Sywell on My Mind

Ian Peacock

Over the last 18 months much has been written about Sywell and the pieces of the jigsaw we have been putting in place to try and kick start this fine, iconic venue back into life as a tench fishery. The sad loss of David Watson and subsequent support from his family have been the catalyst to accelerate the earlier work David had embarked on through his dealings with the EA.

I will try here to put the pieces together and finally focus on the latest stocking in November 2017.

Sywell is a 67 acre former drinking water reservoir, sited in a Country Park and controlled by Northamptonshire County Council. It is open 24/7 to the public for recreation including fishing.

That statement alone presents a number of challenges …… 67 acres is not insignificant!

If this job was going to be done it would be done properly. No quick fix but a coherent plan to try and put a long-term sustainable solution in place for future generations, not tomorrow. The temptation to source and stock mature ‘second hand’ tench from sources unknown was a non-starter despite the very attractive potential headlines of big fish in the angling press. We sought professional advice from both the EA and tench breeders to provide guidance. Received wisdom was that we needed to a) Protect from predation b) Stock with young fish bred from differing strains and year classes over a period of time. This formed the basis of our recovery plan.

Thanks to great support from our members and Head Ranger Geoff Simons at Sywell we have completed the purchase, building and location of the gabions which will offer the young, smaller fish some measure of protection from cormorant predation. Geoff has these refuge areas mapped out and they are well outside of normal tench fishing range.

As covered in the last two Bulletins we have engaged with Jack Walpole and now Aaron Standing both of whom are fish breeders and tench enthusiasts. Jack supplied the fish back in February 2017 and Aaron (Coarse Fish UK) was our supplier for the November 2017 stock. We decided that we would introduce larger (more expensive) mature fish as potential brood stock to supplement the previous offerings of larvae, fry and immature fish. Aaron came up with the goods and we negotiated a good deal for delivery of 275 tench with an average weight of 1lb 8oz. These fish were in the 3-4 year age group and had already successfully spawned during the 2017 summer in the lakes where they were bred. On the day, one of Aaron’s team, Scott, arrived early afternoon with his precious cargo of Sywell gold in the holding tank on his truck. I asked him if he had a good journey up from Sussex, yes thanks Ian I have already been to Wales now on my way back home. Ah, the energy of the young!

As can be seen in the images we sent some pristine tench into their new watery home where we can but hope they will survive and thrive into a new generation of ‘dream makers’ for future generations of anglers. Many of us (Tenchfishers) were fortunate to benefit from the vision of others before us at Sywell. This is the start of our efforts to try and replicate that quite extraordinary period of tench fishing.

I wrote about the THA and moving forward with Sywell in the last Bulletin. We have now spent over £12,000 on tench stocks in the last year, my thanks go out to all who have contributed through raffles, THA donations and fish-ins to make this happen. The work does not stop here, there will be Sywell Stocking fund raising activities continuing along with the annual David Watson Memorial fish-in which I hope will see good support especially after last years event where reasonable numbers of good fish (including a 10lb fish to Ade Holmes) were caught. All proceeds will go directly to future stockings.

The renaissance continues.

Footnote: I am very pleased to report that despite the fine weather and emotions of seeing such wonderful fish being introduced to their new home there were no repeats of the previous ‘self sacrifice to the Sywell tench gods’ seen in February.