Penton Hook Island springs into summer

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Penton Hook Lock island on the river Thames has been given a spring clean courtesy of local volunteers from the Thames Anglers' Conservancy (TAC).

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The work TAC have been doing has greatly improved the bypass channel and will enable fish to successfully breed - preserving Thames fish stocks for future generations.

Under the guidance of the Environment Agency Fisheries Team, volunteers of all ages from TAC have undertaken a series of work parties to improve habitats for breeding fish and other wildlife on the island.

The work they have been doing builds upon an existing Environment Agency scheme which created a fish 'by-pass' channel on the island. As well as providing valuable gravels for fish to spawn on, the channel enables fish to migrate upstream past Penton Hook Lock where they can complete their lifecycle.

During the autumn and winter months the entrance to the spawning channel can become blocked with debris carried down from the main river. The prolific growth of vegetation can also restrict flows in the channel itself, all of which can prevent fish from entering it or accessing breeding grounds.

Volunteers carefully removed any obstructions at the entrance of the channel and trimmed foliage along its length. To prevent any detriment to wildlife, the work was carried out before the fish spawning period in the channel and before the bird nesting season.

Area Fisheries Officer, George Gerring, said: "The work TAC have been doing has greatly improved the bypass channel and will enable fish to successfully breed - preserving Thames fish stocks for future generations."

Since undertaking the work the flow in the channel has significantly improved. More clean gravels can now be seen and Chub and other fish and even Kingfishers have been spotted moving up through the channel. This is a great sign for the health of the stream and wildlife on the island.

Further planned work to import more gravels into the channel will be left until later in the year when it can be certain that the wildlife will not be affected and the flora is naturally dying back.

TAC volunteers have also been helping to clean areas for anglers to fish in the forthcoming fishing season. The larger logs found have been piled up to create Beetle stacks which provide a safe haven for a variety of insects and small animals.

If you would like to help out with any of the working parties or are interested in joining the TAC please visit their website at http://www.rivertac.org/site/. Please remember if you want to fish on the island from June 16th you will need to be in possession of a valid Environment Agency rod licence and Lock & Weir Permit.

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