February Update


Our next meeting is 7.30pm, Tuesday the 25th February 2014 at the Kings Arms, Salford.

Everyone welcome.

Here is a roundup of some of the work we did on our waters during 2013, and what we hope to achieve in 2014.

Drinkwater Park Lake:

Was restocked during winter 2012/13 with 2000 Crucian Carp. They were noticeably absent from anglers catches in the early summer months, but started to appear as the year went on. Many anglers were asking where they had disappeared to, but you don’t catch small crucians on double sweetcorn, or single maggot on a size 14 hook. Anglers using light tackle for silver caught them steadily throughout the summer.

During the hot weather in July/August – the water levels dropped considerably (someone also blocked up the inlet stream from Rainsough which didn’t help matters). With water levels 12-18 inches down on an already shallow lake the water became super heated and blanket algae took over the entire surface of the bottom end of the lake.

We held numerous work parties to try to clear the blanket weed, but in the end the cold weather killed most of it off, rather than us anglers trying to drag it out by hand.

If it seems as though the blanket weed is going to make a comeback in 2014 then we will treat the lake with barley straw which apparently prevents blanket weed from forming

Ian Goodwin very kindly organised some junior angling coaching sessions on Drinkwater Park Lake during the school summer holidays which were well attended by the local “youth”. Hopefully these sessions will be repeated during the summer of 2014.



The carp population on Waterdale has been slowly reducing in recent years. A combination of poor handling, and fish theft have left the lake a shadow of its former glories. To combat this, and as a part of a long term strategy, we have restocked the lake with a couple of hundred 8” mirror carp. We will wait a year or two to see how they fare, and then repeat the stocking if we see it is necessary to do so.


Has benefitted from having 10,000 stunted fish netted out and put in Drinkwater Park in 2012. Its still a bite a chuck for anglers using light and sensitive tackle – however the average size of fish has nearly doubled since there is less competition for food.

As the spawning habitat is so good in Kingfisher, we anticipate that we will need to crop fish every couple of years in order to stop stunting occurring again.

It was noted during the netting that the pike population in Kingfisher is exceeding healthy. It should be considering the amount of food available to them.

The Forestry Commission have told us that they intend to drain Kingfisher, and de-silt in Winter 2014/15 – not 100% confirmed with the date, but it is most definitely on the schedule of forthcoming works.  If it does go ahead, we will net the lake and transfer fish to Drinkies. If they have earth moving plant down there, we will also ask them to clear the reeds in the top stock pond, as its so overgrown now, that its in danger of completely silting up.

Prison Pond

Great mixed fishery – don’t expect anything big – but there’s plenty of fish in there to keep you occupied.

The Old River In Irlam

2013 was a busy year on the Old River. During the winter of 12/13 we restocked 3600 skimmer bream into the Old River. This was in addition to the 200 “rescue” bream we received from a venue in Cheshire, and the 1,500 mini tench and bream we were given by the EA.

During a mid winter work party – we opened up some of the overgrown pegs, and replaced many of the rotten timbers (this work is ongoing). John Polding – an Old River Superhero has repeatedly cleared out the blockages in the over flow from the Old River, resulting in a much more stable water level. When it rains the water now flows down the outlet channel, along with the water from Irlam Moss, towards the Ship Canal – rather than backing up into the Old River.

Spring 2013 saw a large number of cormorants munching our newly stocked fish. So with the help of the EA and a couple of very well attended work parties we constructed 16 fish refuges (anti cormorant cages) and 16 floating islands to sit over the top of each cage.

We will hold another work party this spring (23rd March) to re-plant the floating islands, to right the floating island that is half sunk, and to replace rotten timbers on three pegs. Notice of the work party will be sent out via email, and also listed on the clubs website.

We have just ordered 1,000 6 inch Golden Rudd for the Old River in Irlam which will be arriving in March 2014 (hopefully they will settle and breed this summer) – and we have also been promised 40 or 50 “breeding sized” tench for the Old River by the EA. Our restocking program for this lake is ongoing . Its going to take a number of years to get The Old River back to its former glories.

Salford Quays

There have been reports of some good Pike and Carp coming out. The population of silver fish has been decimated by cormorants – we have no intention to try to restock silvers into this venue – as waste of money. However – we intend to stock more carp – as they seem to be able to evade our feathered friends better.

River Irwell

The lower river fished very badly throughout the summer of 2014. Noticeably less fish being caught. A scientific survey was undertaken into water quality by United Utilities after the pollution incident on the opening day of the fishing season. We are still awaiting the results.

