My name is Nick Baggaley and I have recently joined the fisheries and angling team at the Trust. I cover two large areas, namely the East Midlands and London & South East regions.
My early work on the waterways
In November 2019 I will have worked for the Trust, and British Waterways (BW) before it, for 20years. I first started out as waterways operative carrying out maintenance and repair work on the River Trent between Nottingham and Gainsborough. This gave me a good introduction to waterways and the maintenance needs of a navigable waterway and problems which can arise from these operations.Environment team
I was later seconded to the environment team as environmental assistant. This was an ecology-based role helpingthe ecologist with field surveys, planning applications and providing advice to our construction and maintenance teams when carrying out their works.
Following on this role, I became a member of the engineering team as waste and water technician. This position was a split role which encompassed a water management element. This involved compiling draught plans and water control manuals. I also managed the local SCADA telemetry system, which monitors water levels, ensuring it was working correctly and giving accurate information. The waste component of the role involved the management of the Trust's waste sites along with local waterway waste disposal and recycling issues.
Prior to joining the fisheries and angling team, I was environmental scientist in the east midlands waterway for the several years. This included dealing with waste management, dredging along with management of the Trust's permitted dredging sites. I would also deal with water quality issues. This would often mean taking water samples, testing discharges for pollutants and dissolved oxygen testing. This role meant I would often be in contact with the fisheries and angling team if reports of distressed fish were noted, in many occasions working alongside them while fish rescues were undertaken.
My last couple of year as environmental scientist for the east midlands region also include a short secondment to the fisheries team covering for Paul Breslin. I played a major role in delivering funded schemes to help eel migration and habitat improvements for fish. The first was to install an eel pass on the River Trent.
This scheme was first thought up when a lamprey was noted attempting to climb a partially wet ramp adjacent to a river weir. Later the Trust were approached by a funder to see if we could help the plight of the European eel. The river weir proved to be the ideal location for an eel pass. The scheme was successfully designed and built and while inspecting the pass an eel was noted using it in the first week of operation.
The second project was to improve fish habitat on the River Witham in Lincolnshire, once renowned venue for national championships and perhaps the most popular fishery in the country in the natural fisheries era. I was approached by the Environment Agency to see if the Trust would be willing to install fish refuges under our own floating moorings. This scheme had been used before in two locations on the Witham, so the idea was to extend the scope. In all, 43 refuge frames were manufactured and installed to two of our mooring sites. Previous studies on the existing refuges have shown they are like a magnet to fish and are well used. It is hoped in the future we can install refuges all along the Trust's mooring sites on the Witham.My fishing life
My dad is a lifelong angler, albeit a fly fisherman. During my childhood all family holidays would be somewhere next to freshwater where we could fish. He would also take me and my brother fishing in local gravel pits for bream and sometimes pike. As a young kid I would fish down the local beck which held some surprisingly large fish. Quality roach and bream could be caught along with perch, gudgeon, eel and brown trout.Young angler
As a youth I would fish the nearby Trent at Gunthorpe or Caythorpe. Me and my brother had a trolley we would attach to the back of our bikes, so we could cart all our tackle to the river, much safer than rods strapped to the cross bar and a tackle box slung over your shoulder! Such was our love of angling at that time in our lives it wasn't unheard of for school homework to be completed on the banks of the river or occasionally not at all.Calverton Colliery AC
I was also a member of the Calverton Colliery Angling Club where me, my brother and friends would join them for weekend matches. I still recollect being sat on my tackle box early in the morning next to the bypass, excitedly waiting for the coach to pick us up. I also remember the swear box on the coach which I recall was well used and full of coins! I remember a bloke called Mick Lakin being part of that club and recently noticed he was leading a Let's Fish! event on the Beeston Canal. It's a small world sometimes.Introduction to lure fishing
My fishing life carried on until my late teens when I became more interested in girls, cars and pubs (not necessarily in that order). Fortunately, unlike my friends, I didn't sell my fishing tackle. In my early twenties, I rekindled my passion for angling and started buying 'Improve Your Coarse Fishing' magazine. It was within this mag that I came across an article by Andy Lush. The piece was all about surface lure fishing. This article really got me interested as it was a branch of the sport which I was not aware of and looked very exciting.Lures galore
From then on, that was it, it was lure fishing all the way for me. Having said that, if it wasn't for small gudgeon, roach and perch giving me that initial fascination with all things fish, I probably would not have been an angler at all. I soon got hold of a book from the library called the 'Art of Lure Fishing' by Charlie BettelI. This was read cover to cover and gave me a grounding in all aspects of lure fishing.
I soon joined the Lure Anglers Society and later the Pike Anglers Club. These clubs enhanced my knowledge and had me joining in on lure angling and pike fishing competitions. Most of my fishing these days is for pike and other predatory fish by various means. That said, I can still be found rolling a bait for barbel or trotting bread for chub in the Trent weirs. Just recently I stumbled across the short rod I used to use a kid, so I am keen to revisit the beck I fished as a child to see how things have changed. Maybe that will be the subject of another article?