There are some days when the weather conditions are absolutely critical to one’s enjoyment of the day, and today was one of them, for it was the day for the 47th Thames Fishery Research Experiment at Gravesend .
Judy and I took the train from St Pancras International to Gravesend, and then a short taxi ride later saw us arriving at what remains of the Gravesend Isolation Hospital at Denton which is now the offices of The Port Health River Division Office. It was from this Hospital that in the 18th and 19th centuries , the doctors who were working for the Port Health Authority would travel out to arriving vessels and check on the health of the sailors – if necessary putting them into quarantine in the Hospital at which we had just arrived.
After a restorative cup of coffee we set out along the bank of the Thames to see how the angling teams were getting on. There were eight teams, including two from schools – namely City of London Girls School and Gravesend Grammar School. The eight anglers in each team were spread out over a good mile and a half of river bank and fished for four hours from 9.00am till 1.00pm when a whistle was blown and the competition ended.
The overall objective of the Experiment is to establish the environmental condition of the Thames through determining the number and size of fish species returning to the River. Judging is based on the greatest variety and number of fish caught and uses a scoring system which rates fish according to scarcity and significance in the context of a cleaner river. The results provide valuable information to organisations such as The Environment Agency, the Thames Angling Preservation Society and the Institute of Fisheries Management.
Judy and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the bank of the estuary, chatting to the various anglers and seeing what they had caught. All the while the rain clouds banked up and threatened their worst, but it did not rain - at least not until we were safely ensconced in the lunch marquee for the post competition lunch and prize giving!
The Total Catch for the morning was amazing in its size and diversity. The Total Catch was 375 fish comprising 7 species. The break down was 187 Whiting; 128 Pouting; 35 Flounder; 8 Eel ; 6 Bass ; 6 Sole ; and 5 Crab.
I presented The Biodiversity Award. This is an award given by The Water Conservators for the catch which most demonstrates the continuing healthiness and improvement of the River Thames. This year’s winning catch ( 3 Flounder, 3 Pouting, 2 Whiting ; 1 Bass, I sole , and 1 Eel ) came from a member of the PLA Angling Team.
After an excellent lunch in a marquee especially erected in the Car Park of the Port River Health Division Office, Judy and I hitched a lift back to the Guildhall on a Corporation minibus with members of the Corporation.
It was a fascinating and thoroughly worthwhile day!