Fishing in Extensive Heat

Summer is in full swing, the kids are off school, the UK is experiencing a heatwave and, more to the point, its National Fishing Month. The banks of UK rivers and still waters will be lined with anglers in the coming weeks and rightly so, spending an afternoon fishing in the sun is where most of us wish we were at this time of year!

However, there are some environmental and biological considerations that we should all bear in mind. Fish take longer to process a change in temperature than us humans, some species are more sensitive to water temperatures than others, but anglers should consider fish welfare when fishing for all species. 

As water temperatures rise, dissolved oxygen levels fall, the speed at wish this happens is exacerbated in smaller, shallower waters due to a lower volume of water. Low oxygen levels mean fish will take longer to recover, this is intensified after fish have been on the feed, in short, eating your bait and ending up on the end of your hook is the perfect recipe for exhaustion. This doesn’t mean that we can’t go fishing in the heat, but it does mean we have to take some precautions. 

Pike, for example, are a species that are very sensitive to water temperature changes, but as a trophy fish they are fished for all year round. In collaboration with the Environment Agency, Angling Trust, Pike Anglers Club, and the Broads Angling Services Group, Angling Direct have installed a 'Live Broads Water Temperature' graph in our Wroxham store. The aim of which is to educate all anglers to the current water temperature and what sort of species they should be targeting and the tackle they need to fish for alternatives. 

In short, we are recommending that targeting pike should only be done in temperatures under 21 degrees, these parameters have been recommended off the back of an extensive piece of research back by PAC and carried out by Professor Ian G. Cowx at the Hull International Fisheries Institute at the University of Hull. 

So, what can we ask anglers to do to protect UK species to the best of our ability? The following guidelines have been compiled by the Environment Agency, in collaboration with the Angling Trust:

· Find out the temperature of the water you are fishing. Ask the fishery owner or use a thermometer. 

· If the river water temperature is higher than 19°C then consider not fishing for salmon, trout and grayling. 

· If the river water temperature is higher than 21°C then consider not fishing for large chub, barbel and pike. 

· For stillwater fisheries, please ask the fishery owner or fishery manager for advice. 

· On rivers, consider fishing earlier in the morning when water temperatures are likely to be lower. But be careful fishing stillwaters early in the morning, in case an algal bloom has reduced dissolved oxygen levels. 

· Minimise your use of ground-bait. As it decomposes, this can further reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. And fish feeding on ground-bait may have a greater oxygen need, so take longer to recover from being caught. 

· Land fish as quickly as possible and handle them with extra care. Use wet hands when holding and unhooking fish. Wherever possible, keep fish in the water while unhooking. It's a good idea to plan where you can safely land and unhook fish before you start fishing. 

· If you want to take a photo, either keep the fish in the water or keep its time out of the water to a few seconds. This is especially important for larger and more sensitive fish. 

· Avoid using keepnets as they will retain fish in warmer water at the margins during hot weather. However, if you choose to use a keepnet place it in as deep water as possible and at right angles to the bank, so any water flow can pass through the mesh. 

· Release fish as soon as they're fully recovered, making sure they're showing strong signs of movement before doing so. This may take several minutes. Hold them upright and with their head facing into any water flow. This will help oxygenated water to flow across their gills. You can also hold fish in a landing net so that they are away from the bank, making sure their head is facing into any water flow.

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