Growing up as a child I was very lucky to have parents who were part owners of the Five Arches Fishery, near Ordsall. I spent many many days, months and years fishing there and watching the wildlife.
I am now 56 years old and have lost both my parents, but I have grown to love the countryside and the surrounding rivers, lakes, etc. I still fish for barbel, chub and other fish on the River Idle, and now follow another interest with my fiancée: birdwatching, which we enjoy together. We also write a successful birding blog and often get our pictures published locally.
However, this writing is all about what I have noticed in the last few years. I visit the River Idle regularly and walk down it every day for miles. I’ve noticed I hadn’t seen a large or small fish rise for months. This was worrying, as I’m a keen fisherman. But I’ve seen with my own eyes the reason for this: mink and goosanders. I knew mink were on the Chesterfield Canal as I’ve seen them, and I’ve watched goosanders diving and coming up with average sized fish. But on Tuesday 2nd May, I watched an American black mink swimming towards me down the River Idle, at the back of Idle Valley lakes.
Although I realise nature and the ebb and flow of the ecosystem has to move on, it’s a shame that mink were introduced into the wetlands. It was always going to be a catastrophic action in the end. The mink will eat baby ducks, wildfowl, bird eggs, and fish large and small, along with the goosanders (which, by the way, are a fantastic bird to see).
The status of the rivers and fisheries are somewhat in trouble and with the yearly fishing licence up to £30, I feel fishermen are getting a raw deal. Fishing in the rivers is hard enough, and with fish disappearing, let’s hope the Environment Agency are doing something to make this right.