West & Fens: Middle Level offering plenty of bream and skimmers

The Middle Level has been leading the charge, with bream and skimmers coming from St Germans and Peter's.

Some better roach have been coming out to maggot and caster from the lower end of the drain, with Pingle also producing.

The Ouse has been slow, after a shaky start to the season. Knowing what the main artery of the Fens contains fish-wise, you can almost sense the frustration on the banks when it fails to deliver.

One thing several waters seem to contain less of these days is pike. Particularly small pike, which seems to suggest there's a problem with recruitment in some of our drains and rivers.

Over on the Broads, the pike fishing fraternity is working with the Environment Agency on a tagging scheme, in response to similar fears.

At the moment, it's a pilot scheme operating on Ormesby Broad, where a new kind of non-invasive tag is being trialled.

The idea is anglers log catches and give scientists an idea of the pike's movements.

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Perhaps it's time anglers lobbied for something similar in the Fens. We all know fish populations have their ups and downs, as part of a bigger natural cycle.

Look, for example, at the rudd which are now coming to the fore – a fish you seldom saw five seasons back, which is now as common as roach in some parts of the system.

The worrying thing, where the pike are concerned, is what happens when the dwindling head of bigger fish succumb to old age or angling pressure. One thing which would help fish of all species is a concerted campaign to rid our waters of the dreaded blanket weed – aka Azolla.

It might seem pretty formidable when it's stretching from bank to bank, but it's got an Achilles heel in the shape of a 2mm long bug that eats the stuff.

The EA is carrying out trials on one of the Boston drains which suffers from an annual infestation. There are even breeders who sell the bugs, which you don't even need a license to release to clear a weed-choked drain or stillwater.

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