Salford Friendly now have the “Intex” stretch of the Irwell above Dumers Lane in Radcliffe. This is directly upstream of the old “Halls” toffee factory where we already have the fishing lease. We hope to announce another section of river in the coming weeks in the Radcliffe area. Just waiting for the red seal of approval on a lease. All of these new river beats have been offered to Salford Friendly on peppercorn rents, in exchange for us keeping the river banks clean and tidy – a fair exchange.

We continue to scout out unwanted/unloved sections of Manchester rivers, and hope to add to our portfolio of running water in coming years.

The maps have been updated on our club website – see www.salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk


Restocking Fund

After buying Rudd for the Old River and carp for Waterdale, our restocking fund is now down to its bare bones.

If you would like to make a donation to the restocking fund, please send a cheque made payable to Salford Friendly Anglers, to the Innovation Forum, Frederick Rd, Salford, M6 6FP – or come to our next meeting on the 25th Feb at the Kings Arms. You can also donate via paypal by sending a gift to admin@salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk

We intend to hold a series of matches in the summer of 2014 specifically to raise funds to buy more fish.

Our waters will never match the stocking density of a commercial or heavily funded club venue. However, our priority remains to provide free fishing at a venue where you won’t struggle to get bites.

The matches will be held at the Old River (OR) and the Rochdale Canal (RC) in Chadderton on the following dates:

11th May Old River

1st June Rochdale Canal

15th June Old River

29th June Rochdale Canal

13th July Old River

27th July Rochdale Canal

10th August Old River

24th August Rochdale Canal

14th Sept Old River

28th Sept Rochdale Canal

Draw will be at 9am – fish 10 til 3pm – £10 all in (£5 to restocking fund £5 to prizes)

Irwell Water Quality

In addition to providing free angling on local venues, our society is committed to working together with the EA and United Utilities to ensure that water quality on the River Irwell continues to improve.

Over the wet winter months, the lack of capacity within the sewage systems of North Manchester has been highlighted by the large amount of sewage litter washing up on the river banks, discharged by over flowing sewage pipes.

We have made numerous reports to the environment agency, and to United Utilities about this issue, and UU have conducted “clean ups” along the worst affected stretches of river.

We continue to press for improvements to stop these events from happening in the first place – but at least the clean ups by UU show that they are now beginning to take these events seriously and that the public expect better.

UU spent £14m on sewage upgrades in our region since 2010, we expect this level of spending to continue in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Please come along to our next club meeting on the 25th Feb at the Kings Arms – water quality will be high up on the agenda.


Mike Duddy



Our Fight Against Fly Tipping

When you have a river which has been used as an open sewer and conduit of waste for over 200 years – its hard to change peoples perceptions and attitudes.

Even though the Irwell has been transformed over the last 25 years – ingrained perceptions of the “dirty Irwell” still linger.


Our local councils and riverside business owners are amongst the slowest to recognise the changes that are taking place in the river which runs through their areas of control, and business owners still see the river as a cheap and convenient way of getting rid of industrial waste. We think we’re on the brink of something special – these guys are doing their best to drag things back into the dark ages.

Bolton Council issued over a thousand spot fines to people in 2013 for littering in the town centre. Anything from throwing a fag end on the street, to an 83 year old lady feeding bird seed to the pigeons was enough to attract the attention of the councils enforcement (revenue collecting) officers.

Its a pity that our local councils haven’t got their own house in order first before rinsing the general public of cash. They should be paying more attention to their responsibilities as riparian owners, the river banks in some areas are a disgrace and a naming and shaming is soon to occur.

During the winter months 2013/14 while the vegetation has died back, we have had members out on the river bank, surveying the fly tipping hotpspots in Bury and Salford.


Numerous reports have been made to both the EA and our local councils.

The response has been fantastic from Salford Council, average from the EA and pathetic from Bury (who do nothing but throw their hands up in the air and blame “the cuts”……….)

If you would like to get involved in the our fly tipping campaign, please contact us via our contact page. We are very keen to have people send us reports and locations of fly tipping taking place in the Rochdale, Heywood and Bolton areas.

Salford, Radcliffe and Bury already have members reporting on them.

We now have a list of 13 fly tipping hot spots – and are determined to get them cleaned up. I’m sure there are many more, please keep the reports coming in.


Hogweed On The Irwell

Giant Hogweed is now endemic on the Irwell. Its bloody everywhere – and none of our local authorities or agencies really know how to tackle the issue.

