5 April 2019

Coarse fishing update

WADAA Coarse Fishing – March Update

For those of you who use the club’s Facebook page to follow progress, you will know how busy we have been over the last 3 months. Firstly, let me thank members for joining this year, the great news being that we exceeded the membership numbers for last year. This is massively important as it allows me to plan our actions (and expenditure!!) well in advance. It is a simple fact that the more members we have, the more we can do. Based on where our membership figures have been in the past, we still have lots of room to grow.

You will also have seen a new club website. Over the coming months I will be loading it with much more coarse information – look out for our own You-Tube channel soon!

We have been executing a plan of work that I put together based on the feedback I received from the survey we conducted a the end of last year. As a reminder, the key points raised by members were as follows:

•         Ratherheath weed and general condition

•         Cleabarrow weed

•         Additional night fishing

•         Cleabarrow flooded area/path

•         Cleabarrow bigger fish

•         Blelham additional access

•         Additional bailiffing (particularly Blelham, Rydal and Grasmere)

•         Litter (particularly Blelham, Rydal and Grasmere)

•         Reintroduce club boats

•         Improve parking at Blelham, Rydal, and Grassmere)

•         More coarse waters

•         Improve disabled/easy access

I will run through the coarse waters and give some information on where the work has taken place.

Grasmere, Rydal and Blelham

Options for development of these waters is obviously limited. Our efforts so far this year have focused on bailiffing and litter, though we have opened discussions with a number of the land owners regarding access and boats in particular. Given the restrictions of the National Park, these things never move at speed, but I will update on progress as I make it – believe me, I’m trying!!

New signage will be erected at these waters over the coming months with the aim of reducing illegal fishing.


We put a lot of effort onto Cleabarrow at the start of the year and pushed hard to make some substantial improvements to the environment:

  • Tree cutting – we removed a substantial amount of trees and branches. This has improved access both around the tarn and also in the water. Removing a lot of dead, fallen and overhanding branches has not only opening up new areas for fishing, but also reducing the amount of sedimentation caused by leaf-fall.
  • Weeding – the tarn was completely raked in mid-February. This should help with the management of weed throughout the year.
  • New platforms – we have added 2 additional small platforms in the areas we have opened-up.
  • Island clearing – though most of the islands were good, the large island in the corner was completely overgrown. All the dead and fallen trees have been removed. The amount of silt in this area was incredible – up to 24”. Now we have opened things up a bit, this should reduce over the coming years. Furthermore, fish welfare will be significantly enhanced as a result of removing a large number of under-water snags. These were festooned with tackle, in fact we found a whole rod and reel which had no doubt been dragged in by an angry carp.
  • Stocking – there have been 2 separate stockings, both of specimen sized fish. 4 large mirror carp were stocked, and 20 bream between 4 and 7lb.
  • Flooding – maintenance work has been carried out on the outlet which should improve flow-rates and prevent flooding during high rainfall periods.


We all recognize the tremendous amount of work which is needed at Ratherheath and this needs to be done carefully, in partnership with the local farmers and landowner. A very detailed and comprehensive improvement plan for Ratherheath has been developed (this runs to over 150 pages!!). The work has been broken down into a number of phases and we are starting to work through these.

One of the immediate priorities has been to gain control of the weed situation. Over the last 3 years, the tarn has become increasingly choked with Canadian Pond Weed. Since the banning of aquatic herbicides, dealing with this is not easy. The causes of the weed growth are multiple and we are tackling them one by one:

  • Raising the water level – the water level in the tarn is has been down on it’s previous level. This increases the amount of light which reaches the lake bed, encouraging weed growth. The water level has been raised 8 inches. This has created some localized flooding which we will deal with in due course, but it gives us a much better basis to work with.
  • Adding fish refuge cages – 11 cages have been added to improve juvenile fish survival rates over winter. Higher stocking densities increase water turbidity which in-turn reduces weed growth, again by reducing light penetration.
  • Mechanical weeding – in mid-March, a weed boat was deployed and a substantial amount of weed was mechanical harvested.
  • Adding dye – we have added a black dye to the water. This will be present until late summer and again, the aim is to reduce light penetration to the lake bed

We have a number of other tricks up our sleeve. We’ll see how the weed situation progresses this year and make further adjustments as necessary. I will keep you updated on other significant developments at Ratherheath as we work them through.


We were very pleased to announce that we have managed to re-lease Castlehead, a water that WADAA has controlled in the past. Unfortunately, un-touched for the best part of 10 years, it has required a monumental effort to get it back up to a fishable condition:

  • Hundreds of trees and branches have been cut, hauled and burned
  • 15 new platforms have been constructed and installed
  • 3 dedicated disabled platforms have been constructed and installed (with funding help off the British Disabled Angling Association)
  • A brand new car park and access track have been dug and stone filled (thanks to help from Cemex – we tipped over 280 tonnes of stone!!)
  • A perimeter path has been built to service the disabled pegs with a wide, flat and safe access route
  • The otter fence has been surveyed and repaired – Kendal Sub-Aqua Club kindly inspected the under water sections 1100lb of carp have been stocked with further stockings of silverfish to come

So, as you can see, lots of work done, with much more left to do!! As a recap, from the survey:

  1. Ratherheath weed and general condition
  2. Cleabarrow weed
  3. Additional night fishing
  4. Cleabarrow flooded area/path
  5. Cleabarrow bigger fish
  6. Blelham additional access
  7. Additional bailiffing (particularly Blelham, Rydal and Grasmere)
  8. Litter (particularly Blelham, Rydal and Grasmere)
  9. Reintroduce club boats
  10. Improve parking at Blelham, Rydal, and Grassmere)
  11. More coarse waters
  12. Improve disabled/easy access

We have made a good start. It is clear to see the level of effort and investment that is being made in the coarse side of the club  and this will continue into the future. Ideas, feedback and involvement from the membership is vitally important. I can be contacted via the club Facebook page, or directly on my email: n.butterfield@yahoo.co.uk

A final plea. Many hands make light work – when applied to improving our venues, never was a truer word spoke! The speed of progress could be greatly accelerated if we could get a few more volunteers to help out – imagine what could be achieved if everybody gave half a day!!

Please contact me if you think you could help – it doesn’t have to be physical work. I’ll provide a further update in the summer. In the mean time, keep checking into the website. Good luck with your fishing over the summer months and let us know your successes and failures.

Nick Butterfield

Head of Coarse Sub-Committee