We had an interesting sort of morning looking at erosion on the lower Irvine with a view to suggesting solutions to Irvine Angling Club who are concerned about bank loss and instability on their stretch. It is a long term issue but we also identified that the river is shallowing due to silt deposits coming from upstream. A consequence of this is that the bed substrates are smothered by fine sediments and there’s virtually no cover anywhere for parr or fry in the stretch.
There are severe bank erosion problems and more trees and vegetative bank cover should help. This all takes time and effort to establish but given a chance, the habitat could be improved.
With the sun out, we put the drone in the air and could see that the river bed substrates are uniform and lacking in diversity. This is a problem for fish and leaves them vulnerable to predation from piscvorous birds as there’s a lack boulders and cobbles for them to hide amongst. This is partly due to the volume of silt coming downstream and depositing in the stretch. This has been going on for years and with banks eroding all along the river, will continue. Banks instability and erosion are a significant challenge for fishery management as generally speaking this is more often driven by agriculture or morphological alterations than natural movement.
If we can and I’m sure we can, we will suggest a few things and assist the club by demonstrating techniques that they may find invaluable if put into practice at their problem areas. Of course some anglers will oppose trees on the riverbanks but it seems obvious that most would rather have fish and good habitat than few fish with little or no cover or lies? Getting anglers on board and supportive of an attempt to plant and restore banks will be essential.
We will see what we can come up with and then talk to the club again. Hopefully in time the problems can be resolved but Rome wasn’t built in a day and the problems won’t disappear immediately.
It was good to be asked for advice and we are always pleased to help any clubs wishing to improve their beats.