Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART) recently completed the final stages of a project led by the Riverside Angling Club following initial planning advice from BART. The project was designed to improve the spawning potential of a stretch of the river at Cowbridge near Malmesbury.
The initial stage involved fencing off a cattle drink on the stretch below the boulder weir on the clubs stretch of water at Cowbridge. The club raised funds for the fencing from Wiltshire County Council. The Barbel Society kindly agreed to finance the in stream improvements required to complete the project. This work was undertaken by BART and the Wild Trout Trust.
The work included the construction of two brushwood berms and two flow deflectors sited a short distance below the boulder weir, using natural woody materials available on site. These are designed to use the increased flows following heavy rainfall to help the river naturally scour the gravels which currently are detrimentally affected by silting. When flows return, these structures will concentrate flows onto the riverbed increasing scour and resulting in cleaner substrates for spawning fish and invertebrates. The berms will also allow the recovery of the poached bankside and help to narrow the river by encouraging deposition and the establishment of vegetation behind them.
It is great to have received this support from the Barbel Society who encourage similar work to be completed by angling clubs across the country for the benefit of barbel and other river fish. Hopefully in years to come this site will be an addition to the few natural barbel spawning areas on the upper Bristol Avon.