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AGM and Lakes

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Annual General Meeting

The AGM will be held at 6pm, on Friday 15 March at the Leconfield Hall, Petworth. The AGM is an excellent opportunity for members to meet fellow fishermen and we encourage you to attend.

After the formal proceedings Simon Cooper the author, conservationist and fishing agent will give a talk about otters and his book ‘The Otters Tale’. After the talk there will be canapés and drinks for which the Committee has decided not to charge. Please bring your partner or a guest as Simon is a very entertaining speaker and his talk will be of interest to non-anglers.

Please email the Estate office (emma.goode@leconfieldestates.co.uk) if you are planning to attend, so that we can get a rough idea of numbers and can cater adequately.

 

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Lakes

The lake season starts on Saturday, 16 March. The catch and release trial on the rainbow lakes will run until Sunday, 19 May unless the weather is exceptionally hot.

Barbless flies will be on sale in the fishing hut at Great Springs.

Please renew your membership before the start of the season and remember to renew your fishing licence.

Lake Maintenance and Membership Fees

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Great Springs – the water level was lowered in early December to expose the roots of the Spiked Water-milfoil growing in the shallows. Spiked Water-milfoil is a very invasive plant and it is extremely difficult to eradicate. The winter weather should kill the weed that is exposed to frost.

Lowering the water level rather than draining it completely, should enable some of the aquatic life to survive which will provide food for the stocked fish in 2019. Hopefully, this approach will preserve the mayfly nymphs, olive nymphs and bloodworm which will encourage the trout to rise.

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Lower Figgs – the lake was completely drained during the season because the Canadian pondweed, probably introduced in the spring by nesting waterfowl, had spread over the entire lake and made it impossible to fish.

The crystal clear shallow water and long hot summer provided ideal growing conditions for this invasive weed. The solution to the weed problem here had to be more radical than that adopted for Great Springs. The lake was drained and has been left fallow for several months. This should kill the weed on the dry lake bed and severely check the growth of the weed down the centre channel.

It is impossible to entirely eradicate Spiked Water-milfoil or Canadian pondweed but these measures should help ensure weed free fishing on those lakes for most of the new season. As well as our own staff, we have contractors ready to do hand-cutting should it be necessary. Both lakes will be refilled shortly and stocked with rainbow trout ready for the Opening Day on Saturday 16 March.

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Membership Fees – the membership renewal letters were sent out in early January together with details of the charges for 2019. Membership fees had not been increased for the previous three years but some of the fees have now been increased.

Junior membership and guest tickets have remained the same as 2018 and there will be no charge for the Annual General Meeting although refreshments will still be provided.

The increase in membership fees has been partially offset by a reduction in the stocking fee. Although the cost of stock fish has increased, stocking levels will not be reduced and this, coupled with the introduction of Catch and Release at the rainbow lakes, will enable members to catch more trout.

Please return the renewal form as soon as possible so that it can be processed in time for the start of the new season.

Catch and Release

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Fully recovered and swimming away

For the 2018 season the club rules were altered to allow optional catch and release at Little Bognor as a trial. Barbless or de-barbed hooks were made mandatory and wild brown trout had to be returned.

Little Bognor

The two lakes at Little Bognor are well suited to catch and release as they are spring fed and therefore cool throughout the summer. The optional catch and release experiment was very popular. The number of visits to the lakes nearly doubled, the number of fish caught more than trebled to a nine year record and the number of fish stocked was slightly less than 2017. At the start of the season Little Bognor was a popular alternative with members who fish the river.

Throughout the season members were positive about catch and release. Many asked if it would be continued and if it could be extended to the other lakes in 2019. Occasionally the fish became difficult to catch but regular stocking ensured that there were always fresh fish available. Therefore, the Committee have agreed that catch and release at Little Bognor will continue but that it could be suspended if there are fish deaths due to high water temperature.

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Barbless flies available at Great Springs

Rainbow Lakes

None of the rainbow lakes are spring fed to the same extent as Little Bognor. Water temperature at the bottom of Great Springs reached 25 degrees at the height of last summer. Catch and release throughout the season is therefore not an option on the rainbow lakes. The Committee have agreed that, on a trial basis, catch and release will be permitted for part of the season. Allowing catch and release for the first two months of the season (Sunday March 17 to 17 May 2019) on the rainbow lakes should avoid problems with high water temperatures and will prevent the trout from becoming difficult to catch later in the season.

The Committee have also agreed to allow catch and release on the rainbow lakes at the end of the season if the conditions are right. Extending catch and release to the rainbow lakes might be stopped if the water temperature gets too high prior to 17 May. The catch and release rules for the rainbow lakes will be the same as Little Bognor. The flies on sale at Great Springs will be barbless. If members do not intend to release any trout, barbed hooks may be used.

There will be no changes to the rules for the river.