As we all know – the sap from this plant can cause serious burns to the skin, which can last for up to 6 years. Hogweed is a serious public health issue which is festering away on the river banks, out of sight and out of mind from the local authorities – just waiting for some clever no win no fee solicitor to take them all to the cleaners.

I was walking around the racecourse area of the river a couple of weeks ago, and noticed with great pleasure, that someone was tackling the Giant Hogweed which grows in large stands on Salford University land.

See pic below

So I crossed the river to take a closer look.

Its seems as though someone has had the bright idea of cutting off all the seed heads, and piling them up in big heaps.

What a crackpot idea, to cut off the seed heads without wrapping them up first to stop them shedding the seeds.

Instead of only the riverbank being seeded with Hogweed, the whole of the footpath and the land on each side of the footpath is now coated with a thick layer of seeds, ready to sprout up in the spring and make the problem 10 times worse.

Its not often that you see such inept work.

Take a look at these pictures to see what I mean.

Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 013 Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 014 Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 016

Irwell Sewage Pollution Jan 13 015

What a mess !


Sewage Litter On The Irwell

Tempers have been running high on our facebook page over the last couple of days about the increasing amount of sewage litter being washed up on the river banks.

Irwell Sewage Litter

This has been an ongoing problem on the Irwell now for many years – the legacy of a sewage system designed by the Victorians and ignored by successive generations until efforts were first made to clean up the river system in the mid 1970s.

Since then, there has been a long slow steady series of improvements. Started off by North West Water and the National Rivers Authority, now continued by United Utilities and the Environment Agency.

As water quality has improved, invertebrates and fish have returned to the river, followed by anglers and other naturalists. Our expectations are high, as we compare our River Irwell to other rivers in the North West such as the Dee,Dane, the Ribble and the Lune.

In the 1950s the Irwell was described in Parliament as the dirtiest river in Europe – so we have a rock bottom base on which to build the success story that the Irwell is becoming.

Huge improvements in the way our waste water and sewage is processed, and the virtual elimination of industrial discharges have transformed the Irwell.


The legacy of this old Victorian system is the large number of Combined Sewage Overflows (CSOs) which act as a safety valve for the system of old pipes, allowing them to overflow into the river during periods of peak capacity through the sewage system.

United Utilities (under the European Waste Water Treatment Directive) are required by law to screen all outflows into a river.

Back in the day – screening was non existent on the Irwell – but has slowly been adopted by UU on their water treatment works, and on the pipes which they adjudge to be the most frequent dischargers.

In 2010 under a freedom of information act request we found out from the EA that there were 108 CSOs on the Irwell between Rawtenstall and Manchester City Centre. Of these 108 CSOs only a 20 had any sort of screening, leaving 88 of them to pollute our river and decorate our river banks with sanitary products and condoms each time there is a significant rainfall event. No wonder the riverbanks are in such a disgusting state.

Over the last couple of months, we have endured extended periods of heavy rain, resulting in the river levels being high, and the local sewage system running at peak and above peak capacity.

Now as water levels are dropping, anglers are finding that once again the river banks, and river side trees are covered in unsightly sewage litter. Sewage litter that should be filtered out by the 6mm mesh mechanical screens of UU.

Look at the state of this tree, all the “leaves” on the lower branches are bits of wet wipes and tampons from a sewage overflow.

Irwell Sewage Tree

We know that there are not enough screens in place in the system – and that UU are adding more.

But are the existing screens being cleaned often enough, or being monitored for efficiency ?

I’ve asked the EA if they monitor this – the answer is no.

Once a screen is full it gets bypassed.

I wonder how many CSO screens (which only have an efficiency rate of 60% !) have been bypassed recently.

Here is a photo of an outfall where the screen isnt working properly (near Cemetry Rd Farnworth)

Shit pipe

If you see any grills that are coated like this or any part of the river bank that has significant amounts of sewage litter, please take a photo if possible and report it to us via admin@salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk

In July 2013 we asked members to report the worst grot spots that they knew of on the Irwell – 6 of these spots have been taken up on our behalf by the EA with United Utilities and we hope that they are going to be included in the next capital projects plan by UU.

People do take notice of us. So if you want a cleaner river, please get out on the river over the next 7 days and take photos of any evidence you might find and send them in


Restocking The Irwell

The EA have restocked another 12,000 roach, dace and chub into the Irwell this week.

Irwell Restocking 2013 010

The fish have gone in above and below Bury, and at Littleton Rd in Salford.

