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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having ploughed through years worth of catch reports all over the web for Sth Essex coast (Shoebury to Benfleet) It seems like this year has, so far, been one of , if not the worst on record

Unsurprisingly the commercials get much of the blame for the declining action, but there are a lot of comments about water quality being too clean also

Now pardon my ignorance, but cleaner water, for most species, is surely a good thing. After all, before the industrial revolution, the Thames was a darn site cleaner than it is now, but has always been noted for its diversity and abundance of species. Even the Romans used it to feed their armies camped on the Kent and Essex Coast up to Londinium, and was particularly noted for it's flatfish and Thames salmon

So how is it that a clean river depletes stocks, and how can we help to encourage a return to this estuary, of greater numbers of fish, short of taking a dump in the river
 

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Would the evergrowing crab population have anything to do with the lack of fish?
With the expansion of the crab surely the fish food chain is being attacked, so the fish are having to either eat each other e.g bass eating small flatfish, or the fish are just moving elsewhere.
Also the weather has been unpredictable, easterlys and rain has been the order of the day and apart from 10 minutes of sunshine in June the summer has been crap.
I have a funny feeling come September when the crab bugger offthe sole will be back upriver with the bass and flounder while around our way there will be bass, flounder with eels and whiting at night and the fishing will improve 100%.
 

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Cleaner water = less food for shrimps, prawns, & other filter feeders. as these are the main food source for 90% of the species in the thames estuary. easy to see why the fish are not about as they once were. Also the huge number of small bass in the area has had a major efect on the food supply,
Easy to blame the commercial boy's, but its not them this time.
 

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Some time back, speaking to an old mate who lightly nets up on the Blackwater, it seems that the discontinuation of the coastal barge transport of large quantities of fresh turds to parts of the Thames estuary had been noted by fishery scientists as having produced a marked drop in shrimp numbers, brown or otherwise.
It certainly added to the water fertility out there.
Cheers,
Davey.
 

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I fully agree with baitman on this one, There once were a lot of mussell beds around southend pier and in our area, they have now disappeared, along with the big plaice that used to feed on them. we dont get the size and quality of fish that used to frequent our part of the coast. Where are the shrimp,there used to be a number of boats trawling for brown shrimp in the estuary, if all of this food has decreased then it will cause an effect .
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I dont dispute the absence of the shrimp and mussels having an effect but bearing in mind that they are both filter feeders as are oysters, "cleaner" waters shouldnt discourage them. Southend was clean in 17th century and produced oysters galore

"SOUTHEND and the Oyster Industry

It was the industry of oyster raising which first brought into being the village of Southend. As a name it had appeared as early as the fifteenth century - "Southende" occurs in the parish of St. Mary of Prittlewell in a will dated 1481 - but at that time, and until the early eighteenth century, the site of the present day Southend was mainly agricultural land, its few inhabitants being occupied in farm work and fishing.

Oyster cultivation at this spot did not develop until about the year 1700. It was then that a fisherman named Outing discovered by accident the value of the foreshore at Southchurch as a feeding ground for oysters. The business he began prospered, and others quickly followed his example. By 1724 practically the whole of the foreshore, from Shoebury to Hadleigh, was devoted to the cultivation of oysters.

From this activity emerged the small village of Southend. The industry itself flourished during the eighteenth century, but there was no place for it in the new life of Southend, and the cultivation of oysters on a large scale came to an end there in the second half of the nineteenth century. "


More here http://www.southchurchvillage.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=12&page=2

So if shell fish were that prolific in clean water, there must be other reasons for the decline, Could it actually be as a result of years of pollution
 

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A lot of it may be due to the amount of freshwater/rain washing into the sea from the land bringing with it all the nitrates from the farm land, this is causing rapid growth in the weed which is making some areas almost unfishable. The freshwatter will drive the sea species out into deeper water.
 

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Bring back the Bovril Boats, the Barrow used to concentrate the fish and made it easy to find them, now they are spread out all over the place looking for grub. You need a bait dropper to get them round you these days, failing that large smelly baits.
 

