Kick Sampling on the Little Avon

Kick Sampling on the Little Avon
19 December 2023 Andy Johnson
In Conservation



At Berkeley Estate Fishing Syndicate (BEFS) we are all enthusiastic about angling and enjoy the challenges of fishing the Little Avon for game or coarse fish during their respective seasons. Whilst a few of us take things a little further by belonging to the *Citizen Science brigade!

This is brought together by the Anglers River fly Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) that provides a standardized monitoring technique for trained volunteers to assess the quality of Little Avon. We regularly undertake kick sampling on 8 sites throughout our waters and have 8 regular kick samplers with at least 3 other trained members who can assist as required.

The benefits to BEFS include: –

  • Regular monitoring/surveillance of Little Avon.
  • Timely detection of pollution events.
  • Promotion of swift positive action to deal with situations arising to limit damage to the river ecosystem.
  • Support and complement other interested parties, legal and government bodies.
  • Promotion of habitat, river conservation of the benefit of all.

There are over 2,500 ARMI sites across the UK involving 900 waterways, and we are part of it!

So, what is it all about?

Firstly, we are all members of the fishing syndicate and are fully trained volunteers in the noble art of “Kick sampling,” we give up a few hours each month to go and count invertebrates to monitor the water quality of Little Avon.

The invertebrates we are looking for each month are considered environmentally sensitive to pollution issues etc., they are,

  • Cased caddis.
  • Cased- less caddis.
  • May fly.
  • Flat bodied (Heptagenioidea sp).
  • Blue winged olive.
  • Olives
  • Stoneflies
  • Freshwater shrimp.

The numbers of the above invertebrates are recorded, and a score calculated based on their abundance. The local statutory agency is alerted if the score is below an agreed trigger point along with any information relating to any obvious pollution issues. The data collected is stored on an online database and is freely accessible to those who may be interested in the results.

In conjunction with the Kick sampling program, BEFs members also participate in the Angling Trust’s Water Quality Monitoring Network. On a monthly basis undertaking monitoring of the rivers temperature, Electrical conductivity (EC), Nitrate and Phosphate levels. All results are uploaded onto the WQMN database. The Angling Trust Water Quality Monitoring Network was launched in May 2022 as part of the Anglers Against Pollution campaign to engage anglers and angling clubs in better understanding pollution issues on their waters.

If you see any of us kick sampling whilst you are fishing or walking the clubs waters, please come over and say hello, we are always happy to show people what we are doing.

Turn a few rocks over prior to fishing, providing its safe to do so, see what you can find, a good understanding of these invertebrates will help you identify what is on the menu for the Little Avon’s residents and will guide you towards the appropriate artificial fly selection. This could also help you identify feeding zones and fish holding areas as fish position themselves to intercept drifting insects, you will also get a measure on how healthy the river is. Wherever, you are fishing a few minutes spend kick sampling could be very beneficial.

*Citizen Science describes the public involvement in scientific research to assist with mass data collection.

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