This is the third year on the trot that the EA have restocked the river – but it doesn’t seem to be making any difference to the quality of fishing.

In fact – if anything, fishing for silvers is slowly getting worse.

Why is this ?

Water quality issues, lack of habitat, periodic pollution incidents, mink, cormorants, goosanders, the fact that fish get washed downstream but cant make it back upstream over all the weirs ?

Probably a combination of all these factors.

We have pointed out to the EA that there are vast numbers of silver fish, which have been washed downstream into the lower Irwell / Manchester Ship Canal which are stuck there where we cant fish for them, because they can’t get back up over the weir at Adelphi. These fish, which are Irwell genetic stock would survive/breed much better in the Upper River than the fish from the EAs fish farm near Nottingham. Why cant they be netted or trapped and moved back upstream?

These fish the EA are stocking, have been bred and grown on in beautiful clean spring water in a Nottinghamshire fish farm  – and all of a sudden they’re released into the lovely sparking clean waters of the Irwell – no wonder they don’t seem to thrive.

So… what are the causes and solution to the disappearing Irwell roach and dace population?

Improving spawning habitat ?

Transporting fish eggs on spawning boards from the MSC / lower Irwell up to Bury?

Re-locating fish that can’t migrate upstream of their own accord ?

Everyone immediately points to cormorants as the main threat to our stocks of silver fish – but while they are undoubtedly a major factor – they aren’t the only issue. If they were the main issue, why are there so many roach in the Ship Canal where cormorants find it easier to feed, while roach are virtually non existent in the shallower streamier waters of the Irwell ?

What can we do ?

There’s something going very wrong somewhere.

Irwell Restocking 2013 001


Irwell silvers come a thousand at a time

Irwell Restocking 2013 002




Bradshaw Brook Pollution

Bradshaw Brook – the jewel in the Irwell crown has been polluted.

Local walkers found 100s of dead trout in the river last weekend and called the EA.

The worrying thing is that this stretch of river is directly beneath Jumbles Reservoir –  a drinking water rezzer managed by United Utilities !!!

(update 11.12.2013 – its the stretch between Wayoh and Jumbles thats been affected, NOT the section downstream of Jumbles).

Take a look at this article in the Manchester Evening News


Bradshaw Brook Pollution

Bradshaw Brook Pollution

UU say in the article that they have now stopped finding dead fish in Bradshaw Brook – thats because it looks as though they’ve already killed them all.

If there is anyone reading this from Bradshaw Anglers please keep us updated via the comments box below.


The Irwell Roach Project

Back in the late 90s and early 2000’s some massive bags of roach were taken from all over the lower Irwell system.

I myself had two bags of over 50lb (all roach), one from a peg in the Ordsall area, the other slightly downstream of Adelphi.


However, in recent years the ever increasing cormorant population has decimated the rivers roach population.

On the Hampshire Avon a group of committed anglers have got together to do something about it.

Avon Roach Project Video

Avon Roach Project Website

A few people connected to Salford Friendly have expressed an interest in replicating this project on the River Irwell.

If you think you might be interested in helping get a project like this off the ground, please leave a comment in the box below this post.

Some peoples view is that this type of project is futile as the cormorants will eat whatever fish we can grow. Others have the view that our roach fry are being swept downstream every time the river floods and cant get back upstream because of all the weirs. Or that periodic pollution incidents have wiped out whole breeding year classes of fish, and that the roach just havent been able to survive.

Again – if you have a view on why there are less roach in the river, and what can be done about it, please leave your comments below………




Old River Fishing Well !

I’ve been getting lots of reports from anglers recently telling me that the Old River in Irlam has been fishing well.
Heres one the the latest messages I’ve had from Jack – one of the venues regulars
Fishing the Old River regularly.Catching plenty of Roach and Perch,mostly small stuff although the Roach run to about 14oz.Pike are a nuisance!
taking fish off the hook.I’ve had two big ones on,didn’t manage to land them.Caught two nice Eels and also a couple of nice Skimmers although they don’t seem to show up very often.Saw three Kingfishers on one occasion made my day.Cheers Jack.”

If you go down to the Old River, please make sure that you leave your peg clean and tidy.

We will be holding a work party on the Old River sometime during the Xmas break – a few of the pegs need re-boarding and have become a little over grown.
There are plans for another Pike match – details to come soon

The Old River has been fishing really well for Silvers and Pike recently

Here is a picture of Michael Morton Snr with a beautifully coloured jackie


Michael Morton Snr with a nice Old River jack

EA Rivers Consultation


There is an Environment Agency Rivers Consultation taking place – which they are not publicising very well.

