The most famous venue in carp fishing is “back to how it was in Dick Walker’s time” after an incredible 5,000 tonnes of silt was removed.
Redmire Pool in Herefordshire had become infiltrated by ghost carp and was “very much on life support”, according to Mark Walsingham who was tasked with heading up the restoration project.
The situation had got so bad that aerators were installed last autumn to deal with an oxygen crash at the three-acre farm pool famous for Dick Walker’s 44lb record and Chris Yates’s 50lb 8oz mirror.
The rejuvenated venue will re-open to anglers in June after fish stocks were thinned out, a massive amount of silt was removed and the lake’s depths were restored.
Mark, who began working with the estate’s owners four years ago, told Carpfeed: “We removed 5,000 to 6,000 tonnes of silt, which is an awful lot of silt.
“The shallows had encroached, but we’ve now pushed them back 30yds. The margins are now back to 5ft, which they should be, and off the dam wall where it was 5ft it’s now 12ft-15ft, and we’ve reinstated the deeper central channel.
“The lake is probably now a third bigger than it was, by water volume. It’s back to how it was in Dick Walker’s time.
“There were just a few inches of water behind some of the islands, but that’s now back to a few feet.
“Where Chris Yates caught his record was actually dry land, you could stand there in carpet slippers and not get wet, but that’s now 2ft to 3ft.”
Mark was called in by the owners of the Bernithan Court estate four years ago to de-silt the lake, but soon realised the problem needed a more permanent solution.
He said: “They initially asked me to come and have a look with a view to de-silting the lake.
“My advice at that point was that unless they made a change to stop it happening in future then it wasn’t worthwhile.
“Upstream of Redmire is quite intensive potato farming and all the soil washes into the lake.
“What was a simple bit of advice turned into changing the management of the whole estate. “We re-instated hedgerows as they would have been in the 1700s, made extensive grassland and created a wetland upstream. All this traps the soil and the agricultural nutrients and pesticides.
“It’s even protected the River Wye and the salmon spawning grounds downstream, so we got conservation grants for that.”
Mark said the eventual de-silting of Redmire was done in such a way as to keep the rich top layer of silt in place on one side and then spread it back over the lakebed to maintain the levels of natural food in the pool.
“Come spring,” he said, “it will burst into life and should be the really rich water it always was.”
And did the draining uncover any monster fish? To protect Redmire’s mythical status, Mark won’t say.
“In these days of social media it’s impossible to keep a secret, but all I will say is that all the ghost carp have gone, and all the carp that looked like they might have ghost-carp genes have gone.”
The lake’s stock now stands at just 50 Leney carp, giving them room to flourish and spawn successfully.
An otter fence has also been installed, although it is set back beyond the wooded boundary of the lake wherever possible.
“We’ve restored it to the way it was – a rich, self-sustaining carp fishery,” said Mark.
“Come summer you visually won’t know that anything had happened, it’ll just take longer for your lead to hit the bottom off the dam wall.”