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Wellow Brook anglers' joy as life found in river polluted by slurry

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Anglers who fish Wellow Brook, from left, Paul Cowlishaw, Alun Hughs, Dick Rees, Fred Scourse, Hugh Sibley and Paul Wonter

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There is renewed hope that slurry spillage pollution will not have left a once thriving river fighting for life.

Last week there were fears the Wellow Brook could experience long-term problems after tens of thousands of gallons of slurry escaped into the river following the collapse of a lagoon at a farm.

The Environment Agency and local fishermen voiced initial concerns after more than 50 dead trout were pulled from the river in the first half an hour after the incident earlier this month.

Over the weekend the Somerset Guardian was invited to find out more about the work being carried out along stretches of the river by Avon and Tributaries Angling Association.

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The avid anglers have been spending time on a stretch of the river close to Wellow where they have been taking samples to try to work out how much life is left in the river – and it seems there is good news.

Wild trout fisherman Fred Scourse, who for the past decade has worked to improve the river, said: "It's heartening to see shrimps and fly nymph in the samples we have taken from the river silt.

"If the food base is intact, the trout have something to feed on and in turn it supports the bird life, especially kingfishers.

"We were very concerned that if the invertebrate was dead the river could take many years to get back to the condition it once was but now we are quite hopeful."

Every Sunday group members coppice trees and work on the riverbank to try to prevent landslips.

Fisherman Hugh Sibley added: "For all of us it is about more than good fishing conditions, it is about supporting the river life."

The fishermen still have concerns for other stretches of the river, especially those close to Writhlington.

Keith Caddick, of Knowle Angling Association, which has the rights to fish the river along that stretch, said his club doubts it will be able to fish in the area again this year.

Mr Caddick said: "The Environment Agency is still carrying out tests and we have to wait for the results but I do not know if we will fish the river this year."

The farm involved has not been named.

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