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If there's less food for filter feeders you wouldn't notice it in my part of Essex .... river Colne, Clacton, St osyth etc. We've had an astonashing upsurge in the number of Oysters locally over the last few years to the point that they are now a bloody pest. The local foreshore is carpeted with the damn things to the point that sea walls breakwaters and anything they can anchor to has become covered, with swimmers etc getting cut to ribbons if they aren't careful.

Marks like St Osyth used to have large Mussell banks which have now been completely taken over by Oysters and in the Colne this summer they have been dying off over the hot spells in their thousands (and they stink!) with dead ones washing up all over the place on the big tides. I'm assuming all this has come about as a result of milder winters .... so I imagine its not just a single factor that has been effecting the fishing but maybe a combination. Certainly our way the Oysters don't appear to be helping.
 

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I know John, those old Thames Water & Anglian Water turd barges used to be the best ground baiters around. When Southend Pier got hit several years back, i think that was a turd ship that had just collected from Tibury Sewage Treatment Works.

Nowdays farmers inject it into the soil, thats what that stink is at this time of the year.

I wonder how healthy the plants are that feed on the nutients released, also i wonder if there are any commercial waste products that get caught up in the sewage & end up in the farmers soil.

I wonder who monitors that, Food Agency, Public Health Autority ?
 

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Like previously stated, there are numerous factors contributing to the decline of certain secies along the Thames estuary.
Maybe another one is the influx of huge shoals of Bass munching all across the estuary eating all in sight including shrimp and fry alike.
Even in February when the egg sacks of the flounders and dabs, take a huge hit from the little bass. The debate is a real good one!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So what can we do, as humble fishists, to encourage species to the shore, apart from cr*p on the beach

Tie bags of chum to the breakwaters?, Chuck leftover bait into the receding tide? Plant weed sticks? Net the Kent coast and drag the fish to our side? or...................just let nature take her course and be grateful for what she gives us
 

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I was at 1770 Queensland Australia a few years back, I did not know anything about the methods or tides or bait to use, I struck up a conversation with local who was casting to a white stick about 50 yards out from the beach, he was getting small bream (brim) one a cast. Next morning I went down to the beach and saw the white stick had beneath it a cairn of stones standing about 2 feet high. The local came along with a loaf of bread and seeded the cairn with it, " You can fish this at high water he said, I am going home before then" I did and I caught small Brim. Maybe you could do the same?
 

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A lot of it may be due to the amount of freshwater/rain washing into the sea from the land bringing with it all the nitrates from the farm land, this is causing rapid growth in the weed which is making some areas almost unfishable. The freshwatter will drive the sea species out into deeper water.
But flounders love brackish water, so where are they?
This Spring and early Summer have been the driest for about 17 years in the SE. Hardly any rain in March April May and June, so not much runoff there.
It's a mystery, but I still go for a combination of severe overfishing, in particular inshore, overfishing of sandeels, hitting many species, and unseasonable weather conditions.
 

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But flounders love brackish water, so where are they?
This Spring and early Summer have been the driest for about 17 years in the SE. Hardly any rain in March April May and June, so not much runoff there.
It's a mystery, but I still go for a combination of severe overfishing, in particular inshore, overfishing of sandeels, hitting many species, and unseasonable weather conditions.
Very few flounders in the Blackwater, just shed loads of weed and tiny bass. All the rain has been in July and the fishing has noticeably deteriorated since.
 

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Perhaps it global warming thats the problem. This could cause the fish to breed at the wrong time and them one cold snap and the fry die leaving nothing to catch a couple of years later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Taking a logical progression then, we may be seeing the effects of evolution at work. Therefore how long will it be before we start seeing sustained numbers of species from warmer waters or permanent changes to the habits of indigenous species



Mmmmmm Blue Marlin on a light spinning rod off Barge Pier.....................................
 

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Mmmmmm Blue Marlin on a light spinning rod off Barge Pier.....................................
............or 2lb+ Gurnard in the Crouch, competing with the dogfish and wrasse!!!!!!

Deffo changes afoot. The decent whiting used to be rammed with shrimp. Now it would seem the sprats are the main food source through the winter.
 
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