Bradford Anglers Aire Freshener Project

A summary of one of the Conservation Awards finalists: 

The Aire Freshener project, headed by Bradford City Angling Association (BCAA), supported by the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Farming & Wildlife Partnership, Aire Rivers Trust and WTT, tells the story of an angling club that has changed both the philosophy and practical management of its fishing on Yorkshire’s River Aire, near Gargrave. The river has a chequered 200-year history of neglect and abuse from various forms of industry but BCAA has established a vision for a river which:

• follows a naturally-developed course, unshackled as much as possible from its historic constraints;

• has natural riparian vegetation and varied in-stream habitat, enabling wild trout (as our indicator species) to thrive and benefiting a wide range of other wildlife; 

• has varied flows and water depths, which offers vastly improved spawning opportunities for fish and habitat for all life-stages; 

• and has an ability to self-mitigate the threats posed by erosion and riparian landowner mishap or malpractice. 

BCAA ceased stocking and, on a shoestring budget with much volunteer input, installed 2.3km of fencing, planted 2,850 trees and wildflower seeds into the newly-created buffer strip, transplanted water crowfoot, removed invasive plants and ragwort and installed woody debris in various forms into the river. 

Monitoring is ongoing, through invertebrate sampling, electric fishing, angler catch returns and redd counting: the signs are promising! Longer-serving members report good fishing with strong year classes of younger fish evident, plus numbers of trophy fish. The benefits for other wildlife are apparent too, with regular sightings of otters, many bird and butterfly species, hares and roe deer; mayfly have returned in numbers to one improved reach. 

Dissemination of wild trout conservation messages comes through a club Facebook page, an annual open day and articles in the local and fly fishing press. 

The WTT judges very much liked the strong partnership ethos in BCAA’s project, its clear plan, huge changes to the river for a project costing perhaps no more than £20k so far, effective application of fairly simple and effective techniques and multi-species benefits: overall, a brilliant project.

Bradford Aire Planting team comp
Bradford Aire Inghey1 Pre comp