Why the Bar­bel So­ci­ety are cor­rect to­day about pre­da­tion

Anglers Mail - - Carp Crew -

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

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