Big Plans for Sandford Mill

Extracted from the January 2018 Newsletter

Plans are in place to embark on a major rejuvenation project to breathe new life into the club’s Sandford Mill venue at Woodley. As a result, the venue will be closed temporarily at the end January and for part of February.


The stretch of the Loddon was once prized for its barbel and chub fishing and is reputed to have held the British perch record at one point. However, in recent years the quality of fishing has declined and the venue is rarely fished.


River restoration specialist, Cain Bio-Engineering, was commissioned to undertake a survey of the full length of the club’s stretch of the river last year. This included taking detailed measurements of the river’s width, depth, flow rates and structure.


With that phase complete, the company has made a number of recommendations that are now planned for implementation thanks largely to funding from Thames Water’s Community Investment Fund.


The work will address key findings in the survey such as the fact that the river has been dredged at some point in its past resulting in high banks and an overly-wide upper section and slow flow rate. The survey also found a 1.7 metre gradient from the top of the beat to the bridge and identified two high spots by the dry weir and the bridge that hold back flow.


Whilst the narrower section has a better eco-system with faster flow and clear gravel beds, the river above the dry weir, especially pegs one to seven, is in poor condition with up to a metre of rotting vegetation and tree debris on the river bed. Cain Bio-Engineering also reported that the tree canopy is too thick over much of the river, restricting light penetration and inhibiting weed growth.


Conditions permitting, work to address the issues identified by the survey are scheduled take place at the end of January and are anticipated to take around three weeks, during which time the venue will be closed. Confirmation of the exact dates will be provided via the club’s Facebook site and web page as well as gate notices.


The majority of work will be focused on addressing the poor state of the upper half of the river. A key component of this will be to establish a series of meanders in the river by felling trees at

key points to divert the flow. This will have the added benefit of flushing out areas in which rotting vegetation has collected in order to expose underlying gravel beds.


To further encourage fish to spawn, additional gravel will be introduced at several points to create riffles along the river.


Finally, trees will be thinned out to allow more natural light to penetrate the river and encourage weed growth. Where necessary as a result of the work, fishing platforms will be re-positioned and extended. “As any long time member of the club will tell you, Sandford Mill was a fantastic venue. Not only has it produced some cracking fish, it’s a wonderfully secluded and intimate place to fish,” says Fisheries Officer, Garry Brecht.


“In addition to funding from Thames Water, we have dipped into the club’s funds and will be relying on volunteers to save some money. However, as we own Sandford Mill we are investing in our own future.


“It has taken us a long time to get to the stage of executing this part of our long

term fisheries improvement plan. It will be interesting to see the results as some of the tactics may well be worth considering on the club’s other venues ”


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