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Grantham Canal amongst watercourses plagued by pollution and canopy of weed



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The national media have recently reported there is something wrong with rivers in the UK, thanks to a damning report revealing all are polluted to some degree, with raw sewerage, plastics and nitrates named as the main culprits, writes Journal angling correspondent Dave Coster.

But it is not just our flowing waters that are in trouble, many canals and drains in the East Midlands have suffered terribly over recent years from a heavy carpet of duckweed, which is widely associated with nitrates that result due to water run-off from surrounding farmland.

Fertilisers and pesticides all end up in our water courses, which in their own right are not good for wildlife.

Dave Coster fishing up into the lock at Woolsthorpe, one of the few places that remained weed free on the Grantham Canal last summer. (54303175)
Dave Coster fishing up into the lock at Woolsthorpe, one of the few places that remained weed free on the Grantham Canal last summer. (54303175)

But the real killer is the floating bed of cloying green weed nitrates create, which cuts out sunlight, stunting or completely killing growth of oxygenating underwater plant life and invertebrates.

The lower River Witham, where it runs down to Boston, plus many of its interconnecting drains were choked solid last year, looking more like bowling greens rather than watercourses.

The same applied to the Grantham Canal, which was totally unfishable in many areas. Even Lincoln’s Fossdyke Canal was badly affected, despite still being a navigable waterway.

The worrying aspect is that nobody can see what is happening underneath the green canopy. Oxygen levels can drop so low, fish life can’t survive, and all is hidden from view.

Once the weed dies back or gets washed away with extra influxes of rainwater during winter, anglers have to take pot luck if there is anything left to catch.

Taking our local canal closer to town as an example, regulars have struggled over recent years to catch very much, or anything substantial.

Further west, the Bottesford and District Angling Association tries hard with weed booms and swim clearance at the Woolsthorpe end, but it’s a thankless task with catches nowhere near as good as they used to be.

+ You can see more of Dave Coster’s fishing adventures on fishingmagic.com



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