Angling Times (UK) - - NETBUSTERS -

IN THE an­nual semi-tidal Thames ‘draw­down’ the river is al­lowed to drop to the full ex­tent of the tide, ex­pos­ing riverbed and gravel banks that are cov­ered with wa­ter for the other 11 months of the year.

On my lat­est well-timed beach­comb­ing trip I found a lot of what I thought were zebra mussels – they were in fact of the quagga va­ri­ety, an alien species.

How­ever, most of the quagga shells were empty, and ac­cord­ing to reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing by the Zoological So­ci­ety of London the live pop­u­la­tion is in huge de­cline. Quagga mussels were first dis­cov­ered on the semi-tidal Thames just three years ago, and what I find en­thralling is that these in­va­sive species ar­rive, flour­ish mas­sively and then, in a rel­a­tively short time, de­cline equally dra­mat­i­cally. This has hap­pened with mit­ten crabs, sig­nal cray­fish and now zebra mussels and Asian clams.

My most in­ter­est­ing find came from the skele­ton of a gar­den chair with heavy green braid at­tached. About 4m away was a clump of branches, and the braid led me to that. A grip lead was slid­ing on the braid so I kept go­ing un­til I found a HUGE cat­fish hook, at least a 7/0, with a bag and a la­bel at­tached.

When I cleaned the mud off, it proved to be for a hag­gis. Now, of­fal is a recog­nised cat­fish bait, but most an­glers would take it out of the bag be­fore use!

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