a day out seine netting

A recent job on a small lake, south of Milton Keynes, has given me the perfect opportunity to explain the procedures of a complicated netting job.

Unfortunately, the photographer was a bit of a talker and failed to take any images of the lake as a whole so I will do my best to set the scene. The lake was less than one acre in size with an island all but in the centre. As with many man made angling pools it was oval in shape with old wooden platforms every 15 metres. The fringe of the lake and island were both well established with aquatic weeds with the iris being the most abundant.

Although first impressions indicated a reasonably simple netting job these hopes were soon dashed with the events that unfolded.

This first image shows one of the delights this lake had in store. Two large willow trees extending 15 metres into the water. A difficult hazard to overcome, and in reality, only sheer persistence and hard work could yield results from this area of the lake.

Before the tree could be negotiated the lake needed to be split into two. This image shows one of the stop nets, 25m long x 3m deep, used to split the pool. The nets were fastened to the island, both cork and lead lines, and laid across the lake to the main bank. An identical net was laid on the opposite side of the island to the one seen in this photograph resulting in what would be seen as two separate lakes.

Of course this method is not 100% effective and some fish will undoubtedly transfer between sections, but for the purpose of this exercise it was a wholly adequate procedure. The only real way to stop fish from escaping a net is to remove all of the water, an option not always available.

Once the lake was ready to net laying the seine was the next job. The seine in use was 100 metres in length by 3 metres deep with 10mm knotless mesh throughout. This image shows the seine being paid from the stern of boat whilst travelling in reverse. Note that the leads are being laid on the outside as this is the natural way for the net to be retrieved. The only option available for negotiating the trees was simply to have men in the water around the trees creating excessive noise and much disturbance prior to the net passing.

When employing this method it is hoped that fish will be frightened from the cover, unfortunately there is an emphasis on the word 'hope'.

Once the net had been laid there remained the simple task of retrieving it. When the initial depth tests were undertaken the lake bed was a seemingly level clay bottom with very little noticeable clay deposits. What was not envisaged was a severe secondary shelf that was to lead to extreme difficulties. This photograph shows how the netsmen get low to the water surface when pulling the net; this reduces the leads from lifting when coming over littoral shelves.

However, this next image visually shows the problem when a net rides over secondary shelves. The net had collected a large amount of clay deposits that had created an extreme weight when retrieving the net. With the water depth exceeding the maximum required for walking on the lake bed, no other option, but to continue retrieving the net, was available. The sinking of the corks allowed numerous carp to escape over the top. These fish were finally caught after eight nettings, but it is disconcerting when fish can be seen too find easy escapes.

The next photograph shows how far the clay deposits were hauled before a person could efficiently remove some of the weight from the net. The silt deposits can clearly be seen in the following image, but thankfully the carps' over aggressive nature was enough to wash the silt through the main landing basin.

Visually a disappointing catch, but half a dozen carp with a few bream and tench was not a disaster as the netting area was of a small enough size to net up to 10 times in one day. Although not the most exciting image this photograph does show one of the most annoying problems inherent to most lake fringes - 'sticks'. Sticks, branches, metal or any type of snag can severely reduce the net depth by up too 80% if entangled badly enough. It is imperative that all are removed before the net is laid; this is quite a time consuming process, but very important.

Unfortunately there were no photographs of the problems that the second side of the lake presented. In the centre of this side was a sunken island just inches from the surface. This is one of the hardest problems faced by a netsman. The net is pulled tight to the sunken island and then loosened off. When loose the leads are lifted and the net is pulled quickly over the top. This is not ideal as lifting the leads in any situation. Undoubtedly fish would have escaped underneath the net, but nothing could have been done to solve this problem.

The final result!!! About twenty carp ranging from 7 to 16 pounds in weight. Not a bad days work considering all of the pitfalls the lake provided.

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