Old River Irwell – The Plan Revisited


Does anyone remember our Old River restoration plan which we first set out back in August 2012 ??

We were so bright eyed, and eager with anticipation after signing the lease.

How have things worked out since then, what have we done wrong? what needs changing – I think we need to open up a bit of debate………. which will be carried out at our next club meeting on April 15th at the Kings Arms, and on our facebook page we would really appreciate any comments or information that you can add to the mix.

So this was the state of the nation back in 2012 http://salfordfriendlyanglers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/old-river-irwell-irlam-restoration-plan.html

And to be fair – we have done everything we said we would do – repair pegs, stock fish, keep the water level fairly constant etc.

Our re-stocking plan changed from the original – we didnt stock any crucians, but we have so far stocked 500 tench, 1000 rudd and 3600 bream.

Once we re-stocked – the lake quickly became a focal point for the local cormorant population – so with the help of the Environment Agency – and in particular Andy Eaves, we introduced 14 fish refuge cages, and 14 floating islands to help break up the open water and give fish features to gravitate towards.

Once we installed these features, visits by avian predators have significantly reduced

So – how do we measure the success of this plan ?

More people are now fishing the old river – thats a fact – so its a success

People are catching more fish in summer months than they used to – another fact – and another success

Average match weights have fallen, and the numbers of dry nets in matches has increased – a conundrum !!

We stocked 3600 skimmers between 4″ and 10″ – no one ever catches skimmers or bream on the Old River – a big fail

We stocked 500 4″ tench – very very few tench have been caught over the last 3 years – and none in a match – a big fail

We stocked 1000 6″ rudd – they feature in catches on a regular basis – so we count them as a success……..

The pike fishing is great !! Some people blame the pike for eating the fish and want them to be thinned out. But if thats the case, how come they’ve only eaten all the bream, rudd and tench and not the roach?? I really dont think that the pike are as big a problem as some people make out.

We agreed not to stock any carp – so that we could try to create something different – a tench and bream fishery.


However – overall the fishing hasn’t appeared to improve since we took the lake over. Despite the cosmetic work on the banks, pegs etc – the acid test is how well does the lake fish, and to be honest its not fishing well (apart from the pike fishing which can be great on some days – and none existent on others)

A simple knee jerk reaction could be to simply say – lets remove the pike. Take away a level of predation and the silver fish fishing will improve. Its not that simple. Pike are a necessary species in any mixed fishery – most of the committee would resign and walk away if this is what was required. We love pike – a pike cull is never going to take place. They are a necessary part of a balanced fishery.

However- we still have an unbalanced fishery. Lots of small roach to be had on bread punch for anglers who are competent at this method – but very little for anyone else.

The average size of fish has remained the same over the last 3 years – growth rates appear to be very poor.

A couple of members have suggested buying sacks of fish pellets, to see if we can grow the fish on better – as their still arent that many anglers fishing, throwing in bait etc.

Should we stock with small carp – they’re very cheap – we could buy a few thousand of them and then accept a high attrition rate for the first few years. Having lots of small carp will attract anglers and more anglers mean more bait and food. And more anglers on the bank also mean few opportunities for our black feathered friends….

The first thing we need to do, is to get some sort of professional water quality testing done – so we can rule out unbalanced water quality as the underlying cause.

Then we need to look at some sort of fish stock survey of the lake – maybe an electro fishing sweep might reveal plenty of info ?

Its such a shame that things arent working out for us – take a walk around the Old River – its a cracking venue its just fishing rotten

Please add your comments below and let us know your thoughts – and no holds barred please



  1. i have fond memories of fishing the old river, agreed many years ago now, remember catching some ‘monster’ tench from the pub pegs, I had a walk round a few months ago, apart from the pegs near the pub it still looked very unfishable, admitidly salford friendly angling are more ‘wild’ fishing, but if more permanent pegs were available, wouldn’t that mean more bums on seats, more bait going in, more fish, more anglers, one big never ending circle?

  2. Luke Halsall Hart says

    What a shame, but I cant help but think they’ve done the opposite of what they should of done, if the fish growth is poor why stock more fish, then that means theres less food for the fish to eat.

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