The Green Heart of Poringland


Neil Edwards, a student studying for a degree in fishery management and sustainable aquaculture at Suffolk’s Otley College, is getting some valuable hands-on experience of fishery management at Poringland Lakes. 

As well as monitoring water quality, advising on fish stocks and helping to maintain the lakes, Neil has kindly offered to make a regular contribution to the website. 

Leaning on his practical experiences in both fisheries and in the classroom and his knowledge as an accomplished angler in his own right, Neil begins his regular column with a look at the transformation in carp from winter to spring (scroll down for article).

“Don’t Tell Em Pike!” 

Dad’s Army jokes aside, last time I was down at the lakes a pleasure angler pulled a 5lb pike out of the Dave Gudgeon lake. Although frustrating on the odd occasion where Mr Pike grabs our bait, they do provide some excellent work managing the lake. 

Pike usually consume around 1-2lbs of prey for each 1lb of their own weight and in a well stocked lake their predation of small/juvenile fish really help to maintain suitable stock levels - all the more important where successful recruitment is taking place each Spring. They also clear the lake of sick or recently deceased fish, reducing the risks of disease and saving Ray a job! 

Fish Safety Paramount 

Suitable equipment is essential for not only carping but fishing for any species. Keeping the fish safe and undamaged while on the bank should always be a priority. 

To this end, landing nets and mats are essential and I’m glad the lakes include compulsory use on their rules. Basic mats and nets are cheap these days so no excuses!  I’m sure we all want the fish we catch to look nice too, especially if they're going in the fishing photo album!                         

Carp - Signs of Spawning

Given the time of year if the carp are going to spawn in the lakes it will
be in the next couple months. Saying that, predicting if and when carp will spawn in a lake is a tricky affair with temperature, water levels and
daylight hours to name but a few variables that influence this.

Should spawning take place it will be difficult to miss as it will be in
the shallower water. The males, often in number will swim alongside a
female bashing into each other competing to fertilise eggs released by the female.  This activity also disperses the fertilised eggs that are sticky and will attach to submerged objects such as marginal plants. The fry hatch in around a week and then it’s case of battling to survive and grow, staying in groups and sheltering from predation.

For fishermen, visible spawning is not good as the carp are solely focussed on this as opposed to any anglers bait. After spawning has finished however they will be very hungry, so if you can time a visit to the lakes just after spawning I’d be confident that you’ll bank some carp!

I’ll be visiting the lakes in the coming weeks so will be interested to see if there are signs but hopefully I’ve given you an idea of what to look out for and if you do see the activity, what is going on under the surface!

Temperature the Key

Now that spring appears to be here I thought it would be interesting to shed some light on how this change in temperature affects carp and their behaviour. Thankfully as a fisherman it’s very much good news! 

Carp like many other fish, reptiles and amphibians are often called cold blooded however this is a slightly inaccurate term. They are scientifically known as Poikilotherms which essentially means their body temperature is always similar to their environment.   

As the water temperature is increasing now, the carp’s body temperature and metabolism do the same. This means they will become more active and more activity means a greater need for food. I have already seen a lot more carp movement at the lakes now we’re into double digit temperatures and this can only bode well for fishing as it continues to rise. 

Other than getting on the move and feeding more, Carp at this time of year will often seek out the warmest water where they will feel most comfortable. On a sunny day keep a close eye on the top or just under the lake surface for carp like shapes swimming around. A surface bait or something just under the surface may tempt a carp into a bite! 

Overall with these changes it’s a great time to get out and catch some carp and I’ll be aiming to squeeze in a few visits over the coming weeks.  Hopefully I’ll see you there.