Can fisheries recover from toxic algae?

Thanks to the generosity of a true gentleman, Bob Church and I have access to three wonderful private gravel pits in Bedfordshire. Over the years we have been privileged to enjoy some simply wonderful sport there, mainly with pike. Unfortunately, last year and for no obvious reason, our ‘banker’ South Lake (where we thought we couldn’t fail) didn’t produce at all. Suddenly it was as though there were no pike in residence whatsoever. We are still at a total loss to explaining this phenomenon, as it has proven so reliable in the past.

If this weren’t bad enough, the North Lake developed a serious green algae bloom, coinciding with a spell of very hot, still weather, which disastrously caused the death of scores if not hundreds of fish, from 25lb pike to 10lb tench! It was so sad to see 30 odd fish, including carp, pike and eels, with their noses rammed up the inlet pipe, trying desperately to get some oxygen. It was heartbreaking. I really thought that this was the end but Arnold, the owner of the estate, was more optimistic about the prospects of recovery.

Bob and I did our best to restock that North Lake with some 50-odd pike from the other two lakes on the property, but I was in serious doubt that we would ever see the lake return to its former glory.

Time passes so quickly, but many a time since then I have walked around with spinning tackle or a jerk rod with no result – a far cry from the old days – and I really began to fear the worst.

Recently we returned for another recce. On this occasion I helped Bob fix up two deadbait outfits, then set off with Max for a general tour of the estate. Not expecting much to happen I was surprised and pleased when, third cast from the boat jetty, the jerkbait was snapped up with a thump and a ten pound pike in good order was led to shore and released. A good start!

I got a slightly smaller one in the corner of the South Lake, nothing from the Trout Lake, but then a further two small pike from the North Lake on the far side. This was a result indeed, and I was well pleased… But not as pleased as when I hooked and landed a 15lb beauty and the north end of the lake!

15lb pike from Arnold's

“Things are really starting to happen” I thought to myself, and returned to Bob to tell him the good news. As it happened, I found him on his back, as he’d just fallen off his chair attempting to get to his rods, which both had a fish on! Fortunately between us we managed to retrieve and release both fish, and I managed another ‘smally’ on the jerk before it was time to go.

As we enjoyed our Christmas cuppa with Arnold and his wife, we decided that eight pike was quite a result considering what we had feared. It just goes to show how nature can recover from adversity.

Here’s to the future!

Mike Green About Mike Green

Although a bit of a pike fanatic, Mike Green has been fishing in the UK and abroad for most of his life, catching coarse, sea and game fish in the UK, Canada, Alaska, New Zealand, Asia and Americas.