SFAS wonder if they don’t really want to hear, or if the’re not interested in our views?

They have issued a paper called North West Basin – Challenges And Choices

Please have a read of this document – North West River Basin District Challenges and choices

Then complete their questionairre here –  https://consult.environment-agency.gov.uk/portal/ho/wfd/water/choices

The EA seem to think that the major issues in our area our pollution, river connectivity, physical modification, abstraction etc – which to be honest is a load of guff.

Despite spending a small fortune on so called “improvements” on the Irwell – the fishing is far worse now that it was 10 years ago.

The EA consultation seems to ignore the issues we have with accessing the river. The banks of the Irwell are now virtually inaccessible for many months of the year due to the huge amount of dangerous Giant Hogweed which is now growing every year. Hogweed is a serious public health danger, but no one is doing anything about it. Lots of meetings, lots of talk but no action.

What about the flocks of cormorants devastating our fisheries each winter – what are the EA doing about it ? Nothing!

The EA employ large numbers of people in their offices in the NorthWest – but there are very few people on the ground working to improve our rivers. Why ? Surely a couple less office dwellers and more rivers officers doing work on the ground is a better use of rod licence resources.

Anglers pay £20m+ a year into EA coffers through our rod licences – surely our sport should be improving not getting worse!

Please bare these issues in mind when you are completing their questionnaire. If enough people start highlighting the REAL issues that we face as anglers – then maybe the EA might have to have a re-think of their agenda.



The Rivers Return


Back in winter 2011 members of the SFAS took part in a letter writing campaign to the minister in charge of DEFRA complaining about water quality in the Irwell, and at the same time telling them how much the clean up of the river meant to them.

It was good timing, because  The Angling Trust were at the same time taking DEFRA to court over their failure to adhere to the European Water Framework Directive.

Salford Friendly were delighted when it was announced that the River Irwell was one of only 10 UK rivers to become “Pilot Projects” for the implementation of these new environmental standards.

The EA had their hand forced and were required by central government to set up an Irwell working group to come up with a strategy to improve the Irwell.

We have, as a society attended these monthly meetings, and have made a big contribution towards its findings and policies. The group was originally called “The Irwell Pilot” but has now been renamed “The Rivers Return”.

Its members include United Utilities, The Highways Agency, Association Of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), Lancashire Wildlife Trust, The Red Rose Forest, Groundwork Trust, The Environment Agency, Forestry Commission,

If you would like to take a look at what the EA have come with have a read of this document.

The Irwell Catchment Pilot Final

Interesting reading.

We will update you as to whats going on in the rivers return group on a regular basis  via this website.

Next summer SFAS members will be asked to take part in a “Greening The River” work party – where we plant new stands of ranunculus in the Irwell – which will provide better spawning habitat for coarse fish, better fry refuge and generally improve the ecology of the river as a whole. We hope you put your name down for this project when we announce full details next spring.



Here is the “official” blurb


The Rivers Return is an exciting and innovative project that aims to regenerate the water environment in the Irwell river catchment with the integrated benefit of supporting economic growth and social enterprise. The Government has asked organisations to work in partnership to identify local actions to improve water quality within their Catchments and initiated a Catchment Approach Pilot in 2011.

Ten Pilots were initially established with a further 15 in January 2012. The 25 pilot groups were asked to report back to Defra with their findings and progress in December 2012.

The Rivers Return Project (Irwell Catchment Pilot) is one of ten pilots hosted by the Environment Agency. The catchment incorporates the Rivers Irwell, Croal, Roch, Medlock and Irk which drain the western Pennines and flow through the Pennine Fringe and Greater Manchester conurbation before joining the Manchester Ship Canal at Salford Quays. Evidence suggests that diffuse urban pollution (e.g. dirty water coming from roads, badly connected sewers and old landfills) and physical modifications to rivers (e.g. weirs, culverts and artificial river banks) may be key reasons for many of the rivers and lakes in the Irwell Catchment not achieving legally required standards of water quality.

The Irwell Catchment Pilot is steered by a multi-sector group representing community groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), local authorities, the Environment Agency (a non-departmental public body), business, and academia

The primary aim of the Rivers Return is to protect and improve water environments which it proposes to achieve by testing new approaches to stakeholder engagement; information sharing; co-ordination of action at a Catchment and local level; and stimulating engagement from across society and business.

This summary report presents the key objectives of the Rivers Return Catchment Plan.