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by Graham Bayliss

My name is Graham Bayliss and I am the secretary for WDAA.
I have been interested in angling for many years and have experience of coarse, sea and game fishing
both on a local and national basis. Specimen fishing, mostly for carp used to fill the majority of my angling
sessions but with time constraints from other interests I now prefer general coarse fishing for a variety
of species including pike during the winter months.

My interest in angling is a part of my general passion for the countryside and its wildlife. Being an
angler puts you into a diverse range of environments allowing the experience of close contact with nature,
seeing things that most people wouldn’t even notice. My own fishing experiences have taken me from local
stillwaters and rivers to wild remote Scottish highland lochs and Irish loughs.
It is this passion for the environment and conservation that I would like to bring to the club
and working with the Fisheries Manager develop and maintain the waters we manage for existing
wildlife and the possible introduction of new species.

Winsford Anglers have a diverse range of habitat surrounding their waters, woodland,  meadow, reedbeds,
agricultural farmland, marshes and developed public areas all of which contribute to the overall biodiversity.
These differing areas contain a vast array of flora and fauna being home to many birds, animals and plants.
Changing seasons have their own effect on the various habitats, shaping them differently from spring
through to winter which in turn affects the species that will be found there.
During a 2 year period I have recorded well over a hundred species of birds in the Winsford
area alone, many of which can be found in and around WDAA waters. Spring sees the arrival of summer
visitors such as warblers, whitethroat, blackcap, swallows, martins and swifts. At least 4 species of warbler
return each year these are Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, and the more elusive Garden
Warbler. Sand Martins nest along the Rivers Dane and Weaver, Kingfisher are resident on both rivers and
stillwaters such as New Pool, Rookery Pool and Tommy’s Hole. We are fortunate to have all 3 species
of woodpecker namely Green, Great Spotted and the rarer Lesser Spotted plus all 3 species of wagtail,
Pied, Grey and a small number of Yellow wagtail.

water rail
As the year turns to autumn the summer visitors are replaced with winter species such as Redwing, Fieldfare
and various wildfowl including Teal, Goldeneye and Pochard. Indeed the Bottom Flash area can be very
productive through the colder months, especially when local stillwaters freeze and the birds move around
in search of clear water. November usually sees the arrival of large numbers of Snipe to the spit area and
nearby mudflats of the Bottom Flash, which can itself throw up a few surprises at any time of year. One
notable sighting was a Little Tern.

little grebe
A host of raptors can be seen hunting the local area including Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Hobby,
the occasional Peregrine and possibly a scarce Merlin. Hobby visit us throughout the summer and prefer
areas where there is a good supply of dragonflies on which they feed by catching them on the wing, plus
areas resided by species such as Martins and Swifts. They can be found hunting along the Weaver and
around Rookery Pool which is a haven for numerous dragonflies species.
At least 3 owl species nest around our waters, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and the ghost-like Barn Owl,
the latter of which usually nests in the Top Flash area.

Finches, linnets, siskin and lesser redpoll can be seen at most times of year, especially in the winter months
when tend to flock together in search of food. Both Great Crested and Little Grebes nest on the Weaver and
stillwaters, with the numerous coots and moorhens. A small number of the very elusive Water Rail may be
seen with a large slice of luck, particularly through the autumn and winter.

Other wildlife to be found are foxes, badgers, stoats, weasel and the anglers enemy mink. Hundreds of plant
species exist including orchids in the variety of habitats which themselves attract insect life and several
species of butterfly including Peacock and Red Admiral. In the warmer months damselflies and dragonflies
can be found around most waters with Rookery Pool as previously mentioned being a prime location for them.
Hawker dragonflies can be seen hunting along the water and over the lily pads while other species settle on
water plants or bankside vegetation. This pool must be our most picturesque water in the summer when filled
with flowering lilies and pads but due to the sensitive nature of this environment we must protect it and hold
on the water for as long as possible.

I intend to post regular reports of any sightings on the club website, so any information that anyone has can
be forwarded onto myself or the Fisheries Manager which will be greatly appreciated. Hopefully I would like
to show that there is much more to fishing than just catching fish and our surroundings can be a really
interesting place to spend time.
Angling can be seen as detrimental to the environment through bad practices such as
leaving litter, lines, weights etc. or destruction of habitat. It is in our own hands to show that we are a caring ,
responsible club with a sensitive attitude towards the environment and conservation. Please treat our waters
with respect when angling and act in a responsible manner. Have respect for the environment and its wildlife,
after all, we as anglers are entering into their world and we should feel privileged to be part of it. Our own
actions will determine the future of our waters, they should be nurtured and developed with conservation
in mind and protection of these environments for future generations.  
So next time you are sitting behind lifeless lines take a look around you may be surprised at what you find.
Happy angling




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