Fish Handling

After hooking a trout play it out quickly and use a landing net with a fine knotless mesh. If possible do not touch the fish, barbless hooks normally drop out once the line is slack. If you must handle the fish, use wet hands. Release it from the landing net. That will enable you to nurse the fish until it can maintain an upright position and swim out of the net unaided. It might take a few minutes for the fish to fully recover.

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If you release a trout from your hands before it’s fully recovered, it may sink to the bottom of the lake and die. If the fish is bleeding it should not be returned. If you are in doubt don’t return the trout. It is a good idea to use a pan shaped net to give the fish room to recover. A long handle enables safe netting and release.

Lakes – Season Summary

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19 March – Little Bognor

Spring – The season opened on 17 March. The winter maintenance work had been completed, the rain in February had filled the lakes and the trout had been stocked. However, for most members, the snow and ice delayed fishing until the end of the month. The catch and release trial at Little Bognor was very popular during March and April, particularly with members who normally fish the river. Of the 99 fish caught at Little Bognor in the first 9 days of the season, 88 were returned.

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15 April – Little Springs

The stocking of Great Springs was delayed a month to allow the water to settle. Spring finally arrived in mid April, the rainbow lakes became more productive and some good size trout were caught. The first Mayfly was seen on 3 May at Little Springs. The spring Barbeque was well attended and several good fish were caught from Upper and Lower Figgs.

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3 May – Mayfly at Little Springs

During May olives and mayfly continued to hatch in good numbers around the lakes. The most popular lakes were Great Springs and Little Springs, members continued to catch and release good numbers of fish at Little Bognor.

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14 June – 4lb 8ozs from Little Bognor

Summer – The cold and wet weather at the end of May brought the main Mayfly hatch to an end but small numbers continued to appear throughout June. The Orvis Day at Great Springs on 9 June was well attended. The cool, spring fed lakes at Little Bognor became more popular as the water temperature rose in the other lakes.

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30 July – Great Springs

During June the south east of England had less than 10% of the normal summer rainfall and temperatures reached 30 degrees. The fish in the rainbow lakes became lethargic and fed only at dawn and dusk.

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30 July – Little Bognor

By late July the daytime temperatures exceeded 35 degrees and the high water temperatures meant that trout could only be caught at Little Bognor and along the river where the water was cooler. By early August the water temperature at Great Springs was 24 degrees. Later in August occasional rain showers, chilly nights and overcast days reduced the water temperature and trout could once more, be caught at dawn and dusk.

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17 September – Little Springs

Autumn – In early September the water temperature had dropped to 19 degrees and it continued to fall throughout the month. The lakes were restocked and by the end of September, the numbers of trout caught had returned to normal. Lower Figgs was drained and left fallow to kill the invasive Canadian Pondweed. During October the lakes were stocked and some exceptionally large trout were released.

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15 October – Great Springs

In the last week of October trout over 6lbs were caught from Luffs and Great Springs and members continued to catch and release good numbers of fish from Little Bognor.

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19 November – Little Springs

The November weather reduced the number of visits to the lakes but some beautiful fish were caught including trout of 7lb 2ozs and 9lb 12ozs.

Despite the ‘Beast from the East’ and the extreme summer temperatures, the lakes were popular throughout the season and over 1,000 trout were caught.

Maintenance work to improve the lakes is planned for the winter. Members are encouraged to attend the Annual General Meeting to discuss next seasons fishing.

3 December

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9lb 12oz caught at Great Springs by Mark Knight

The gales and heavy rain during the week meant that only the keenest members visited the lakes for one last attempt to catch a monster trout before the end of the season.

Two excellent fish were caught, both from Great Springs, weighing 7lb 2ozs and 9lb12ozs.

Members visited the lakes on 23 occasions and caught a total of 17 trout, 4 of which were over 2lbs. Twelve of the fish were from Little Bognor and they were all returned to the lakes to overwinter.

The provisional total of trout caught from the lakes this season is 1004.

There will be regular updates to the website during the winter to keep members informed about maintenance work, the AGM, news and preparations for the new season.

26 November

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The hard frost on Wednesday morning froze the water troughs and sent the trout to the deep, warmer water. Wet and windy weather later in the week continued to discourage members from visiting the lakes.

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Members visited the lakes on 21 occasions and caught 8 trout, including 4 fish over 2lbs.

Trout of 7lb 2ozs and 9lb 12ozs were caught at Great Springs. Both fish were caught on sinking lines and large flies fished deep. The big Trout are feeding on coarse fish fry and if members brave the poor weather conditions forecast for the next few days, deep fished fry imitations may result in even bigger trout.

The season ends on Friday 30 November.

19 November

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The changes in the weather didn’t discourage members from visiting the lakes but the trout had moved out of the shallow water and were difficult to find. The water at Little Springs and Lower Bognor was slightly coloured but the strong winds blew the autumn leaves into the margins clearing the surface of the lakes.

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Members visited the lakes on 29 occasions and caught 14 trout, 5 of which were over 2lbs, including a fish of 3lb 2ozs from Luffs.

The cold east winds have driven the fish into deep water and a sinking line with a bright fly will produce the best results.