Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tackle's out up Raphole Creek

The quiet waterways of Pranker’s Wycke seem an unlikely location for invasion. Yet, beneath our still waters, an interloper is lurking. The enemy is the armoured suckermouth catfish, an invasive North American species that has spread rapidly since first recorded in Raphole Creek less than a year ago.

“It’s extremely worrying,” said Ms Trish E Fench, president of the Wycke Angler’s Association. “The local fauna simply can’t compete with its voracious appetite and ability to stay on the bed no matter the force of the discharge. If we can’t control it, our traditional spawning grounds at Runkon Spring will be decimated.”

The unfamiliar habits of this new breed have so far thwarted the efforts of resident anglers.

“The main problem is the suckermouth seems to show no interest in our flies,” explained club secretary Grant Pope, who this time last year was happily organising his tackle for the coming season. “We’ve tried everything. Even Trish, who really knows how to dress the hook, hasn’t had any luck so far.”

“Despite the cold, some of our hardier male members have been out morning, noon and night, but without so much as a nibble,” added Ms Fench. “I went to join them yesterday after work, and the sight of them all standing hopefully with their rods in hand filled me with a strange mixture of pride and despair.”

However, all is not yet lost, and Trish is hopeful that if we, the residents of Pranker’s Wycke, pull together, we can be free of the suckermouth once more.

“It came to me in a flash last evening. Grant was fumbling around in my box for inspiration after another fruitless session up the Creek. Suddenly I realised - it wasn’t so much the bait as the technique that was lacking. Catching North American fish requires North American methods. Fortunately I remembered a recent visit to my old friend Vicky Stibrator in Kentucky. She had lost interest in rods some time ago, but achieved great success and satisfaction by skilful use of the hand. She quickly established herself as the local ‘dogging’ expert, as Kentuckians call the widespread practice of catching catfish using only one’s bare hands. (I understand it is called noodling or tickling elsewhere). Well, Grant was off like a flash after I told him, and had immediate success where Wyedmi Rife runs up the back of the overflow car park. I think this may be the taste of things to come.”

In order for dogging to really be successful, we need as many people as possible to get out into the fresh air and have a go. A sign-up sheet is in the townhall so do please get involved and let us know if you have any success catching a suckermouth.


Bett Nusting-Hall said...

I've signed up and am very optimistic. My old methods used to regularly produce a vast catch.

Herbert Tarassment said...

My family and I are here on holiday for 3 weeks only, but we will help you. In France, we have had much success touching the fish by hand.

Pinky Stilchard-Mitt said...

Trish, we met some years back at Vicky's place, you may remember me? Good luck with the suckermouth programme. I will be in Pranker's Wycke this summer on a retreat being organised by Sister Foundly, hopefully we will have the occasion to meet up.

Trish E Fench said...

Pinky, lovely to hear from you again. Of course I remember you! How could I forget that wonderful day we spent with Vicky at Flushing Gaps. I do look forward to touching base with you again over the summer.