the vital organs.
I was recently amazed to catch a lovely, well-looking perch with a hook emerging from his
Several of the giant Great Ouse barbel, including Grahame King’s reigning 21 lb 1 oz British record fish (right), were believed to have been killed by otters.
again. He disparages what many committed and concerned anglers observed as ‘rumour, gossip and anecdote.’ That is most unfair. There exists a plethora of sightings of otters capturing large fish and even more observations of their stricken victims. For example, Grahame King witnessed his record Ouse barbel dead on the bank with its throat ripped out.
So, please, it is just scientific common sense, supported by some research bum! It was one of my cut-offs!
How did I know? The hook pulled out easily – a bright yellow Gamakatsu, as shown on a Steve Collett’s Drop Shot Masterclass Angler’s Mail video. It had TWO tag ends knotted as shown by Steve on another of his great mini videos; fantastic and a lot easier to tie than a Palomar. It must have been from at least a year ago!
So a big thank you to Steve
and observation, that the introduction into British rivers of a large, voracious, apex predator, such as the otter, will have an adverse affect on the fish populations. Also, British rivers were almost devoid of otters for decades. The riverine wildlife, whose predator avoidance behaviour consisted of innate instincts and learned responses, was suddenly exposed to a deadly and unfamiliar carnivore.
Now, bearing in mind many for his advice on methods and tackle. Deep hooking is now solved. And well done to Steve on his recent big lure fishing win. matthew, Uxbridge, middlx.
Crays now a killer
I READ John Bailey’s recent Angler’s Mail articles about the conservation crisis.
I came back to angling after a 30-year lay-off and I found a love for chub fishing on small rivers. I was so enthusiastic, I joined three clubs in my first year.
Thirty years ago Signal crayfish were not such a menace, if at all. Now, due to the crayfish limiting what bait I can use, I lack confidence that it’s still on after a few minutes, and get constant false bites, making it harder to catch anything.
One of the clubs will not get my membership fee next year.
I’m not saying that it’s their