The first year Level 3 Fish Management students headed over to Blacknest Golf and Country Club near Alton to net four of the small ponds within the complex.

The first nets of the day were to survey the fish stocks in one of the larger ponds to see what species were present and to what size. This pond is to be opened up as a fishery in a few weeks and early angling trials had produced carp to low doubles. It soon became apparent that there was quite a prolific amount of weed still present and two sweeps of the seine net proved relatively unsuccessful.

Not to be beaten, the group moved on to the next door pond where a few carp could be seen cruising around in its clear water. After formulating a plan of how to net the horseshoe shaped pond, the net was carefully weaved around the margins and some 10 lovely commons to 6lbs were caught along with a couple of mirrors which were moved to the fishing pond.

After a quick stop for some food, the team moved on to the next pond which had been partially drained. It was evident that there were lots of carp in there, but by the time the net was hauled many had escaped through the mass of lily roots and sunken branches that hindered the net. However, another handful of fish were transferred to the fishing pond improving the fishing even more.

It was well into the afternoon by the time the fourth pond was on the agenda. Again it looked promising with about a dozen carp seen cruising in its clear water. The main issue looked to be the marginal snags and branches that may help the fish escape the net so care had to be taken to set the net carefully. This involved walking the net round which in knee depth silt soon had everyone’s legs working hard.

As the net was drawn in, optimism was low as there were several sunken branches tangling the net again and catches weren’t expected to be high. How wrong could we be! As the leads were hauled in, it became apparent that the group had caught far more than had been seen initially. Not only were there 20 or so carp to 9lbs but a mass of small crucians, little carp and some silvers laid there in the net – a great result!

Once these fish were rehomed, the final task of the day was to clean and de-twig the net. This was no easy job and it took some 30 minutes to take every twig out of the net – it’s doing the dirty mundane parts of a job well that makes catching fish so much more enjoyable!

The fishing lake now boasts a lovely population of carp and other species thanks to a huge effort by the students on what turned out to be a very long and hard day’s work but our mission was accomplished and a great amount was learned by the group.

Thanks to all at Blacknest for the bacon rolls, lunch and a great days experience!

Viv Shears – Lecturer